It’s not enough to be an excellent photographer when you are struggling to establish in the photography business. It’s necessary that you should know how to present your work. And this is where your portfolio building steps in. If you have an excellent portfolio, it will shout about your work and attract potential customers towards you and your work. Ben Zander, a leading head shot and portrait photographer in Bangkok shares valuable tips here about creating an impressive portfolio.
1. Which Common Mistakes Should You Avoid?
Photographers are generally seen to make some common mistakes while putting together their work in a portfolio.
Including Same Type of Images: One of the commonest mistakes is to include many images that have nothing really different from each other. These images are usually shot at the same time and location, with a slight difference of angle or light. You on your own might have decided each of these images excellent but imagine when you have to see such similar yet multiple images of another photographer! You will have a doubt about the photographer’s ability to assess her/his own work. The same effect takes place when you do that and your possible clients view the photos.
Including Not-so-good Images on Back Pages: Another common mistake is to present the best work on the front pages of the portfolio and the not-best work on the back pages. Do you think that the clients won’t see the back pages? If they are impressed with your work from the front pages, they will definitely watch the complete portfolio and their former great impression will slowly come down to settle on ‘not-so-good’!
Changing Format and Sizes: Another silly mistake is to change the format, i.e. vertical or horizontal, and sizes. Why do you want to trouble your client’s eyes? The changed format and size doesn’t show your skill; it confuses the viewer’s brain and disturbs her/his eyes.
No Keenness in Editing: Today’s digital camera age allows photographers to edit much loosely. While photographers find it fun to shoot, they find it boring and unnecessary to edit the photos. Also, it’s difficult to evaluate your own work. In such a condition, taking opinion of your honest colleagues while evaluating your work is beneficial.
2. Parameters for Images to be Included in the Portfolio
Here are some criteria you should apply to your images for including them in the portfolio:
- Every person who sees the image should be wowed, without requiring you to give an introduction or information
- The image should be relevant to the primary base of the work you want to be hired for.
- The image should be completed technically with a professional touch of mastery, unless you have been adopting and displaying a rough style deliberately
3. Many Different Portfolios
There is nothing wrong in creating and maintaining many different portfolios for particular purposes. Many professional photographers do that. Here are some hints:
- Do not show deliberately to the world that you are a competent photographer. When a photographer is hired for a work, it means that s/he is competent.
- You should be active socially by communicating to the world with Twitter and Facebook posts, and also through exhibitions, meetings and newsletters. This will make you unique and outstanding among all other competent photographers having expensive lenses and a 20+ MP camera.
- Find out what you like. Which type of photography do you like the most and love to get paid for? Do you love to do it even if not paid? This type is the one in which you should specialize. Stay away from jack of all trades, master of none!
- Once you find out the work you really love, you should create and exhibit only that type of work to your potential employers and customers. You should aim at creating an image (a mental image) of yourself in the mind of your prospective client or employer that will represent your favorite work. Thus when a specialist in photographing wild animals is needed, for example, your name should come to her/his mind. If you send a portfolio of mixed photos, some of your friend’s wedding, some of beaches and some of animals, your mental image won’t be created for a specific type of work in the employer’s mind, and mostly s/he may not hire you for any work.
- Think of your potential employers! They have an unending list of aspiring photographers. They can’t remember names or work of all of them. But they can remember some unique ones who have created truly outstanding work. So, create some really iconic images of a specific type that would fit in your employers’ mind and they will remember you when that type of work is needed. By that time, you can try to get other projects with your other portfolios.
4. Should the Images be Arranged in a Specific Order?
Yes, definitely. Your ‘The Best’ photo should be the first in your portfolio because it will create the first impression in your employer’s mind and it would be the last impression. This photo represents you as a competent photographer; what’s more, it shows what kind of person you are. And of course, it will do another important task too – to make the viewer eager to see the next images!
Many leading photographers choose to make a sequence of 3-5 photos within a 20-image album. Shot sizes and viewpoints should vary, particularly if it’s a printed book having facing pages. Avoid putting a couple of wide shots on the facing pages; get an inspiration from film editing and put together complementary tones, colors and shot sizes.
5. Importance of a Solid End
As mentioned earlier, putting mediocre images on back pages is harmful. Take your employer’s leave with an incredibly beautiful image, instead. If you don’t do this, your last photo will make them turn to your cover photo because the last photo will create so much doubt in their mind about the entire portfolio that they were wrong in being optimistic about you because of the front photos.
Keeping in mind at every step that the portfolio will represent you and your work, follow these essential steps and that will make your portfolio outstanding.