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How to Create a Memorable Photography Portfolio

Read Time: 6 mins

Your portfolio is a marketing tool to help you get the kind of work you want. To help you create a successful portfolio, in this lesson, the third in a series from Chamira Young's course about making portfolios, you'll learn how to craft a vision and set realistic goals for your portfolio.

Formulating a Vision for Your Portfolio

The more clarity you have about what you want to get out of your portfolio, the smoother the process of formulating a vision for your portfolio will be. You need to craft a vision for your portfolio based on your desired end outcome.

Ask yourself:

  1. Am I trying to get a job interview?
  2. Am I trying to land a gig for commercial work?
  3. Am I trying to initiate a discussion with the reviewer from a fine art gallery?
  4. Am I trying to get more work writing for travel websites or magazines? 
  5. Or am I simply interested in creating a web presence that adequately represents my work as a hobbyist?

It's up to you to be crystal clear about your objectives, because your objectives will directly shape the images you decide to include in your portfolio, as well as what form your portfolio with take.

Formulating a Vision for Your PortfolioFormulating a Vision for Your PortfolioFormulating a Vision for Your Portfolio

Who is Your Target Audience?

The audience you are targeting affects both the work you include in your portfolio, as well as how you present your work. Therefore, you need to be clear about who the audience for your work is. When considering your audience also keep in mind the type of work your audience is used to seeing or interested in seeing.

It's OK to Have Multiple Portfolios

If you have different audiences in mind, you may need to create multiple portfolios. This is especially true if you have multiple specialities, such as corporate headshots and nature work, for example. This would require your work to be seen by two different groups of people who have different expectations. The editor of a corporate magazine, for instance, is likely not be professionally interested in your nature work.

Creating multiple portfolios doesn't need to be as labour intensive as it sounds. It is common for photographers to have multiple galleries on one website, organised by topic, or to create multiple PDFs or print portfolios so that they can pick and choose the correct portfolio for the scenario.

How to Present Your Portfolio

The way you present your portfolio depends a lot on your target audience. If you're presenting your portfolio in person in a more traditional venue, you would want a print portfolio. However, if you're showing your work to a younger representative in a laidback coffee shop, a digital portfolio on your iPad may be the best fit.

For inspiration look at other photographers' portfolios. Get familiar with what you like or don't like.

How to Present Your PortfolioHow to Present Your PortfolioHow to Present Your Portfolio

Guidelines for Creating a Successful Portfolio

Now, let's talk about some guidelines for effective goal setting when it comes to creating a successful portfolio. Without a few goals things tend to be left unfinished or not started at all. It's important you set some personal goals for your immediate future; Your career will thank you for it! 

  1. Look at your existing body of work and determine what strengths and weaknesses you have. Decide if you need to take additional photos to solidify your portfolio or move towards a particular theme.
  2. Decide what portfolio types are the best for you and for your audience. 
  3. Ask yourself what type of monitor or device your potential client most likely will use. This should influence the type of portfolio you decide to build as well as how you build it. For example, if you're trying to get your work into a busy art gallery, keep in mind that they're probably used to flipping from photo to photo very quickly when reviewing their artists. So when building your website, make sure that the navigation is easy for them to go from photo to photo very quickly, either by using their keyboard arrows or straightforward navigation on each page.
  4. Have a third party hold you accountable. This can be a teacher, a fellow photographer, a friend or even a family member. Tell them you are embarking on a journey to create at least one portfolio that communicates the type of work you want to attract and also does your work justice.
  5. Set a date of completion for yourself. And mark it on your calendar. Whether you're using a calendar on your computer, or a paper calendar, or a combination of both, setting a hard deadline for yourself improves your chances of success drastically.
Guidelines for Creating a Successful PortfolioGuidelines for Creating a Successful PortfolioGuidelines for Creating a Successful Portfolio

Remember you don't have to feel like your work is perfect in order to create a portfolio, because you may never feel like your work is perfect. Interestingly enough, this is what drives us as creators to improve.

You should view your portfolio as a living, breathing creation that will grow in quality as you grow in your craft. As your work advances in quality, you can update your portfolio accordingly.

Next Steps

If you dream of creating a photo book as your portfolio, this guide will help you select, edit and sequence your photos successfully.

Keep following this course for more on how to make a photography portfolio.

Free Video Courses: Follow Envato Tuts+ on YouTube

Want to get more great tips on everything related to photography? Follow Envato Tuts+ on YouTube and access FREE courses like "Photoshop for Beginners". 

In it Dan Scott will take you from beginner to pro in 23 lessons exploring all the essential Photoshop tools and techniques.

More Resources for Photographers

Here are more top tutorial and resources for Photographers to try from Envato Tuts+:

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