No matter your budget you can still get somee nice photos to start you off, you don't need a portfolio to start, you just need some basic shots, a headshot, a full body in a dress or jeans "doing something" walking down the street, laughing, sitting at a cafe, putting on shoes, a shot that looks like an ad for something, so here are some tips on savvy ways to get ahead without paying big bucks!
1. Since there wont always be a stylist, start buying clothing that can be both modeling clothing for your photo shoots and daily clothing for your diverse life.
2. Start buying things on sale, things that are off season and even on the sale rack, because it can translate into a great shoot. The swimwear on sale at the end f summer is an example.
Also remember, if you want to model swimwear and submit photos to a magazine, you should do your shoot in the fall or very early winter and submit it to the magazines by March or sooner because the magazines will run all the swimwear shots 2 months before summer, which means in the April issues, sometimes sooner because of Spring Break and the magazines promote vacation season early for the retailers. Which is also why in Miami the SEASON is in December-March because the weather is great down there, and they shoot all the summer clothing for the northern ad campaigns which will appear in April, May and June.
Same thing for coats, if you want to model winter coats, shoot yourself in the summer, in studio if you must because all winter modeling is done in the summer.
3. Need a handbag or jewelry for your shoot? Because being assertive gets you places, it is good to plan to style your shoots and you can without paying for it, by approaching aspiring designers at tradeshows or events, for example at the Javits Center the Accessory show is great for scouting out designers who might need models or who will let you use their designs for your shoots in exchange for images. So is the Lingerie of America's Show in NYC each year. You have to get involved with your shoots!
4. don't forget the old fashion way which is really better actually. Share your ideas with a photographer and approach him or her by emailing them or send your photos to their studio. Or for starters visit a photography department at a college, go to a photo store and ask for some advice. There are ways to find a photographer for a decent rate, and if you are up front and bring creative energy and show the photographer that you are willing to do the work and be a good model, then you can get images without breaking the banks!