Updated: Aug 7, 2020
When you go to a photo shoot, whether the wardrobe is provided or not there are some essential items that you should have in your Model Bag.
1. Your Book (Portfolio)
Make sure you ALWAYS have your portfolio book with you at go-sees, interviews and bookings, photoshoot, etc. even if you’ve already been hired for the job. In your book make sure you have photos and your modeling comp cards and nothing else. You want your book to be neat and tidy, so make sure to leave out any contact sheets, negatives, notes or junk.
If you don’t have a portfolio yet, that’s ok. Take some good snapshots with you and make sure you have copies that you can leave with the client or agent.
If you are looking to purchase one contact me, we are selling 2 types of books at the moment.
2. Basic Makeup Kit or Palettes
You know your skin better than anyone so make sure you have the basics in regards for your makeup, such as foundation or BB cream, concealer, blush, bronzer, eyeshadows, liners and mascara. If there is going to be a makeup artist at the shoot or job you have been hired for, still make sure you have at the very least your foundation and concealer. Male models don’t need all the items that women do, but men should invest in a good concealer palette, bronzer or blush palette. Even male models can use a little touch-up here and there.
3. Black and Nude Colored Undergarments
Bra straps won’t do anything to help your outfit look its best. Be sure you bring a set of bras and strap-adjusting accessories to work with any outfit you want to shoot in to keep those straps well-hidden. Women should have a selection of undergarments such as a regular and pushup bra, strapless bra, one-piece bodysuit, panties, thong, boy cut underwear, stockings and socks.
Just in case the client would like you to wear their undergarments be sure you have some panty liners. It is polite to use a panty liner when wearing garments that are not your own. Also, remember to have other feminine products with you at all times.
Male models should have a selection of undergarments such as simple boxers, boxer briefs and low-rise briefs that are form fitting to your body. Men should also have clean white and black t-shirts and tanks.
4. Flats and Heels
Heels are a model’s best friend especially if you are a runway model, however you also want to make sure you have a selection of flats as well. Make sure you have a variety of heights in your bag. Usually you will know the type of booking you are going to ahead of time so you can ask about the type of shoes need, so you are not lugging around your entire shoe collection.
5. Hair Products
Brush, comb, bobby pins, clips, elastics, hair spray, gel and other hair products are very important to have in your bag.
If you have a hairstyle that will take hair extensions, we definitely recommend that you have extensions in your bag. Think how great it would be if you can change your hair from short to long in just a few minutes! Your clients will be impressed!
6. Skin, Nail, and Body Products
Deodorant, moisturizer, makeup remover, hand sanitizer, toothbrush, mouthwash, floss, mints, etc. Make sure you also have makeup remover, contact solution, nail polish remover, lint brush. Always have your nails freshly manicured and painted a “Model Approved” color for the runway. Those colors include nude, light tan, pale or very light pink. If your designer approves you can wear a French manicure nail or if you’re always on the go you can wear the quick glue on nails.
7. Small Sewing Kit
A small sewing kit with a needle, thread, extra buttons and pins can be a real-life saver when you need it.
8. Notepad, Pen and Paper
Be prepared. Even if you have a cell phone or tablet that you can make notes on having a pen and paper can be quick and easy. You can always add the notes to your phone or tablet when you have more time.
9. Bottled Water, Healthy Snacks
Photoshoots, fittings and shows can often go on much longer than planned. Piece of advice is do not starve yourself, besides no one wants to work with a hungry, grumpy model. There Is one sure fire way to tell a professional model from a newbie; A professional model will never eat while wearing the client’s clothes! If it is absolutely necessary to eat be sure the client’s clothing is covered with a towel or something to protect it.
10. Map or Cell Phone with GPS
Always plot out your route and where you need to be beforehand. Having a cell phone with GPS (Google Maps) or a city map is essential.
11. Cell Phone and Charger
We know you’ll remember your cell phone, but don’t forget to take your charger or have a second charger that you always keep in your bag ready to go. Remember to put your cell phone on silent or turn it off while you are working and on the client’s time.
12. Something To Pass The Time
Sometimes there can be long wait times between shoots or when it’s your time to work. Bring something with you to keep you occupied so you are not just wondering around or looking bored. Listening to music, playing a game on your cell or iPad or reading a book is a great way to keep occupied and not bother others who are working.
13. A Rolling Bag / Luggage
As you can see there are a lot of essential items needed in your model bag, so make sure it is easy to transport. A bag with wheels are perfect but also make sure you are able to carry it upstairs in case there is no elevator.
If you are going on an actual booking with a client, you must take your vouchers with you for the client to sign. Without a signed voucher that records the time you worked you may not get paid. Your modeling agency will make sure you have vouchers or some other way to record your jobs.
15. Rescue Kit
Bandaids, small alcohol pads, small sewing kit, safety pins (many outfits are actually a size or so too large and sometimes a zipper breaks or a button falls off, safety pins come to the rescue every time. Before using them ask your designer if it is okay as sometimes material can be damaged by safety pins), sanitary products, baby wipes (the floors get dirty backstage when walking barefoot), contact case/solution with a pair of back up contacts if you wear them, and more!
This is NOT an extensive list of everything you need. You can build your model bag one step at a time. Just make sure you have the core essentials like your portfolio book, high heels, undergarments, makeup and hair products (you never know when a hairstylist or makeup artist will be a no show on the day of a fashion show or shoot, yes this has happened many times to me working in the fashion world). Also, when needing to pack extra items you can bring a small carry-on luggage paired with a duffel bag.