A portfolio of your works is a very important thing that every photographer has to create. As a true photography geek (or a professional photographer) you probably never part with your camera and take many photos per day. Obviously, there are good and bad shots in your reserve. So what do you do with them? It is possible to print images and present them as postcards for friends and relatives, to create prints and hang them on your walls, to sell photos on the web or exhibit them in art galleries. But the most persistent photographers create digital or printed photo portfolios.
Let’s take a closer look at what a portfolio really is. Wikipedia says that literally portfolio means “a case for carrying loose papers”. Does it mean that you can shove a pile of photos into a bag and then show them everywhere with a winning cry ìI’m the best photographer! I have a portfolio!î? It’s unlikely. A true portfolio probably is a collection of your best works which are well categorized, arranged and presented.
Printed Portfolio vs. Digital Portfolio
There is a widespread belief among ‘old school’ photographers that portfolio is not a portfolio unless it is printed on paper. On one hand it’s an ordinary psychological barrier which keep us from trying new things. On the other hand images on computer screens and on paper really look different. There are different color rendering, vividness, saturation, naturalness, etc.
So it is very possible that you’ll need both portfolio options ñ digital and printed. Remember that not all web users have well calibrated screens so be ready to prove your qualification on paper.
Probably there are numerous types of portfolios ñ everybody can categorize them according to various criteria. Here we accentuate on website content.
Simple Gallery Websites
There are innumerable quantity of such portfolios on the web. As usually when such portfolio is built, it continues to exist without any significant changes and professional maintenance. There are ‘Gallery’ page (often it is a home page of a website), ‘About’ page and ‘Contacts’. Here you can find several photographers’ portfolio websites of this type from all over the world.
Photo portfolio + full-fledged blog, shop, etc.
There is also another kind of photographers which don’t want to go for a small thing and aspire to promote their portfolio or want to share their experience on the web. Such people arrange blogs, news blocks, online shops on their portfolio pages directly. This activity requires more money, skills and time investments, but it’s worth trying. So enjoy a few photo portfolios with full-fliedged blogs and online stores.
Portfolios in special communities
Photography related communities are widely spread on the web. Such platforms unite many talented photographers and encourage them to create accounts with their portfolios and basic information included. It’s a great chance to get along with like-minded professionals, to showcase your best pictures, to inspire yourself and to keep up with the latest news of photography industry. Here you can find a few links to the world’s most popular photography communities which allow, and even encourage, a creation of photo portfolios.
Behance Network is a network for creative professionals of different fields of art including photo illustrations, photo manipulations, general photography, photojournalism, etc.
Coroflot Portfolios is considered to be the largest and very popular pool of professional creative portfolios in the world. Believe it or not, but there are thousands of photographersí portfolios from all over the world.
Flickr is an online photo management and sharing application. It’s probably one of the most popular photo resources among people who are interested in photos.
Deviant Art is a platform that allows emerging and famous artists to showcase, promote, and share their works within a community of like-minded people.
500px is a photographic community that lets people share and discover inspiring photographs.
Fotoblur is a community generated photography magazine where people can publish their most inspiring photos.
1x is an online photo gallery and social network for professional photographers. Only 1/20 of uploaded photos are published, so you can be sure that all images you see there are of the highest quality.
So if we were rather successful to convince you of a necessity of digital photo portfolio then we hope you wouldn’t mind getting several suggestions on how to create a killer photo portfolio and not to put your foot in it.
Know well your audience and goals
Just stop for a while and think about the results you want to get. Do you want people to buy your photos or do you just need to promote yourself and spread the world about your name? You can also be interested in showcasing results of some special photography events (only black and white photos, photos taken at night or in some specific place) ñ it depends on goals for which the portfolio is created.
Present only the best photos
There is a widely spread mistake of creative people: they showcase pictures (as well as music, paintings, videos, etc.) which they like by themselves, but not those ones which are really well done. Those things arenít always the same.Your portfolio is a place for your best works, but not for giving vent to your emotions.
And remember that the first and the last photos are the most memorable. So even if not all your photos are perfectly done, pay special attention to the first and the last one.
Organize your photos clearly, in some order
It would be good if photos were in a logical, chronological or topical order. If you think that the order of pictures is quite understandable (not just for you, but for others too) then your portfolio is probably well done.
Photo Size and Orientation
It is quite understandable that photos should be large enough to people to see all details clearly and effortlessly, and small enough to fit on each viewerís screen. But how large exactly should your pictures be? There is a common view that the ideal image size for the portfolio is between 600px and 1200px. Also it would be good if you chose only one orientation for all photos: album or landscape. But of course it’s up to you.
There are also some photo portfolios which allow you to upload images of different sizes and orientations, so that they look nice.
You can also find some designs with a zoom function which allows to showcase large photos without having to crop or resize them.
Supplement images with some additional information
It is not a compulsory condition to write a few words about every photo in your portfolio. Indeed, not every portfolio needs such feature. If you’re going to present numerous photos in several sub-galleries then it may be very interesting to know the story of every picture or where it was taken.
It’s not a secret that there is a strong competition in the photography world. But don’t try to impress your visitors with complexity when itís about website navigation. It is not the best time and place for such experiments.
You should engage your visitors in your portfolio within the first 10 seconds otherwise they will leave you for somebody else. So don’t make people look for your pictures during this time. Let them view your artworks or find your contacts. It will benefit you many times in future.
By the way, one of the most popular and convenient methods of website navigation is a drop down menu. It is easy to use and quite understandable because every time you hover the mouse pointer over menus there opens an additional section which is available for browsing.
Think over the ‘About’ page
First of all, let people know your name! It sounds strange but still there are many creative and talented photographers who forget to mention their name on their website pages. It’s not a widespread mistake, but it can seriously puzzle visitors.
Just let people have a clear vision of who you are and which type of photography you prefer. Maybe you’re a lucky winner of photo contests or an owner of some great photography-related award. You can also create a ‘Hire Me’ page which is especially appropriate when your portfolio is larger then a simple gallery of your works.
Please let us remind you that your contacts should be easy to find and to use. It would be not bad at all if you place your contact information on every page. But it’s alright if your portfolio theme doesn’t allow you to do so. Make sure that you contacts are rather clear and they include all required information:
- your full name/pen name/nickname;
- physical address and path to your office;
- phone number(-s);
- Skype, ICQ, Jabber, etc.
There are vigourous discussions about the necessity and reasonability of contact forms on ‘Contact Us’ pages. On one hand there are many people who prefer to communicate within their mail boxes. These people are more likely to copy/paste your email address to save this correspondence in the mail history. On the other hand there are many of those who write a short message here and now and wait for the answer. The unquestionable fact is that custom contact forms enable you to get more information about potential customers. Anyway there is nothing wrong in mentioning your email in addition to the fully functional contact form.
We just want to draw your attention to email addresses you write on portfolio pages. There are spam bots which are looking for such easy to grab addresses. So if you don’t want to be spammed by them it is possible to display your email address as an image. In this case it will be visible for all human-visitors, but it will be almost impossible for spam bots to steal the email.
Just decide how much your personal information and your works would be open for free sharing and how your audience may use this information.
Promote your portfolio
There is a strong competition between photographers on the web and this market grows very fast. Why should you let all these people pass you ahead?
When your portfolio is almost ready start to communicate with professional and amateur photographers on different forums and social networks. The more popular you are the more people will want to cooperate with you.
The next step you should take is to ask your customers about feedback. People will gladly share their experience. But be ready to face some negative feedback and defend your honor and do it politely and carefully, so that your customers will never be upset.
Find several minutes a day to answer questions. Thereby, people will know that you’re open for communication and cooperation. An ordinary fellow is always more preferable than a haughty photographer with a capital P.
Be creative and donít lose self-confidence – the success will follow!
P.S. Please don’t forget about your portfolio after it’s been created. Renew it! Nobody is interested in monotonous websites. Create an unforgettable viewing experience and youíll be a famous photographer with a fabulous photo portfolio.
Ann Davlin is an inspired copywriter , blogger and social media explorer working at MotoCMS – an advanced Flash CMS and Flash templates provider. She’s also crazy about photography and you can always chat with her on Twitter.