How to Create the Best Photography Portfolio

Curating your photography portfolio is one of the most important things you’ll do for your website, and many people are doing it wrong.

 

Here’s why:

Let’s take a photographer, we’ll call her Susie. Susie loves shooting weddings, family portraits, and senior portraits. Susie hates shooting babies.  So how should she set up her portfolio?

  1. Only show what you want to sell. If you want photograph weddings, don’t include pictures of bands. If you don’t want to photograph babies, don’t show pictures of babies.  Don’t put your amazing product photos in your portfolio, if you hate shooting product photos. Susie just doesn’t want to photograph babies, so there shouldn’t be a single image of a baby anywhere on her site.
  1. You only need ten to twenty images in each gallery. You don't need to show an entire wedding from start to finish in your portfolio. You don't need to show an entire portrait session. Your portfolio is a collection of your very best work. Susie’s site should start with a featured gallery on the homepage, with two to three amazing, take your breath away photos from each of the types of sessions she likes to do. These images should be blended together so that someone won’t get all the wedding images at once, but so they can clearly see the variety within six to nine images of her very best work.

Photography Portfolios: How to Make a Great One

  1. Create clear categories. Susie will have three categories. You might have less, but you should try not to have more. In each category, you still have to follow rule #2 – no more than ten to twenty images per gallery. Do not post all 967 shots from a wedding.
  1. Don’t pad your portfolio. Do not include every single type of photo you took at the wedding – boring formals, minute details, and multiple versions of the same moment aren’t necessary. Don’t include the crappy photo you took inside of a really dark gym reception, to show you have “variety”. Don’t do it!
  1. Specialize. People want to hire someone who is a specialist in their field. No one wants to work with a plumber who is also a doctor to perform their heart surgery. They want to hire a heart surgeon. Similarly, people don’t want to hire a commercial headshot photographer to photograph their newborn. I struggled for many years trying to choose photos for my portfolio, worrying I might forget someone who “might” want to hire me. I was a generalist. This is a common mistake new photographers make, especially if they haven’t yet found what they love to shoot.
  1. Get a second opinion. Once Susie has selected the photos for her portfolio, chances are she’ll still have too many. Cutting down the number of images is really hard  – because she loves her work. Asking a trusted friend with a good eye, or someone who is good at giving their honest opinion will help you to curate a portfolio that stands out from the rest.

A great portfolio can make a huge difference in how confident your clients are in your skills. What's in yours?

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