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Every photographer, whether you are a professional, an amateur hobbyist or a student at college, needs a portfolio of their work that represents the very best of their photography.
This allows you to quickly send new clients, potential exhibitions and other contacts your work in a prepackaged form. Without a portfolio you’d have to search through your files and put together a selection of your work, and while you can tailor your portfolio for different projects, it’s so helpful to have one to hand any time the need to share your work arises.
When you’re putting together your portfolio you always want to make sure it’s unique, stands out and represents the highest quality of your work. That said, there are universally applicable considerations that should always be taken into account while you’re putting yours together. What Should You Keep in Mind While Creating Your Photography Portfolio?
What Format Should Your Portfolio Be?
Before you can start selecting images and building your portfolio you need to consider what type of format it will be in. With modern technology, most people have an online portfolio. This is extremely useful because you can easily share it on social media, send the link by email or else direct interested parties to the website on which it’s hosted.
The best way to set up your digital portfolio is to create your own website that is dedicated to your photography and creative projects. You can then host your portfolio on your website. It’s very easy and cost effective to build your own website and with so many excellent platforms, including WordPress, you don’t even need to have coding skills to create a professional looking website.
However, as well as having a digital portfolio you might want to consider having a physical version of it too. This is more expensive to create, as a result of the associated printing costs, however, if you’re meeting clients or other people in person then being able to go through a physical portfolio can make a huge difference to the outcome of your meeting.
Ultimately, you’re going to want to have a digital portfolio and a physical one. The digital version will be much easier to update and modify as your career progresses and realistically it’s how you’ll get your work in front of most people.
What are Your Goals?
When you put together your portfolio you should always keep your aims and goals at the forefront of your thoughts. Are you going to use your portfolio to advertise your services to potential clients or are you applying for a specific job or exhibition opportunity? Do you need to make a portfolio to help you get into college or university?
Depending on the purpose of your portfolio you’ll have to tailor it to your needs. If you’re going to be applying for college then you may want to represent as broad a selection of your work as you can whereas if you are going to be using it to advertise your work as a portrait photographer then you want the portfolio to be specific to that.
Before you create your portfolio do a little bit of research to find out what you should be presenting to help you achieve the outcomes that you want.
- The Audience: As your career develops so will your target audience. This has to be reflected in your portfolio and that means you’ll have to be prepared to update it over time. Always keep your audience in mind and avoid the temptation of just putting your own personal favorite photos in your portfolio! Once you’ve built your website you can also divide it into sections that reflect different aspects of your interests in photography but your portfolio itself should always be carefully constructed to have the biggest possible impact on your target audience.
- Study the Work of Others: A good way to get a sense of what you should be including in your portfolio is to study how other photographers in your genre are making their portfolios. This will help you to get an instant straw poll on what works and what doesn’t and although you should always try to go over and above the competition it’s a great technique to quickly give yourself a framework within which to get started. Identifying how your peers have presented their work will give you inspiration and a well researched backdrop against which you can make your own portfolio stand out from the crowd.
- Use Editing to Enhance Your Work: Never be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get busy in the editing suite! Naturally, you don’t want to over do but a little bit can go a long way. Clients, colleges and other potential audiences of your portfolio will expect it to be touched up in post production and so you’ll still be promoting your work in an authentic way. Making use of the available software to enhance your photos is a top technique to employ to showcase the very best of your work and stand out in the competitive world of photography. During the editing process you should also be removing any images that are not up to scratch leaving only the top quality content in your final portfolio.
Selecting the Photos for Your Portfolio.
It can be a tough process to make the final decision as to what will go into your portfolio. One approach that helps you to begin working through your images and choosing only the photos that will best serve you is to begin by dividing your files into rated groups.
Start out by going through your photos and giving them a quick rating out of ten – for example, 5/10 or 9/10. You’re going to have to be pretty disciplined because it won’t help you in the long run to simply rate them as all 10/10. You can also split up your photos into genres, styles and by subject matter. This will give you a good base from which to begin making your final selection for the portfolio.
Keep the goal of your portfolio in mind as you’re making your choices to ensure that everything is relevant to the audience you’re creating it for. If you are making more than one portfolio, for different audiences, you can repeat this process to quickly establish what should be going in each of the portfolios.
Once you’ve picked which photos you want to include in your portfolio the next step is to narrow down the number of images to a maximum of 50 but preferably less. When you’re creating a portfolio, quality is far more important than quantity so ideally you should end up with between 15-50 images, depending on the purpose of the portfolio and audience it is for.
Get As Much Feedback as You Can.
When you’re picking what to put in your portfolio it’s always helpful if you can get some feedback from your friends, family or other photographers. If you can get tips from a professional that advice could be invaluable although you should still have faith in your own judgement.
You can also get some quick feedback from a broader audience by using your social media accounts. You could, for example, post a draft of your portfolio on your social media and explain that you’re looking for some feedback on how it’s shaping up. There will always be people willing to help and they might just give you some unique insights that really helps you create the best portfolio possible. You’ll also be able to find out which images are turning out to be the most popular with a general audience on social media – and the results might surprise you!
Your Online Portfolio Website – Get the Details Right.
When you put your portfolio online it must be easy to navigate around and load quickly so that anyone looking for it will have a good user experience. The last thing you want is for someone to have to wait a long time for the page to load and then struggle to find the actual photos!
Your portfolio site must also work on multiple different devices – including phones and tablets – so that people can access your work regardless of what they’re using. As well as ensuring that the basic experience is good for users of your site you should try to keep things simple. Never put music or other distracting graphics on your portfolio page so that the full attention of the viewer remains on your work.
Most modern website building platforms are extremely well designed and easy to use. One of the best platforms to use is WordPress which hosts tens of millions of websites around the world although there are others that you can use instead.
Your Photography Portfolio – The Window onto Your Work.
Anybody looking at your portfolio should instantly get a good idea of the range and quality of your work. Often, your portfolio will be the first thing that somebody sees of your photography so getting it right is absolutely critical to ensuring that you can make the most of any opportunities that you get in your career as a photographer.
Your portfolio will evolve over time as your career progresses, your interests change and your photography improves. Try to get in the habit of reviewing your portfolio a few times a year and make any changes that you think will enhance it further. Your portfolio is a chance to shine and stand out from the competition so never outlook the importance of creating the best one you possibly can.
Do you have an online photography portfolio?