How To Make A Photography Portfolio Stand Out! 7 Tips
Did you know that first impressions are made within 7 seconds?
When a potential client scrolls through your Instagram feed, lands on your website, or emails you for more information…you don’t have much time to grab their attention. Website design, social media strategy, and professional communication skills will get you far– but building a photography portfolio is the first place you should begin when it comes to honing the impression you leave on your audience.
It’s critical to know how to make a photography portfolio that stands out. Simply put, it is a comprehensive display of your work. It showcases your skills and highlights your ‘voice’ as an artist. With so many talented artists in the photography community today, it’s even more important that you know how to create a photography portfolio that is professional, refined, and showcases the unique way you see through the lens.
Below is our guide for how to build a photography portfolio. We’ll discuss 7 photography portfolio tips that will set you apart, attract your ideal clientele, and boost your creativity.
But first, let’s start with some basics about traditional and digital photography portfolios:
WHAT IS A PHOTOGRAPHY PORTFOLIO?
A photography portfolio is your visual resumé, a curated collection showcasing the breadth and depth of your work. It's an essential tool for photographers to display their skills, style, and artistic vision. Whether for digital or print, creating a photography portfolio provides a platform to tell your story through images.
When building a photography portfolio, don’t just focus on displaying your best shots. Remember to also convey a narrative of your evolution and expertise in photography. Considering where to begin with how to make a photography portfolio might seem daunting, but it's a journey worth embarking on for any serious photographer.
WHAT DOES A PHOTOGRAPHY PORTFOLIO LOOK LIKE?
Photography portfolios can take various forms, each unique to the photographer's artistic voice. A digital photography portfolio often exists as an online gallery or a well-designed website. It can also be a physical book or binder showcasing printed images.
When thinking about how to build a photography portfolio, consider your audience and purpose. Is it for client work, gallery showings, or personal expression? Your portfolio should reflect not only your best work but also the type of photography you want to pursue. Think of it as a curated art exhibit of your finest pieces.
HOW MANY PHOTOS SHOULD BE IN A PORTFOLIO?
A good rule of thumb is to include 15-25 of your best imagesThe number of photos in a photography portfolio varies, but quality always trumps quantity. A good rule of thumb is to include 15-25 of your best images. In the process of how to make a photography portfolio, this range allows you to demonstrate versatility without overwhelming the viewer.
Remember, creating a photography portfolio is about showcasing your strengths, so each image should serve a purpose and add value to your portfolio's overall narrative. When thinking about how to put together a photography portfolio, find the right balance to keep the viewer engaged and leave them wanting more.
BUILDING A PHOTOGRAPHY PORTFOLIO STARTS WITH CREATING CONTENT
The first step in how to make a photography portfolio is creating content. At first glance, this advice seems obvious – but when you’re creating a photography portfolio, it’s easy to fall into a rhythm of consuming content in the name of “inspiration”.
When you spend less time consuming and more time creating, the real magic begins.
If you’re a brand new photographer with barely any photoshoots under your belt, it’s time to begin. We all start somewhere! When making a photography portfolio, create mood boards, dream up your ideal shoot, imagine what you want it to encompass and then start taking photos. Sometimes this may be paid sessions for clients, and other times you may have to style your own shoots until the clients come. Regardless, don’t wait until the perfect opportunities arise. Create the content you want to shoot and you’ll begin attracting the clients you want to create for.
DISCOVER WHAT YOU LOVE
Some photographers start out knowing the content they want to create while others take a while to find their passion. When thinking about how to start a photography portfolio, don’t rush the process. It takes time and practice to discover your favorite subjects, aesthetic, and style. As you continue shooting and developing your editing skills, you’ll eventually uncover what lights you up and become more confident in your body of work.
Here is a guide to some of the most popular avenues of building a photography portfolio:
Does romance and beauty bring you joy? Wedding photography might be a good fit for you! While capturing one of your clients’ most memorable life events is definitely high pressure– there’s nothing quite like the elegance, intimacy, and love that transpires on a wedding day. From golden-lit portraits of the couple to candid snapshots of the reception, building a photography portfolio with wedding work will quickly be filled with timeless moments that will be returned to over and over again.
Interior and Architectural Photography
If you’re inspired by beautifully designed spaces and artful details, Interior and Architectural Photography could be the best fit for you. Creating a photography portfolio in this niche requires a keen eye for detail and understanding the interplay of light, composition, and shape within a space. If you’re interested in this type of photography, staging and photographing your own home is a perfect way to begin.
Do you find styled shoots and publications compelling? A digital photography portfolio based on editorial experience is a great fit for those who want to step further into the role of “director”. With editorial photography you’ll have the freedom to conceptualize a shoot, plan the details, coordinate collaborations, and turn your vision into reality. Seeing your work published in print or online is an affirming experience for any creative– if you go this route, that experience is just a part of the job.
For photographers who love being in the action and capturing fast-paced, candid imagery– event photography is an exciting avenue. Many event photographers document concerts, conferences, speaking events, grand openings, and anything else that attracts a large crowd. If you love a photojournalistic approach and aren’t afraid of navigating the in-the-moment nature of events, you’ll thrive making a photography portfolio in this genre.
Portraiture is one of the most classic directions to go with your photography. Portrait photographers learn the fine art of posing and how to evoke natural beauty while working closely with their subjects to help them unfold in front of the camera. If you love a slower paced style of photography, portraiture will allow you to begin building a photography portfolio of individuals, families, and couples marked by intentionality and connection.
HOW TO BUILD A PHOTOGRAPHY PORTFOLIO BASED ON CONSISTENCY
Every photo session and subject is different, but mastering a thread of cohesivity throughout your portfolio will set your work apart. Consistency can be created simply by the way you use light, pose your subjects, or choose locations as well as by the way you edit your photos in post-processing.
Here at REFINED Co, we believe that one of the easiest ways to elevate your digital photography portfolio is to invest in editing presets. A good preset, like our Fuji-inspired Refined III, will amplify your work and help you with building a photography portfolio with a “signature look” that people will gravitate towards.
If you don’t want to create your own, try to find mobile and desktop presets created by industry professionals. Premium presets, like our portrait photography collection, take one year (or more) to develop and are painstakingly tested on a variety of camera bodies and thousands of shoots. Professionalism, consistency, and editing efficiency are at the foundation of premium presets as well as in the process of how to make a photography portfolio with a cohesive look.
Think of building a photography portfolio that’s an open-ended collection of artwork, experience, and inspiration. Your portfolio will never be finished, but will evolve and change as you grow as an artist. Every photographer experiences seasons of creative drought, but the key is to always stoke the flame of inspiration. Pay attention to the way light moves outside your window. Take a few seconds to appreciate the design elements in your local bakery. Notice the way that couple walks down the street with her dress billowing in the breeze.
Inspiration can grab you at any moment. When thinking about how to build a photography portfolio, use that inspiration to reinvigorate your artistic vision, elevate your portfolio, and create work you can’t wait to share.
REMAIN OPEN TO LEARNING
Whether you just got a camera last week or you’ve been a photographer for 20 years, there’s always an opportunity to learn something new. If you’re creating a photography portfolio…become passionate about refining your craft! Sign up for local workshops and online classes, seek out the advice of your favorite photographers, read books, visit art museums, and stay in-tune with the latest photography trends. Investing in your knowledge will only increase your skills as an artist.
Along these same lines, find a community that can relate to your work and help you learn and grow. It’s so much easier to navigate the world of photography when you have fellow artists to answer questions and encourage your work.
Currently looking for a group of talented photographers and creative professionals? Look no further than REFINED Co. We help you showcase your creativity with presets and editing tools that save time and elevate your look with timeless beauty. Our Facebook Community is filled with 5k+ industry peers that we know you’ll love!
REQUEST FEEDBACK ON YOUR DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY PORTFOLIO
When considering how to make a photography portfolio, receiving feedback and constructive criticism can be painful, but it is well worth the discomfort. To pursue excellence in our work we must be willing to face up to the ways we can be better. Ask former clients and industry peers what they think of your photography and take notes– as artists it is possible to be “too close” to our work so that we can’t see the blind spots that are ultimately holding us back from becoming better. Receive the opinions of others with an open mind, but remember that at the end of the day it is your work. When thinking about how to build a photography portfolio, don’t forget that not everyone will see the world as you do and it’s important that you stay true to your voice.
KEEP YOUR SPARK + AVOID BURNOUT
Between client communication, scheduling, and editing photos, the logistics of running a photography business can often make building a photography portfolio feel more like a chore than a passion. Burnout isn’t just a buzzword, but rather a real struggle for creative entrepreneurs who make a business out of their photography. But, take heart! Here are a few of our favorite photography portfolio tips to keep the spark alive and avoid burnout.
Shoot for Yourself
If photography is your full-time job, you’ll need to take on shoots to pay the bills– but don’t forget to regularly set aside time to shoot for yourself! By reserving some creative energy for personal work you’ll be able to return to the passion you had for photography when you first started.
It’s a running joke that entrepreneurs quit their 40 hour per week job to work 24/7. The freedom to work whenever and wherever you want is great, until it backfires and you find yourself pulling yet another late night. Implementing boundaries will allow you to create work/life integration, boost productivity when you are working, and avoid burnout. It’s not good to think about work all the time- even if your work is something you love. Make plenty of room in your life for hobbies, loved ones, and time filling your own cup. You’ll be able to come back to making a photography portfolio with fresh eyes and more motivation than before.
INVEST IN YOURSELF, INVEST IN YOUR PORTFOLIO
Learning how to make a photography portfolio is a never-ending, but important process. It’s the first impression you’ll leave with your potential clients. Honor yourself and your craft with the above-mentioned photography portfolio tips (you'll be surprised by how doing so will set you apart, attract your ideal clientele, and boost your creativity).
If you’re ready to showcase your creativity with presets and editing tools that save time and elevate your portfolio with timeless beauty be sure to Shop our Collection, Today! →
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