There are lots of blog postings, articles, and podcasts on the subject. Photographers seem to vary in specific recommendations: how many photos, what type of photos, and how best to present the images. But I liked what Susan Cole Kelly had to say about the “don’ts” of creating a photography portfolio. Don’t get bogged down in finding your best images of all time & don’t wait until you have the ultimate portfolio.
Portfolios are dynamic which means they are supposed to change. My portfolio is about the photographer that I am today. Yesterday I was a different photographer and tomorrow I will be a yet a new photographer.
So, the first step in creating my portfolio was accepting myself where I am. Rather than wishing for better technique, a better camera (or lens), or that epic trip to Europe, I embraced my abilities and experiences — as they stand right now.
But the difficult part was the process of choosing the photographs that would represent me. The choices I make about what to include in my portfolio are just as important as the photos that I make.
I decided to chose photos taken in the last year. This helped, but I’d taken thousands of photos.
Limiting the photos to my “best” was more daunting. I did look briefly at my most fav-d photos on Flickr, but this wasn’t really sufficient. Popularity varied across my social media platforms so this wasn’t a good guide for choosing photos for my portfolio.
Anyway, my portfolio wasn’t about what was POPULAR.
In the end, I let my gut decide – maybe not a good recommendation, but that’s what it boiled down to. If a photo moved me even after seeing it a hundred times than it was a contender for the portfolio. If the photo made me proud, maybe that I’d mastered a particular technique, than it was a contender.
From there, it was just a matter of killing my darlings (photos I loved, but were technically flawed or repetitious). This is hard, but necessary. It’s not like I was deleting the photos forever!
I decided to create my portfolio in book form since Shutterfly was running a special. I did this for various reasons: I find handling individual photographs fussy and I don’t always want to present my work via technology. There was also a sense of “product” or stability in creating a book. It was a special way to showcase my photos. It’s also convenient to show someone who wants to see my photographs.
See what I ultimately decided were my top photos of 2015-2016.