A photography portfolio is essential for a photographer looking to showcase their work. Clients and potential employers want something to look at so they know what to expect from you.
How do you create a stunning photography portfolio that will make people want to hire you? Read on to learn how.
Table of Contents
The Photography Portfolio
At its most basic a photography portfolio is a collection of the photographer’s work. Most people think that means a collection showcasing the photographer’s best work. But that isn’t always true.
Photographers take photos of many different things. The world is vast and full of subjects waiting for someone to photograph them. Types of photography are about as endless as subjects.
Many photographers specialize in one area of photography like weddings, fashion, or lifestyle. But even within categories, there is a huge amount of variety.
The point we are trying to make is that a collection of a photographer’s best work is likely to be random. They may have some amazing wedding, lifestyle family, architecture and food images. Toss in a few of those gorgeous landscapes they got while on vacation and you have quite a mix.
These photos may represent the best of that photographer’s work. But as a portfolio, they are not likely to be helpful. A portfolio like this leaves the viewer confused.
Most photographers use their portfolios to market and find new clients. Your potential client may feel confused or overwhelmed by a random portfolio. In that case, they’re likely to look somewhere else.
Many people like to know they are hiring an expert. You may take amazing photos regardless of the genre, many photographers do. But people will still feel better with a photographer that has a cohesive portfolio.
Let’s dig in! Let’s talk about how to create that cohesive portfolio that will leave clients in awe of your work.
Paper Or Digital
First things first, you will need to choose the medium for your portfolio. Back in the day, photography portfolios were always printed. Now with new technologies, it is easy to create digital and online portfolios.
Digital portfolios are extremely convenient for obvious reasons. When looking for jobs, you can email a potential client or employer a link to your portfolio. You can have an online portfolio up on your website as a constant advertisement of your work. Plus if you want to change anything all it takes is a few clicks.
A printed photography portfolio is more cumbersome. To show it to someone you must physically take it to them. It takes more time to create it and it is difficult to make changes.
So why does anyone choose to make a printed portfolio in this day and age? A printed portfolio is a more accurate representation of your work.
Take a look at the same digital photo on a few different electronic devices. You’ll notice the colors may be slightly off. That’s because each screen displays the colors a tiny bit differently.
As a photographer, you already know to configure your computer screen to show true colors. Not everyone knows that.
Potential clients may see your photos and think that your colors are ugly. All the while not knowing that their computer screen is the true culprit.
A printed portfolio avoids that problem altogether. Clients or employers will see your photos exactly as you want them to be seen.
That being said, an online presence is crucial in today’s world. For many people, if they can’t find you online, you don’t exist. It may be a good idea to create both portfolios for different circumstances.
Know Your Audience
Now that you’ve chosen your medium, how do you get started? The first thing to consider when creating your photography portfolio is your audience.
Imagine the portfolio of a newborn photographer looking to appeal to new moms. Now imagine a product photographer’s portfolio for pitching to advertising companies. These audiences are quite different and the portfolio has to match.
If you do various types of photography, decide who your main audience is. Build your portfolio around this idea. If you definitely want to branch out, consider creating more than one portfolio.
Apply the KISS Principle
Ever heard of the KISS principle? The acronym very bluntly reminds you to “keep it simple, stupid”. Though this design principle comes from the US Navy, it also applies to your portfolio.
The purpose of an online photography portfolio is twofold. It shows off your work and shows people how to contact you. If you don’t keep these super simple, you’ll lose folks that don’t want to figure it out.
Thus, don’t overwhelm folks with hundreds of your best images. Choose photos that showcase your work without being busy and overwhelming. New eyes should be able to see your page and know your style in a few seconds.
Also, don’t clutter your page. Keep it straightforward and easy to find your contact and/or booking information.
Choose a Theme
Before you decide on the photos for your portfolio, you should pick a theme. For a wedding photographer, your obvious focus is going to be weddings. But if you want to appeal to a specific type of wedding couple you should choose that theme.
For example, if you want to shoot Hindu weddings, create a portfolio of Hindu wedding images. If you want to target elopements or destination weddings include those photos.
Your theme can be anything you want it to be. The main thing is to create a cohesive album with images that fit together.
Try to tell a story with the images you choose. To test this, give your portfolio to a friend and ask them what they think you are trying to say.
A Design that Suits Your Style
Keeping with the KISS idea, it’s time to choose a design and layout for your photography portfolio. As an artist you spend months, years even, developing and honing your style. Choose a design for your portfolio that meshes well with your style.
For example, say you’re a newborn photographer with a soft, pastel style. You wouldn’t want to choose a bold, in-your-face design for your portfolio. But that same bold design may be perfect if you’re a flashy fashion photographer.
If you’re creating a printed portfolio you have even more to think about. The cover of the album is your client or employer’s first look. What does it tell them about you?
Be sure to choose a quality printing lab that uses a high-quality paper and cover. A print-your-own book from the Internet doesn’t quite scream professionalism.
Choose Your Photos
We’ve talked about a lot. Now we finally get down to choosing the images you want to use. You’ve probably already been thinking about them through the first steps.
You finally get to start putting it together and seeing how the finished product will look. Keep your theme in mind at all times. Make sure your design is working with your style. If something looks off, change it.
This is your professional advertisement to the world. Your portfolio will be most people’s first impression of your work and of you. You want to make it a good one.
For an online portfolio, Search Engine Optimization is very important. This is what determines how easy it is for people to find your photography portfolio. A better SEO ranking means that your site will show up higher in online search results.
SEO works by reading words. So how do you improve the SEO of a largely visual site? Be sure to use the alt tags on your images.
Give them a name and be sure to use relevant keywords. But don’t clutter things up too much. Keep it clean and consistent with your theme.
Another great way to improve SEO is by writing a blog. Add quality content to your site and keep it current. Talk about your latest shoots, projects you’re working on, write tutorials, whatever. The sky is the limit to what you can talk about on your blog.
Create an Online Presence
There are lots of ways to create a solid online presence. One of them is through good SEO on your website. But your portfolio site is not the only place on the Internet you should appear.
Use social media to promote your work. For example, Instagram is a great tool for photographers as it’s a very visual medium. You can post regularly on it with a link back to your website.
Don’t limit yourself to only one social media profile. Play around with Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter or any other one that suits your fancy. Any exposure will help you promote your photography portfolio.
Also don’t focus completely on yourself. The point of social media is to be social. Engage and interact with people on a real level and they will be more interested in your work.
Build Your Photography Portfolio
What are you waiting for? Now that you have all the information in front of you, it’s time build your photography portfolio.
Whether you want to gain clients or show off your artistry, you need a photography portfolio. Let us know how it goes by leaving a comment down below. We always love reading your thoughts.