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Review: Build a better online portfolio

Review: Build a better online portfolio


I was at a point I thought "I am not shooting enough for my portfolio. I need to get newer contents for the audience. I need to create new photos to send to people or potential client or make work to get a project/assignments". It has been 5 months since I graduated from Art Center, working as a freelancer without any contact or relationship in the industry.  I was throwing darts blindfolded and cold emailing people that didn't reply much back to me even after following up. 

Then I was wondering "Is there something wrong with my portfolio?" So I was searching what I can do to improve my website. I was looking at what other professional photographers were doing and researching on google. Then I came across this video by Photoshelter. I got hooked in first 3 minutes because it got right to the point what I needed in my portfolio and what I saw on other photographer's pages. 

I highly recommend photographers who are struggling with their website portfolios. 

I wrote all the important points I got out from the video into a note. If you don't have time to listen to an hour-long podcast, skim through this. 

A) Intro

  1. Know your audience

Who are you trying to reach? Who is your audience?

More you know your audiences are, the clearer your goal is.

2. What do you shoot?

  • You should be sure what you want to be working for and how you want to get there
  • I heard a good advice from her that "you don’t have to specialize only in one niche. It is ok to do more than one thing but loves what you are doing."

- That struck most to me because I was struggling what if client get confuse because I shoot both product and fashion. However, I am doing what I love and I love both product and fashion. 

  • Don’t shoot just because it is a path to making money.*

- This also struck me because past few months I've been shooting just to possibly get a job or project that could get decent pay. I mean I was challenging myself and I enjoyed photographing those subject but my top priority was wrong. 

  • Clients want to work with a photographer who likes what they are doing. 

2) Research

  • You need to find who is doing what you want to be doing. Who is the editor? Who shot for the magazine. Who is the art buyer? Look at the magazine you want to work with. 

  • Read blog

3) Relationship

  • It is a relationship that makes the difference.

- Drop a line to photographer, editor, or people who work in the industry you like.

- Give you a chance to ask a question about the industry you are curious about or give you work

  • Portfolio Review

- Face to face w/ ppl who are busy

- Get new perspective

4) Reality check

  • Make a timeline

  • Think what makes you unique that other person doesn’t:

- Aesthetic

- Energy

- Professionalism

- Follow through

  • Be the kind of person that other people wants to work with

  • Shoot even though it doesn’t get published.
  • "Too many ppl say I shoot. I want to know more about you. I am engaged in what I am doing and I love doing and keep doing it."
  • You have to show the relationship between what you do and what you want to do. Does your portfolio show that?

B) Keep it…

  • Keep importance: Clean Clear Easy to Navigate
  • Don’t make too many categories. Think from another point of view.
  1. The No's
  • No Black black background. Prefer White background.

- Having a black background does not make your work important. It takes away an experience looking at it.

  • Do not put a watermark.
  • No Long-winded about pages. Best about page is short, to the point.  More info lessens the interest.
  • Unreadable fonts. Make the font readable.
  • Can’t get “home”

- Make it clear where your home page is. 


C) Don’t overload your portfolio with

  1. Too many categories and Too many images
  • Because you have a lot of work, doesn’t mean I have to see all of them.

- A lot of work becomes repetitious. Photographer themselves seem like they don’t understand.

  • Tighter your edit is, the more sense I get you know who you are.
  • In categories, 15 images are enough.

- I think this depends on what kind of photographer you are. If you are a fashion photographer, you will get a lot of images from the shoot. Then you can put each shoot into a project. If you are a product photographer, you can put the images into different categories to lessen the quantity in each category. 

  • 3 -4 categories are ok.


D) Make the edit tight and the sequencing good

  •  I know who you are in 5 images
  • Clear aesthetic

- Know your aesthetic and find your aesthetic.

  • Don’t put more than 5 images from the shoot because professional will think you are padding the work to make more experience than you are.

• Limit multiple images from the same shoot.

• Commit to an edit, you can change it later.

• Sequence | Sequence | Sequence

- Tell a story who you are and who you want to be

• Tell a visual story … make it a “page-turner”

• Get an - objective- outside eye

• refresh more often


E) Get your image size just right

  • “Bigger isn’t always better”

- Photographs should take up the space they need.

- know which way your work works better.

  • Photo Editors want to fall into an image.
  • Give them a respite from their work-day.

  • Create an emotional connection between your images and the viewers

What I got out from this podcast 

I was always worrying about how I people will see my work as a product and fashion photographer. When I was at school, my professors talked about focusing on one niche, fashion or product. However, there was a professor who said it is ok to do both because you can provide more for the market. So I was thinking as a currency value in my work. However, when I heard this podcast, I realized I love doing both. Not just to make money but create a photography that I love. 

I had my images in a layout, pairing the images because when I saw Tim Walker's website, he did that. But how he did was to get two similar images from the shoot. Most of the images were one single image per slide. I realized that after listening to the podcast and made some changes and took out some images to make it more concise.

Travel: Iceland

Travel: Iceland

Product Photoshoot: Yvonne's Skincare Product Design Lookbook

Product Photoshoot: Yvonne's Skincare Product Design Lookbook