A photographer’s portfolio is undoubtedly one of their strongest tools when it comes to promoting and marketing their photography. Gone are the days where one would have to make expensive prints, bind them into heavy books, and lug them around for portfolio reviews.
Online portfolios have become the most efficient way to get your work out in front of a mass audience, so it’s important to pay attention to some key elements that make a portfolio stand out.
Below you’ll find a few tips and examples that will help when editing your portfolio, including some ImageBrief photographers with portfolios that do an amazing job of showcasing the photographer’s images, experience, and vision.
Quality Doesn’t Mean Quantity
One of the most common questions we get is, “how many images should I have in my portfolio?” It’s important to understand the art of editing and not have too many images for the sake of making your work look more substantial. There is also a fine line of having too little, where you leave the viewer wanting more, or worse, unsure of your what your work is about. A good amount of images usually falls within 30-60 per genre and should give a good overview of what your vision and aesthetic is if a client chooses to hire you. Every one of those photos you choose needs to be strong enough to stand on it’s own and convince the viewer you’re the photographer for the job. If you have any doubts about certain images, they probably shouldn’t be there.
Tippy Dray is an underwater, nature, landscape and travel photographer. When looking at his portfolio, you can tell immediately what he shoots and get a good sense of his visual style that uses vibrant colors and interesting perspectives.
Keep It Consistent
Point of view, visual style, and aesthetics all go together when it comes to presenting your work. It’s important to keep things consistent as clients want to be able to see all three of those attributes throughout your work. A common mistake made by novice photographers is that they have work in their portfolios that jumps all over the place, making it look like multiple photographers shot everything. Even if some shoots in your portfolio might be completely different, they should all have a relatively consistent theme, where a viewer can see those images and know that you shot them all.
Christian Mushenko’s portfolio is a great example of how you can meld a bunch of different genres like food, lifestyle, and advertising together and still keep things consistent. All his images have a highly produced cinematic quality that gives them that slick advertising look that his clients love.
Showcase Work For the Jobs You Want
Why would you have things in your portfolio that don’t represent what you shoot? Make sure you only show what you’re great at and the type of work you want to attract, otherwise you’ll find yourself in a cycle of shooting things that don’t make you happy. Plus, clients want to hire you for your vision, not someone else’s.
Lisa Tichane’s portfolio showcases her ability to capture authentic family lifestyle flawlessly. You can bet when people looking for those type of images see her work, they know she’s more than capable of doing the shoot and you can tell she enjoys it as well.
Arranging Your Images
The general rule when it comes to ordering your portfolio, is to have a killer start and finish. This is absolutely crucial to hooking a viewer when they first open your site and to leave them with a lasting impression. When it comes to everything in between, make sure you group different genres together so things don’t look to jumbled.
When you look at Lena Mirisola’s portfolio, you can’t help but feel the energy and excitement in all of her images. From start to finish, every single image has a story and leaves that lasting impression. Even though the middle of her portfolio varies in genres, they all are properly grouped and consistent.
Tearsheets Show Credibility
If you’ve had work published in ads, magazines, websites, etc., great! Tearsheets with layouts show credibility and clients love seeing this type of work. Bonus points if it’s a national campaign where they’ve probably seen it “in the wild.” Word of caution, only show high quality tearsheets that have good layouts that make your images look good. Please leave out any comps that you’ve created yourself, these come off as amateurish and will only harm your credibility.
Bruce Peterson is a still life and advertising photographer at the top of his game. He has countless ad campaigns and editorials under his belt. You can tell just by looking at his portfolio what his expertise is in and what he can bring to the table and clients looking to book Bill would be impressed by his past work.
Get a Different Opinion
It’s always vital to get some outside opinions when editing your portfolio. As an artist, it’s easy to hold onto images that you’re personally attached to. Ultimately, different viewpoints can help you let go of your not-so-strong images. Remember, photography is a very subjective medium, so don’t take things to heart when people give their opinions. Take it all in and decide later if you want to take those images out. The ultimate goal is to edit out images that weaken your portfolio.
Bonus: Did you know our Premium Members receive a one-on-one portfolio review with us? Click here to learn more.
Keep Things Up To Date
This final tip is a no-brainer. It’s so important to keep your portfolio up to date so clients re-visiting your portfolio will see something fresh. It’s easy to fall into a cycle of having the same stale images on your site. The solution: keep shooting and make sure you keep things updated!