How to Build Experience & A Portfolio Through Collaborations

If you’re on a short budget to pay for a professional portfolio but have the time and determination, this post is for you. I will outline 4 easy steps on how to find photographers and setup up your shoot. As a BONUS tip, I will include portfolios of petite models for inspiration. 

But first, What is a “collaboration”? 

Collaborations are also known as “test shoots” or “time for print (tfps).” They are methods in which you build your portfolio in exchange for time instead of cash. Collaborations benefit both you and the photographer, as both parties are building their own form of a portfolio. 

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The question that I get asked the most is “how do I start modeling?” Answer: Do collaborations to build your portfolio and experience

But how? 

Instagram is an excellent source. Search the hasthag for the city in your area followed by “photographer”. For example, #PhillyPhotographer. Scroll through the posts and check out some of the profiles that interest you and you could potentially reach out to for a collaboration. To become a model you have to have an eye for aesthetics and be able to recognize good quality photographs. Additionally, you want to find a photographer that matches the style you are looking for your book. In the beginning, this last part isn’t as important, so long as you’re gaining experiences and building connections. 

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If you have zero idea of what types of photos are needed for your book, check out modeling agencies that you want to be apart of and look through their portfolios. And no, you don’t need to model in lingerie or show skin to become a successful model. Do not let anyone convince you otherwise. 



2. Once you have found a handful of photographers that you want to reach out to, DM them. In a polite tone, acknowledge their work, become interested in their style, and then ask if they would like to collaborate.

“I would love to collaborate with you if you’re interested.” 

3. If the photographer is interested, they’ll reply. If not, move on to the next profile. Do not be afraid of rejection as this will help you in the long term within this field. 

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4. If they are interested, be sure to show them some examples of what you’re looking for. 

THAT’S IT! From there it’s just a matter of setting up a time and place for the collaboration to take place. 

Building a strong portfolio for agency standards can take a lot of time if being done solely with collaborations. Patience is key! 

If you found this post helpful, please share it with your friends. It will mean the world to me!