Some thoughts about Portfolio's

June 12, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

CuriousCurious Whether we are talking about a photographer, Model, Makeup Artist, or any other professional in the industry, one of the most perplexing yet important task is arranging a portfolio. What should be within the portfolio? What order? How many images? There are many 'experts' that will charge $500 + to look at your portfolio and give you advice as how they think it may be improved. Personally, I am always looking how to adjust or improve on-line galleries or my portfolio. The following is some food for thought and does not necessarily mean that this is the only way to arrange a portfolio.

Most people will agree that your best images should go in your portfolio. This is what will get your hired, published, win awards, or whatever your goal may be to put together a portfolio. but the question is the best of what?

  • If you want to be known as a portrait photographer, then of course portrait images should be in your portfolio. You want to keep your viewer focused on your ability to shoot great portraits.
  • If you shoot landscapes, pets, products, or anything else that portraits those images should rest within a second or even third portfolio. If you mix subjects the viewer is likely to loose focus quickly.
  • If you shoot portraits of men and women, or different genres, in may be a good idea to create galleries within your Portfolio. Once again if you have portraits of men mixed with portraits of women it may break the flow of your viewer

Is the order of images important?

  • Try to start out with your strongest image, and end with a similar strong image. You want to stamp the images within the viewers mind. It you are a portrait photographer, you may want to start out with a strong headshot, and end with a equally strong headshot.
  • Images do not always have to be from the same shoot, but they should have a similar style within a gallery or general portfolio. If you shoot cars for example, you probably don't want to mix showroom shots with outdoor track images.
  • If you are shooting the same person (or car) try to keep those images grouped together. It helps the viewer keep focus on what he/she is looking at.

Who is your audience?

  • If  you are showing your portfolio to HIRE someone, such as a model, then your portfolio should represent your ability to shoot what you are hiring the the model to do for you.  If you shoot primarily boudoir, a high fashion model who wishes to maintain her brand may question what type of shoot you are planning. Are your building and expanding your portfolio? Be clear with your communication in this case.
  • If you are being HIRED to shoot weddings, and you do not have any wedding images in your portfolio, the client may have doubts that you are the right person for the job.

How many Images?

  • Most would agree that no more than 15 images of the same genre would be desirable. That does not mean of course that a separate gallery may have another 10 images. 
  • The more images the viewer need to go through, the more likely he/she will loose focus.

Print or On-line?

  • Having an on-line portfolio is a great way to send images to someone quickly and efficiently. Be sure that you have them optimized for screen viewing. Also, keep in mind that the larger the files, the more slowly they will load. Files that are 1GB per image will almost certainly loose a viewers interest quickly if he/she has to wait for each image to load.
  • Some still prefer to look at print images, so it is probably not a bad idea to have select images ready in hard copy form. Be certain to have these images sharpened for print, and have them printed by a professional lab. You certainly don't want a murky images produced at the corner store representing your work.

Here is a link to an earlier post that may help with print or web images:

Print or the Web

These are some quick tips, and of course there are many resources available on the web or through personal reviews that help develop a portfolio that shines.


Bob Barford is an award winning published photographer based out of Pennsylvania.






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