Portfolio Tips

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The possession of a portfolio is an integral part of selling your photographs – whether you are selling your own prints, or selling your skills as a photographer. Creating a collection of the work that you are the most proud of establishes your skills in a visual way that will draw potential clients and customers.

Start by determining which of your shots you consider to be the best. If you are specializing in a specific kind of photography (portraits, weddings, landscapes, flowers, etc.), choose a selection of photos of that type, but choose a variety of compositions – black and white, macro, wide angle, perspective variations, and the like.

If you are not specializing, choose from a variety of subjects – people, landscape, architecture, etc. As a personal challenge, try to re-create the type of shots that are attracting the most attention in the market these days. Look at the work of other professional photographers, such as portraitists, wedding photographers, food photographers, landscape and wildlife photographers. Review trade magazines such as architecture, home and garden, photography, and design. Get ideas from these sources in order to expand upon the types of work present in your portfolio.

It helps for the file size of the digital photographs to be as large as your camera allows, in order to maintain the detail of the image when the photo is printed out in large sizes. Also, keep in mind, if you are uploading to certain photo sharing websites, sometimes the upload programs have an automatic setting to re-size the photos to make uploading faster. Make sure you turn this option OFF (I found this out the hard way on Flickr – YEARS of photo uploads, resized to a smaller size than the originals, and I no longer had the originals of many of my photos saved anywhere else).

Next, develop a signature that you can add to your photographs – it helps to maintain the copyright of your work, and also adds a little extra advertising for people to see your signature when your work is hanging in a home or business! I have written a tutorial for how to add a signature to your photograph using Photoshop CS3, it can be found here. Add your signature to each photo in your portfolio.

Showcase your portfolio in two ways – on-line, and printed. If you have a website, post your portfolio pictures in their own section of the website. If you use a photo sharing site (Flickr, Shutterfly, Photobucket, etc.), have a separate folder or group for your portfolio pictures. In this way you can direct people to your portfolio’s URL for quick and easy access to examples of your work.

Print a copy of each of your portfolio photos in 8×10 format, then put them in a professional looking binder or album. Often times photos look different on-line versus in printed format, so it’s important to have both versions available to show perspective clients and customers. Plus, in this digital age, it’s kind of nice to have physical prints that you can hold in your hands. Other things to include in the physical portfolio are a title list of the images (with perhaps some interesting back-story to go along with them), and a thumbnail page which provides an overview of all of the images in the portfolio.

Consider providing examples of your post-processing expertise. “Before” and “after” shots demonstrate that you have the ability to make good shots better, and that you know how to remove slight flaws (blemishes, red-eye, clutter). It is important to retain the positive aspects of the shot without making it look over-edited.

Some photographers find the prospect of assembling a portfolio of their work to be a bit intimidating. I hope that these tips have helped you to take the next step toward developing your own portfolio. Be proud of your skills and of your work, and don’t be afraid to show it!

Photo Credits: All of the photos used in this entry came from my own portfolio. In order of appearance:

Back-Lit Seuss
Oregon Rose Garden

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