ARD 548- I start building my Photo-business. step first – portfolio.
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ARD 548- I start building my Photo-business. step first – portfolio.


What is a portfolio?

A simple question. Portfolio is a collection of our best works that we show to people interested in our achievements. And here we have the catch in the word „the best”. What makes these our best works? Usually, we choose them ourselves and that’s why we get photos that meet three criteria:

  1. The photos we are most satisfied with. This category contains photos with great composition, technique, and perfect presentation of the topic. At least in our opinion 🙂 Here you will find photos where we achieved something new, we managed to apply a new technique, we realized our idea, or we just took a photo in the atmosphere we always liked.
  1. Photos we can be proud of the most. The best example will be photos with famous people, places or made for prestigious clients.
  2. Photographs that we would like others to like. That is, those to which we have the most personal relationship, because they show a person close to us or they are photos corresponding to the direction in which we would like to develop further.

Three Fundamental Mistakes

The problem is that we, as photographers, usually do not have the appropriate distance to our own work and therefore it is very easy to make a mistake. Let us consider these three criteria in turn.

  1. The photos we are most satisfied with. Managed to! It turned out brilliant! I am delighted with myself, the model, and even the client! Such a reaction is always happy and gives strength to further actions and searches. We put a lot of work, energy and time, and maybe even money into the session. We really like the effect of all this. But that doesn’t always mean that we’ve taken a really great photo. We know how difficult it was to create such a photo, how much stress it cost us, and how much time we spent to finally achieve such a result. But we know this, not the viewers of our portfolio. For him, these are just ready-made pictures, and he has already seen thousands of them on the Internet. Our new technique will not impress him, but will only coolly assess whether the photo is good for him.
  2. Photos we can be proud of the most. I have a photo of a celebrity! Admittedly, it was made in the corridor and it is almost sharp, but she is such a famous person that everyone will love it anyway. Of course, especially friends, because the client will not get down on his knees because of this.
  3. Photographs that we would like others to like. For every mother, her baby is the most beautiful in the world and for hours she can show his photos as the eighth wonder of the world, even if in reality she has a square head and legs like sticks. It is similar when we photograph someone or something with which we are closely related. Then we look at the effect completely differently and most often it is difficult for us to approach the selection of photos without emotions. And the viewer will not have these emotions anymore. Well, what cares that we have been photographing this tree in the picture regularly for five years, because here we tried a new lens, and this time it looks exceptionally beautiful.

So what to choose then?
If you are a photographer who specializes in e.g. sushi photography, the matter is quite obvious. You show the sushi and that’s it. However, if you do a portrait, advertising, architecture, and nude, it’s not that simple anymore.
First of all – let’s ask ourselves why we are doing this specific portfolio and to whom we will show it. The portfolio that we show to the client looking for an architectural photographer must look different, different for those interested in the act, and still different in the gallery, applying for an exhibition. If we show them in person, maybe there will be an opportunity to tell some anecdotes from the session, then we can put a photo that, although not outstanding, but thanks to it, we can draw the client’s attention to our unique skill or experience. When we send photos by e-mail, let them be only those that can defend themselves.
The portfolio on the website must be as universal as possible. There should be photos of all types of photos that I WANT to show off and that I would like to take.
When the client asks about a specific topic.
Then I prepare a special portfolio. If it is to be, for example, a photograph of furniture, then I show both the furniture itself, as well as entire residential and office interiors, as well as photos of interiors with people, as long as there is furniture on them. However, I will not forcefully upload photos completely unrelated to the topic, because it does not make sense.
When going to the gallery, it makes no sense to show commercial projects. Here you need to have a specific topic prepared for the exhibition, and in addition, materials from previous exhibitions will be useful, if we already had one.

We do not always have time to prepare a separate portfolio each time someone asks us about our work. So, in addition to the general portfolio, it’s worth preparing a few thematic that you can send quickly.
Photo editor wanted
All the problems I wrote about above come from the emotional attitude towards our photos. Therefore, the best solution is to have a photo editor create a portfolio. The only question is where to get it? If you do not find a specialist, you can use friends who have experience in photography or graphics. Create a portfolio yourself, and then give it to such a person for a consultation. Show her other photos of yourself as well, it is very possible that she will draw attention to something that you would not think of showing.

How much and how

There are two schools of what a portfolio should look like. It can contain a whole lot of photos, say 100, or it can only be 15 photos.

Generally, our presentation should not be overdone. The biggest mistake is showing some very similar photos. I know it’s sometimes hard to decide which of five similar shots is best, but you have to choose them.

Pictures must also have their own rhythm. It is an individual matter whether we will show the photos as contrasting with one another or changing the atmosphere very gently. You just have to remember that it is important not only what you show, but also how. Remember that the best photos must be at the very beginning to make an electrifying impression from the very first moment and at the end to leave a good impression. In the middle, however, you should mix the most interesting with the simply good ones.
It is also important not to leave even one photo there, which may spoil the whole effect. If you can only show a few good photos on a given topic, keep it that way. Adding weak photos just to make your portfolio bigger is a big mistake. Instead of delighting the customer, you will rather discourage them.

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