Most fields require a flawless cover letter & resume to be considered for a position. That is also important in creative fields; however, the portfolio is paramount. Claiming to be a photographer & having no work to back up that claim doesn’t exactly look promising to potential clients. In our visual field, having a collection of carefully curated work will help tell the world what your message is. Here are some tips to help you put your best self out there.
I recommend having 3 different mediums: a website, a print book, & a digital PDF.
Your website is a given and will be there for potentially anyone with internet access can view. This is the easiest to update.
A print book is still very important to have (even in our digital world.) Quality is really shown in larger format prints. Bring this to interviews, reviews, and possibly workshops & always ask for feedback.
A PDF is like a combination of your site & book in that it is in a digital form (easy to email but has the possibility to be printed) & only contains what you want to show potential hiring managers. You can lay this out in a narrative way and provide short captions with more information about particular shoots.
Sometimes you may need to take specific examples of work and make a portfolio for that particular job you’re applying to. For instance, if you are applying to be an editorial photographer for a fashion magazine, you will want to include fashion & beauty shots. If you are a freelancer who has many niches, you may be presenting a more general portfolio that includes portraits, weddings, kids, etc. No matter if your portfolio is specific or broad; you need to have a definite flow.
(This applies more to your book and the PDF versions.)
Try to pair images that work well together, similar color palettes or composition, but also don’t be afraid to spread them out if that helps provide balance overall. Put your very best image first. No exceptions. You want to start out strong and really wow the viewer.
In that same way, you want to end on a high point, so put your second best at the very end. People often remember the first and last of something they look at, so use this to your advantage.
I would also suggest putting your third place in the very middle. Ideally, every image you include will be strong, but there will inevitably be photos that are just received better by your audience. In which case, spread out your not as strong images between the top choices.
social media and/or blog
These are free/low cost ways to promote your services and provide sneak peeks of current projects. You can put behind-the-scenes, inspiration, mood boards, works-in-progress, setups, tutorials, and the list goes on. Unless you are posting on a photo specific site (Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest) I wouldn’t necessarily post finished images, but you can decide if that will help your business on other sites.
This is always one of the most important aspects when showing your work. Only show work you’re proud of and at the appropriate quality for its medium. Prints should be no less than 300dpi and the proper resolution for the size you need. Digital can vary depending on how large you ultimately want the image to be, but I still find 72dpi works well for most applications. Besides, this gives people a further push to view your full size work in person.
So there are some pointers to building a strong photography portfolio. I hope yours will represent the best version of you that it can!
May the light be with you.