Model portfolios are one of the categories of photography that Church
Street Studios LLc is best know for. Looking back over 25 + years in
the photography business, Joe Chielli and his associates have shot
portfolios for top models from every major Philadelphia model agency.
Model portfolios are typically quite enjoyable to shoot. Both the model
and the photographer have a great time. Model portfolios give the model
a chance to experiment with poses, outfits, and makeup looks. They also
allow the photographer artistic freedom to explore whatever seems
appropriate and interesting in the realm of image creation.
It is the photographer’s responsibility to guide the session by wardrobe
suggestions and with choices of location and lighting scenarios. The
model cooperates by working expressively to bring alive the fashion
statement or commercial concept in the selected location, and to try to
understand and cooperate with the photographer’s vision.
There are basically two types of model portfolios. Fashion model
portfolios are for models that have a “fashion look”. This generally
means that they are young, attractive, slender, and taller than average.
Fashion models tend to be booked to sell trendy clothes that require the
provocation of unusual beauty and sexual energy to entice the buyer.
Commercial model portfolios are for models that have a “commercial
look”. This generally means that they can be of any age, height, or
build. Commercial models are booked to sell everything imaginable, and
often are chosen because they look like the targeted consumer who is
presumably a “real person” and who’s looks are for the most part
average, and not especially noteworthy. Commercial models may also be
chosen because they have an interesting or unusual appearance that
attracts attention, but for reasons other than exceptional beauty and/or
A good model portfolio photographer should be clear about whether the
person they are about to photograph would be best to image as a fashion
model or a commercial model. That decision should be arrived at by
considering their booking possibilities. The best Philadelphia Model
Portfolio photographers are not only going to bring a high level of
creativity and technical competence to the photo session, but also an
understanding of the talent booking industry in Philadelphia.
Most of the model bookings in Philadelphia are commercial in nature
rather than fashion. The credible model agencies in Philadelphia are
constantly looking for good commercial models, and photographers who
know how to photograph them in order to demonstrate their commercial
booking potential; looks such as life style images, business looks,
fitness, medical, parental etc. allow the clients to better appreciate a
model’s commercial possibilities.
So how come so many model portfolios in Philly are loaded with
half-naked young men and women striking sexually daring poses and
expressions…the women’s eyes challenging any man to try and satisfy
them…the men’s grimace, tough and aggressive, signaling that they are
up to the most demanding sexual challenge with bulletproof
What’s going on? First, it should be obvious that the vast majority of
“photographers” shooting model portfolios are having fun as “image
creators” with their new digital gear rather than seriously trying to
make a living as a professional photographer.
Second, it should also be clear that sex energy is quite stimulating as
a force to drive creative tendencies, and most newbie/ wannabe
photographers, both men and women, are quite under the influence of this
“procreant urge of the world” as Walt Whitman put it.
Third, it is much easier to capture attention as a “hot”, “new”
photographer with a fashion-esque photo of a sexualized model in
lingerie, than with a commercial photo of a soccer mom type, clutching a
bag of groceries as she climbs into her BMW.
Thus, in far too many philadelphia model portfolio shoots, off come the
clothes, and here we go with the shadowy lighting and the daring
expressions and poses… perhaps you can understand part of the reason
why we have such an abundance of model portfolios that are titillating
but largely useless for booking purposes.
But all this actually opens the door to another dimension of model
portfolio photography…a dimension that is far more personal and
psychological rather than commercial and business oriented. In the next
segment Model Portfolio – 2 – “Personal Image & Rite of Passage” the
Church Street Studios Team will offer its thoughts on the personal /
psychological dimension of Model Portfolios.