Being in a creative profession as a professional photographer or videographer means that you can let your work speak for you when it comes to your professional portfolio. While that is incredibly freeing and validating, it comes with challenges of its own. It makes you incredibly vulnerable to criticism and your next assignment might very well depend on what goes on your profile. Seemingly insignificant things like a bio that has not been well worded or a portfolio picture that does not say “professional photographer” can lead to that assignment slipping right through your fingers. This is exactly why you should be paying keen attention to your portfolio elements and maintain some good practices when it comes to regular portfolio updates.
A strong professional portfolio does most of the talking for you. Your photos and videos are essentially a representation of who you are as an artist, and you want your portfolio to do your work justice. You might be an amazing photographer or a videographer, with years of experience to your name, and you have a way with your camera, and while your client will get to see that when they hire you, you must put up the perfect portfolio to get the gig in the first place! Whether you are just starting your professional photography or videography journey and are looking for best practices to make that perfect portfolio, or you are a seasoned professional, who understands the industry to the core, here are some best practices to keep your portfolio up to date and ready to get you those amazing assignments!
Define your “why”
Let your bio provide a peek into your passion. Why do you do what you do? What’s your story? What inspires you? What makes your workday so much fun? Did your photography or videography journey lead you to a major life event or an epiphany? Share it! Sprinkling a bit of personal touch to your portfolio bio allows a bit of passion to shine through and makes you sound like you love what you do and will probably pour your soul into every assignment you book.
Keep your portfolio current and updated. It is the best way to guarantee steady bookings. Whether it is your bio or the pictures in your portfolio, make sure it represents you well today and does justice to your services and skills. A lot can change in a few months and ideally, you should update your portfolio every 3-6 months. Your portfolio bio photo(or headshot) should also look professional and recently updated, so that the photo looks similar to how you look at the time of the assignment.
Photo update tips
Your photos or videos are your masterpieces and works of art and displaying the best of your work in an attractive portfolio is extremely important. Work on creating a collection of photographs or videos which best represents your style. Keep an eye out for replacing weaker images each time, and when you are out shooting, think about the images that you’d like to replace. Here are some of the things to keep in mind.
- Your portfolio collection should be a mix of varied photos or videos so that your potential client can see the range of skills that you have and the variety that you can offer. Display different moods throughout the wedding day, or any event for that matter, so that you get to cover a wide variety of lighting, angles, against varying backgrounds. It’s critical to demonstrate that you can work in both bright and dark tones, as well as seasonal shades and tones. Keep the range of selection themed for aesthetic uniformity, while still being full of variety!
- Speaking of variety, let your portfolio showcase all that you are capable of, even within a niche. If you are a versatile photographer with a wide range of images, attempt to provide a preview of each project so that people can get a sense of your work across many areas. If you specialize in one area, be it weddings or maternity photoshoots, it’s also a good idea to have images from several occasions/sessions to give your portfolio some variety and to demonstrate that you can work in a variety of settings.
- Don’t shy away from getting creative. It’s the unique images that create unforgettable images! If you are partial to a particular style of capturing, don’t hesitate to show it off, as it might be just the thing that puts you apart from the rest. Every photographer and videographer has their own unique way of artistically expressing themselves in their work, and don’t stunt that creativity, but rather use it to best showcase your skills.
- Let the portfolio flow without much resistance. Make sure there is a method to your art, and each page flows into the next with coherence. Organize your images so that the best of them can be noticed first. They don’t have to come from the same series or event, but there must be a common thread that connects your efforts and allows them to flow from one to the next.
If you have been acclaimed by a client who absolutely loved your work, or you have been acknowledged anywhere, online or offline, it’s a review that deserves to be shared, cherished, and celebrated. It’s not a bad idea to include some of your client’s testimonials and reviews in a separate part of your portfolio. Reading about other people’s positive experiences associated with your work will enable potential clients to understand that you’re good at what you do, that you can be trusted with their important milestone moments.
Tailor for your audience
Your portfolio’s content will be determined by your target audience. You should consider who will be looking at your work and why. If you’re applying for a job as a wedding photographer or a maternity videographer, your portfolio should reflect that, whereas a family photographer will have a different focus. You don’t have to give up your other interests if you’re a versatile photographer who appreciates a variety of photographic styles. However, you should consider developing many portfolios for each possible job possibility.
Stir up emotions: Creating personal connections with individuals is the best method to get them to hire you, so make sure your portfolio aids you in this endeavor. Capturing a technically amazing photo is great, but you may add value to it by introducing something more that can bring human connection and emotions in your clients. People can usually relate to photographs that depict expressions, so this is a great suggestion. Your consumers are most likely looking to preserve important memories by capturing them in photos and videos so that they can treasure them in perpetuity, so an emotional connection in the portfolio is crucial, can strike a chord, and get you booked!
A strong portfolio is a professional photographer or videographer’s best asset, in addition to the trusted camera, of course! Whether it is the way you express yourself in words or the photos and videos you display, it makes your profile what it is, and it is what will get you those bookings. If you think your work speaks for itself, and you don’t need a portfolio to do much of the work, think again! Just ensuring that you have all the essential elements which are all updated and aligned with your personality perfectly makes a tremendous difference in your inflow of bookings.