To create a professional online photography portfolio, there are several key steps that you should follow, some of which I wish I knew when I created my very first portfolio.
You’d think that the more you add pictures to your portfolio, the better.
Having a broad selection of images to showcase is great and all, but you need to ask yourself couple of questions before you start just throwing in everything you think might be showing your professionalism.
What you should be doing instead is selecting high-quality images that not only showcase your skills as a photographer, but are also cohesive with the audience you’re sending the portfolio to.
Learning to curate your images carefully while telling a compelling visual story is something you’ll be able to improve once you understand what it is you’re doing it for.
What should a photography portfolio include?
Usually a PDF portfolio includes around 1-4 series of images or 15-20 images in total. This varies hugely depending who your target audience is and whether you’re creating an artistic or commercial portfolio.
Adding your resume with information like education, courses you’ve taken and a short bio about yourself is an important part to include.
A title for the series and a short description to explain what your series are about, or adding information about the brand you worked with is essential.
How do I build a photography portfolio?
When you start making the selection of your images, try to answer these questions:
Which images showcase what you want to focus on at the moment?
If you did a wedding photoshoot 2 years ago and thought it was an amazing selection of images, but you’re also trying to transition into fashion photography, consider leaving the images out. Unless you’re specifically creating a portfolio for your wedding photography, do not combine too many different genres in one portfolio.
This is because the more specific we can be with what themes we are working with, also communicates the same to our clients. And you can always of course combine different themes, but be very selective with what you add and try to have some kind of storyline across your portfolio.
Are the images strong on their own?
We might have an emotional connection to our work on some level and tend to sometimes choose images that are not really that powerful on their own or visually interesting. It’s just because we feel the importance of the image based on whether we took it in a circumstance that we treasure.
I have printed images to be able to really look at them and arrange them and see how the communicate together. Using around 4-6 images in one series is quite enough – and this is if you have around 3 series in one portfolio. This does not apply the same way for an online portfolio, and I’ll explain why.
On your website you can add dozens of images and still have a visually compelling layout, because of the design and the interactive possibility the online platform offers. When you’re creating a portfolio on Canva or InDesign, the final result is still a flat 2D PDF, that can easily feel overwhelming to your viewer.
So really choosing the images based on 1) storytelling; the images are communicating something that cannot otherwise be told 2) individual strength; the image can strongly stand on their own and has the elements that you want to showcase.
Website: Solve Sundsbo
Communicate the direction you want to take
While you are choosing the images, look at them with honesty; are there images that you think your audience might like or are you truly showing what you yourself like and feel is aligned with you as a photographer? I used to carry my first images that I felt were quite well executed, but noticed at some point that they were not really what I wanted to direct my practice to.
Trying different directions and photographing various themes is a great way to distinguish your personal style, but they’re not all final images to be included in your portfolio – decide on the finest selection that are both well created and showing the photography style that you want to be hired for.
Once you have selected your images, you should select the right platform for your portfolio.
Where can I create a photography portfolio website?
There are many different options available, from simple website builders like Wix or Squarespace and Cargo Collective to more complex content management systems like WordPress. Squarespace is one of the popular website builders for photographers since it offers various templates tailored explicitly towards this field.
WordPress is another option as it has numerous themes and plugins specifically designed for photographers, enabling them to build a customizable portfolio website with ease while allowing frequent updates.
Can Instagram be a photography portfolio?
I have personally used Instagram and still do, so I don’t think it’s inherently bad to show your work on. However, with time I’ve noticed the platform pushes new images to the top of the feed while some gems might get lost somewhere in the past.
This was something that bothered me to the point where I created an online website just for my images, to better control which images got more exposure and through design and layout have more presence on the website.
The platform you choose will depend on how much you’re ready to invest, your technical expertise, and specific needs.
Indeed, you should do some research on this and find your favorite photographers to see where they’re showing their work and what platforms they’re using. I’v seen photographers using Tumblr, so if you’re not eager on investing into anything just yet, just be creative.
To make sure that you appeal to your target audience, consider always adding images with the focus on the type of work you specialize in.
The key to developing a professional photography portfolio lies in the quality of your work rather than its quantity. By handpicking a well-curated selection of finest pieces, you can display your skills and expertise in an attractive yet informative manner.