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Commericlaphoto
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3.2 Building Your Commercial Portfolio

Before booking the big jobs and establishing a network of high-powered clients, you'll need to create great work to showcase your abilities. In this lesson, you'll learn how to conceptualize and produce a portfolio that will get you noticed.

3.2 Building Your Commercial Portfolio

In the last lesson, we took a look at how you can break into the commercial industry by getting an internship. In this lesson, I'm gonna show you how you build a portfolio. Now the first thing is to get out there and shoot work. Does that sound like the dumbest tip ever? Yes, but it's also the most important. You can't sell it if you can't show it. What you need to do is you need to get out there and do personal work. You can't just wait around for someone to give you a check to pick up your camera. So get there, shoot personal work. You need to conceptualize what it is you want to do with your photography. Whether it's food or real estate or products, it really doesn't matter. You need to decide what you're gonna do and then set up personal work and go make that happen. So, get out there and shoot images. When you're building your portfolio, the line between personal work and free work is smudged beyond belief. People will say, I want you to do this thing for me, it'll be great exposure. I want you to shoot these images for me, you can put them in your portfolio. Now, first of all unless you're doing work for hire, anything you shoot can go in your portfolio. So, you don't really need them to do free work for you so that you can get portfolio pieces. So, let me define the difference between free work and personal work. Free work is when you're doing something for someone else. They're calling the shots. They're getting the images. And you're not getting paid for it. Personal work is yes, this other person may be getting images. Yes, they are benefiting because they're going to get their advertising catalog put together for free. But here's how a personal shoot differs from a free shoot. If you decide to do something because it It's personal, then you get to call the shots. You control it. You can set the time frame. You can set the parameters of how that day's gonna go. But, most importantly, you get to decide what the photos look like. You get to create whatever artistic vision that you have so that you can build the portfolio that you want. Now, if a company is not okay with that, and they say well, we want you to do this. But it has to fit within x, y, z parameters, and it has to fit our branding. And you have to do this, and they start pulling you away from your vision towards what they need for their advertising, then that's free work. That's not personal work, and you should be getting paid for that. Did you get paid for an image that doesn't represent what you want in your portfolio? Inside commercial photography, I shoot commercial portraits. If it doesn't have a person in it, you're probably not going to see it in my portfolio. But I got hired by a chef to do advertising for them, so I shot all different kinds of food. Now it's not to say that I did a bad job, and it's not to say that I was ashamed of these images. I put them in my Facebook social media, and look at this cool thing I'm doing. But you're not gonna see this image on my website. Here's why. It doesn't represent my portfolio. It doesn't represent what I'm trying to put out there as the face of my brand and how I want people to judge me. If you go to someone's site and it's, oh, they shoot weddings and families and dogs and products and beverages, then you have no idea what they do. And it just seems like they're taking any check that comes their way. But if you say very specifically, I'm just gonna shoot real estate. Then, if someone says, hey, will you shoot my senior portraits? If you're looking for the work and need the money, yes, shoot their senior portraits. I don't have a problem with you diversifying being able to make a living. But, just because you shot it, and got paid for it, doesn't mean it has to go into your portfolio. You should have a very defined, precise, very kind of straightforward idea of what your portfolio is going to be all about. For me, it's commercial portraits. I have been hired to shoot food. I have been hired to shoot real estate for both realtors and just companies who want, look at our nice lobby on the front page of their website. But you're not gonna see any of those images on my website because they're not commercial portraits. Next up, when you are building your portfolio, you want to have less versus more. Here's why, you are going to be judged on your worst image. Now, think about that. If you put out 15 images, and 12 of them are awesome, but 3 of them are terrible, then they're going to look at you and say, this is a terrible photographer. Now, that sounds really cynical, but that's just the way it is when people are looking to hire someone. So, if you have 12 spectacular, jaw dropping, breathtaking images that make people say, yes, I want to hire you, that's a portfolio. If you go to page two, first of all I'm going to discourage you from having a page two on a gallery unless it's a completely different genre. But if you go to page two, chances are everything that you decided to put on page one is better than whatever's on page two. So, if you have good images here, worse images here, and now slightly worse images on page three. Why are you having these images that you're letting people look at so they can judge you by your worst photo? I would much rather have 12 phenomenal knock out photos than have 40 [SOUND]. Because no one's gonna hire you, if you make them say [SOUND]. So, remember when you're putting together your portfolio, do personal work, not free work, personal work. Remember, less is more. The less images you show, the less chances people have to say, that's terrible photo, because they will judge you on your worst photo. One of the best compliments I ever got is someone sent me an email and said I want to hire you. I'm a piano player. I need new headshots for my website. I looked at your website. I'm very picky, and I did not see one terrible image. If people are going through your website and saying that's a terrible image, it really shouldn't be there. So now that you know how to put together your portfolio, in the next lesson, we're going to look at getting your first clients.

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