A better, simpler way to plan your photoshoots. Like the sound of a Nikon F3 shutter, that’s music to my ears. It’s also the tagline of a new company called Portbox, which claims to have the most advanced photoshoot booking system to help photographers and models create, organize, and book photoshoots. What those last few lines likely translates into for you is: ‘Model Mayhem’ competitor. But not all competitors are worthy opponents, yet we’re hoping this proves to be one.
Without a doubt, if you’re into building a fashion/beauty/commercial portfolio, you’ve at some point come across and/or spent time on Model Mayhem. After all, it tends to be the place that gathers the scattered people and resources needed into a single channel to be found. Model Mayhem is good, but it’s far from great. Its quality has become diluted over time with, well there’s no really nice way to say this, total amateurs/creeps. Sure, you’re expected to upload a ‘portfolio’ of some sort, but it seems that the gatekeepers of MM take an approach of a frat boy at a bar at 3 am, just accepting whatever’s there, or essentially what’s left.
Now, fielding amateurs in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, in fact, I often love working with those who aren’t jaded, but for those of a more professional persuasion, those that are looking for quality (quality can just be in terms of communication and professionalism) even at the start, MM is limiting and time-consuming. You have that nonsense where you’re limited to how many direct messages you can send, and even still often get flooded with messages from creeps. Furthermore, the structure of communication isn’t conducive to productivity, and talking is rampant. It’s this side of things that Portbox aims to fix. But how?
Well to begin, it’s currently invite-only, which they claim is something that sets them apart, but we all know this is just a beta phase. Invite only is often a gimmick, and they claim to, “pre-screen all applicants for quality assurance and professionalism….Your portfolio must show a strong professional interest in fashion/glamour/commercial modeling photography.”
When you sign up, you’re asked for your website, 500px, Instagram, FB Profile, and humorously, your Model Mayhem portfolio handle, all for review. That may work easily enough in beta and the invite only stage, but when and if this takes off, I’ll bet it’ll be a bottle-neck that they’ll no longer want. But, that’s where it is now, and you can see from the homepage and clicking through that the general quality surely does currently surpass MM. But this isn’t really just an MM alternative, as there’s a large focus on efficiency through centralizing booking, requests, communication, and searching for talent to work with.
Starting out, you can sign up, post your portfolio, and accept offers for free, but there are paid tiers for those who want to create shoots and send offers. Mind you, you can still create and send offers on the free account but are limited to 2 a month. Then, there’s a $9 plan that gives you five projects a month, and a $16 plan where you are unlimited in all areas. There’s always a price to pay for a good service, and I actually like that it’s paid since it’s its own form of quality control as it’ll turn away those who aren’t serious.
Is there a place in the market for this? Without a doubt. Will it catch on? We’ll see, and I plan on speaking directly with Portbox and giving a more detailed review and insight soon. So if there are any questions you have, please comment, and I’ll try to get them all* answered. I would say, though, that this seems like a great addition to services like CloudSpot if you’re serious about your work and who you work with.
*Regarding invites, there’s no guarantee but I’ll see what we can do.