Essential photography tips
Look for lenses where the zoom control doesnt change the filter orientation
. Rotating a circular polarising filter changes the strength of the polarising effect, making skies deeper or lighter, and changing the amount of reflection they cancel out. If you plan on using such a filter then wherever possible buy lenses where turning the zoom control doesn t simultaneously rotate the end of the lens, and with it the filter, as this will change the effect. If you have no choice, set your zoom first and adjust the effect afterwards, being careful not to throw the lens out of focus in the process.
Don t forget about white balance
. When using a filter set your the white balance on your camera to the appropriate conditions, rather than auto, to stop the camera compensating for the filter in front of the lens.Make sure you set your white balance manually when using a filter.
Don t rush out to buy a skylight filter
. Putting a clear filter on the front of your lens to protect its surface sounds like a great idea. After all, your lens was an expensive investment. The end of your lens is stronger than you might think, however, and easy to clean if you don t let the dirt build up. Dispensing with a skylight filter will not only save you money, but also avoid the chance of introducing light problems due to increased reflections or the slight reduction in the level of illumination reaching the sensor.
Cheat s macro mode
. Dedicated macro lenses are expensive, but you can quickly and easily improve your existing lens macro credentials by using screw on magnifiers. They re not a perfect solution as they decrease the level of light coming into the lens, but for occasional work they are very effective, easily sourced and cheap. We bought ours, below, first hand from eBay, where you should expect to bid around ?15 for a set of four screw on filters.If you can t afford a dedicated macro mode, you can achieve the same result using an inexpensive set of add on magnifiers.
Avoid stacking up too many filters
. It s tempting to add multiple filters to the end of each lens to achieve different results, but bear in mind that although they may look perfectly clear to you, each one reduces the amount of light passing through by a small amount. For the best results, use the smallest number of filters possible.
Choose a manual lens over a powered one
. Some compact interchangeable lens cameras come with a choice of powered or manual zoom. The former is a great lazy option, allowing you to press a button to get the framing you re after, but the latter is often cheaper and almost always quicker to use as it moves at whatever speed you turn it, without being hobbled by the speed of an internal motor. You can also often make finer and more predictable changes when zooming manually than you can with a powered zoom rocker.
Shoot slowly zoom quickly At the same time
. If you re shooting a static display, add some interest by turning the zoom control while shooting with a fairly slow shutter speed (you can only do this with a manual zoom, as a powered lens will be locked off when shooting). This works particularly well when shooting cars and other forms of transport as it gives them a sense of motion.Give static subjects added dynamism and excitement by changing the zoom while using a slow shutter speed.
Try a prime lens for more creativity
. Shooting with a fixed focal length a prime lens will make you think more carefully about how you want to frame a subject to tell a particular story. It will often also get you a cleaner, sharper result.
What do the measurements on my lens mean
. Lenses are measured in terms of their focal length, which broadly describes the effect they have on incoming light and the way it is focused on the sensor. A short focal length, such as 24mm, doesn t have a very high level of magnification, so will focus a broad vista on the sensor. A long focal length, such as 240mm, has a high level of magnification, like a telescope, and so will fill the sensor with just the central part of the view.
Understand your lens true dimensions
. Unless you ve paid for a high end dSLR, or a professional camera such as the Leica M9 , your pocket snapper s sensor will almost certainly be smaller than a frame of 35mm film, the standard point of reference against which all focal lengths are measured.The 35mm in a frame s name actually relates to the space between the top and the bottom of the film strip, which as well as the frame itself also contains some border areas and the sprocket holes used to move the film through the camera. A 35mm frame is positioned lengthwise on this strip, with its shortest dimension top to bottom perpendicular to the film s direction of motion. As such, neither the height nor the width of the frame measures 35mm, but instead 24x36mm.
To understand how the stated focal length on any lens will affect the shot captured by your camera, you need to factor in the multiplier effect, which converts the size of your sensor to the size of that 35mm piece of film. The multiplier is often between 1.5 and 1.7 but varies between manufacturers and models.So, if you re buying a lens for the Canon EOS 600D with its 22.3x14.9mm sensor you d need to multiply the stated focal length of the lens by 1.6. This would make a 50mm lens, commonly used in portrait photography, act like an 80mm lens, thus increasing the effective zoom and narrowing the amount of the scene seen in each frame. On a Nikon D5100 , which has a slightly larger sensor (23.6x15.6mm) you d need to multiply the lens measurements by 1.5, in which case an equivalent 50mm lens would act as though it were a 75mm unit.
Save money by opting for a smaller sensor
. This means you can, technically, save money by opting for a smaller sensor, as you ll be able to buy less powerful lenses to achieve the kind of results you would otherwise only get with a longer, more expensive zoom.
Use zone focusing
. Related to point 6 f/8 and be there if you have a lens with both f stop and focal measurements on the barrel, understanding how they relate to each other can help you take great spontaneous photos with a high degree of confidence.
In the image below we ve set our aperture to f/5.6, as indicated by the red line pointing to the 5.6 reading on the lower gauge. We ve then set the range on the yellow gauge to around 1.2 metres by positioning this at the top of the same line. We can now use the green scale to understand how far away from the camera our subjects need to be if they are to be accurately focused.By following the lines running from the two green entries for 5.6 on either side to their measurements on the yellow scale, we can see that so long as we re more than 1m away from our subjects they will be in focus (the green 5.6 on the left is linked to around 1m on the yellow scale, while the green 5.6 on the right is linked to the infinity symbol, which is like a number 8 on its side). Anything closer than that will be blurred.
This gives us a great deal of freedom to snap whatever we want without making any further adjustments, so long as it s no closer to us than 100cm. To create a more intimate effect, adjusting the distance ring so that 0.4 sat at the top of the red marker would mean that only those objects between around 36cm and 50cm would be kept in focus.Use zone focusing to understand which parts of your image will be in focus at any particular aperture setting.
Invest in a cheap pair of lights
. If you re doing any kind of indoor photography, invest in a cheap pair of lights. Buy at least a pair, complete with tripod stands and reflectors to direct the light. Opt for continuous light rather than flash units, as they re cheaper, easy to use and great for beginners, as you don t have to take test shots to see how the shadows fall during setup.
Understand colour temperature
. Different colours and levels of light are measured using the Kelvin scale. For the best results, look for studio lights with a temperature of around 5,500K 6,000K to emulate bright daylight. Lights with a lower colour temperature often render a colour caste in your images that will have to be corrected in Photoshop or an alternative image editor.This professional studio bulb maintains a constant colour temperature of 5500K, as specified on the furthest end.
Buy a light box but dont spend more money
. Minimise shadows in your studio lit work by investing in an inexpensive light box. Effectively a five sided cube with gauze sides and top, you position your lights so that they shine through the sides of the box, diffusing the light and softening the shadows. Light boxes usually ship with a felted back cloth that can be attached using Velcro to create an infinite field of view by obscuring the seams of the box.An inexpensive light box makes it easy to shoot with artificial light without casting strong shadows.
Make best use of available light with a sheet of paper
. If you can t afford studio lights, even out harsh contrasts when shooting with natural light by positioning a large sheet of paper or card to reflect the incoming light onto the unlit side of your subject. If shooting people, ask them to hold the card themselves outside of the framed shot. Alternatively, invest in a set of reflectors. You can pick up a new, multi part set with white, silver and gold reflective surfaces for around ?12 on eBay.This shot would have benefitted from a reflective surface positioned to the left of the frame to illuminate the right hand side of our subject s face.
Don t be dictated by the sun
. Using automatic settings to shoot into the sun will throw your subject into silhouette as the camera dials down the exposure to compensate for the bright background. Shooting people with the sun in front of them, meanwhile, solves the silhouette problem but introduces another one: squinting. Solve this by keeping their back to the sun and forcing the flash to fire (switch from it auto to on or forced ) to correct the exposure on your subjects faces without leaving them squinting.
Observe the rule of thirds
. The most aesthetically pleasing images are those in which the subjects are aligned with the one third power points in every frame. Position horizons one third up or down the height of the image, and people one third in from the left or right. Likewise, if you re snapping a frame filling head shot, position the eyes so they re one third down from the top of the frame.
Some cameras give you the option of displaying an overlaid grid on the rear LCD to help you line up your subjects along these lines. If yours does, go one step further and put key elements on the points where the horizontal and vertical lines intersect.Here we ve added short red ticks to the top and the bottom of this frame to show how the man warming his drum is positioned one third of the way in from the right of the frame, and the flames of the fire are one third of the way in from the left.
Exposure and focus come first framing second
. Half pressing the shutter release fixes the focus and exposure settings for the shot you re about to take. Pressing it all the way captures the frame.
Use this to your advantage by metering for particular conditions by putting your subject on one of your camera s focus positions and half pressing the shutter to lock its settings then, without releasing the button, recompose the framing to align your subjects on the one third power positions. This way you ll get perfect exposures every time, whatever the composition.
Use your free light meter
. If you don t have a light meter, use your camera s auto mode to gauge the optimum settings, even if you don t want an immaculately exposed result. Examine the shot s settings and then switch to manual mode and replicate them before pushing individual elements shutter speed, sensitivity, aperture and so on to achieve the moody result you re after.Let your camera do the hard work: take a picture in auto mode and use its self selected settings as the basis for your manually dialled variables next time around.
Get up early stay out late
. Photography is all about painting with light. Light is what gives your pictures contrast, shape and texture, and often the best light it that which appears at either end of the day when the sun is lower in the sky. At these times of day it casts longer, more extreme shadows, which in turn pick out small details, bumps and texture.
By shooting early in the morning and late in the afternoon, you ll achieve far more interesting results than you would at high noon when you ll spend more time controlling the light coming into your lens than you will manipulating your subjects to best exploit the shadows.It s a cliche, but this shot of Whitby Abbey wouldn t be nearly as atmospheric if it weren t taken at sundown.
Embrace the grey day
. Don t let an overcast day put you off heading out with your camera. The softer light you get on an overcast day is perfect for shooting plants, flowers and foliage as it dampens the contrasts we were championing in our previous step. This allows the camera to achieve a more balanced exposure and really bring out the colours in petals.Overcast days present the perfect conditions for shooting flowers and foliage.
Travel without a tripod
. Packing a tripod when you head off on holiday is a great way to extend the shooting day, allowing you to take some stunning night time shots with streaking lights and illuminated landmarks. If you re pushed for space, though, check out this trick. Balance your camera somewhere sturdy and safe, disable the flash and set a slow shutter speed or two seconds or more.
Now set your self timer, fire the shutter release and let go of your camera so that you won t cause it to wobble. By the time the self timer countdown expires, any residual movement caused by your hand letting go should have evened out, so your camera will sit still and steady throughout the exposure for a crisp, sharp result.We took this using the self timer and a long exposure. Avoid the temptation to squat in Rome s rush hour traffic.
Travel without a tripod tip 2
. It s not always possible to find a flat surface on which to perform the previous trick. Try and find a flat surface on some castle battlements and you ll see what we mean. Combat this by packing a small beanbag in your camera bag.
Check out school sports and games categories on eBay to find 100g beanbags (a pack of four costs less than ?5), which can be pressed into shape on uneven surfaces, with your camera snugly settled on top. It s more stable and less likely to either fall over or wobble during the exposure.Paris this time, and we re once again employing the delayed shutter trick.
Travel without a tripod tip 3
. Professional tripods use quarter inch screws to fix your camera in place. You can easily source a screw of the same size from a normal hardware store. To avoid travelling with a bulky tripod, drill a hole in a standard bottle top (the type you d find capping a 500ml drinks bottle) and thread the screw through it, fixing it in place using strong glue.
Keep this in your camera bag as you travel, but don t bother carrying the rest of the bottle, as these are easily sourced wherever you happen to end up. Fill an empty bottle with grit to give it some weight and screw your cap to the top. Instant tripod.
Banish long arm self portraits
. Self portraits are great for capturing holiday memories, but if you can t find somewhere suitable to balance your camera while also framing the scene behind you, the only way you can take them is to hold your camera at arm s length and press the shutter release. The results are rarely flattering.
Invest in a cheap monopod (search eBay for handheld monopod) and use this to hold your camera away from you while keeping your hands in a more natural position and the great scenery you want to stand in front of behind you. Use your camera s self timer to fire the shutter 2 or 10 seconds later.Your author in Greece, without the aid of a monopod, where the arm and watch strap somewhat distract from the Acropolis.
Look at the eyes not around the eyes look at the eyes
. Ever wondered why so many magazines have faces on the cover? It s because we identify with such pictures, which in turn helps us identify with the magazine. Art editors know that our inclination is to connect with the eyes staring out of the cover, and the same is true of your portraits.
When shooting a person, if only one part of your image is in focus, make it the eyes. That s the first place your audience will look. So long as they re in focus, they ll consider the whole image to be accurately shot, no matter how shallow your depth of field and how blurred the rest of the frame.The eyes are in focus in this shot, so we read it as being accurately focused overall.
Use burst mode when shooting pets
. Pets are unpredictable, so don t wait for them to pose before shooting. The chances are you ll miss the crucial moment.
Don t wait until you ve attracted their attention start shooting while you re trying to do it, as they don t understand the concept of cameras and will move at the worst possible moment. Switch your camera to burst mode and start shooting while you re trying to attract their attention towards the lens for a better chance of capturing something close to the picture you wanted.
Make use of scene modes
. Your camera knows better than you do how to use its own settings to create special effects. Don t be afraid to use its in built scene modes for punchy monochrome or high key effects. If possible, set your camera to save raw and JPEG images side by side so you also have a copy of the original unadulterated scene should you later change your mind.
How to shoot fireworks
. Frequently the most impressive spectacle, fireworks are nonetheless tricky to shoot. For your best chance of capturing a display, set your sensitivity to ISO 100 and compensation to 0EV so that you don t unnecessarily lighten the sky, which you want to keep as black as possible.
Mount your camera on a tripod and set your shutter speed to at least 8 seconds. Zoom out so that the fireworks just fill the frame, preferably without being cropped by the borders and be careful not to wobble the camera during the exposure or you ll end up with blurred results. All being well, the result should be pin sharp streaks of light falling to the ground.We shot these fireworks using an 8 second exposure with the help of a tripod and timed shutter release.
How to shoot moving water
. Short shutter speeds do a good job of capturing a waterfall and its surroundings, but you ll achieve a far more attactive result by slowing things down. To do this without overexposing your image, start by switching out of auto and reducing your camera s sensitivity to its lowest setting (usually around ISO 100 or ISO 80), then either use a neutral density (ND) filter or, if you don t have one or can t fit one to your camera, dial down the exposure compensation to its lowest level (usually 2EV, 3EV or 5EV).
Mount your camera on a tripod, half press the shutter release to fix the focus point and exposure and then press it all the way to take the picture, being careful not to shake the camera while it s taking the shot. It ll take some experimentation to get this right, so don t be put off if you don t get the perfect results first time around.By taking this picture with a slower shutter we ve softened the water both in the waterfall and passing in front of the lens.
Focus on the details
. When a scene is simply too big to fit in your picture without it getting uncomfortably close to the edge of the frame, focus instead on one of the details that makes it unique. An abstract crop can often have greater impact and give a more original view of a tired, over used view we ve all seen before.Zoomed and cropped: an unusual night time view of the Louvre Pyramid, reflected in the pools that surround it.
You can t shoot speed head on
. You can t properly capture speeding subjects as they come towards or move away from you. If you re shooting track events, position yourself side on to the action so that it passes across your field of view rather than coming towards it. Shooting into a chicane works well on TV where we delight in seeing the cars snake around it in sequence, but fares poorly in static frames.
Focus on the action
. If you really want to convey an impression of speed in your images, pan your lens in line with speeding cars, horses and runners and shoot with a fairly slow shutter speed 1/125 second or below to blur the background. Keeping the subject sharp in the frame while blurring the background gives a more effective impression of speed than static backgrounds and blurred subjects.
Reflect on things
. Do rainy days and Sundays get you down? Don t let them: embrace the photo opportunities afforded by the puddles. The rain is as much a part of the story of your holiday as the food you ate and the sights you saw. Use reflections wherever possible for a different take on otherwise well known scenes.
Dont believe the megapixel myth
. We re glad to see manufacturers are starting to see sense here, with many high end cameras now sporting comparatively modest pixel counts. At the lower end, however, some manufacturers continue to cram 16 megapixels and more on tiny sensors that can t cope with high levels of incoming light. Pay for quality, not quantity, remembering that as few as 10 megapixels is plenty for printing at A3 using online photo printing services.This squirrel was shot using the 10.1 megapixel Nikon 1 J1. Despite the conservative resolution, the quality is great and we d be happy to print this as a poster to pin on the wall.
Flickr your shopping assistant
. Baffled by numbers and stats? If you can t get your hands on a camera to try before you buy, at least have a look at the shots it produces. Flickr uses the metadata attached to every photo shot by a digital camera to catalogue them by manufacturer and model, allowing you to click through a representative sample of output in its enormous online archive. Find it at flickr.com/cameras.
Don t be a memory cheapskate
. Buy the fastest memory cards you can afford to minimise the time it takes for your camera to write each shot to the media, and how long you ll have to wait before you can take the next shot. Wait too long and you ll miss something.
Cards are ranked using a simple class system, where the class number is simply the number of megabytes the card can store per second. So, your camera will be able to write to a Class 4 card at up to 4MBps, and a Class 10 card at up to 10MBps. Faster cards are more expensive, so if you re having trouble justifying to yourself the extra expense, compare them to the speed boost you get from upgrading the memory in your PC or Mac.
Size really is everything
. Think carefully about how you want to balance the convenience of carrying fewer large cards with the security of travelling with a larger number of lower capacity ones. On the one hand you ll spend less time swapping 16GB cards than 2GB media, but if you lose a single 16GB card, or it corrupts, you could lose all of the shots from your trip.
Splitting them across several cards, and locking full cards in your hotel safe so you re only carrying around empty cards plus the one on your camera means you ll be taking fewer risks with your digital memories.
Splitting them across several cards, and locking full cards in your hotel safe so you re only carrying around empty cards plus the one on your camera means you ll be taking fewer risks with your digital memories.Travelling with several smaller cards than one large card means you can lock your photos in a room safe while out and about.
Replace your cards every couple of years
. Memory cards might not have any moving parts, but that doesn t mean they don t wear out. On the contrary they each have a finite life, and every time you write to, delete from or read the card you re bringing it another step closer to the end of that life. If you don t want to risk corrupting your pictures far from home, replace heavily used cards every couple of years.
Break all the rules
. Be truly original. Ignore the rule of thirds. Shoot at high noon. Shoots sports photos at slow shutter speeds for blurred results. Whatever you do, make your pictures stand out from the crowd and relish the results.Notre Dame, obeying the rule of thirds, but otherwise not as we know it.
. The most fundamental element any photographer should understand is aperture. The aperture is the physical opening within your lens that allows light through to the sensor (or film in an older camera). The wider the aperture opening, the more light can pass through, and vice versa.
The size of the opening, which is regulated by a series of fins encroaching from the edge of the lens barrel, is measured in so-called f-stops, written f/2.8, f/5.9 and so on, with smaller numbers denoting wider apertures. If you find this inverse relationship tricky to remember, imagine instead that it relates not to the size of the hole but the amount of each fin encroaching into the opening.
A narrow opening is regulated by a large amount of each fin encroaching into the barrel, and so has a high f-stop number, such as f/16, f/18 and so on. A wide opening is characterised by a small number, such as f/3.2, with only a small amount of each fin obscuring the light.
. Lenses almost always have their maximum aperture setting engraved or stamped on one end of the barrel. On a zoom lens you'll see two measurements, often stated as f/3.5-f/5.9 or similar.
Rather than being opposite ends of a single scale these describe the maximum aperture at the wide angle and telephoto (maximum zoom) lens positions respectively. Always buy a lens with the smallest number you can afford in each position.
Avoid using aperture to compensate for poor lighting
. Changing the aperture has a dramatic effect on the amount of light coming into the camera, as we have already said. You'll notice this is the case when shooting landscapes with a narrower aperture (higher numbered f-stop) as your camera will often want to take a longer exposure -- so much so that you may have to use a tripod to avoid motion blur.
You should avoid using the aperture scale to compensate for unfavourable lighting, however, as it also changes the amount of the image that remains in focus, as we'll explain below.The image on the left was taken with a wide aperture and so has a shallow depth of field; the image on the right was taken with a narrow aperture and so has a long depth of field.
Use a wide aperture for portraits
. Anyone with a cat knows that when they're hunting or playing their irises contract to enlarge the size of their pupils. This has the same effect as widening the aperture in a camera lens: it makes the subject they are focusing on very sharp while causing everything behind and in front of it to blur. We call this a shallow depth of field. This is perfect for portrait photography, as it draws forward your model within the scene, making them the central focus while the background falls away. Choose f/1.8 or similar wherever possible.This image of a chicken was taken with a wide aperture to keep the subject in focus while blurring the background.
Use a narrow aperture for landscapes
. For landscapes, on the other hand, you want to have everything from close-at-hand foliage to a distant mountain in focus. This is achieved by selecting a narrow aperture. If possible stray towards f/22, or whatever the tightest setting your camera allows.This image of a Moroccan campfire is taken with a narrow aperture to maximise the depth of field.
f/8 and be there
. Static models and immobile landscapes are easy to shoot as you can predict with a great deal of certainty which aperture setting you need to get the best out of either. Reportage and street photography, weddings, Christenings and so on are less predictable as your subjects will be moving in relation to the frame. In these circumstances, adopt the pro photographer's adage, "f/8 and be there".
Set your aperture to f/8 for a practical, manageable balance of fairly fast shutter speeds and broad depths of field, allowing you to spend more time thinking about composition within the frame than you do about optical algebra. When shooting indoors without a flash, and depending on the lighting conditions, you may need to increase your camera's sensitivity setting at this aperture, but be careful not to push it so high that you introduce grain into your images, unless you are chasing that specific effect.
What does the symbol on my lens mean
. After the focal and aperture ranges, the other measurement you'll see on most dSLR lenses is preceded by ? and describes the diameter of the screw mount on the front of lens barrel. Check this number each time you head out to buy a filter or hood as you can't guarantee that it will be the same for each lens in your collection, even if they are all designed to be used on the same camera.Check the diameter of your lens when heading out to buy a new filter.
If you only buy one filter
. make it a circular polariser. This is the perfect beginner's filter, and one that will have the biggest effect on your day to day photography, giving holiday skies a vibrant blue tone and accentuating the contrast between the sky and passing clouds to afford your images greater texture. Although you can add blue to your images in Photoshop or a similar post-production editing tool, the effect is never as believable when done that way as it is when shot using a lens.Invest in an inexpensive circular polariser to improve the blue of skies in your images.
Don t confine it to skies
. Polarising filters also cut through glare and reflection. Use it to shoot through windows and water.We used a polarising filter when shooting this frame to cut through reflections on the surface of the water.
What is a photography portfolio
. A portfolio is a concise collection of your photos created to show people your best work. Its purpose is usually to get a photography gig. Whether you want to do weddings, portraits, commercial jobs, or to work for an environmental group to save a piece of the earth, a portfolio is the tool that shows a customer your capabilities.
Why should you have a photography portfolio
. Youandre standing at a fall festival, watching your kids decorate their pumpkins, and you strike up a conversation with another parent. You find out that this person is an art editor at your favorite magazine and youandd love to do some work for them. You try to convince her that youandre a great photographer but you see her eyes glaze over because sheands heard this a thousand times, and she just wants to watch her kids. You tell stories about your photo shoots and list the places youandve been published. She tries to escape, but you follow her to the ladies room. You chase her around desperately. Oh no, this may be your only chance, but youandre not making any brownie points It would be so much easier to give her your business card with your URL. Even better, get her e mail address and send her a short, friendly note with a link to your portfolio.
Other scenarios youandre at a business breakfast or a baby shower or a friend introduces you to someone who needs photography work done. A portfolio is a way to show this person that youandre the one to do the job. Or youandre applying to a photo workshop, and they need a sample of your work to recommend a course.
What should be in a photography portfolio
. Some experts say that a portfolio is a printed presentation of your best work until now, showing the breadth of your skills. Some say a portfolio should be tailored to the customer youandre approaching. If your portfolio is a traditional folder of printed photographs, it will be much less dynamic than an online gallery could be. If youandre just starting out, youandll want to add your latest great stuff often, so choose a medium thatands easy to update.
Consider your audience. If you want to do weddings, your portfolio would contain portraits of couples, groups, wedding events like getting ready throwing the bouquet, and still life shots including flowers, rings, and invitations. If you want to work for a conservation group, youandll need landscapes, activities such as clean up days, close ups of special plants or animals found in their area, and maybe a portrait of the founder. DO YOUR RESEARCH Know your prospective customerands needs and show that you can fill them.
What kind of pictures should you include in your portfolio
. Pick a theme. Thereands nothing more jarring than seeing a crisp black and white architectural shot next to a soft, dreamy, pastel bridal portrait. If you can do both styles, separate them in your portfolio. A theme could be ?Having fun?, ?Orange?, ?10k Races?, or ?My garden?. The theme can unite otherwise unrelated pictures. Choose a variety of subjects and styles. Include viewpoints that are overview, medium distance, and close.
How many pictures and what should you include in your portfolio
. Hereands the killer: your portfolio should contain only 8 to 12 pictures. Photo buyers are busy people. The worst thing you can do is to swamp them with photos that are redundant. You might be the best rose photographer in the world, but showing 35 pictures of roses will mark you as an amateur. Think first: What are you good at? I am good at landscapes, architecture, and flowers, and I can come up with a few decent people pictures. My portfolio would target buyers who want landscape and nature photos rather than urban street scenes or baby portraits. I would include varied viewpoints of New England scenes, details like stone walls and weather vanes, macro flowers, and people as compositional elements in the landscape. I would not show a portfolio of portraits, because it would imply that I do this type of work very well a falsehood that I canandt deliver on. A portfolio can include your aspirations as well as your accomplishments, but you must be able to do the type of work youandre looking for.
How do you get images for a portfolio
. Shoot free and shoot cheap. Many of the images in a wedding portfolio are still life pictures that can be created without a wedding. Get some flowers and practice macro photography. Shoot your own wedding ring. Create evocative portraits of family members and friends. Practice using different styles photojournalism, romantic, fun. Photograph local buildings to illustrate that you can do architecture. I recently viewed the website of a photographer who did great architectural photos of a Dunkinand Donuts.
I shot my first wedding for a friend, who agreed to pay for half of my film costs. What a bargain for both of us I also had a friend in politics, and shot political portraits for his campaign. And somewhere I met the owner of an exercise business and shot her facility and staff after hours. These free photos were used by the people in them, and gave me invaluable experience. NOTE WELL: When you present your pictures to your customer, show them only the really good ones and edit out the duds. The brochures and prints from these sessions were an important part of my portfolio for years.
Who will look at your portfolio
. Well, no one. Portfolios donandt go out and find people. The fact that you have created a stunning showcase of your work wonandt bring in one customer. You can create keywords or tags, title your images to maximize web search results, and tell all your friends to go look at your new site. But finding people to look at your portfolio is your next job. Print some business cards and go network with buyers. Develop an e mail list and send monthly newsletters and announcements. Be the junk mailer that you hate. Network, network, network.
Donandts for Photography Portfolios
. Donandt include redundant images. If you have only rose pictures, you may not be ready to work with a paying customer. Or find a gardening magazine and take some pictures of gardening tools, gloves, and an overview of its design to give your collection some variety. Donandt get bogged down trying to find your 8 best images of all time. You can re do it next year. Donandt wait until you have the ultimate portfolio. If youandre reading this, you need to take some baby steps first. The next time youandre at a fall festival talking to an art director, you can just slip her a card and try to get her e mail address.
How to Create a Photography Portfolio
. Photographers develop their art and their craft to create outstanding photographs worthy of capturing a share of a lucrative market. Photographers will benefit by learning how to create a photography portfolio in order to market their work. Dedicated photographers often have a collection of photographs before they contemplate entering the commercial market, and this collection is a great starting place.
Examine the work of the great photographers at the local library
. Ansel Adams and Eugene Smith produced dissimilar images using similar skills and techniques. Their portfolios are accessible and educational. Adams focused on landscapes while Smith was a photojournalist, but their collections contain commercial quality images, which are inspirational and instructive.
Check out the work of photographers currently producing commercial quality images. Adams and Smith produced their work years ago, but the most recent great photography is available at libraries and museums. Successful photographers showcase their best images on their websites and market their work to the public.
Narrow the focus of your research to the work of photographers who share your interest in subject matter.
Define the purpose of your portfolio and study how to create a photography portfolio for that purpose
. Photographers might choose to assemble their work in a portfolio to share with friends and family, while another photographer plans to use the photographs as the sole means of support.
Choose an appropriate carrier for the portfolio that can be assembled in a myriad of methods
. A bound book of selected works is a possibility as is a collection posted on a website. The target audience is the important consideration when choosing a carrier for the portfolio. Traditional artists may prefer printed images, while others might prefer the convenience of a website.
Decide on the target audiences before you start if possible. This may save you time and money. Multiple portfolios will require multiple prints. Photographs are easily copied from one digital portfolio to another, but prints take time and energy. Making multiple copies at one time and in one place will be less expensive and time consuming if plans are organized ahead of the start.
Assemble existent photographs in the chosen format and take stock of your product
. Assemble existent photographs in the chosen format and take stock of your product.
Photograph the subjects that are necessary for addition to existent collection to possess a great portfolio
. Choose the perfect number of photographs for inclusion in your portfolio. Make sure that the work prepared for presentation is an outstanding showcase of your skill as an artist and a craftsman. A limited number of photographs may not show the depth of your talent, while too many photographs might distract from the best of your collection.
Polish the material gathered into an excellent presentation as opposed to one that is good enough
. Decide on steps needed for perfection. Images might need some tweaking for a better print while others might be superior with a better crop. Complete the computer or darkroom work necessary. Work toward perfection before moving to marketing to your target audience.
Display or share the perfected portfolio depending on your objectives
. Market, display or share the perfected portfolio depending on your objectives.
Easy Steps On How To Create A Good Photography Portfolio
. Creating a showcase of photographs is not an easy task and most of the time the photographers have basic or no knowledge of design at all. Moreover, creating such a portfolio in which the images have to be in focus is a tricky task and even the more experienced designers might fail providing a good layout, therefore I thought of sharing with you a list of tips for designing photography portfolios.
Think of your target
. Yes, youandve heard this before so many times and I know it annoys you. It is so simple to just overlook it and why not do it? In the end all of us want as many clients as possible and donandt want to make our audience narrow. Well, I tend not to agree with you, and I would suggest you to think seriously about who you want to work with. A good example is a wedding photographer this page would be totally different from the one of a roadshow photographer. It will probably be white, including many circles which suggest continuity, will have maybe floral arrangements and might be full of happiness and sunshine. If you are a roadshow photographer, you might want to design with a darker color, keeping a balance between organized and chaotic although do not get too close to organized and so on. Think of what kind of clients you want to attract and then design for them. It is so important
Think of the number of images
. You have to do this because most of the layouts look good with a small number of pictures uploaded, but how will it look when you will have an odd number of pictures to show? There needs to be a balance between the number of pictures on the page and the negative space you leave between or around them. If you have many pictures, consider using pagination or categories to separate them and do it for the sake of the user. Donandt forget that they never saw you pictures before and if you are really interested in them, it takes a lot of effort for the human eye to analyze them. Donandt make it even more difficult for the visitors.
Make the images stand out
. When I say this, I usually mean keeping a high contrast between the pictures and the background; and I usually recommend having black as background, because there is most of the time more contrast than when viewing the showcase on white. This tip is good for bringing out the contrast of the photos and it is also a good idea to try to look at the pictures on different backgrounds, so that you make the best out of them.
Consider the quality
. When I visit a photography portfolio or even a showcase, I expect all the time to be able to see the pictures in full size if I click on them and it would better be huge. I want the pictures to look good and fit my screen if I would like to have it as a desktop background. And not only about this but if I want to see all the details, I canandt do it properly on a small picture.
. According to official statistics, less than 1% of the internet users have 800?600 displays. However, this does not mean 800?600 is the smallest resolution you have to design for think of mobile devices as well. It is not highly probable that a potential client will want to use his bandwidth with your pictures, but what if they are on a wireless connection? This means you have to think about all the possible resolutions.
Show only the best work
. This is also for the web designers, not only for photographers. It is always good to make a point fast and then let the visitor make a decision the World is moving fast and we donandt have time to view all the crap work people have done. Therefore only show the top notch work and let the potential client move on, if he wants to. Donandt keep him tight he will leave without seeing every piece of your work anyway. Is is also a good idea to order your pictures. Even if you select your best work, some of your pictures simply have to stand out. Put them first and leave the other good ones for the second page.
Describe the photos
. When potential clients look at pictures, they want to know who it is they are looking at. They might also want to hire one of the models, which is not a bad thing either. Write short notes about each one of your pictures and let the client know what is he looking at. It is also much more important to give each picture a short description than a title. Naming the tools youandve used for shooting and post processing might be a good idea too.
Emphasize the contact information
. Sure, the most important thing is to show your work, but how does this help if you do not get clients? It is important to lead the visitor to your contact page if possible, otherwise always make it clear that he can contact you right away. Having the e mail address in the footer might work too, but it depends a lot on your layout. It is entirely your decision which information you give out, but I would also show them I am present and active on social media.
Ask for feedback
. I never release a website before asking for feedback it is just in the manual. Always ask the others experts or not about their opinion on how your site looks. It is really important to know what the others think, especially because after hours and hours of looking and analyzing your portfolio, you do not notice the small details anymore and this is crucial. Never release a website before asking people for opinions.
Keep it dynamic
. By this I mean that you have to keep your portfolio updated. It is not difficult to do this anymore thanks to the bunch of tools we have at our disposal. Nobody wants to see a good photographer not uploading his latest work and potential clients do not enjoy this for sure. Never replace old strong images with bad ones. Donandt forget about tip 6, showing only the best work.
What Is It For
. A portfolio is an opportunity for you to present your work, but it is important to consider what the portfolio is for. Are you taking it to a job interview, or are you looking to get your work exhibited at a gallery? Maybe you just want to bring your work together to present it? Whatever the reason, it is vital that you create your portfolio with this in mind. A job interview might require you to display a variety of skills and techniques, whereas a collection for an exhibition would require a single unifying theme and will need to be presented with the gallery setting in mind.
. Once youve decided your intentions for your portfolio, you need to consider the audience youre looking to reach. Try to consider what reaction you want to evoke do you want them to be pleased, surprised, shocked? Not everyone is going to want to see your favourite landscape shot or generic shots that they see day in day out, so do you best to make your shots stand out and get the reaction you want.
Paper vs Digital
. At this point you need to decide what format you portfolio is presented in. In the past, everything was on paper, but technology has introduced the option of presenting your portfolio on a PDF, JPEGs or through an online medium. Being able to email a link to your portfolio through to potential employers is obviously extremely convenient. I would argue that the process and final product of a beautifully printed out paper portfolio far outweighs the option of viewing photos on screen. For more on presenting an online portfolio, check out our Quick Tip article on the subject
Style and Design
. Its now time to consider the style and design of your portfolio. Youll need a folder or portfolio case to hold it all in, but before you head out to buy something, consider what size your want your printed out shots to be. I would recommend something fairly large maybe 20x30cm or about A4. You then need to select the paper to print on and the print quality, preferably as high as you can afford. This said, remember there are no restrictions on size, shape or style the more personal it is and the more it says about you as an artist, the better.
. Next youll want to consider what theme or style you want your portfolio to have. This will depend upon your audience. For a job taking portraits, you should only include your portrait work. You could have a collection of black and white or sepia work, a set of shots taken with a specific camera format or a collection of shots from a specific time period or geographical region. If you are looking to mix up types and styles of shots, make sure you have a valid reason for doing so. Remember that regardless of the theme, you should ensure a consistent colour balance and quality throughout the set of work.
Choosing the Shots
. The most difficult part of creating a portfolio is selecting the shots. Theres always a huge temptation to just select your favourites, but a photographer isnt always the best judge of their own work as they take into consideration the setting, effort and editing taken to create the shot.
Try to get some help from someone whose judgement you trust and will be impartial. Id suggest aiming to end up with a set of 20 30 shots, but start with maybe 100 and gradually take them out until youve got the desired collection. If a shot has any flaws, or is out of focus, leave it out. Its much better to have a few perfectly executed shots, than a large collection of fairly good shots.
. The presentation of the shots is vital to the reaction from viewers. A badly presented collection of great photographs just wont do them justice and youll come away disappointed. Think carefully about how to enhance the images through presentation techniques, borders and the colour of the backing sheet.
Its also important to consider the order of the shots, whether they are arranged chronologically or to create a particular mood. When choosing a title image, dont just choose your favourite. Try and select something that captures the essence of the collection.
. Once youve got the shot layout sorted, you need to consider what other elements you might want to include in your portfolio. Its totally up to you, but things to consider are. An artistic statement outlining your concept or theme and personal information A list of shots included Titles for shots and a brief explanation Date location of shot A thumbnail contact sheet You may feel that you want the shots to do all the talking, or it might be necessary to give each shot some background contextual information. Its up to you, but remember to keep it brief. You want people to be looking at the shots, not reading waffle about how you climbed a mountain at 5 AM to get the shot.
What Do I Do Now
. Try not to be tempted to add to your portfolio once its finished. Youll always take better shots in the future, but Id suggest that a portfolio is a collection of what youve done, and adding to it will spoil the continuity and thought that youve put into collating it. Now its time to show your portfolio to the world. Share it with family and friends and get some feedback, which may give you a chance to practice talking about your work in preparation for any potential interviews you might get.
Consider Your Target Demographic
. Your portfolio needs to reflect your target demographic, whether it is a couple looking for a wedding shoot, or an agency looking for a commercial shoot. If your portfolio gives off the wrong image, you wont attract any of the clients you want. Think of a wedding photographers portfolio, typically white, clean, and easy to use. This is suited towards the target demographic of a wedding photographer: typically younger couples sometimes females are in charge of certain decisions with dreams of the perfect wedding. Typically speaking, weddings are full of white, with beautiful flowers and rays of sunshine. If you want to attract wedding clients, you need your portfolio to resemble a wedding. At the same time though, if you primarily shoot fashion photography, chances are you shoot hip, trendy subjects and that is what your target demographic is looking for. Have your portfolio reflect that. It sounds too simple to over think, but youd be surprised what some people surround their best work in.
Sketch Out a Layout
. Sketching out a layout before you even touch the mouse is a common practice amongst web designers, and it should be no different for your portfolio. The reason why I found sketching to be helpful is so that I dont lose focus of what my intentions are. If we think back to Tip 1, we want our portfolio to be targeted specifically to our demographic. This includes colors, layout, navigation, icons, typography, everything. If you sketch out your idea while its fresh in your mind, you wont lose track of it or have any other ideas write over it. Its an easy way of sticking to your original plan.
Remember though, its okay to deviate from the plan if its for the better of your portfolio. If you end up thinking the thumbnails would be better off three wide rather than two, then go for it. Try to stick to the sketch as much as possible, when possible. Its there to assist you, not cement you in place.
Add Support for Dynamic Content
. When sketching your site, remember to add support for dynamic content. Imagine you decide you want to pull your Flickr feed to your portfolio. Well sure it looks good when theres 12 photos, but what about when theres 21 or 36? How will your portfolio look with an odd number of images compared to an even number, like you sketched it out to look like?
These are the type of questions you have to ask yourself as you sketch out your layout. How can I add more images to my layout without cluttering the design? Is pagination an option? Will I only be able to keep XX amount of images visible at a time?
Try to Keep the Contrast High
. Depending on the style of photography, images usually look a lot better when you view them on a black background. This is typically because there is more contrast than when viewing against white. Contrast helps bring out the colors of the photo, which in turn, makes the image appear more vivid and stunning. If you do any type of sports, commercial, HDR, nature or portrait photography, try viewing your work on black and then on white and see which one looks better to you.
When designing a dark site, its usually a good idea to have some flare of color added in somewhere. It can be your logo, or your navigation, anything. Black and white can be extremely effective, but adding a touch of color adds a touch of personality.
Only Use High Resolution Images
. When a potential client goes to your view your portfolio, they expect to see high resolution, professional looking images. So give them that Dont display full size images at 300px by 300px. The viewer is there to see your work at its greatest quality, not a low quality optimized for bandwidth. When you consider your target demographic, chances are high that they are located near you. By now, most of us have high speed cable or DSL connections, so utilize them.
Provide high resolution images for your clients and in return they may have to wait a couple seconds longer. If theyre that impatient that they wont wait for your portfolio to load the best quality possible, then personally speaking, theyre too impatient to be my client.
Use a Large Viewing Area
. Now that youre using high resolution images, why not use a large viewing area as well? W3Schools reports that in January of 2011, 0.6% of users were still using a display resolution of 800 x 600. That means, if you want to cover all your bases, design your portfolio to fit into those dimensions. That way, users who are above 800 x 600 can still easily access your portfolio. For users on tablets and smart phones you can resize your portfolio to fit their device.
A trending topic the past couple months in the web design world is Responsive Web Design; responding to your users. Have your site adjust its layout if a user has a resolution smaller than normal. If a user has a larger screen, try making your layout adapt by loading in larger images. By using Responsive Web Design in your portfolio, you can achieve an overall greater user satisfaction. Nothing is worse than viewing a site on your iMac, only to have it fail on your iPhone the next morning on the train ride to work.
Narrow Down Your Choices of Images
. Although you may have a large collection of images you wish to share in your portfolio, try to limit your selection to the stronger pieces. Too many images in your portfolio can increase load times, and provide the viewer with too many options. It can make your portfolio feel like it is dragging on and on.
If you limit your selection, the viewer sees only the strongest of images, and if they are interested in seeing more, they can get in touch with you. Limiting your selection also makes your portfolio seem more defined and structured. If you want to publish a large collection of all your photos, use services such as Flickr, and 500px.
Strategically Order Your Photos
. When tasked with writing a literal essay, you organize your points in strategic order. You put the strongest points at either the beginning or the end of the essay and the leave the weaker points in the middle. By placing the strongest points at the beginning, you instantly draw in the viewer and grab their attention. By placing the stronger points at the end of the essay, you end on a high note, leaving the viewer with some strong points they wont forget.
Its the same with your photography portfolio. If you place your strongest images at either the beginning or end of the portfolio, you will hit the viewer the hardest. I recommend using both ends of the spectrum, grab their attention right from the beginning and leave them something to remember at the end of the portfolio.
Protect Your Work
. With todays technology, no matter how hard you try to protect your images, somebody, somewhere, can steal a copy. You can try disabling right click, or put all your images as background images, and hope your users arent tech capable; but that will never work.
The only way to truly protect your photos is to embed watermarks on them. By embedding watermarks into the jpgs, if thieves steal your work, the watermark will always be there. The larger the watermark, the harder it will be to get rid of it.
Provide Details with Each Photo
. Viewers like to know whom you shot for and who they are looking at. They could be really interested in your fashion photography and theyd love to hire you and one of the models youve shot before to work together again.
If you find it adequate to provide a little information about each photo, go for it You dont have to give every piece a title, but a one sentence description of who the company you shot for is or who the model is or maybe what tools you used or even the location of the shot.
Every little bit counts and the more work you put into your portfolio the more passionate the potential client will see you as.
Rethink Your Navigation
. When searching the web to find examples of photography portfolios, I often found sites that included thumbnails of each image and next prev arrows to navigate forward and backward in the gallery. What I didnt find often, but came across more than I had expected was keyboard navigation, in addition to thumbnails and next prev arrows.
The easier your site is for your viewer to navigate and get around, the happier they will be using your site. The happier they are using your site, the more positive feelings they will produce while looking over your work. The same works in the opposite direction, dont forget. If your site is too hard to use, your users will be easily turned off and will produce more negative feelings towards your work.
Try to Limit Scrolling
. This tip contradicts tip 6, where I advised in using a large viewing area for your photos. The key is to either
Find a balance between small screen vs large screen, or Use image resizing technology or use multiple sizes of the same image, depending on the viewers screen resolution.
Its usually a good idea if you can limit the users scrolling, no matter what device resolution they are using. Adapt for smaller screens by rearranging the layout of the site, or maybe making thumbnails a different size.
As I mentioned in tip 6, 800 x 600 is still the smallest resolution you should cover if youre worried about every possible user. Try designing for that resolution, with no scrolling and then enhance the design and layout for larger screens and resolutions.
Make it Easy for Your Users to Contact You
. Regardless of how good your work is, if your viewer cant get in touch with you, youre not getting any work. Its really simple for you to add contact details to your site. Whether its a contact page, a phone number on every page, or an email address in the footer, finding your contact information should be a breeze for your users.
You can put whatever you want for your contact details, just make sure that whatever you do put, is correct. A simple phone number will do, although if a potential client isnt fond of the telephone, it may be better if they knew your email address as well. Remember to think about all your users before you make any final decisions.
Get a Second Opinion
. Youve just spent a week designing your new portfolio and another week coding it. You launch your new site and announce it to the world only to receive a handful of negative feedback about the usability of your site. It turns out the site doesnt look too hot on 13 MacBooks because the resolution is nowhere near the resolution of your 27 iMac.
Oops Looks like you should have done some testing. Not only that, but a second opinion would have been great as well Getting someone knowledgeable in the industry to double check your new portfolio for you is never a bad idea. They can provide a second insight into areas you may have skimmed over, and point out any obvious bugs youre not seeing.
With saying that though, make sure you pick and choose your second opinion wisely. Try to stay away from family and friends, not only because their opinion may be biased, but also because they may not know enough about the industry to give you a proper opinion.
Dont Forget to Update
. Its currently 2011, and the technology we possess is sophisticated enough for anyone, and I mean anyone, to own and maintain a dynamic portfolio. Regardless of if you manage your portfolio with WordPress, or a Flash system or still stuck in static HTML, you should be updating your content. Users are used to seeing new content each and every time they visit a website. Weve grown out of seeing the same old stuff on every visit. This is the same for your photography portfolio, with a little less emphasis on how often you should be updating. Its ideal if you update whenever you have new content. Try not to upload in batches, throwing a handful of photos up every couple months. Instead, try to maintain a consistent, yet loose, schedule. When you do update, only update if the new content is stronger than the older content. It makes no sense to replace a strong image with a weaker one, regardless of if its more recent. You want to be always strengthening your skill set and your portfolio should reflect that.
Shoot for free
. This is completely obvious, so if you havenandt thought of it, please knock yourself in the head with a hockey stick compliments of yours truly. When youandre working to build your portfolio, you need subjects to shoot. Chances are pretty good that youandre working to build said portfolio in hopes that you will be able to get more clients, meaning simply that you donandt necessarily have subjects knocking down your door at this point. So offer your services to select friends and family for free.
Charge a minimal fee
. Once youandve started to get a little buzz around your work with all the probono jazz, start to charge a minimal fee. Youandll get to the point where youandre drowning in shoots because you are the right price.$0, and that is how youandll know itands time to charge.
Be prepared to feel slightly uncomfortable at first accepting money for your services. I had an exceptionally hard time with this for a million reasons. Just remind yourself that youandre worth it, and then prove yourself right. Now that my sitting fee is 8 times the fee I charged in the beginning .I get a big kick out of how difficult it was for me to accept that measly $50.
Do a hard edit
. Always, always, always edit down. This is the mistake I used to make. Iandd shoot like a bat outa hell, determined to get at least a handful of great shots from each sitting, then Iandd deliver nearly all the images to my client on a disk. Thus the hideoderous image framed on my friendands wall. The image was poorly lit, poorly composed and just plain YUCK. Itands an image that never should have seen the world beyond my computer.
Remember that once those images have been delivered, theyandre out there. 10 years from now, when youandre the best photographer the world has ever known, those images may still be gracing peopleands walls.a very poor representation of your work and perhaps a hindrance to gaining future clients.
Maintain control over your portfolio by remembering that it extends beyond just what you compile in a portfolio album, blog or website.
Keep files well organized
. Iandm a mom with 3 small boys yes, I had my third child a month after my first turned 3.you do the math, but no matter how you add it up it equals crazy. When youandve got kids to bathe, meals to prepare, homework to check, laundry to tackle, errands to run and clients to shoot, you have to work very hard to keep things in order. A fail proof system Iandve found for organizing my portfolio goes as follows: from each shoot, pull the images that you feel may be portfolio worthy into a separate file and an external hard drive for back up. Label both the file on your computer and the external drive with the same name. Within the file on your computer and the one on the external drive if you wish have sub files categorized by type of photography, ie. portraits, family sessions, weddings, landscape, maternity.bla bla bla, you get the picture. Then when youandre ready to compile your best images for a portfolio.guess what? Itands done already. Imagine that I didnandt do this from the beginning. And trust you me, it is a huge pain not to have a favorites file.digging through thousands of files to pick your best work once it comes time to say build a website, does not equal a pleasing way to spend the weekend. And I donandt need to mention the terror and dismay youandd experience should your computer crash without you being backed up
Get an experts opinion then be prepared to throw it out
. Itands good to get another respected photographerands opinion for 2 reasons. 1. They can help you improve by telling you where your images may fall short. 2. They can help you gain confidence because they may see things in certain images that you did not. They may love what you didnandt allow yourself to for whatever reason. It goes back to that whole ?we are our own worst critic? thing. Be prepared for the criticism, and be prepared to process it in a healthy, productive way. Yet, also be prepared to throw it out. I spent a lot of time vying for the approval of certain respected photographer friends, only to find that sometimes their well meaning criticism hindered my ability to identify and define my own style which is still evolving every day. Now, I have aspiring photographers sending me their work all the time asking me for my opinion, and I always tell them the same thing. ?It doesnandt matter what I think.? And ultimately, that is 100,000% true. I will still give photographers my opinion but I always always try to make sure that they understand that ultimately itands their art. Itands their passion. No one else can define it for them.
What are some of the most common mistakes people make when putting together a portfolio
. The single most common mistake is including multiple images that are too similar images that were clearly shot at the same time and only slightly different. That is a very negative indicator of a photographers ability or willingness to evaluate their own work. Just as common is loading the front of the book with decent work, and padding the back of the book with mediocre work. Changing formats vertical horizontal and sizes is another faux pas.
In the age of the digital camera with its zero cost images, most people simply shoot too much, sloppily, and edit too loosely. All photographers find it easier to shoot than to edit their own work. Shooting is fun. Taking a hard look at everything you shot and being honest with yourself about whether you have any truly outstanding images is hard. Most of us need to call on trusted colleagues to keep us honest.
What makes an image worthy of being in a portfolio
. Unless every person who sees it goes WOW, without needing to elaborate, it should not go into your portfolio.
Unless it is consistent with the primary body of work for which you want to get hired, it should not go into your portfolio.
Unless it is technically executed at a professional level of mastery, it should not go into your portfolio unless a deliberately rough style is something that you have been doing and exhibiting deliberately and consistently.
Should you keep several different portfolios tailored to specific purposes
. One of the most common business mistakes is trying to show the world that you are a competent photographer. That will not help you; it is a given that anyone worthy of being hired to shoot professionally is competent.
What you must excel at communicating with every tweet, image, Facebook post, newsletter, meeting, exhibition, and tear sheet is what makes you unique and different from every other perfectly competent photographer with a 20+ megapixel camera and some expensive lenses.
You must choose a specialization. Believe me, it will be hard enough to compete in just one area. The industry is glutted with photographers. The first step is to identify the kind of photographs that you would love to get paid to take, the kind that hold magic for you, the kind that will continue to challenge you, the kind that arent going to lead to boredom and creative stagnation.
How often should your books be updated
. Not every day; as often as it takes to land the job. How often is not really the critical question; Is everything thats in my book consistent with my style, strong as individual images, and adding to the quality of the body of work as a whole? is a better question. Eliminate the weak images without mercy. Meanwhile, keep shooting, but beware nursing a limping project to death.
Bringing a project to a close is as important as starting one. Explore your idea deeply and thoroughly, finish it by making exhibition quality prints, hold a celebration exhibition, even if its in your living room, serve some drinks, and move onto the next thing. Its about the lifetime body of work, not any single image, no matter how lauded or how disposable. Once a body of work is finished, give it enough time to make the rounds and be seen so you can learn something from it and get some valuable feedback.
How important is a strong ending
. Do not put weak images in the back of the book, ever. Leave us with the memory of a great image; do not make us turn back to the cover image because the last image cast so much doubt on your whole portfolio that we suddenly feel like we were wrong to be optimistic based on the front of your book.
What is the appropriate size for a portfolio? How much does it vary depending on purpose?
Not so huge that handling it is a back breaker, but big enough to do your work justice. Print size is important; making a choice about the edges of the pages is also critical. Look at well designed photo books you will see a lot of either a full bleed blast of borderless imagery on a big page, or a huge amount of white space around a small image. Are your images loud or soft? Gentle or brash? Make the book size and design consistent with the content.
What are the benefits of a print portfolio vs a digital one
. Every editor I know still says that the print is the final product of photography, and Ive heard most have them mumble something like If I see one more iPad portfolio, Im gonna throttle someone Electronic images and the internet are convenient, but to some, they are not beautiful. They are not organic, and you cant touch and hold them and put them on your shelf because you love the cool little Chinese puzzle box that unfolds like a treasure on your shelf. Just make sure that your prints are up to exhibition standards.
Nevertheless, if youre under a deadline, have to get a portfolio out, and dont have time to make prints, dont let stop you run over with an iPad. Just get it out there.