5 Steps to Building a Visually Stunning Photography Portfolio

5 Steps to Building a Visually Stunning Photography Portfolio

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Portfolios are essential for any creative career. Find out how to make your photography portfolio stand out from the rest.

Step 1 – Consider your audience

Anyone in a creative industry, photography included, should keep an up-to-date portfolio of their work but that doesn’t mean taking more photos and lumping them all together in a photo album.

In essence, a portfolio is a showcase of your varied photography talents, from capturing informal shots to setting up atmospheric landscape photos.

Think of your portfolio as a tool.

In most cases, you will use it as a means of securing a job or assignment.

And that means you need to consider your audience – what do they want to see? If you are applying for newspaper work, consider what it is editors would want to see, for example.

Step 2 – Choosing the photos

It isn’t a case of putting every photo you take into your portfolio. What it is, is a snapshot (no pun intended!) of what you can do and where your skills and talent lie.

There are many ways you can build your perfect portfolio and it may be that for each assignment you apply for, you will need to make tweaks to it so that the important selection of photos come first.

In other words, once you know your audience and what they are looking for, you would put these photos higher up the order and leave some of your artier stuff to the back.

Don’t shy away from including photos in your portfolio that don’t all fit what the client is looking for. You want to show you have a wider range of photography ability that they are looking for, as well as suggesting some ideas outside of the box.

How many photos should you include in your portfolio? There is no minimum or maximum number but too many, and you’ll find your client won’t look at them all. Look at step 3 for how to encourage people to really view your work.

Step 3 – Online or printed portfolio, or both?

We live in the digital age and for the photographer, this is both a blessing and a curse. But it doesn’t mean that one is better than the other.

When it comes to the best format for your portfolio, it may be that a combination of both print and online could work;

  • Print – by printing off a photo book from an online retailer, you have a tangible record of your photos that you can use for assignments or for employment roles as a photographer. They also make a pleasant memory for yourself of your earlier work or work relating to certain subjects or genres. Updating on a regular basis can be expensive, however, in terms of print costs.
  • Online – there are many photo-rich sites you can use to steadily build a portfolio that anyone can view. Maintain it well, and you have a vibrant record of the type of photography you enjoy delivering. As your portfolio grows, you can upload images, organise pages and sections etc., making it easier for people to navigate through it.

Step 4 – Your own website

5 Steps to Building a Visually Stunning Photography Portfolio

It is really worth taking a closer look at all that is involved with displaying your photos online, especially in copyrighting your images so that they cannot be used without your permission.

There are many aspects to consider when creating a professional photography portfolio online, and it isn’t just about the photos.

As well as taking time to make sure your photos look fantastic, you will also want to consider the format of your website, and any content you use to describe photos, introduce yourself and so on.

Step 5 – Keep shooting, keep evolving, keep learning

Treat your portfolio as a living entity. It should be regularly updated and nurtured if you are serious about using it as the tool for bringing in more commissions and work.

Creativity never stands still and neither will your learning. Push your creativity to its limits, stepping outside your comfort zone to show that as a photographer, you are always willing to take risks.

There is a range of online photography courses that can help you develop your photography skills, a great way of exploring new ways of taking photos and expanding your style base too.

And finally, you just need to keep taking photos, keep exploring new ways to build your portfolio to show a wide range of photography skills.

Nick Cooper
Nick is NCC's resident blog author and covers a range of subjects, including teaching and health & social care. NCC is an international learning provider with over 20 years’ experience offering learning solutions. To date, NCC has engaged with over 20,000 employers, and delivered quality training to over half a million learners.
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