Career Tips for Photographers: How to Create the Perfect Portfolio

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Monday, May 27, 2024

Career Tips for Photographers: How to Create the Perfect Portfolio

To begin your career as a photographer and make money, you need to create a winning portfolio to show off to potential clients. It’s a lot more work than just taking lots of pictures and putting them together; you need to put some real thought into the theme, inspiration and presentation of your portfolio to create a lasting impression. Here are some tips on how to create that perfect portfolio:

Consider Your Audience
Over the years you will likely compile a number of portfolios dependent on the type of audience you are presenting to. But for now, consider who your audience is and what they want to see. What kind of emotions do you want to evoke in them? What do you want them to see? You won’t include every photo you’ve taken in your final portfolio, so only select the ones that you believe your audience wants you to create for them.

Select Featured Images
This is possibly the most essential step to crafting your portfolio. Now it’s time to decide which photos make the cut and get to be included. This is likely going to be a time-consuming process but don’t worry, it’s worth getting it right.

Make sure you don’t pick photos that are too similar to each other, like shots of people with an incredibly subtle change in the lighting or body position. There should be distinct differences in your chosen photos that show your creativity as a photographer.

Go over your shots again and again and narrow them down each time so you can see how the portfolio is taking shape. Only showcase your very best work; “kill your darlings” as it were, doing so with an unsentimental eye. And absolutely don’t include shots with any flaws.

Order is Important
Once you’ve narrowed down your selection you will need to think about the order they will be viewed in. Clients won’t always make it to the end of a portfolio so you will need to start strong to grab their attention. But you will also want to show versatility, so you also need to ensure your last image is remarkable as well. A good tip is to start with your second-best photo and end on your absolute best.

Define Your Style
Your style as a photographer should be consistent and shown throughout your portfolio. It’s how you reveal your personality and highlight what makes your photography stand out from the competition. So if a photo doesn’t mesh with your style, then don’t include it in your portfolio. Your portfolio needs to show your technical style of photography as well as your artistic style, so clients know exactly what they’re getting.

Search for Inspiration
You can’t expect to know how to build an incredible portfolio if you’ve never taken a look at anyone else’s. The best way to get inspired and get started is to explore other portfolios that speak to you. Consider how many images they have included, why they work well together, and how they display their style. Looking through your competitors' work can help you decide how to set yourself apart and develop a strong sense of style and aesthetic.

Tell a Story
Telling a story is a powerful tool that can elevate your portfolio to the next level. Each photo should have a title, and your online portfolio can include a description of each one. When clients look through your portfolio, they want to know the context behind each one. Maybe there is an interesting fact behind the image or an intriguing story. Feel free to share these with your audience, or with clients if they want to know the context behind the photograph.

Choose Impactful Photos
Your clients won’t care what trials and tribulations you went through to get that perfect shot if the image has to be overly explained. Your photographs should speak for themselves and form part of the narrative. You could find room for those tricky shots in a later portfolio down the line, but for now, cut back your collection and only include the most impactful shots to keep it strong.

Digital and Prints
You can decide to have your portfolio entirely online or produce high-quality prints to create a physical portfolio – but it never hurts to have both. A printed album allows you to show off your photographs in greater detail, and clients you meet face-to-face will likely want to see a physical album.

However, an online portfolio is a great way to share your work far and wide with clients or on social media for exposure, or just to get feedback. Once you’ve built your portfolio and are completely happy with it, consider a physical and online version so you can be flexible.

Ask for Opinions
People typically are not great at judging their own work. You might be drawn to certain photographs that outside observers would not include as one of your best pieces. So make sure you get some feedback either from trusted friends or other photographers so you can make sure you’re actually choosing your best shots.

Once you have your perfect photography portfolio, you can pair it with a great CV so you can secure your next photography job and make your future portfolio even more amazing.

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