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.
51. Dont Forget to Update
Its currently 2011, and the technology we possess is sophisticated enough for anyone, and I mean anyone, to own and maintain a dynamic portfolio. Regardless of if you manage your portfolio with WordPress, or a Flash system or still stuck in static HTML, you should be updating your content. Users are used to seeing new content each and every time they visit a website. Weve grown out of seeing the same old stuff on every visit. This is the same for your photography portfolio, with a little less emphasis on how often you should be updating. Its ideal if you update whenever you have new content. Try not to upload in batches, throwing a handful of photos up every couple months. Instead, try to maintain a consistent, yet loose, schedule. When you do update, only update if the new content is stronger than the older content. It makes no sense to replace a strong image with a weaker one, regardless of if its more recent. You want to be always strengthening your skill set and your portfolio should reflect that.
52. Shoot for free
This is completely obvious, so if you havenandt thought of it, please knock yourself in the head with a hockey stick compliments of yours truly. When youandre working to build your portfolio, you need subjects to shoot. Chances are pretty good that youandre working to build said portfolio in hopes that you will be able to get more clients, meaning simply that you donandt necessarily have subjects knocking down your door at this point. So offer your services to select friends and family for free.
53. Charge a minimal fee
Once youandve started to get a little buzz around your work with all the probono jazz, start to charge a minimal fee. Youandll get to the point where youandre drowning in shoots because you are the right price.$0, and that is how youandll know itands time to charge.
Be prepared to feel slightly uncomfortable at first accepting money for your services. I had an exceptionally hard time with this for a million reasons. Just remind yourself that youandre worth it, and then prove yourself right. Now that my sitting fee is 8 times the fee I charged in the beginning .I get a big kick out of how difficult it was for me to accept that measly $50.
54. Do a hard edit
Always, always, always edit down. This is the mistake I used to make. Iandd shoot like a bat outa hell, determined to get at least a handful of great shots from each sitting, then Iandd deliver nearly all the images to my client on a disk. Thus the hideoderous image framed on my friendands wall. The image was poorly lit, poorly composed and just plain YUCK. Itands an image that never should have seen the world beyond my computer.
Remember that once those images have been delivered, theyandre out there. 10 years from now, when youandre the best photographer the world has ever known, those images may still be gracing peopleands walls.a very poor representation of your work and perhaps a hindrance to gaining future clients.
Maintain control over your portfolio by remembering that it extends beyond just what you compile in a portfolio album, blog or website.
55. Keep files well organized
Iandm a mom with 3 small boys yes, I had my third child a month after my first turned 3.you do the math, but no matter how you add it up it equals crazy. When youandve got kids to bathe, meals to prepare, homework to check, laundry to tackle, errands to run and clients to shoot, you have to work very hard to keep things in order. A fail proof system Iandve found for organizing my portfolio goes as follows: from each shoot, pull the images that you feel may be portfolio worthy into a separate file and an external hard drive for back up. Label both the file on your computer and the external drive with the same name. Within the file on your computer and the one on the external drive if you wish have sub files categorized by type of photography, ie. portraits, family sessions, weddings, landscape, maternity.bla bla bla, you get the picture. Then when youandre ready to compile your best images for a portfolio.guess what? Itands done already. Imagine that I didnandt do this from the beginning. And trust you me, it is a huge pain not to have a favorites file.digging through thousands of files to pick your best work once it comes time to say build a website, does not equal a pleasing way to spend the weekend. And I donandt need to mention the terror and dismay youandd experience should your computer crash without you being backed up
56. Get an experts opinion then be prepared to throw it out
Itands good to get another respected photographerands opinion for 2 reasons. 1. They can help you improve by telling you where your images may fall short. 2. They can help you gain confidence because they may see things in certain images that you did not. They may love what you didnandt allow yourself to for whatever reason. It goes back to that whole
57. What are some of the most common mistakes people make when putting together a portfolio
The single most common mistake is including multiple images that are too similar images that were clearly shot at the same time and only slightly different. That is a very negative indicator of a photographers ability or willingness to evaluate their own work. Just as common is loading the front of the book with decent work, and padding the back of the book with mediocre work. Changing formats vertical horizontal and sizes is another faux pas.
In the age of the digital camera with its zero cost images, most people simply shoot too much, sloppily, and edit too loosely. All photographers find it easier to shoot than to edit their own work. Shooting is fun. Taking a hard look at everything you shot and being honest with yourself about whether you have any truly outstanding images is hard. Most of us need to call on trusted colleagues to keep us honest.
58. What makes an image worthy of being in a portfolio
Unless every person who sees it goes WOW, without needing to elaborate, it should not go into your portfolio.
Unless it is consistent with the primary body of work for which you want to get hired, it should not go into your portfolio.
Unless it is technically executed at a professional level of mastery, it should not go into your portfolio unless a deliberately rough style is something that you have been doing and exhibiting deliberately and consistently.
59. Should you keep several different portfolios tailored to specific purposes
One of the most common business mistakes is trying to show the world that you are a competent photographer. That will not help you; it is a given that anyone worthy of being hired to shoot professionally is competent.
What you must excel at communicating with every tweet, image, Facebook post, newsletter, meeting, exhibition, and tear sheet is what makes you unique and different from every other perfectly competent photographer with a 20+ megapixel camera and some expensive lenses.
You must choose a specialization. Believe me, it will be hard enough to compete in just one area. The industry is glutted with photographers. The first step is to identify the kind of photographs that you would love to get paid to take, the kind that hold magic for you, the kind that will continue to challenge you, the kind that arent going to lead to boredom and creative stagnation.
60. How often should your books be updated
Not every day; as often as it takes to land the job. How often is not really the critical question; Is everything thats in my book consistent with my style, strong as individual images, and adding to the quality of the body of work as a whole? is a better question. Eliminate the weak images without mercy. Meanwhile, keep shooting, but beware nursing a limping project to death.
Bringing a project to a close is as important as starting one. Explore your idea deeply and thoroughly, finish it by making exhibition quality prints, hold a celebration exhibition, even if its in your living room, serve some drinks, and move onto the next thing. Its about the lifetime body of work, not any single image, no matter how lauded or how disposable. Once a body of work is finished, give it enough time to make the rounds and be seen so you can learn something from it and get some valuable feedback.


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