How to Build Photography Portfolios

How to Build Photography Portfolios

Photography portfolios are necessary for anyone who plans to pursue a career as a professional photographer. A portfolio's main purpose is to showcase a photographer's accomplishments and core competencies in his field of choice. Its role is also to help clients determine whether they want to hire him. It is very important that once photographers gain experience in a particular field, create an electronic and physical portfolio, choose a specific theme for their portfolios, and keep their potential clients in mind when they choose which images they will present.

Step One - Assist an Experienced Photographer


One of the best ways to create an entry-level portfolio and gain business connections is to assist a photographer who is experienced in your field of interest. Photography apprenticeships either pay very little or do not pay at all, but the experience is invaluable. Professional photographers can help novices improve their lighting, editing, self-marketing, and business techniques. They can provide insights on how an entry-level photographer can improve his portfolio.

Step Two - Maintain an Organized Electronic Archive

No matter how you gain experience, it is important to maintain an organized electronic archive of your work. If you want to have different portfolios for different industries, create separate folders for commercial, editorial and wedding photographs. 

Once you have created and filled these basic folders, create separate folders for people, objects, and buildings. Pare things down even further with more sub-folders, which may consist of folders filled with photos that have a specific number of people in them, a specific type of object or a particular style of structure. 

An organized and detailed archive is much easier to navigate and maintain. This makes photo editing, portfolio building and image selection more efficient.

Step Three - Choose an Industry and Client-Specific Theme

Your portfolio should never be a generalized, typical collection that contains pictures of children, flowers, animals or anything else you may be emotionally attached to. Remember, the main purpose of your portfolio is to show your potential clientele how your skills can serve as a solution to their problem. If you do not gear your portfolio toward your client's needs, they will be less likely to offer you a job.

The first thing you need to do is gear your portfolio to a particular industry. If you plan on going into commercial photography, populate your portfolio with pictures of structures, CEO's and other subjects. Next, gear your portfolio toward a specific client. If your client is an agriculture company, fill your portfolio with 20 pictures of agriculture-focused pictures.

Step Four - Use More Than One Presentation Format

Most photographers have web-based portfolios under their own domain names. They are convenient, easy to use and they cut down on paper. But since electronic portfolios represent another part of your image as a photographer, you have to put your best face forward. Create a domain name under your namesake and choose an attractive layout format.

To build a Web site, you have to buy a domain name from a good--and cheap--web hosting company. Once you have purchased your domain, upload a free editing tool and file management system to your computer, and start building. As soon as you have created a strong, professional-looking portfolio, update it at least once each week or once a month with a blog, information about you, or new images.

Even though electronic portfolios are the mainstay, it is still a good idea to have a physical portfolio to take to shows, interviews, conventions, and meetings where you may not have the equipment to showcase your work electronically. Traditional portfolios are usually black binders bound in leather or a leather-like material, which is a better choice for photographers who will be dealing with  clients in less-creative industries. Avant-garde portfolios can be anything from aluminum photo binders to animal print, and should be saved for clients who appreciate an unusual approach to self-presentation.

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