On the first meet with your future client you don't want to take with you a stack of photographs of your dog, your ex-girlfriend and
A E S T H E T I C pictures of a pukur-paar in a plain old plastic file to showcase your skills. You have to bring your A game! It's about time you sat down and compiled your portfolio.
A photography portfolio is a concise collection of well-shot photographs that fall under a unified theme, compiled by the photographer himself. The photographs are the best samples of your work. The goal behind compiling one is to market yourself commercially and demonstrate your skill-level as a photographer to your potential client/employer. If you put your mind to it, you can easily assemble a portfolio that can create a lasting impression on anyone: it's just important to have a clear objective.
Anyone would tell you that your portfolio needs to be tailored according to the wishes of your target client. However, if you talk to someone who truly played the field, such as Turjoy Chowdhury, you'll see things in a different light. “A portfolio is not designed to please one certain group of clients. It's meant to represent you, and your skills as a photographer. You need to know that you can't please everyone with your photos – you are to pick the photos that you feel most content with, and the clients will select you based on how well they connect with your style, spontaneously. Clients will change, preferences will change, but artists should never change solely based on the wants of clients or to become someone else.”
Since it's more about how well you photograph and not what you photograph, ask yourself these questions and see if the pictures you picked for your portfolio align with your answers:
What's my specialty?
Can these photos create an impact on their own?
Am I showcasing a use of diverse techniques?
Do these photos work well together?
Consider which platform best suits you. You may print out your selected photographs and have a published portfolio, or you could have a digital portfolio that can be accessible worldwide.
If you are just starting out, it's best to stick to online platforms where you can upload photos into easily re-designable layouts that can be tweaked according to choice, anytime. These websites developed solely for photographers can automatically act as accessible portfolios for viewers. Examples include SquareSpace, Zenfolio, 500px, Smugmug, Format, and Photoshelter. You may also create your own blog. Wordpress, Tumblr, Facebook or Instagram are excellent for gaining exposure, but these are not for professionals, and your photos won't retain quality when uploaded here. So use social media as a secondary platform.
For more confident photographers, there's making hard-copies – you'll have a lot more options in terms of presentation. It exhibits professionalism, and you can print out the photos in any size or quality you wish without the restrictions that some websites pose. You could also print multiple copies to send to different clients for keeps. To step things up a notch, you can get a classy leather-binder and insert your photos into it to present as a portfolio. It's best to pick one digital platform and one physical platform. Dream Weaver, one of the biggest wedding photography services in Bangladesh, has both an online page which features their best-shot photos for each event, and an annual publication of their best works.
PICKING AND PLACING
Firstly, survey all the portfolios you can find for ideas, but make sure plagiarism is absolutely off-the-table. Mohammad Nafis Hossain, former vice-president of Islamic University of Technology Photographic Society (IUTPS) and a member of team Dream Weaver pointed out, "It's very important to be humble. Consider watching other people's work and portfolios so that you can enrich yours, not by copying, but by taking inspiration from them."
It's better to have a small series of exceptional photos that can stand on their own than to have a bunch that are just “adequate.”
Make sure there is a range of techniques being displayed, and not all photographs are taken from one angle or setting.
Set a theme for your portfolio, and pick images that look like they are all exhibiting that theme. The photographs under one theme are cohesive; they have dialogues within them. It would look disorganized if you picked a picture of a sunset and a rubber duck for the same portfolio.
Instead, if you focused on real-estate and picked a series of dynamic photographs of just monuments through different angles, it would be a lot more aesthetically pleasing.
Layout matters. The portfolio itself needs to look well put-together. Maybe printing photos out in co-aligning sizes and placing them with proper spacing in-between would help in enriching the outlook. As Anthony Maddaloni, published photographer of the New York Times, points out, “I have seen people with the best presentation in the world and not such great images, but they still got the job. And I've seen people with the best photographs in the world and have the worst presentation and they didn't get the job. So, you really want to think about both."
Susmita is a literature major who lives on tea and sweet toast.