Yesterday I wrote about consistency as an artist and why it’s important. Today we are going to continue that theme with how to curate a portfolio.
For years I worked at a web hosting company. I saw websites all day long and every time a photographer’s website crossed my monitor, I spent a few extra minutes clicking around. I remember one website in particular was for a boudoir photographer. I saw the very first image on her site and thought “Wow… that’s absolutely lovely work.” The next photo was nothing like the first one. If the first one was a ten, this next one was a four. That four immediately dropped the value of the first photo. I chalked that first image up to a lucky shot and kept it moving. About three or four more images in, I saw a photo of a dog.
This was followed by a photo of a child and then a picture of a landscape.
Then it returned to one or two more boudoir style photos and the show was over.
It was the most confusing portfolio I had ever viewed, and by that time there had been tens of thousands of sites I had clicked through.
Let’s imagine you are searching for a doctor and you found one who specialized in brains, hands, feet, and eyes. He also did OBGYN on the side and sometimes even took on Chiropractic patients for both humans and animals. If you needed a neurologist, you would take a hard pass on this guy. Someone who specializes in everything specializes in nothing.
When you’re viewing your portfolio, you absolutely have to cut photos that don’t fit. This is incredibly hard because you get so emotionally attached to these images. Some of them might even be amazing photos, but if including it will throw off the direction you’re trying to move your client in, then you have to omit it.
I once heard a photographer say “If you have a portfolio of 25 amazing images, you have 25 amazing images. If you have a portfolio of 24 amazing images and 1 mediocre image, then you have 25 mediocre images.” This is incredibly true of photographers. Don’t let a photo that doesn’t belong in your portfolio drag down the ones that do.
To get you started, follow these five guidelines:
1.) Create a folder with your favorite photos.
2.) Pick one photo that you think represents your style the best.
3.) As you filter through the rest of the images, ask yourself “Does this photo lift my best photo up or bring it down?”
4.) If it brings it down, ask yourself “Would re-editing this image help change the answer?”
5.) If the answer is yes, re edit and re evaluate. If the answer is no, cut it.
Try to keep your portfolio limited to 20-25 images. Your clients only need to see a handful of images to fall in love with your work.
Portfolio building and website effectiveness is something I am really passionate about, so click here if you want to get a thorough website/portfolio critique! Sometimes having an extra set of eyes will help refine your site so clients aren’t getting lost along the way!
We’ll see you tomorrow for day 7: When friends ask you to shoot for free. (YIKES!)
Day 98 is currently reserved for any questions you have throughout the next 100 days. To submit a question, please click here! If you’re interested in supporting this project, please share, PIN and comment! Any other questions, comments or ideas, please feel free to email me at denise(at)denisekaris(dot)com
|Denise Karis is an Arizona photographer who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris|
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