About Your Portfolio and Testing, for Freelance Stylists, Hair/Makeup Artists etc.
i think this is a very good topic...
my portfolio is basic...it's just the standard one that all phtogs, stylists and hair and make up people have...11x14...blk w/ my name embossed on the cover and a padded carrying case...i have three ...w/two bags...i have all fashion stuff in the front and then celeb portraits towards the back w/ a couple of commercial pieces...i have a promo piece for a designer that i styled and designed tucked into the back pocket...
i think most professionals in ny get theirs at house of portfolio...
this is of course for supporting cast...
designers have all different kinds ....it would be interesting for people to share how they present their work...
please share... :flower:
well, i'm a graphic designer..but I have different portfolios. From plain black carrying portfolios to a hand bound linen book with posts so that I can add and take away pieces. Also a spiral bound book to be left behind.
thx for sharing sugo...a leave behind is a good idea...
Testing for Your Portfolio ... Stylists, Hair/Makeup Artists etc.
i think we should really have a thread that is just about testing...
do we have one?...:unsure:
i guess it depends on your level of experience and your motivation...
my only motivation for testing has always been to get pages in my book...
or as a creative outlet for a story idea that i just really want in my book
and it is pretty much guaranteed that if it's a paid test, then it's not a very good girl and as you said-minimal styling...
so not exactly anything i would recommend anyone use in their book...
of course everyone has to start somewhere...
so i also recommend testing as much as possible...
but i still think that you are better off with the tears than the little bit of cash in the long run...
because a strong book is what is going to really get your career started...
so that is why i think most people don't mind doing unpaid tests if the team is good...
your reward is the pics for your book...and the contacts you make...
which are basically priceless...
anyway- like i said...that's in NYC...i can't speak about other markets...
but i believe it's the same in Paris and Milan and probably London...
Testing for YoOur Portfolio ... Stylists, Hair/Makeup Artists etc.
Another question for you guys about putting together a portfolio. I know a model and a few photographers (although in totally different cities, which is making things harder, lol!) and Ill probably use them to try and put together a portfolio to start. How many images should I have? Do they need to be elaborate, or would a simple shoot in a studio (probably in front of a white or grey background) work? And also, is having a theme important?
I appreciate any help!
Testing for Your Portfolio
Start simple ... locations can be difficult due to changing lighting, weather, the public, etc. .... unless the photographer is skilled in location shooting. And stay simple in the styling too ... less is usually more. Images that are loaded down with layering and accessories usually look amateur ... it takes a highly skilled team to pull of those kinds of looks and you and your team won't be able to pull it off yet.
For Stylists or if you have the responsibilty of styling: Try for about 4 looks for a day of shooting to get started. If you have not had fittings with the model before the day of the shoot, bring at least 3 times the wardrobe you think you will need and spend some serious time on fittings to nail what you want to shoot, before she goes into makeup. Oh ... models often lie about their size ... especially the hips ... so I usually bring a size larger and clamp the clothing if it is too big. If it's too small ... there's not much you can do about it.
Some info about portfolios that I've learned along the way:
1. They are never "done" ... you will work on your portfolio for your entire career.
2. Don't expect to have great results in the beginning ... your images will only be as good as the worst team memeber (photographer, makeup/hair, model, stylist, etc.). If you get only one decent image for each shoot you are doing well.
3. Test as often as you can ... testing is only practice. Get together as a team afterwards and analyze what you (everyone) might have done better. Develop a tough skin ... critiques are hard to hear, but result in growth.
4. Test with different photographers and teams. You will learn more quickly and develop your eye for what works well in front of the lens, faster.
5. Constantly "test up" (phrase coined by esteemed L.A. makup artist, Tania Russell) ... meaning look for better and better teams evey time you test. If you are not working with better people, you won't get any better.
6. Learn how to recognize a "better" photographer ... and decline to work with any that won't be able to give you better picture than what you already have.
7. Make it a goal to only test with professional models from good agencies. If the model does not look like she's in the pages of a good fashion magazine, then your pictures won't either. Pick photographers who consistently use good models and negotiate the right to approve the models before you agree to the test. Size and height do matter to a stylist and the face needs to work within the concept. The face of the model is the most important to hair/makeup artists .. if the body is too short/thick ... you can often use a nice beauty shot.
8. A Stylist needs to have lots of "stories" in her book ... not all random single images. You need to prove that you can pull together a bunch of looks that are consistent with the concept/theme/story and make them work together. Makeup and Hair Artists don't need as many stories, but the book should still contain some ... with full body and 3/4 shots ... to proove that they work with great teams to produce professional level stories ... and to break up an otherwise boring book. (Yeah ... I said that ... all beauty shots are boring, IMO. ;))
9. Some tests just don't work ... expect it, learn from it and move on.
10. I have no idea how many images should be in your portfolio ... but I think that sylists need more than makeup artists (because a single story will be multiple pages .. 4 to 6 usually and sometimes more). Makeup artists usually have anywhere from 10 to about 25 images, a few stories, but a lot of singles. As a stylist, I personally am comfortable with about 30 to 40 images, if most of them are stories ... that would be about 6 stories of 4 or more images and a handfull of strong singles.
11. It's better to have 5 super strong images than 20, of which 15 are mediocre. You will be judged by your worst image ... so you have to be ruthless and narrow it down to only magazine quality images.
12. Expect it to take a couple of years to build a decent portfolio .... dozens and dozens of tests ... many, many of which you will not use.
So for test shoots models/ new faces are sought from modelling agencies - but what about finding a photographer and make-up artist to do tests with? If one is starting from scratch and has no contacts - how does one go about finding a good team to work with? TIA
Often ... in fact, most of the time .... it's the photographer who is setting up and organizing the test shoots. So the key is to find the right photographer who has access to the better agency models. He will probably already have the other members of the team in place or a least knows people he can ask.
It is sort of backward for a stylist or a makeup artist to set up a test and modeling agencies usually won't even talk to the crew ... they want to set it up with the photographer in most cases. So make networking with talented photographers who share a common goal your priority, but certainly if you know and like certain makeup artists you can suggest them for the test.
If you are a brand new stylist (or aspiring) you might start with sites like Musecube, One Model Place and Model Mayhem ... and network there. But be very cautious ... these types of web sites for models and photographers draw mainly amateur models (not good enough for fashion or commercial tests ... what we call "web models: who do a lot of Maxim style glamour for pay) and what is often called GWC's (guys with cameras) who may aspire to shoot fashion but just aren't that good or just aspire to shoot scantily clad models (and they are the clients whol actually pay the web models).
So you have to really look carefully at the photographer's portfolio, then meet for coffee to see a real physical portfolio and find out if you'd feel comfortable working with him. You need to work out all the details in advance so this is the best reason to give him for wanting to meet. Ask if he will give you some images or if you will have to pay for prints or a CD, how many you will get, and when he will have them done in additon to how many looks, who's the model, what the concept is, etc. There's always a danger factor in working with strangers ... so check him out carefully.
Then there's photography schools, too ... ones that offer fashion photography. Those students always are looking for a team and they often get good models because the school has the agency connections. See it they have a bulliten board or a place you can leave a card.
Go where photographers go ... pro photo labs and pro camera shops... see if you can post a notice that you are availabe for testing. Look for professional fashion photographer's forums and network there, too ... see if you can make a few contacts in your city. Make sure that you are dealing with photographers that shoot the kind of stuff that you want to do ... fashion, commercial, catalogs ... avoid "glamour" shooters unless you intend to work in that world (bikini biker babes and things like that).
The more you test, the more contacts you'll make ... the makeup and hair artists know other photographers too and if they liked working with you, they might invite you to test with them again with a different photographer. You might connect with a photographer's assistant at a shoot who is a great photographer in his own right and wants to test.
Everything we do in this biz is dependent on networking ... so you have to build up your contacts as you go. Even our paid gigs are mostly found through contacts ... so as people you test with start to get work, they can refer you too. One thing leads to another.
That is the main reason that you must always (unpaid tests for your book or paid gigs) stay positive, be on time, work hard and do your best job. It's a small industry and people talk ... you want a reputation of being a good team member, easy to work with in addition to being talented. If you get a rep of being unpleasant, cranky or whiney or a diva ... you'll loose your connections. No connections = no gigs, no career.
I'm a shootin in the city
K. I'm in New York and I'm open to test a bit if the conditions are right. I only shoot womens fashion. I work with the top agencies here. I have great hair and make-up crew (always lookin for good stylists). I shot me in the 'lil pic. If I say "I" again I may :sick: ... My work is on my site www.alexandershoong.com hit me B)
Thanks for all the info Bette! Can you give us some tips about how to set up your portfolio? Are there do's and don'ts about the type of binder to have and how to arrange it?
Also how important is the scope of your portfolio? Should you focus on one type of style or show a broad variety?
Well, what I say here is only what I've learned that seems to work where I am ... in Los Angeles and is specific to fashion, editorial and commercial photography. I hope that others who are also in th know, share their experience, too. I don't want to be a one woman show here .... Stylebites and Softgrey? Anyone else?
There are some standard sizes in the fashion and commercial biz for portfolios but they are not the standard sizes that you get photos or art supply portfolios. Weird ... but true. Hair, Makeup and Fashion Stylists usually use 9x12 or 11x14 pages and photographers often use 11x14 or 14x17. This requires special books designed for our industry and an extra cost to have photo labs do these special size prints so it's expensive.
Most people start with a black leather or imitation leather portfolio with their name imprinted on the front cover. Basic, professional and classy. But once someone's work is well recognized and of top notch quality, some prefer to kick it up and get aluminium, wood or other expensive materieals for the cover. The sleeves should be removable, because they need to be replaced from time to time to keep them looking good and they must be archival quality (non acid) to prevent yellowing and fading of the photos.
Here's a few links of places that do the right kinds of portfolios and you'll see how expensive they are. But it's one of your most important marketing tools, so the money is well spent.
Here's a few ideas about how to set it up:
1. Use only enough sleeves for the images you have ... do not have empty slots. Remove any extras.
2. All images should fit the entire sleeve and be the same size ... don't be tempted to use different size photos. The only exception will be "tears" or "tear sheets" (your work, torn ... not really torn, but carefully cut ... out of a magazine) which won't alway be the right size.
3. If you have a horizontal shot always show it right side up ... no sideways pictures. There's pretty much only 2 ways you can present it. The first is to have it blown up to fit across both facing pages (like a magazine centerfold) if the fold does not fall across a face or something important or you can have it printed horizontaly with a white or black border across the top and bottom (sort of like a wide screen image on an old fashioned TV set).
4. Place you very best shot in the front and the second best shot at the end, if you can. First and last impression .... make a stong one.
5. Remember that you will be judged on your worst shot, so only use the very best, even if you only have 4 shots. Do not use any so-so images, even if your work was good ... if the overall image is not great, it won't help you. Most people cannot separate your good work from something negative about the image ... so just avoid the temptation.
6. If you have "stories" consider even number of pictures (2, 4, 6 etc.), so that these pages can be shown facing each other to keep the flow.
7. Whenever 2 images are facing each other make sure that they look good together ... consider color, lighting, subject matter and mood.
8. Your book (portfolio) should "flow" ... which is hard to define, but it should make sense as you look through the pages. Group similar types of shots together with the strongest at the front and back ... maybe darks with darks and brights with brights. You sort of have to tell a story about you and your work ... your strengths and your goals (what type of work you expect to get).
9. You might consider more than one portfolio ... for me I have one that is fashion and editorial and another that is commercial and lifestyle. I have both types of clients and they each like to see work that relates to what they are doing. Too many types of work in one portfolio, sometimes puts them off. It's up to you to decide what works in your market ... that takes research. You need to find out what types of shoots and gigs that pay in your area and cater to those potential clients. For instance, having a really high style fashion/editorial portfolio won't get you any work with people who shoot Land's End catalogs ... but if you have a strong portfolio showing that you can do their type of styling/makeup/whatever then they would be more likely to consider you for work. And they would just be scared off by the edgy editorial looks ... they'd be afraid that you would overdo everything and not stay consistent with their image.
That's what I've learned from many people in the biz ... but there are lot's of other good ideas out there too. Hopefully lots of people will share. :flower:
We welcome offers to test in this forum ... perferct place for it. :clap:
Just be careful about jumping into working with strangers ... be smart, meet in public first ... take a friend ... protect yourself. :ninja:
Ya. Best way to protect yourself is to use reputable agents...
I should qualify my offer... If your a working stylist in NYC that can pull, I'm open :D
i have very little to add except that this is AMAZING advice for anyone starting to put together a portfolio....
you really covered a lot of ground here...
thanks for taking the time to put it all in such an organised fashion...
**just a note...
some of my favourite images in my book are tests that i have done...
testing can be a great creative outlet...
maybe we need another thread about putting together a strong portfolio?...
maybe separate threads for hair and make up and photogs and stylists and models...
they are all different....:flower:
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