Finally! We are starting to see the light at the end of the Pandemic tunnel. For creatives, this means the opportunity to get back to work, as events are booked and locations are starting to open back up. It also means it’s time to look over your work and refresh your portfolio.
For many of us, beginners and experts alike, designing and setting up a portfolio may be even more difficult than taking the photos themselves. We reached out to a few professionals to learn some tips and tricks that can help point us all in the right direction.
The first step is to choose your photos. There have been many debates over the number of images: Some say to use as little as 10, while others say more. “I’ve always heard that 20 images per series is the sweet spot, and I tend to agree with that,” says Leo Mascaro.
It’s always better to have fewer photos if they are your best work, rather than having more photos with work that is only okay. “I’d suggest posting no more than 20 images, and posting only your very, very best images…Pick an image with impact!” explains Rick Sammon. Read: Having 10 great images alone will always serve you better than 10 great, 5 good, and 5 okay photographs.
It also depends upon your genre. “I believe the appropriate amount of photos to use for your portfolio depends on the layout you’re interested in, and how you set up your portfolio…Since I specialize in nature/landscape, I like to include a bunch of those,” says Nicole Zelkowitz. “For portraits, which I do not specialize but have touched upon, I only include a few photos which show that I am capable.”
It is very important to only choose your best images for your portfolio. These can include some of your favorite images but you mostly want images that are going to catch people’s eye. “Go through your work and be honest with yourself…Look at it and say to yourself, ‘Would I buy that? Would I hang that in my den or living room?’” asks Mark Doyle.
If you have some name or brand recognition to your images, be sure to include those as well. “For my client work portfolio, I have every brand listed who I’ve worked with…I have my solid photos for the brand that I know did super well so I will definitely include those,” explains Zelkowitz. “I have my ‘creative’ shots…which they may not have favored over the others, but I really enjoyed shooting and they show my personal style.”
Mascaro adds: “I tend to mix images that I’m personally excited about with some other images that I have a feeling would interest whoever is visiting my website.”
If you get stuck, reach out to friends, mentors, and others who may be able to provide you valuable feedback. “Sometimes we are so deeply connected with our own work that it’s difficult to see beyond it,” says Mascaro.
And social media can be a resource, too. “If you notice a lot of people are ‘liking’ a photo, it might be one that you want to offer,” explains Doyle. “Updating portfolio will give you something new to talk about on social media,” adds Sammon.
When it’s time to print, look to a traditional book or album or consider multiple softcover books that you can leave with potential clients. We have plenty of professional tips on design, information to include, and more.