Posts Tagged ‘portfolio’

Photography portfolio 101 – how to create a portfolio that puts your brand on display

11 Aug

Everyone was there once. Fruitful inspiration. Plenty of photos, but no idea on how to create a portfolio. And if you’re just like all the other photographers, you put off this moment for as long as you could. But with no portfolio to present your work, there are no clients interested in hiring you. For a passionate photographer, the thought Continue Reading

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Editing down a portfolio with Don Giannatti and yours truly – LIVE Webcast

05 Jun

This Sunday 8/4/2010 at 9pm EST (6pm pacific) Don Giannatti has been kind enough to do a live portfolio review with me on the air.  We’ll be talking about making the final cut of images, and finalizing a portfolio.  Maybe a bit about design and branding and style as well.  Should be fun – tune in at:

see y’all there!

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My new evaluation criteria for my portfolio work…

05 Jun

From the inimitable “Burns Auto Parts Blog”



So here’s my challenge to you: look at your work on your site. Do you love it–all of it? Does it make you smile/get you excited/make you want to do more of it? Be honest–don’t look at it from its technical side and definitely do not ask “Do I think buyers will want this?” If you do, then look at your marketing.

If you don’t, then get off your creative butt and start making the work that you make out of love and that weird compulsion that makes you do this and not be a 9-5 “normal” person.



Words of wisdom indeed.  I have been working on a major portfolio overhaul, with just this in mind.  You know the saying… Show what you wanna shoot!



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10 Tips And WordPress Photography Themes For Portfolio Websites

19 May

If you want to give a presentation of your artwork online which converts to sales, you need a portfolio website. This type of website is optimal for professionals in the niches of photography, digital art, creative writing, music and more. It may seem that creating an appealing and easy-to-browse portfolio website takes an expert. Well, indeed, powering a modern animated Continue Reading

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Photographing a Still Life Series for Exhibition or a Portfolio

22 Apr

The post Photographing a Still Life Series for Exhibition or a Portfolio appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Charlie Moss.


If you’ve ever tried photographing still life images, you’ll know that making a single good picture is relatively easy, but shooting a still life series is much harder! Trying to make a set of images that feel like they belong together can be very challenging for many reasons.

If you’re shooting to create a portfolio, or perhaps even for an exhibition, you’ll want to create images that feel like they belong together. That way, the body of work will appear more thoughtful, and its message will be stronger.

But no matter how hard you try to make images look like they are a series, there often seems to be something that doesn’t look quite right. So how can you overcome these challenges and shoot a still life series that feels like the pictures are coherent?

What is coherency?

When it comes to these images there’s a number of ways that a still life series can look like they belong together. But it really starts at the beginning.

still life series
Shooting a series of images that aren’t connected thematically is possible, but you have to pay attention to the technical aspects of your shots for coherency.

The most useful thing that you can do is have a series in mind when you shoot your first image. Picking a theme that will weave through your images and tie them all together is probably the easiest way to get a coherent feel to your series of shots.

If you shoot images around a theme, then the theme should automatically help to make them feel like they’re all a part of the same project. Perhaps the easiest way to approach still life thematically is to try to tell a story through the images. When you try to include storytelling in a still life series, it should help the images feel like they belong together.

But sometimes it’s not all about the theme and the storytelling; sometimes, you want to pull images together visually. So here are some suggestions on how to go about doing just that.

Use the same viewpoint

When you’re planning out your still life series, experiment initially with a few different viewpoints. But consider sticking to one throughout the series. Swapping viewpoints between pictures can make the images feel like they’re not quite part of a coherent set.

Photographing a Still Life Series for Exhibition or a Portfolio
Left: ISO400, 35mm (50mm equiv.), f4, 1/170th sec
Right: ISO400, 35mm (50mm equiv.), f4, 1/110th sec

Consider using a tripod in order to keep everything the same. It’ll make it easier to keep your framing consistent for each shot, as well as keeping your distance the same from the camera to the object. And don’t forget to think about your composition as you place objects into your frame.

Of course, it is possible to change the viewpoint and still keep the images looking like they are part of the same still life series, as the image above shows. You’ll just have to make sure that you keep some of the other variables about your shot the same. Perhaps make sure that your theme or story is stronger than you might otherwise have needed to make it.

Use the same focal length

Keeping the distance between the camera and object the same, and also the focal length of the lens, can be a really great trick to keep your images looking like part of a series. When we use different focal lengths or vary the distance from the object to the lens it can cause distortion. Distortion causes our brain to realise that something isn’t really quite right.

still life series
Left: Shot with 35mm lens  (50mm equiv.)
Centre: Shot with 18mm lens (28mm equiv.) with the subject in the same place
Right: Shot with 18mm lens (28mm equiv.) with subject moved closer to camera

While on the surface, the left and right images above look similar, you can see on closer inspection that there is distortion. In the right-hand image above, that I shot with a wider focal length, you can see more of the top of the apple, less of the bottom. And the apple appears to be bulging out towards the camera.

Of course, there’s really no “correct” focal length to use when it comes to shooting still life images. You may want the distortion that a wider angle lens brings to the image. In a way, the wide-angle creates a strange look that could almost pay homage to the artist Paul Cézanne who painted both the side and top of objects in his still life – an “impossible” view.

And on the other hand, a 50mm equivalent focal length gives a much more “natural” view because it’s closer to how the human eye views objects.

The important thing if you choose to vary your focal length or distance from the camera to object is to keep enough other variables the same. That way, your images still look like they are part of the same series.

Post-process images in a similar way

If I was going to shoot a still life series on film, I’d definitely make sure I shoot the same film type for all of my images. That way, they’d all be similar in color, tone, and feel.

Digital is no different. Post-processing images to make them look as similar as possible in style and feel can make a huge difference when it comes to feeling like they’re part of a series.

Photographing a Still Life Series for Exhibition or a Portfolio
Both: ISO400, 35mm (50mm equiv.), f2.8, 1/250th sec

This is a great time to think about introducing something unique to your post-processing rather than just going for a totally natural look. It could be a slight split-toning in Lightroom with colors in the shadows, or a particular black and white recipe.

The key is to create a distinctive look and then apply it to all images, applying minor adjustments to each one to make them look coherent. Then your images, even if they are of quite different subjects, will be pulled together with a common look and feel.

Keeping your studio setup and lighting the same can really help when it comes to post-processing to make your shots look similar. Starting from the same “canvas” will mean that you don’t need to be a total post-processing wizard. Instead, small adjustments will pack a real punch when it comes to coherency.

Keep experimenting

When you’re planning your series, make sure that you keep experimenting. Try all kinds of different technical approaches to start with and narrow it down to the ones that suit the theme (and your style) the best. And then, once you have your images, experiment with the post-processing before saving your recipe as a preset so that you can use it to help you create a coherent look amongst all your images.

still life series
Remember that simply experimenting by changing your background can affect the whole feel of your shot! I shot these images were in the same lighting as the “light” images in this article and with similar settings.
Both: ISO400, 35mm (50mm equiv.), f4, 1/240th sec

Don’t forget that you can apply these ideas to other kinds of photography too.

For instance, when creating a series of portraits, you might want to think about using a single focal length, aperture, and a post-processing recipe. It will help all your shots feel similar. These ideas about shooting a still life series can be applied to more than just inanimate objects!

The post Photographing a Still Life Series for Exhibition or a Portfolio appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Charlie Moss.

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How to Elevate Your Photography Portfolio With Video Collage Creation in SmartSHOW 3D

05 Mar

When it comes to photography software, the most common names that come up are Adobe Lightroom, which is often used to work with RAW images, and Adobe Photoshop, which is often used to perform retouching tasks like smoothing out skin, removing blemishes, and fixing exposure. While these programs are fantastic for the editing process, photographers tend to be left to Continue Reading

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How Building a Portfolio Career as a Photographer Can Earn You Money

01 Mar

The post How Building a Portfolio Career as a Photographer Can Earn You Money appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Charlie Moss.


When you’re starting in business as a photographer, it can be tough to find a reliable income. Often jobs will be unpredictable as to when they come in – and getting paid can be even more of a guessing game! Building a portfolio career is one way that you can counteract the unpredictability of being a freelance photographer.

Diversifying your revenue streams right from the start is a way to build a more predictable income. By having multiple diverse but related sources of income, you can mitigate ups and downs in each revenue stream while having a photographic career that allows you the freedom to shoot several different subjects.

building a portfolio career

ISO400, 35mm (50mm equiv.), f4, 1/80th sec

Lay the foundation

Start by mind-mapping around the fields of photography that you love.

Try to think of every possible source of photographic income that those fields might have, no matter how big or small. All of these could contribute to building a portfolio career.

Out of everything you’ve written down, highlight all of the income sources that could be done on a regular contract for someone else. The first income stream that you need to provide a solid foundation for is one that is both regular and guaranteed.

Ideally, this regular, but potentially low paid work will cover all of your essential bills. And when I say essential, I mean putting an extra jumper on and eating beans on toast all month.

building a portfolio career

ISO200, 35mm (50mm equiv.), f4, 1/80th sec

You could consider jobs like real estate photography, nightclub photography, or in-house product photography. None of these options will set your creative soul on fire, but they will still provide a stable foundation for you to start to build your career.

Build the walls

Now you start to do the kind of photography that you want to do. You’re looking for options in your mind-map of ideas that could be regular but might not be quite as reliable as your foundation income.

This might be where you consider incomes like freelance product photography, portraits, or weddings.

All these income streams can be a little unpredictable, at least for the first few years of your career. On top of that, some kinds of photography, like weddings, can be quite seasonal.

Image: Headshots have been a reasonably reliable income for me over the past five or six years. They...

Headshots have been a reasonably reliable income for me over the past five or six years. They’re great because I can do them either at home or on location, and I can be available at reasonably short notice!
ISO400, 100mm, f3.5, 1/125th sec, natural window light

Over time, this income can become more regular. You’ll find that clients come back again and again if they love the pictures and the service! Eventually, you’ll be able to drop the initial low-paid but regular work that you sought in favor of this better-paid income stream.

Put the roof on

Between your foundations and the walls, you’ve got the beginnings of a significant portfolio career. Now you want to look at the well-paid occasional jobs that buy the luxuries like foreign holidays or serious gear upgrades.

Look back at your mind-map once again and think about what large, one-off gigs there might be available to you with your current skillset. You might be able to offer portrait photography at a large business conference, for example, or be on a list of photographers who shoot portraits for magazine interviews.

You’re looking for the high-ticket jobs that are sporadic. They can’t provide a reliable income because of the very nature of the work, but they can offer you good-sized cash injections now and again. It could be a yearly job or one that comes up every few months. But the unpredictability means that you shouldn’t count it as part of your regular income.

building a portfolio career

Each month I try to set a day aside to create unique and creative stock imagery for use on book covers and the like. It doesn’t provide regular sales, but when these images do sell, they pay well!
Both images shot with a beauty dish in the studio.

Business networking meetings can be an excellent place to find these jobs that will help with building a portfolio career. Often you’ll talk to someone and hand over a business card, and you’ll hear nothing for months. But when they do eventually call, it can be for a sizable job, so make sure you have some sample quotes and an idea of what you might charge for different scenarios.

You don’t have to think of every possible situation and make a fantasy quote for it, but have a few that you can adapt with a couple of days notice for the kind of jobs you’d like to do.

Start a nest-egg

Once you’ve established a good income, it’s time to make your photos work harder and build a long-term passive income. You can start to look at options such as stock photography to assist you in building a portfolio career.

For almost the last fifteen years, I’ve been building up collections with various stock libraries. It is a slow process, but worth it when you start to see regular payouts a few years down the line.

You can shoot images specifically for stock libraries if you have some spare time to fill. Many libraries will regularly publish lists of the kind of content that they’re looking to obtain from photographers. If you shoot what’s on the list, you should start to see an income quite quickly. If they’re asking for various subjects, it means that clients are asking for them!

Image: These two images were shot back in 2007 and are amongst my best earners in all that time! The...

These two images were shot back in 2007 and are amongst my best earners in all that time! They consistently make me small but regular sales and have always done so. Both of these images were shot on my Mum’s kitchen table – just showing you can earn anywhere!

You can also reuse images from other shoots that you’ve done, sending them to the stock libraries once you’ve completed the job. Be sure to check your contract, or check with the client if they’re okay with you doing this, but people rarely say no.

An example might be that if you are booked to shoot a fantastic local food market, the client might also allow you to upload these images to stock libraries. You might then look into a specialist food stock agency if you’re shooting this kind of content regularly. In time, you’ll become well-known as a photographer in this field.

Above all, just get started

You can only start your photographic career if you’re willing to put yourself out there and start looking for work. The most important thing is to start somewhere, even if you’re not quite sure where the best place to start is. You can work out the details later.

Try to look for income streams in all of the brackets above. That way, you won’t be putting all of your eggs in one basket. You’ll be protected if one income streams dries up unexpectedly for a while.

Image: ISO200, 35mm (50mm equiv.), f2, 1/600th sec

ISO200, 35mm (50mm equiv.), f2, 1/600th sec


This approach to a photographic portfolio career has enabled me to alternatively increase and scale back my income as and when required. It also helped me to build a solid base that wasn’t tied to any particular location, which means I can work from almost anywhere in the world!

If you’re thinking about building a portfolio career for yourself in photography, tell us about what your specialisms will be in the comments below. We’d love to hear about your plans!

The post How Building a Portfolio Career as a Photographer Can Earn You Money appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Charlie Moss.

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How to Create a Portfolio Template in Photoshop and Profit from Layer Types

10 Feb

The post How to Create a Portfolio Template in Photoshop and Profit from Layer Types appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.


Your portfolio is your presentation card. It should always be current with your latest works, coherent with your style and accessible to your clients. Perhaps there’s one on your website, another one printed, and one for pitch presentations. All of them need to be up to date. So, how do you keep up with that? Create a portfolio template that is easy to update that you can scale to different formats.

Keep reading to learn how to create a portfolio template in Photoshop.

Create a Portfolio template examples

While Photoshop is a fantastic photo editing software, it does have some tools that are useful for graphics work too. This will relieve you of the task of having to learn another program like Illustrator. One of the best things for creating a portfolio template is profiting from the characteristics that each type of layer can offer. You can use Vector Layers for your design and logos, Text Layers for all the information, and Smart Objects for your images.

Let’s go through it step by step.

The fundamentals

First of all, what is a Layer?

When you open a new project, whether this is a blank canvas or a photograph, it opens as an image layer by default. This is the base that you build upon. You can then add as many layers as you need.

Imagine that the Layers are paper sheets that you can stack. Each one will then modify, add or block the content of the ones below. The properties of each layer depend on the type of layer it is.


Photoshop Layers in Perspective

Layers are one of the most versatile and useful tools in Photoshop.

There are many types of layers, some are stand-alone layers like images or vectors. Others work only in combination, as Adjustment Layers.

The important thing to understand is that each one has different characteristics that can be used to simplify your life. Here I’ll discuss the ones I find most useful to create a portfolio template.

The template

Designing your template

The first thing you’ll need is to draw the design of the template. Here, you can decide the elements and colors you want to use. Because this is a template, it should be able to fit most images and situations. So, you might want to keep it simple, but this is up to you.

In any case, every element that you design is best drawn with the Shape tool. Doing this creates a vector layer by default. To make sure of this, check that the menu in the options bar is set to Shape.

Create a Portfolio Template with Shapes

This is important because, unlike images, vectors are independent of resolution. This gives you the advantage of modifying the elements without losing quality, as you would do with pixels. This is why most graphic programs, like Illustrator, work with vectors. Shapes and vector layers are also great for creating your logo.

Adding a logo

If your logo consists of many shapes, select all of them and turn them into a Smart Object by right-clicking on top and then choosing Convert to Smart Object from the menu.

This is a different type of layer, not only can you scale it as many times as you want – just like the vectors – but you also retain the source data so that you can work non-destructively.

Because of this, every time you open your Smart Object, you’ll still find all the original shape layers to work on them independently.

Create a portfolio template with smart objects

Another cool feature from smart objects is the possibility to link one or more copies.

This means that every time you modify your logo, it will automatically apply the changes to all the copies. This is useful if your design includes more than one logo. To do this, create a copy of the layer by dragging it to the Duplicate Layer button at the bottom of the panel.

Create a logo with smart objects

If you want to keep your copies working independently from each other, you can create a copy of the smart object that it’s not linked. Do this by using New Smart Object via Copy. You can find it in the menu that pops up when you right-click on the layer.

Create a portfolio template with logo

Adding text

This is as straightforward as it sounds. When you use the Text tool, it creates a Text Layer. Keep in mind that because it’s a different kind of layer, not all the tools are available for use. For example, you can’t use the filters.

If you want to use them, you will get a prompt asking you to “rasterize the layer.” This will turn it into an image (a pixel layer). You shouldn’t do this if you want to be able to edit the text in the future. If you do want to rasterize your layer, make a copy of it first and turn off the original by clicking on the “eye” next to the layer in the Layers panel.

Create a Portfolio Template Rasterize Layers

Another useful tip when designing your template is to confine the space for your text, so it doesn’t ruin your design if you change or add content later.

Instead of just clicking and typing, click and drag a rectangle text box where you want the text to be. That way, whatever you type adjusts to that space. I usually put one next to the image to add all the information like title, technique, and project. Then I can update it for every image.

Create a portfolio template

Adding images

The photos are the stars of your project, so you want to make sure to work non-destructively on them. The best choice for this is the Smart Object. 

To add your photo as a Smart Object layer, you have to go to Menu->File->Place. Because in my design, I added a rectangle to serve as a frame for my images, I can now add a Layer Mask to fit it inside without losing any information.

create a portfolio template for your photography

You can do this by placing the smart object directly on top of the rectangle shape designed at the beginning. Now create a Clipping Mask by pressing Cmd+Alt+g (Ctrl+Alt+g on PC). The Mask will reveal the image through the frame without cutting it or changing any of it.

Create a portfolio template

To update the images, you can open the Smart Object and place the new one there so that you don’t change the Layers or Masks of the template.

Save and close

Because you used Vectors, Texts, and Smart Objects, you can change the resolution from web to printing as many times as you want while keeping the quality of it. Just be sure to save each page of the portfolio separately, so you don’t overwrite your template.


I hope that you have found How to Create a Portfolio Template in Photoshop and Profit from Layer Types useful for creating your own portfolio templates.

Remember, save each template as a PSD file so that you can go back and utilize them again when you want to update your photos or text. Saving as a PSD file retains all of your layers so that you can access them and change them easily. If you save it as a JPG or another lossy format that flattens the layers, you will no longer have the ability to edit them.

If you have any other tips for creating a portfolio template, please share them with us in the comments below.


The post How to Create a Portfolio Template in Photoshop and Profit from Layer Types appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

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How to Print a Professional Portfolio So You Can Impress Your Clients

27 Nov

The post How to Print a Professional Portfolio So You Can Impress Your Clients appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.


Marketing yourself as a commercial or editorial photographer means that you need to print a professional portfolio and promotional materials to show clients such as ad agencies, magazines, and major brands that you want to work with.

There seems to be a perception out there that marketing is done solely online these days and that photographers no longer need to print a professional portfolio.

This is not true.

How to Print a Professional Portfolio So You Can Impress Your Clients

Some established photographers have a roster of repeat clients that they rely on to keep their businesses afloat. But if you’re looking for new clients, or just entering the industry, you need a printed book to show prospective clients your work. 

Yes, a website is an important selling tool, but bringing an iPad to an agency meeting can be perceived as amateurish.

These kinds of top-echelon clients want to see how your work holds up in print, which is far less forgiving than a computer screen. They also enjoy experiencing your work directly through a tangible medium like a printed book.

Maybe you’re not a commercial photographer but shoot consumer, like wedding or portrait photography. In this case, having prints or a printed book to show your clients can also have a positive impact. It can drive your client to buy from you and they are likely to perceive you as a photographer who is head and shoulders above the rest.


Types of books

Before we dive into the variables around printing your work, let’s talk about the portfolio itself.

As a commercial photographer, your best bet is to purchase a screw-post portfolio where you can add and subtract pages every time you update it with new work.

My portfolio, pictured above, is a bamboo cover screw-post portfolio manufactured by Shrapnel Design. The company is based in Vancouver, Canada, but ship to most countries via FedEx or TNT.

Other companies make similar portfolios for photographers, so do your research and find the best one for you.

The point is that you want to be able to update your portfolio periodically by printing pages of new work and swapping them out.

You can also get a portfolio printed in a photo book. This is a less expensive option, but you’ll need to re-do the whole thing if you want to update your portfolio. Which you should do periodically.

Just be sure to get a high-quality book printed. The design and paper are very important. It needs to be a visual and tactile experience.

A couple of suggestions are the books by Artifact Uprising and Saal Digital.

Get a lay-flat book in landscape orientation and in a large size, such as 14X11.


Choice of paper

Your choice of paper for your printed book is very important.

The type of paper you choose will really depend on the genre you shoot and which paper will show your work to the best advantage. There are a variety of finishes and weights available.

For my portfolio, I used Smooth Matte Pina Zangaro paper by MOAB. It’s scored and punched for use in all standard format screw-post binders. The paper is archival quality, pH neutral and water-resistant.

Archival quality paper is meant to last. Your prints will not fade and shift quickly when exposed to light.

Some might argue that archival paper is not necessary because you’ll be routinely swapping out your pages if you get a screw-post portfolio. But most good papers are archival quality anyway. Archival paper is more important when you’re selling prints to hang on a wall.

Before you settle on a paper, order some samples from the supplier to check quality or go to the printer you wish to use and take a look at their papers.

Also, make sure that they’ll punch and score the paper for you if it doesn’t already come that way. Otherwise, you can make a mess out of your prints if you don’t know how to do this yourself.

If you purchase a photo book, Eggshell matte paper, like Mohawk Superfine, is a great choice.


Where to print

Unless you’re already a printing dynamo and have an awesome printer that you paid at least $ 1K for, get your book printed by a professional printer that caters to photographers.

Do your research and, if you can, ask other photographers you might know in your community for their recommendations.

It’s important that you don’t spare expense. Get the best quality printing that you can. The quality of inks can make a big difference in the portrayal of your work.

There are a lot of great online services, but a professional printer in your community can give you personalized service that will make the difference in how your prints turn out. They can advise on papers and inks and any potential problems.

Make sure that you print one of the spreads as a proof before committing to handing over the whole project.


Monitor calibration

Before you start designing your portfolio, you have to prepare your images.

It goes without saying that you should be working on a calibrated monitor.

This is a step that a lot of people tend to skip, but unless you’re working on a monitor that is rendering colors correctly, you can end up with tones and colors that are way off base once you print them.

Each device will display colors differently. Calibrating your monitor will make sure what you’re seeing is correct, and that you and your printer are both following a standard that will ensure the same result.

A color calibration device like Color Munki is easy to use. Calibrate your screen regularly and definitely before you print anything or send images to clients. If they complain that the images don’t look right, you’ll know that what you sent them is correct.

How to Print a Professional Portfolio So You Can Impress Your Clients

Color management and resolution

You need to prepare your images properly when sending them to a printer.

Always check with your printer before preparing your files. Ask them the format and color space that they need your files in.

This will be dependent on the type of printer they use. If they use a printing press, they will likely require your file in CMYK.

However, if they use large format printers with up to 10-inks, they may require anything from Adobe RGB through to ProPhoto.

Using the TIFF file format is usually better than using the JPG format, as it does not compress the image data. But again, check with your printer.

You’ll also need to send the printer high-resolution images, with at least 300 dpi (dots-per-inch). The more dots, the higher the quality of the print in terms of detail and sharpness.

For more in-depth information on this, read: How to Prepare Images For Publication – Part One

How to Print a Professional Portfolio So You Can Impress Your Clients


To print a professional portfolio can be very costly. This is a case where you need to spend money to make money. If you want to attract the clients with the deeper pockets, you’ll need to get in front of them with a professional-looking book that shows your beautiful photography in the best light.

Do you have any other tips on how to print a professional portfolio that you’d like to share? Do so in the comments section!


The post How to Print a Professional Portfolio So You Can Impress Your Clients appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

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Do’s and Don’ts of Putting Together a Photography Portfolio

30 Jul

The post Do’s and Don’ts of Putting Together a Photography Portfolio appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

Are you having trouble landing a job? Do you keep showing your work but are not getting any clients? Maybe it’s time to review your photography portfolio. Whether you’re doing a digital or printed portfolio, here are some do’s and don’ts to improve the way you present your photography.

Travel photography example portfolio

Putting together a portfolio

It doesn’t matter what kind of photographer you are, a good portfolio is the most important tool you have to secure a job. The first thing to understand is that putting together a bunch of nice pictures isn’t enough. Your photography portfolio should be a sample of your work that showcases your technical abilities as well as your personal style.

Flower and nature portfolio

DON’T put watermarks

Let’s face it, if someone wants to steal your photograph, they will find a way to do so. A watermark can be cropped or deleted. Instead, it will make it more difficult for the viewer to appreciate your image. Also, watermarks give an amateurish look to your portfolio as a whole. See at the difference:


Watermarks can ruin a photo and don’t really protect your rights

To legally protect your images, you can have them copyrighted. To get familiar with this concept, read ImageRights – Finding and Pursuing Copyright Infringement. Another safety measure is to never publish or hand out high-resolution images. For this, I recommend my previous article on How to Understand Pixels, Resolution, and Resize your Images in Photoshop Correctly.

DON’T stick to one portfolio

Another big mistake is to collect all of your best photos and display them in one portfolio. You may think this shows quality, as they are a “best-of,” but it can make you look like a master of none. It is also a waste of time for your client. They want to see relevant examples that show how you would do their job, not how good you may be at other things.

You can specialize in different kind of photography

Take these two photos, for example – they don’t even look good together. And let’s face it, someone who needs a food photographer, doesn’t really care about how I can photograph a street fair and vice-versa. If you’re not convinced about limiting your practice, have a look at these 5 Things to Consider Before Deciding to Specialize or Not in Your Photography.

DO feature what you’re selling

I was talking before about the importance of having different portfolios. This means that each one should display a different specialty that you offer. It’s always important to be coherent and properly organize your work. For example, a portrait portfolio shouldn’t just include any kind of photography that features people. Let me illustrate this:

Different kinds of photography. Photography specialization

Take the two photos above, the one on the left comes from a photo-shoot I did for the press kit of a theater play. The one on the right is a behind-the-scenes job I was doing for a short movie. If I’m preparing a portfolio for a movie or theater producer I can include both. If I’m preparing a portrait portfolio then I shouldn’t include the one on the right.

DO ask for help

It’s always helpful to ask for opinions once you’ve shortlisted the images you want to use. If you can reach out to a colleague or an expert it would be great, but if you don’t, at least ask a friend. Often we have an emotional attachment to a photo we took that is actually not great. An external point of view can help you sort out your best images.


Try putting two similar images from the same subject and asking them which one they prefer. A friend can also help you decide if you are putting too many or too few images in your portfolio. Keep in mind that you should never include something that is not good enough just to reach a certain number. Also, don’t overdo it – editors are busy people and have many portfolios to review.


To sum up, there is no specific formula for putting together a photography portfolio that is great, but I hope you found these tips useful and time-saving. DO remember that the most important thing is for you to have a strong body of work.

If you still need to work on that, here are some great readings to help you out:

  • How To Build A Portfolio Without Clients.
  • 6 Easy Photography Techniques to Diversify Your Portfolio.
  • How to Use a Photography Project to Build Your Portfolio.



The post Do’s and Don’ts of Putting Together a Photography Portfolio appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

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