Building a Successful Pin-Up Portfolio

Building a Successful Portfolio: Vol II

By: Shoshana

For Vol I: Successful Promotional Images for Burlesque Entertainers click here

There are “pin-up models” and Pin-Up Models.  The biggest difference between the two?  Professionalism and a killer portfolio.  Here’s a list of tips and tricks to build a portfolio that gets you noticed!

The Do’s and Don’ts for Pin-Up Portfolios

1. Do invest in your first impression. If you are taking your pin-up modeling seriously, you should take your image and likeness seriously as well.  You are creating a persona that will be your calling card- represent it well.  Pay for your first photoshoot, and get the best photographer possible.  Just as you want to be paid for your time, quality, and professionalism; photographers deserved to be paid for theirs as well.  Remember, you get what you pay for.

If you can only afford one photo shoot start, that’s ok- make it count!  Get the highest quality and most variety you can out of your first paid shoot.  If you have a great session under your belt, many more will follow.  Having one fabulous photo shoot on your pages will do so much more for you than a hundred crappy shoots.  You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

2. Do: Be careful who you shoot with. Outside of the obvious safety concerns- there is the obvious truth that your image matters in this business!  Shooting with sub-par photographers and hobbyists can hurt you.  (Now there are plenty of talented photographers who choose to make photography their hobby as opposed to full time work.  I respect that- those guys & gals are not who my comment is directed at.)  In a digital age where anything and everything can be found with a few clicks, you do not want sub-par images of you floating around.  Poorly lit, unflattering, or “cheap looking”, photos can hurt the professionalism you are trying to convey.  You’ve seen ‘em- you know what I’m talking about.  Does this mean you can’t seek out free photo shoots?  No, it just means a lot of research on your part to make sure the project is one you want to be a part of and the photographer is worth working with.

3. Don’t: Post more than two images from a series.

Choose the absolute best from a shooting series to post.  It’s sometimes very hard to narrow down, but it’s important to do so to prevent it becoming tedious for the viewer, and to make sure you are putting your best foot forward.

4. Do: make your portfolio as diverse as possible!

Shoot with as many talented photographers as possible.  Shoot different concepts, characters, themes, and lighting styles.  Shoot as much as you are comfortable with; avoid being pigeon- holed by shooting fetish and fashion, pin-up and conceptual. 

5. Do get real high resolution images of your shoots- Size Matters! I cannot tell you how important this is.  In the digital age, it is very easy to tag & snag images from sites like Facebook, or live shots from online media sources.  This is not the same as having a high resolution image. A high resolution image is at least 300 dpi/ppi, AND either 1000 pixels (or 8 inches) in at least one direction. It must meet both of these criteria to be high res.

You cannot artificially make a low res image into a high res image simply by changing the numbers in a photo editing program. The print quality still sucks, because even though your numbers are correct, you have taken that small amount of digital information and spread it over a larger area, making the image grainy or pixilated.  The original source file must be large enough to qualify as high res. in order to have good print quality – period.

Do Not Shrink Them to Email!- The bigger the better!  If sending them one at a time is still too much- try zipping them, or use an external free program such as Dropbox or You Send It.

Only High Resolution Images are print worthy!

6. Do Get your own website as soon as possible. No matter how useful and essential they are for marketing purposes, sites like MySpace, Face Book, Twitter, and Model Mayhem, and anyone else we forgot- do not replace a real website!

Why? Go to a random computer and Google or Bing Yourself.  Follow those links and you’ll see how many things are not visible.  If you are not logged in, or not a friend, or a member- or whatever other criteria are established for that site- you won’t be able to research you- period.

Example (True Story): A major national advertising sent me an email asking me as the editor of Pin Curl, to help him locate a model we featured.  He found her on our site, knew her name, but couldn’t find contact information and wasn’t going to create a Facebook or MySpace page simply to find her.  She ended up landing the major contract because I put them in touch, however, if he hadn’t been willing or able to reach out to me, she could have just as easily missed out on that contract- all because she didn’t have a website.

A personal website also allows you to properly represent yourself.  Instead of every single image you’ve ever been tagged in showing up- drunken club nights, etc.  This allows you to control your brand (You are your brand) fully.  You don’t have to worry about bad snapshots of you making the rounds, or random thoughts about last night’s dinner party leaking out into your professional persona.

7. Do: Choose an online portfolio viewer that’s easy for website visitors to navigate.

You want it to be as easy as possible to be your fan- and that means looking at your images!  Don’t force people to sift through pop up viewers or download to view your work, or sift through countless folders.  I like simple viewer- it’s just what it sounds like- a simple and efficient way to organize a portfolio- and it’s free!

8. Don’t have more than two or three portfolios. Have clear organization.

In following the same easy to use theme- be organized.  Have your portfolios listed by the time of images therein – I.E. pin-up, fetish, conceptual.  Don’t list them by photographer, or anything else; it results in too many folders to go through and becomes cluttered.

9. Do: Update your portfolio on your website often.

I know it is often easier just to update your social media sites (IE Facebook), but if you only update those, before you know it your official website has become outdated and it defeats the purpose of even having one.  Remember: Your website is the official representation of you!

10. Do:Have permission. Make sure your photographer knows you want the images for promotional purposes and that you will be sending/posting them everywhere.  You can run into serious legal trouble using images without permission.  Do not assume that because you paid for the shoot that you own the images- because you don’t.  For more on the laws regarding photography, usage, and copyright; check out our Copyright Law: Myths vs. Facts article.  Also, make sure you always give credit where credit is due.  A simple caption with the photographer, make-up artist, hair stylist, and stylist is a great way to help out people you enjoy working with, while simultaneously covering your ass!

Related links:

Tips and Tricks for Pin-Up Models

Tips for Building a Quality Portfolio: Vol. I

Copyright Law & Images: Myths vs. Facts

Leave a Reply