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News & Insight

Portbox | Model Mayhem Without The Sleaze & Low Quality ? Maybe. Hopefully.

By Kishore Sawh on July 14th 2015


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.

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Donald Jones

    With all the issues most have with MM…they are still the go to service in that market. Many have come to replace them, all have failed. I don’t get it.

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  2. Amanda Tate

    Hello everyone.

    I have to agree. A lot of fashion industry professionals are seeking a nice platform with all the perks. I have used mm many sites like mm who state that they offer all types of benefits yet to find out to be cut at the knees by having to pay to add more images, add more friends, message other members, etc. I was pretty feed up with all of them until a year ago I came across It’s a social fashion network that allows it’s users full access to their site. I was skeptical at first at first but ever since became a big fan and wanted to genuinely share this great site to others who are seeking a outlet to create a portfolio, network with other creative artists, Seek jobs, post castings, and more. Hope you find this information useful.

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  3. Ralph Hightower

    They should’ve run their web content through a spell checker. On their Features page, they offer “Percision Search”.

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  4. Paul Robinson

    As a former MM user I applaud the efforts of Portbox to create a better site for professionals. I would have liked to explore the site before signing up. Your article missed the fact that it is by invite only while still in the Beta mode. That information would have been helpful too.

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  5. Stephen Jennings

    Why do all modeling sites look like they were designed in 1995?

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  6. Rick Garcia

    I wait on the sidelines to see what else pops up regarding this service. The thought of something new is refreshing but the idea of full disclosure before I even know what is in the back end of the site has me pondering. I wait and see…….

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  7. norman tesch

    i stopped using mm awhile ago. its filled with girls that dont have the professionalism to even answer emails. girls with no experience wanting to get paid. just because you are willing to pose naked dosent make you a model. they say the site is filled with creeper guys but the girls arent helping the reputation much either

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  8. Patrick Shipstad

    Well first off, I applaud someone for trying to come up with something different.. Booking shoots, especially TFP is a back and forth, fluid process most of the time. If this can make things more organized in doing so, then that might be nice. But it seems like someone has to go in there, get a feel for the workflow and come back with some information… a review. To not be able to look into the site unless you’ve given all your information and have been “accepted”, at this point is a deal breaker for me, even for a free account. They really need a video or something that clearly explains how it’s different, how it works and why it’s better. Also, they site may have a ton of booking and tracking functionality and that’s great, but at first glance, if the inside of the site is as poorly laid out as the front end, that isn’t instilling a lot of confidence . Having a colored overlay over a photo is not only distracting but it’s color can take pull focus from the photo. On the home page, the sliding photos and testimonials, flashing text like cheap animated gifs, all remind me of websites packed with distracting ads. I think a clean, professional 500 px look would take just esthetically take it to a new level.

    I wish them luck and I hope it turns into a great networking option.. we could sure use that. But I’ll wait till we can get some actual user feedback. I’ll definitely keep an eye for some reviews. :-)

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  9. Robert Anderson

    So, to promote their non-sleazy site, they have/feature one model pulling her pants down, and the other model unbuttoning her pants? That’s sleazy.

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    • Drew Pluta

      Don’t forget the Vegas slot machine blinking availability on every profile! And how about that cheap purple brand color.

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  10. Andre Queree

    It would be nice to be able to try the search to see what kind of talent is available in various locations. I thought it was USA only until I saw one Paris based. No idea what’s available in Australia though.

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  11. J D

    Seems like A LOT of personal information to give out and you’d better hope all your photos are watermarked, all to gain access to a site which so far is unproven.

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  12. Drew Pluta

    Would it be too much to ask that we be able to see (and maybe use) the site a little before bowing to the “are you good enough” process? Seriously, they need to prove to me that they are good enough for me to use. There are piles of unusable options out there wasting away and wasting our time. Really, all we need is a professional build of ModelMayhem and this doesn’t look like it. Although it’s hard to tell because they don’t let you see anything.

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    • Dustin Baugh

      Agreed. I hate that all new photographer online tools and sites are just a login page with no way to preview if they will be any use.

      I’ve signed up for too many sites that promise to find Models/Locations/Studios in your area, and they only have listings for New York and London.

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