tips for portfolio photography

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Tips for Portfolio Photography

How to quickly and easily build a photography portfolio that will take you from hobbyist.
31. Style and Design
Its now time to consider the style and design of your portfolio. Youll need a folder or portfolio case to hold it all in, but before you head out to buy something, consider what size your want your printed out shots to be. I would recommend something fairly large maybe 20x30cm or about A4. You then need to select the paper to print on and the print quality, preferably as high as you can afford. This said, remember there are no restrictions on size, shape or style the more personal it is and the more it says about you as an artist, the better.
32. Theme
Next youll want to consider what theme or style you want your portfolio to have. This will depend upon your audience. For a job taking portraits, you should only include your portrait work. You could have a collection of black and white or sepia work, a set of shots taken with a specific camera format or a collection of shots from a specific time period or geographical region. If you are looking to mix up types and styles of shots, make sure you have a valid reason for doing so. Remember that regardless of the theme, you should ensure a consistent colour balance and quality throughout the set of work.
33. Choosing the Shots
The most difficult part of creating a portfolio is selecting the shots. Theres always a huge temptation to just select your favourites, but a photographer isnt always the best judge of their own work as they take into consideration the setting, effort and editing taken to create the shot.
Try to get some help from someone whose judgement you trust and will be impartial. Id suggest aiming to end up with a set of 20 30 shots, but start with maybe 100 and gradually take them out until youve got the desired collection. If a shot has any flaws, or is out of focus, leave it out. Its much better to have a few perfectly executed shots, than a large collection of fairly good shots.
34. Presentation
The presentation of the shots is vital to the reaction from viewers. A badly presented collection of great photographs just wont do them justice and youll come away disappointed. Think carefully about how to enhance the images through presentation techniques, borders and the colour of the backing sheet.
Its also important to consider the order of the shots, whether they are arranged chronologically or to create a particular mood. When choosing a title image, dont just choose your favourite. Try and select something that captures the essence of the collection.
35. Contents
Once youve got the shot layout sorted, you need to consider what other elements you might want to include in your portfolio. Its totally up to you, but things to consider are. An artistic statement outlining your concept or theme and personal information A list of shots included Titles for shots and a brief explanation Date location of shot A thumbnail contact sheet You may feel that you want the shots to do all the talking, or it might be necessary to give each shot some background contextual information. Its up to you, but remember to keep it brief. You want people to be looking at the shots, not reading waffle about how you climbed a mountain at 5 AM to get the shot.
36. What Do I Do Now
Try not to be tempted to add to your portfolio once its finished. Youll always take better shots in the future, but Id suggest that a portfolio is a collection of what youve done, and adding to it will spoil the continuity and thought that youve put into collating it. Now its time to show your portfolio to the world. Share it with family and friends and get some feedback, which may give you a chance to practice talking about your work in preparation for any potential interviews you might get.
37. Consider Your Target Demographic
Your portfolio needs to reflect your target demographic, whether it is a couple looking for a wedding shoot, or an agency looking for a commercial shoot. If your portfolio gives off the wrong image, you wont attract any of the clients you want. Think of a wedding photographers portfolio, typically white, clean, and easy to use. This is suited towards the target demographic of a wedding photographer: typically younger couples sometimes females are in charge of certain decisions with dreams of the perfect wedding. Typically speaking, weddings are full of white, with beautiful flowers and rays of sunshine. If you want to attract wedding clients, you need your portfolio to resemble a wedding. At the same time though, if you primarily shoot fashion photography, chances are you shoot hip, trendy subjects and that is what your target demographic is looking for. Have your portfolio reflect that. It sounds too simple to over think, but youd be surprised what some people surround their best work in.
38. Sketch Out a Layout
Sketching out a layout before you even touch the mouse is a common practice amongst web designers, and it should be no different for your portfolio. The reason why I found sketching to be helpful is so that I dont lose focus of what my intentions are. If we think back to Tip 1, we want our portfolio to be targeted specifically to our demographic. This includes colors, layout, navigation, icons, typography, everything. If you sketch out your idea while its fresh in your mind, you wont lose track of it or have any other ideas write over it. Its an easy way of sticking to your original plan.
Remember though, its okay to deviate from the plan if its for the better of your portfolio. If you end up thinking the thumbnails would be better off three wide rather than two, then go for it. Try to stick to the sketch as much as possible, when possible. Its there to assist you, not cement you in place.
39. Add Support for Dynamic Content
When sketching your site, remember to add support for dynamic content. Imagine you decide you want to pull your Flickr feed to your portfolio. Well sure it looks good when theres 12 photos, but what about when theres 21 or 36? How will your portfolio look with an odd number of images compared to an even number, like you sketched it out to look like?
These are the type of questions you have to ask yourself as you sketch out your layout. How can I add more images to my layout without cluttering the design? Is pagination an option? Will I only be able to keep XX amount of images visible at a time?
40. Try to Keep the Contrast High
Depending on the style of photography, images usually look a lot better when you view them on a black background. This is typically because there is more contrast than when viewing against white. Contrast helps bring out the colors of the photo, which in turn, makes the image appear more vivid and stunning. If you do any type of sports, commercial, HDR, nature or portrait photography, try viewing your work on black and then on white and see which one looks better to you.
When designing a dark site, its usually a good idea to have some flare of color added in somewhere. It can be your logo, or your navigation, anything. Black and white can be extremely effective, but adding a touch of color adds a touch of personality.

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