How to plan a modeling photoshoot in Chicago

Modeling photoshoot in Chicago classic portrait

If you’re planning a modeling photoshoot in Chicago for your portfolio, there is a lot to keep in mind. But don’t let that overwhelm you. In this post I will walk you though a photoshoot I did with male model Paulo for his portfolio. We started off doing something very creative and shooting in this scene that is reminiscent of life on a film set.Something like this will really set you apart from other models in Chicago. 
Modeling photoshoot in Chicago BTS
Modeling photoshoot in Chicago BTS

A staple for any model photoshoot are a series of images on a white or gray seamless. Close-ups and full body portraits plus a little personality is a good way to go. The purpose of these images is to allow the viewer to imagine you in the environment they’re thinking about. It also can give a fashion catalog client a great idea of how you will look in their advertising.

And while you may be thinking this article is for male models, the advice is basically the same for female models.

Modeling photoshoot in Chicago head shot Modeling photoshoot in Chicago full body Modeling photoshoot in Chicago catalog portrait

Modeling photoshoot in Chicago

Modeling photoshoot in Chicago
Modeling photoshoot in Chicago Behind The Scenes


About Us

Models, actors and everyday people choose Chicago headshot photographer and portrait photographer John Gress to shoot great headshots, build their professional portfolios or celebrate one of life’s milestones. With years of experience in lifestyle and fashion photography, John Gress brings a creative approach to head shots that will set your LinkedIn apart, or that casting directors & agents notice.You can shoot in his studio or nearby outdoors. To view his headshot portfolio, please visit our gallery.

Our pricing and packages are designed to give you the flexibility to get exactly what you need, without having to pay for options you don’t want. Whether you are looking for a single finished image for your LinkedIn, or 20 images for your Instagram, you can get exactly what you need. All sessions include at least 1 retouched image with additional images available for purchase.

After the shoot I will send a link to a web gallery with all of the photos, minus the terrible ones, with a watermark on top. Then you will go through them and pick the images you would liked retouched. Once you send us the file names, we will retouch them, taking in to account any notes your have. Then, we will upload high resolution versions of the retouched images without watermarks for you to download.


Modeling photoshoot in Chicago portait


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Having a selection of headshots that speak to a different genre can be a great addition to any modeling photoshoot portfolio too. These two moody portraits, in contrast to the other more straight forward headshots, add diversity to Paulos modeling portfolio.

Modeling photoshoot in Chicago moody headshot Modeling photoshoot in Chicago headshot

Addiing more modeling looks on a simple seamless background are a good choice too. Especially if you add layers and use clothing that evokes different moods textures.

Modeling photoshoot in Chicago full legnth Modeling photoshoot in Chicagowhite background

Converting them to black and white can further add diversity to your modeling photoshoot portfolio.

Modeling photoshoot in Chicago male model

To finish the model photoshoot in Chicago I created two looks to show off Paulo’s favorite leather jacket. One of the looks used colored gels.

Modeling photoshoot in Chicago gels Modeling photoshoot in Chicago colored light

And one of the looks was shot in black and white outdoors. If you set up your modeling photoshoot in Chicago to be compared of these general themes: something that is create and unique, shots on solid backgrounds., multiple headshots with regular and moddy lighting, and something that shows off your personality.


Modeling photoshoot in Chicago motor cycyle jacket Modeling photoshoot in Chicagoleather jacket


Whether you decided to book John Gress for your modeling photoshoot or not, we wanted to share with you what you should know before working with photographers for model portfolios and acting headshots.

What types of jobs can you get modeling?
Modeling isn’t just something you do on a runway in Paris or in a photo spread that appears in Italian Vogue. Just like there are many different types of people, there are many different types of models. In Chicago, there is a lot of work modeling for lifestyle ads, which showcase everyday life and sell a product of service. Often times lifestyle models are good looking everyday people who can come in every shape, size and age. An insurance company may need a distinguished senior citizen and a beer brand may need a sexy 25 year old fit male with facial hair, who looks like he drinks beer. I’ve done several shoots where the client requested a good looking soccer mom and kids ranging from newborns to teenagers. A lot of fashion modeling in the Midwest is catalog shoots for stores like Sears, K-Mart and Kohl’s. Some might scoff at doing these types of shoots, but they pay really well. Of course some of the people I have photographed have gone on to make it big modeling everywhere across the globe.

What types of jobs can you get Acting?
Acting in Chicago is similar to modeling. You can work at all levels, from community theatre to touring broadway shows. Of course there are companies like Steppenwolf and Second City and TV shows like The Chi, Chicago Fire, PD and Med. Plus Actors can be cast for commercials and lifestyle photoshoots.

What is a Look?
A look is a set of pictures taken in a single scene wearing a single outfit. Some photographers limit the number of pictures they will take per look, but I always shoot until we get the shot and I try to shoot as many llooks as possible during the timed session you have booked.

What is a Compcard?
A compcard is short for composite card and is a collection of five images printed on 8.5″ x 5.5″ card stock. Four vertical images, all of the models stats and contact info typically appears on the reverse. While the front is usually covered with one image that is traditionally a head shot. The purpose of a compcard is to give potential customers of a model’s services an idea of what they look like up close, full body, smiling and not smiling. The images can come from five different looks or as few as three.

What do you mean by Retouched images?
Images that have been color corrected with the contrast and brightness optimally adjusted to showcase the subject. Blemishes, stray hairs and other distracting elements are removed to help the model look their best. Retouching, like make-up, shouldn’t be heavy handed, because no one will hire a model or an actor if they look unnatural in their photos. Retouching an image properly can take around 30 minutes and that’s why photographers limit the number of retouched images and charge extra for additional images. We are a natural retouching company and strive to have you look you best, maybe a bit younger, but probably not lighter.


Print’s are not included in any of our packages, however we offer prints for an additional price. Images will be cropped to accommodate the proportions of the print size.

What exactly are Headshots?
Headshots can refer to head and shoulder image or the word can refer to a variety of image framing types showcasing a model or actor.

How many images do I need?
Actors often need one or two images, but can use different images for different roles. Aspiring models may wish to just add a few images to their portfolio or they may want to have five images for a compcard. A portfolio can be composed of as many images as you like, but keep in mind less is more and you only want to show your best. A model will also want to have at least one image that shows his or her full body

What should I wear?
I think its best for people to bring twice as many looks to the studio as they would like to shoot. The looks should span a variety of styles but its important that everyone have a t-shirt and jeans look in addition to clothing that isn’t covered in logos. Lifestyle models should have clothing that is classic, solid colors are preferred and the fit and style shouldn’t be too sexy. Actors often look great in Bright solids and neutrals as well.

What should I be doing in the images?
Potential clients may want to hire a model or cast an actor based on how they look in an edgy pose, but others may want to know how the model or actor looks when they’re smiling. Remember to move during the shoot and don’t be afraid to continuously change your poses between images. There are no wrong answers and it’s ok to miss the mark. Remember there won’t be much to choose from if there are too many images that look the same! .

Do you really need a make-up artist or hair stylist?

If it were me being photographed, I’d want a make-up artist on set. A lot of guys think they don’t need make-up and a lot of girls think they can do it themselves, but we all can look our best with the help of a professional. But an actor may be well skilled at doing their own make up. No one is blemish free and proper makeup is the foundation for proper retouching. It really improves the finial product because some challenges that makeup can fix can’t be properly addressed in Photoshop. Hair styling may not be necessary for shorter haired male models, but changing a hair style and make-up between looks is highly recommended for female models.

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model head shot pricing in Chicago