Photography Portfolio by Joey Lawrence

Building a Great Photography Portfolio

Are you all set to build your very own photography portfolio? But, let me guess, you are confused as to what you should put in there, which piece of art should you choose to display and which ones would be better kept unseen? Need some help? We have got you covered!

Building a photography portfolio is not an easy task – I hear you, people. If you are anything like me, you end up liking a load of photographs, when you only have the option of choosing a few. Being able to take great photographs is one thing, while choosing between them is considered an entirely different but equally important matter. Everything depends on what we show.  I have come to terms with the fact that learning photography is not as hard as selecting the best shots out of the many photos you take.

And then comes the designing and  the presenting part. Nowadays, with technology rising to greater heights, your option is not just limited to a printed, hard copy, booklet form of portfolio anymore. There is the option of personalized websites and blogs, social media, forums designed particularly for showcasing people’s work and so on. But, as you must have noticed, most of the places are digital.

This has kind of evoked a silent war in the minds of the people in the photography industry. For, some believe that Print is still a better choice, whereas the others are in favor of opting for Digital. Honestly, as is the case in marketing and business, so, in photography, I personally feel, it all depends on who your target audience is.

And here we have our first and the main point to begin this short lesson with.

  1. Identify the Audience:

It can make a world of difference when you identify and focus on the people you really need to connect with, whom you want to provoke with your work or who you want to advertise your art to. If your targeted spectators demand print, you give them print, if they prefer digital, you go with what they want. Simple as that.

Only, you will have to do some prior research for it of course, you might need to look up on the set of audience you will be presenting your work to in the near future – God bless you – gain a bit of information about them and you will need to be aware of their preferences and everything. Not really a big deal, it only sounds daunting – think positive!

Then the most crucial thing to keep in mind is that you only show your clients the images which are relevant to their demand. For example, let’s say you handle weddings as well as food photography quite nicely. Both are different genres with different set of people with their own unique wants and demands. If some clients come to you for wedding, you will only focus on getting them to admire your wedding photography portfolio first.

Later, when they are about to leave after sealing the deal with you, you can probably mention that you do food photography as well and if they are interested, you can then have them look at your food photography also, for any future appointments if they ever need a food photographer or anything like that. But, this is only for when things go smoothly with respect to the actual, real matter they are there for.

  1. Weigh The Worth

Every photo will have its own story

And here we are again! The selection. I am sorry, we cannot do anything about this annoying matter, one just needs to go through this step. You need to tell a viewer  in the first few photos only that you are worth it! No one has so much time now to go through a ton of pictures to finally land on a decision of whether they want to hire you or not. Besides, it is impossible to include all your favorites, which who knows, might be a thousand if you take photographs religiously.

If this really is the case, then you can make two portfolios and let one of them hold 15 – 20 best of the best-est photographs you have ever taken! And let the other one have  100 best of the best photos. This second one will be for when your clients want to see more of your work. Plus, it will give you that satisfaction also, of being able to include more of your work in there.

In order to make this step less painful, have someone who’s opinions and suggestions you trust, have a look at your photos and let them help you decide. It can be one person or a group of people also. But, it is a good idea to follow, as us photographers, we tend to get bias sometimes with some photos because we know how much work and effort went into such and such photo. And, this way we sometimes ignore an image that did not take as much work, but has something really amazing going on in it that we are unable to see after going through so many of our hard work of photographs.

  1. In Case of Printing

Photo by © SplitShire

If you decide to go with print, you will need to think upon how big or small you want your photos to be. It is necessary that you do it before buying yourself a portfolio folder, so that when you begin your hunt for it you will know exactly what to look for.

Secondly, for print, the quality of paper you choose to display your work on, should be excellent, because this will matter a lot. It can literally change the appearance of your image. Not too much, but still to some extent. Like for instance, Matt finish paper comes with tiny grains on it, and it looks great with a certain type of photos such as a rugged scene, a shot from an old dirty alley, etc. whereas glossy paper is a super smooth sheet and it also goes best with many images which would not look better on any other paper than this one

So, a good way to find out which paper suits your photography the best, is to have a single image from your collection printed out on the short listed papers you like a lot and are of great quality too. It will make it easier for you to decide the finest of them all.

You can also decide to go with a photo book. These are a great way of displaying your work. There are services like Blurb that make the job really easy, and you get a great looking photo book to show off your work. The bonus here is that you can even sell your portfolio book on Blurb or Amazon through their service, which would mean more recognition and an extra income on the side for you.

  1. When Going Digital

Photo by © Sarah Zucca

Your requirement is digital? You got it. Knowing your target audience and your genre solves everything! A children photographer’s website will have to go with the look that the field calls for and similarly, a wildlife photographer’s web page will be telling a different story. The wildlife one can simply not have a bow and candy background. Thus, just go with what your genre and clients will agree with.

Make sure that your images are set to enlarge when clicked upon, as anyone who visits sites that have images, like to see them as big as their screens would allow.

  1. Presentation Counts

A general tip for both print and digital. Try to keep high contrast between the background and your photographs, so it makes your images pop out and they are able to hold their own aura and leave a firm impression. Your presentation will count too. Consider giving the photos a border, or try arranging the order of the pictures in a way so as to indicate a particular emotion, feel or to make a point that instantly catches the attention of anyone seeing them. Have the most impactful photos appear first.

  1. A Trick to Engage Them

Consider giving your photos a caption or a short description. They help engage the people looking at photos because humans have this natural inclination to know more about something they like. If you have made sure that they like what they see in your portfolio, then they will definitely want to know the story behind all that you have displayed.

For instance, I would love to know the story behind this image.
  1. Up to Date

Keep updating your portfolio. It will be easy with the web but might end up being a bit costly in print – but who would care when you will be getting a great deal of clients and opportunities? Also, do not make the mistake of replacing all the old ones with newer ones (this goes especially for the print people out there), just add and replace with the ones that have broken records in your history of preserving time in photos.

And that is about it! You have successfully created your own portfolio! Thumbs up for you! Oh but, always remember, the more personalized your stuff is, the more it will have YOU in it. Be as original as you can, while of course staying within the essential boundaries. Originality is always appreciated, at least now it is a common observation that people have began showing respect and give value to anything and anyone who stands out because of their uniqueness.

Like always, best wishes for all our readers and hope this post will help you in creating a stunning portfolio and bagging more clients with your photography work.