The Aspiring Model’s Playbook
for a Fantastic First Shoot


Throughout the past 10 years of my photography career, I’ve had the privilege of guiding numerous aspiring models on the path to international careers. I’m blessed to have cultivated a wealth of knowledge and forged strong connections with top agencies. Here’s my personal guide to making your mark in the Portland modeling industry.

Embracing Diversity in Modeling

Portland agencies celebrate a kaleidoscope of beauty. It’s not just about fitting a mold—it’s about breaking it. If you’re eager to join one of the local agency’s intrepid roster of talent, remember, they’re looking for people who embody an active lifestyle across all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities.

The Different Facets of Modeling

Portland’s modeling landscape is rich and varied, offering opportunities in lifestyle, commercial, and fashion modeling. Whether you’re gracing the pages of lifestyle magazines or starring in commercials, there’s a niche for your unique look. And for fashion enthusiasts, the runway might be calling your name—even if you don’t meet the conventional height standards, there’s room for your flair and style in Portland’s inclusive scene.

Education: The Foundation of Success

The best models are those who never stop learning. Immerse yourself in the art of posing, the nuances of styling, and the collaborative dance with photographers. Seek out workshops, online courses, and books—every bit of knowledge sharpens your edge in this competitive field.

To get started, check out some of the articles I’ve bookmarked on this page HERE.

The Power of Relationships

In my years of working with models and agencies, I’ve learned the importance of relationship-building. A solid recommendation from a photographer can be your golden ticket. Be the model everyone wants to work with—professional, punctual, and personable.

Styling for Success

Understanding the impact of hair and makeup on your shoot is crucial. At Kelly Mooney Photography, we work with professional stylists to ensure you look and feel your best. When it comes to wardrobe, the right choices can elevate your shoot. Stick with solids that flatter your natural palette, and always keep your attire clean and camera-ready.

Preparing for Your First Photoshoot

Your photoshoot is more than just taking pictures; it’s about creating art. Bring your creativity to the table, be on time, and plan for a session that explores various facets of your modeling potential.


  • Start with wardrobe basics: tailored black slacks, crisp white button-down shirts, neutral-toned t-shirts.
  • Choose versatile pieces adaptable to various commercial contexts.
  • Keep clothing simple with clean lines to let your personality stand out.
  • Avoid busy patterns that can distract from the product or message.
  • Include a well-fitted blazer to add sophistication to any look.
  • Women: Bring a shift dress in a solid color; can be accessorized for versatility.
  • Men: Opt for a versatile sweater for solo or layered looks.
  • Select understated, polished footwear: classic loafers for men, neutral pumps for women.
  • Bring your best jeans: dark washes, no distress, universally flattering for on-camera work.
  • Ensure each clothing item contributes to a clean, approachable look that aligns with the brand’s vision.


  • Embrace high-fashion staples: fitted blazers, tailored trousers, and sleek, high-waisted skirts.
  • Select a range of tops: structured blouses, fine-knit turtlenecks, and bodysuits for a seamless fit undergarments.
  • Incorporate statement pieces: a bold, oversized coat or a uniquely structured dress to demonstrate versatility.
  • Stick to a monochromatic palette or complementary colors for a cohesive, editorial look.
  • Choose sophisticated footwear: stiletto heels, minimalist ankle boots, or classic ballet flats for women; oxford shoes or clean, designer sneakers for men.
  • Add one or two avant-garde accessories: think sculptural jewelry or a striking belt to accentuate the ensemble.
  • Opt for luxurious fabrics like silk, wool blends, and leather to add texture and depth to photos.
  • Prepare a variety of necklines and silhouettes to show adaptability to different fashion styles.
  • Ensure outfits are well-tailored to highlight physique and posture.
  • Avoid overly embellished pieces that can detract from the model’s features and the clothing’s form.


  • Opt for high-quality, fitted athletic wear: compression leggings, moisture-wicking tops, and supportive sports bras.
  • Include a variety of functional pieces: tank tops, running shorts, and athletic jackets to showcase versatility in sportswear.
  • Stretch your style choices. Choose a variety of outfits that make you look suitable for catalogs jobs (i.e. – Fred Meyer) to editorial jobs for magazine articles. Resist bringing all your favorite similar type/style outfits.
  • Bring footwear specific to the shoot’s activity: running shoes, cross-trainers, or cycling shoes, ensuring they’re clean and in good condition.
  • Accessorize appropriately with fitness gear: sweatbands, gloves, or yoga mats can add authenticity to your athletic persona.
  • Choose solid colors or subtle patterns that emphasize form and movement without overwhelming the frame.
  • Pack a range of layered options: lightweight hoodies, zip-up jackets, and track pants for dynamic shots.
  • Ensure clothing is current and reflects the latest trends in fitness fashion.
  • Incorporate branded apparel selectively, making sure logos are visible but not dominating the shot.
  • If you don’t have much in your wardrobe, borrow your friend’s outift that you love. Buy inexpensive but still stylish looking clothing from stores such as H&M, Zara or online at  Another great option that many models have used:  rent simple, stylish outfits from
  • Remember functionality: outfits should not only look good but also allow for a full range of motion.
  • Maintain a polished yet realistic appearance: simple, natural makeup for women and a clean, groomed look for men.

Details Matter

Prior to your shoot, make sure you have:

  • Clean, manicured fingernails and toenails (natural please – no color) 
  • Moisturized, hydrated skin
  • Neutral, supportive undergarments
  • Ironed, hanging clothes
  • Clean, polished shoes
  • Women: always bring one pair of black heels for your first shoot or for digitals
  • Hairbrush, bands and touch-up supplies
  • Makeup for retouching

Final Touches

With a suitcase full of options and an open mind, you’re set for success. Let my guidance, along with your preparation, pave the way for a seamless shoot.

Your individuality is your asset, and at Kelly Mooney Photography, I’m dedicated to showcasing that. Let’s create not just photographs, but stepping stones to your future in modeling. Welcome to the family, and let’s make your modeling aspirations a reality.

After spending more than 15 successful years working as a publicist for Inc. 500-sized businesses, my part-time photography hobby began consuming my time and passion. Rather than leaving my previous industry, I transferred my focus (if you’ll pardon the pun) to using visual, rather than written, communication to promote my client’s professional and personal brands.

Today, I am a commercial and lifestyle photographer known for making even the most reluctant subjects feel comfortable in front of my lens. When I’m not shooting in my sun-drenched studio on Oregon City’s historic Main Street, I’m on location helping my clients craft contemporary, on-brand images to help grow their own bottom line.

I laugh a lot. I work too much. And I love the fact that my job allows me to work with such a vast range of people and businesses. Oh – and because I sat on the other side of the desk for so many years, hiring photographers to provide what I now offer – I am committed to making sure your project is completed on time. On budget. And with work that you’ll be proud to share with your audience.