Robbie Tomkins on how to build a website & portfolio

By Sophie Nutt | 14 March 2019 | Expert Advice, Feature

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If you are new to session work or are thinking about a career as a session stylist, then I would say both an eye-catching portfolio and website are essential.

It’s all very well having a great website, but you are going to need lots of good quality images of your work if you want to get noticed. If you’re planning on getting into the session world, unfortunately nail images from Instagram taken on your phone won’t cut it. You are going to need to start thinking about creating some high quality, editorial-style shots to build a portfolio.

I discovered the best way to do this when starting out is to work on what’s called a ‘test shoot’. This is when a group of relatively new artists, stylists and a photographer come together to work on a shoot where invariably everyone works for no fee. Sometimes the model might receive a small fee and you might need to collectively cover the cost of a studio, but I’ve done test shoots in a photographer’s living room a few times to avoid this. This might sound strange, but it works perfectly for all parties. Everyone benefits from the invaluable experience of working on a set, being part of a beauty briefing and working with a team of creatives. Most importantly, though, everyone on the team walks away with some great editorial-style, quality shots for each of their portfolios.

Another great way t get some images for your portfolio is to assist other nail stylists on shoots. Not only does it give you experience of the session world but also provides you with some lovely content for your social channels and your new website. The best way I found to do this is to approach an artist that you admire and offer your services – but be prepared to do this for free when starting out. I am going to be covering this topic in a future issue in more detail but it’s so worth it in terms of what you can learn and where it could lead.

My advice for any budding session stylists would be just go for it. I spent far too long trying to make the perfect portfolio and website but it’s better to have one as opposed to none at all. Speak to other techs starting out as much as you can: share best practices, support each other and most importantly have fun with it.

Follow Robbie’s session nail journey on Twitter & Instagram. and check out his columns in Scratch magazine throughout 2019.