Things that you should really leave out of your portfolio

There are certain poses and angles that just look good, and certain shots that everyone should have in their portfolio. Such as a clean, natural model headshot – you need to show what your face looks like, it should have fairly basic (but still good) lighting. You should have a fairly neutral expression. Whenever I’m looking to commission an MUA, I also look for a similar shot – a flawless natural look is a lot harder to achieve than people realise, and I generally use it as a marker to find an MUA that knows their shit.

There are, however, a lot of travesties found on portfolios across the web. What’s more, people actually see these and decide to copy the idea – now, I don’t know whether it’s irony and just an ‘in’ joke that I’m not in on, or maybe they see a shitty shot and think ‘I can do that sooo much better’ and then fail, I don’t know. Either way, there are a lot of terrible and cliched ideas doing rounds that you will do well to avoid if you want a portfolio that looks even remotely professional. To help you out, here’s a little list:

The feather lashes
Admit it, you’ve thought about it. I’ll openly admit that I’ve done it (many many many years ago). It did not look good. It cannot look good. I know it looks fancy, and it looks like a quick way to get a beauty image, but there’s a very good reason why we have eyelashes and not feathers.

The belt bra
Beloved by GWCs and wannabe glamour models everywhere – why wear a bra when you can use a belt? That way, you can squish your boobs in and get lots of cleavage…and look like your mummy never finished teaching you how to dress yourself. Jodie Marsh did it – surely that’s reason enough to avoid it forever?

Oops – how did that get stuck there?
You knew it was coming; the heel in thong. I want to know who the first person to do this was, and how on earth it ‘happened’. I want to know why they didn’t look at it and think ‘that looks utterly shit, delete’, and instead decided to proudly display it on their portfolio. I want to know why hundreds upon hundreds of others then decided to copy it. I want to know why models don’t just say no. Ok, modeling is selling the ridiculous and contrived but come on!

Choo choo!
Didn’t your parents ever tell you not to play on the train tracks? It wasn’t because they feared for your safety – it was because they know that only about 0.1% of photographers can get anything approaching a decent photograph on them, and they wanted to save you the trouble.

Did someone die? 
Yes. I die a little bit inside whenever I see a ‘goth’ shoot – ie. a porky ‘alt’ model, with badly-applied make up standing on the resting place of the not-so-recently deceased. It’s disrespectful, it’s tacky and it looks shit.

Peek-a-boo
You know the pose – the one where the model lies on her back and spreads ’em, and the photographer shoots from below and the model looks into the shot through the little triangle made by her legs, and the photographer promises that no, you can’t see your foo-foo. Scout’s honour.

It’s getting a little chilly – I’ll just hold onto my tits
Handbras are almost as dumb as getting your shoe caught in your thong. Almost. If you want to do an implied topless shot then Think. It. Through. Don’t just hold onto your tits. It looks ridiculous.

American Beauty
Ok, if you want to do this, please buy more than 2 roses. If you want to create a lush, rich image (even if it is horribly, horribly cliched) you will need hundreds of the bloody things. Otherwise, you’ve just sprinkled some petals on a vagina.

Avatar
If you don’t have the budget that they had, you’re not going to produce the results, Don’t bother,

Lara Croft
If you don’t have Angelina Jolie, you’re not going to produce the results. Don’t bother.

Lady Gaga
Just…why?

Angel wings
Ok, Victoria’s Secret use them. You know what? If your models (or you) look like Victoria’s Secret models, nobody will give a shit what you do – everyone will praise you and hope to god you sleep with them, or notice them, or slap them, or something. If you’re not a Victoria’s Secret model, or shooting one, people will notice the wings and wonder wtf. Especially if they’re the cheap shitty ones from the local dress up shop.

Sitting on the toilet
Unless you’re shooting for a scat website, this is not sexy. It is not interesting or alluring, and there is a single, notable exception to this rule. Otherwise, no. No no no no no.


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