There are many reasons why having a portfolio of your work available for others to view. If you are seeking employment as a photographer, then the need for a portfolio is obvious. If you are not seeking a photography job, there are still good reasons to have a portfolio. For one, you love photography and you take a lot a pride in your work. They are important to you. Most likely, some of them are very good. Why not create a portfolio that showcases your best work so you can show it to others (even if it’s just friends or family that comes over for a visit)?
Building a Photography Portfolio
Before we get into what goes into your portfolio, let’s discuss the portfolio itself. What should it be made of? How big should it be? You may have seen portfolios with covers made of all types of materials such as plastic, leather and even stainless steel. These fancy covers are usually much more expensive and may not be practical for a beginner. If you are competing for high-price jobs and want to stand out from the crowd, these expensive covers may be a nice touch. But for most people, a regular black plastic cover will work just fine. It’s what’s inside the portfolio that is most important, right?
So, you are probably best to stick with a plain black plastic cover and work hard on beefing up what’s inside. Don’t decorate your portfolio with cutesy stickers and such; this will look amateurish and unprofessional. It’s not a scrapbook; it’s supposed to represent your high-quality work.
Now, as for size, this is going to depend on the size of your largest pictures. An 8 X 10 is probably going to be your largest. If your pictures are not this big, you don’t need a portfolio this big. Your biggest will most likely be an 11 X 14 and it could be as small as a 4 X 7.
The most important thing for you to remember is convenience – both for you and for the person who will be looking at your portfolio. You want to keep it professional and easy to hold, carry and look over.
Using a Photography Portfolio
So now that you know what a portfolio is and what type to get, how do you actually use it? Well, we mentioned you are going to fill it with your best work. This means you want a portfolio that can easily be changed. You may want to pull out old ones and add in new ones. You don’t want to go for a job carrying along every picture you’ve ever taken. You’re going to want to have 15-20 of your best work. You are also going to want to be sure your pictures are relevant to the job. If you are trying out for different types of assignments, you may want to create portfolios that work for each of the types of work you are doing.
Of course, you only want to show your best work but you want to give the impression that you can handle any type of assignment given to you ad not that you are “stuck” in only one type of photography.
You want to showcase your best work; this is best technically as well. You may have a photo that is really important to you because of the image it represents or the memory it brings but if it is not technically perfect, it doesn’t belong in a business portfolio. Save that one for your coffee table.