Building a Portfolio
Before talking about portfolio at all, it’s important to ask yourself one question.
“What do I want to focus on in a photography business?”
Weddings, Bridals, Engagements, Families, Kids, Seniors, Babies, Newborns, Maternity, Studio lighting or natural lighting?, Commercial…etc. etc. etc. There are a lot of areas.
When I was first starting out, I had this idea that the more I did the better. The idea that the best photographer would be the one who could shoot everything!
After trying out ALL of these areas, I definitely discovered that some I enjoy MUCH MUCH more than others. Some I strongly dislike or am plainly not good at! I now only offer session types that I love. Why go to work doing something that you don’t like? Why spend time shooting in a way that isn’t your style? It takes all the fun out of an occupation that you surely got into because of personal enjoyment. If I am going to spend time away from my family, it better put a smile on my face!
The time you spend practicing your skills, is a great time to discover what you enjoy and what your personal style is. Once I figured that out, I needed to build a portfolio based on how and what I wanted to shoot. If you still don’t know what you’d like to focus on, or what your personal style is… spend some more time in the practice phase of self discovery.
I promise you you’ll be much more successful professionally if you have a clear vision of who you are, what you offer, what you like to shoot, and you have a portfolio that proves it all to your eager clients who book you BECAUSE of you as a PHOTOGRAPHER, instead of booking you because you do PHOTOGRAPHY. Let your work define yourself.
Narrow your Niche: As I have researched national successful photographers, ALL of them specialize. Hardly any of them are a “do it all” photographer. They usually do one thing, and do it VERY well.
1. The Purpose of a portfolio:
The portfolio is meant to give a visual understanding to your clients of the QUALITY of your work, the STYLE, and the CONSISTENCY.
A) Quality. Only feature the BEST of the BEST BEST BEST. Less is more.
B) STYLE. Only only only feature what you enjoy shooting. If you only show what you like to shoot and what your style is, clients will assume that their images will be in line with what they see. If you have a myriad of styles they won’t know what to expect, and might think the shoot will be one way, and have it turn out another. Not good.
Don’t showcase work just to show you’re “busy”. Only show the best, and only show your style. If there is only one shot from an entire session that defines your style, only show one shot. Less really is more.
C) Consistency. You want to show a variety of people in each category to show you consistently have good work. If you have one person over and over in a portfolio, it comes across like you had “one good shoot”. Variety gives a sense of credibility that you can consistently pull off great work.
2. Where is a portfolio?
Today, many people use a website as a portfolio. It’s a great way to organize the portfolio into category galleries. (i.e. Family, Children, Weddings, etc.) Blogs are useful as well, but usually don’t show as well as a website. Both are important for different reasons.
Before starting professionally, you should have an adequate showcase of images in your portfolio. It adds credibility and helps clients to view your work and have confidence in your abilities. However…
You’re never done portfolio building.
As your skills increase, you’ll likely put new things in and take older stuff out. Welcome to the never ending journey!
Brooke Snow is a Lifestyle photographer in Cache Valley, Utah. Brooke specializes as a Utah Senior photographer, Logan Senior photographer, Utah Family Photographer, Logan Family Photographer, Logan childrens photographer , Utah Childrens Photographer and is a photography teacher who enjoys teaching private photography lessons as well as monthly photography classes in Logan, Utah.