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Do’s and Don’ts of Putting Together a Photography Portfolio

Are you having trouble landing a job? Do you keep showing your work but are not getting any clients? Maybe it’s time to review your photography portfolio. Whether you’re doing a digital or printed portfolio, here are some do’s and don’ts to improve the way you present your photography.

Travel photography example portfolio

Putting together a portfolio

It doesn’t matter what kind of photographer you are, a good portfolio is the most important tool you have to secure a job. The first thing to understand is that putting together a bunch of nice pictures isn’t enough. Your photography portfolio should be a sample of your work that showcases your technical abilities as well as your personal style.

Flower and nature portfolio

DON’T put watermarks

Let’s face it, if someone wants to steal your photograph, they will find a way to do so. A watermark can be cropped or deleted. Instead, it will make it more difficult for the viewer to appreciate your image. Also, watermarks give an amateurish look to your portfolio as a whole. See at the difference:


Watermarks can ruin a photo and don’t really protect your rights

To legally protect your images, you can have them copyrighted. To get familiar with this concept, read ImageRights – Finding and Pursuing Copyright Infringement. Another safety measure is to never publish or hand out high-resolution images. For this, I recommend my previous article on How to Understand Pixels, Resolution, and Resize your Images in Photoshop Correctly.

DON’T stick to one portfolio

Another big mistake is to collect all of your best photos and display them in one portfolio. You may think this shows quality, as they are a “best-of,” but it can make you look like a master of none. It is also a waste of time for your client. They want to see relevant examples that show how you would do their job, not how good you may be at other things.

You can specialize in different kind of photography

Take these two photos, for example – they don’t even look good together. And let’s face it, someone who needs a food photographer, doesn’t really care about how I can photograph a street fair and vice-versa. If you’re not convinced about limiting your practice, have a look at these 5 Things to Consider Before Deciding to Specialize or Not in Your Photography.

DO feature what you’re selling

I was talking before about the importance of having different portfolios. This means that each one should display a different specialty that you offer. It’s always important to be coherent and properly organize your work. For example, a portrait portfolio shouldn’t just include any kind of photography that features people. Let me illustrate this:

Different kinds of photography. Photography specialization

Take the two photos above, the one on the left comes from a photo-shoot I did for the press kit of a theater play. The one on the right is a behind-the-scenes job I was doing for a short movie. If I’m preparing a portfolio for a movie or theater producer I can include both. If I’m preparing a portrait portfolio then I shouldn’t include the one on the right.

DO ask for help

It’s always helpful to ask for opinions once you’ve shortlisted the images you want to use. If you can reach out to a colleague or an expert it would be great, but if you don’t, at least ask a friend. Often we have an emotional attachment to a photo we took that is actually not great. An external point of view can help you sort out your best images.


Try putting two similar images from the same subject and asking them which one they prefer. A friend can also help you decide if you are putting too many or too few images in your portfolio. Keep in mind that you should never include something that is not good enough just to reach a certain number. Also, don’t overdo it – editors are busy people and have many portfolios to review.


To sum up, there is no specific formula for putting together a photography portfolio that is great, but I hope you found these tips useful and time-saving. DO remember that the most important thing is for you to have a strong body of work.

If you still need to work on that, here are some great readings to help you out:



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Ana Mireles
Ana Mireles

is a photographer and artistic researcher. She has been awarded and exhibited in Mexico, Italy, and the Netherlands. Through theory and practice, she explores the cultural aspect of photography, how it helps us relate to each other, the world, and ourselves. She has also a passion for teaching, communication, and social media. You can find more about her and her work at her website or acquire some of her works here.

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