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How to Organize Your Photos for Editing Photography Portfolios

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Read Time: 6 mins

Need some help understanding how to select the best pictures for your photography portfolio? In this lesson, the fifth in a series from Chamira Young's course about making portfolios, you'll gather potential photos to be included in your portfolio and begin evaluating them against your goals and objectives for your portfolio.

Assemble Your Images

In truth, this can be one of the most trying aspects of creating your portfolio, so having a set of clear steps towards making a memorable portfolio is pragmatic.

Here's how to stay organised:

  1. First, establish a reliable and consistent system to sort your images so that your photographs are easy to find when you need them for the next steps. In this example, we keep a master Photography Portfolio folder (or a virtual folder in your photo organizing program). 
  2. This folder contains different portfolios broken down by the subjects or applications they're built for, for example: Nature and Travel, Portraits, and Weddings.
  3. In each there is a subfolder for your selections. So in the Nature and Travel folder there is another subfolder called Selections that contains a selection of images to be used in the example we are creating here. In your final portfolio you include only images in your portfolio that you consider to be your best work, but at this stage we're just collecting anything we think has potential to include. Do not include photos just to bulk up your portfolio, but if you think it might fit, add it — knowing you'll cull things down to your best pictures later.
Assembling Your ImagesAssembling Your ImagesAssembling Your Images

Recall and Refine Your Objective

Before you evaluate the photo to be included in your portfolio, you need to set your primary objective for each portfolio. This will guide your selection of photos. In the example used here: The primary objective for this example portfolio is to provide photos for a travel commercial agency that needs work focusing on artistic, nature and location subject matter. 

Evaluating Your Photos Against Your ObjectiveEvaluating Your Photos Against Your ObjectiveEvaluating Your Photos Against Your Objective

Evaluate Your Photos Against Your Objective

For each portfolio, start with, say, 75-100 candidate photos with the goal of getting them down to a much smaller number, let's say 25 high-quality images. You can review and evaluate your photos digitally or print them out to review and evaluate them. With your goal in mind, look through your initial assembly of photos to see which ones best fit your purpose and should be included in your final portfolio. Get a feel for the assembly as a whole, and note how the photos relate to each other. You might need to do a few passes through your archives to find what you need.

You will notice as you look though your photos that some of the photos fit the purpose you have in mind while others do not. You will also notice that you have some images which are too similar to each other. In these cases you need to determine which one is better that the other, which we'll talk about more later in this tutorial series.

Boy and girl viewing a photo album, outdoors, sitting on steps beside a railingBoy and girl viewing a photo album, outdoors, sitting on steps beside a railingBoy and girl viewing a photo album, outdoors, sitting on steps beside a railing

Another thing to mention is that when you get your first group of photos together, there may be a few that you simply like or are emotionally attached to. That does not mean that they are suitable for your portfolio! This is where having someone work with you to edit your portfolio is essential, because they won't have the same associations as you do and so can see the pictures more clearly for what they are, visually. 

Pay attention to the way each photo was made. Look for the angle of view in each photo, and try to select from a range from close up to wide angle to keep things fresh and varied. Try to identify the photos that pack a punch and those that are a bit lacking. It's important that the photos that end up in your portfolio are on a similar level to each other.

As you look through your photos, you may run across photos you want to include in your portfolio but which need some editing. It's tempting to jump in and fix things right away, but point don't get pulled off track. It's easy to get bogged down in tweaking pictures at this point because you don't yet have a finished selection. Instead, wait until you've made all your final picks, and only then process everything to the same quality, moving all the images through the post-production process together, so that you can maintain the stylistic coherence of all the pictures as a group.

As you examine and evaluate each photo make a mental note of the ones you may end up removing; in the next lesson we'll cover that part of the process.

Next Steps

Need some help figuring out the different options for printing your photographs?  Here's a terrific guide to help you create the best prints for your style and subject matter.

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 "Wedding Photography for Beginners". 

In it Maria Gardiner will take you on a comprehensive journey through the world of wedding photography covering everything from insurance to what you’ll actually offer your clients as a finished product. 

More Resources for Photographers

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

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