Choosing the images that will be the face of your photographic practice can be a daunting experience. It is not an easy task to separate a good image for a competition or to present on your website, from the ones that should perhaps not be your top choices. For a body of work to be timeless, there needs to be an incredible amount of hard work.
Today, we want to offer some useful tips to help you choose your photos, and build a portfolio to present to the public.
Set Your Goals
At the beginning of every decision, there is you. If you want to pursue a career in photography, perhaps it is best to choose a field that you like first. You might be going to do the same thing every day, so you better do something you love. After you have scouted your passions and made a choice, now it's time to identify your style and your audience.
If for example, you shoot only cars, then you should probably build your presentation around car photos. It doesn't make sense to include pictures of animals since they are not your main subject matter. While you are narrowing your audience, you should also work on defining your objectives. What is your final goal? Do you want to work for an advertising agency? Or do you want to be a freelance photographer? Or are you a fine art photographer? And so on.
There are many fields to aim for. Focusing on a specific goal will help you achieve your dream. Do research on the market you wish to enter. Find out what the customers or audience are looking for, and see how you can fit in. What can you bring to the table? How are your photos making you stand out?
Select Your Best
Now that you have a goal in mind, this should help you gravitate towards achieving your goals. Many photographers build an extensive archive, that's why this can be a challenging process to start. It is ok to ask for some help along the way. Since you have identified the subject matter of your portfolio, it should be easier to go through your pictures, make the first selection and highlight your favorite shots. At this stage, your initial group of photos is still large.
Your final selection should be around 20 of your best images. There are different outlets to showcase your work: Websites, tablets, or print format, to name a few. Each medium has different needs, and you should take into consideration how people will view your work while choosing your photos. Each image that will end up in your final cut should be a clear representation of your skills and qualities. It should show your uniqueness and talents.
Ask For Help
When going through your selection it is often difficult to distinguish between a good picture and one that you are emotionally attached to. It is important to look objectively at them and discard the ones that are not serving you and helping you hit your final goals.
This is a good time to ask for some help and see what other people think and suggest. They can be in the industry, such as other photographers, or professional curators.
However, don't be afraid to also ask friends and family, or people that could be your potential clients. They will give you suggestions based on what they want from a photographer. In the end, it's always wise to listen to anyone who could be your future client, whether it is a gallerist for fine art, or couples for wedding photography.
Kill Your Darlings
The more you go on, the tighter your selection will be, and this is a good sign. Now it's time to refine the top 20 images. With your objective in mind, think about each of your photos as a stand alone image. Is every single picture you chose a good picture?
Try to avoid repetitiveness and don't be afraid to cut those that are too similar. Are they strong enough to be an impactful image? They should provoke the viewer to be more and more convinced, after each image, that you have what it takes to complete the tasks. That's why at this final stage, you should not be afraid to have only your best photos.
Putting together a portfolio is not definitive. It can take years before you have a high quality portfolio. As your photographic practice evolves, your photos will reflect the progress that you are making. Don't hesitate to go back and add or remove pictures that are no longer fitting your aesthetic.
However, the process should always be the same. Choose your best quality shots, and don't be afraid to cut your darlings if they don't serve your purpose. Be focused on your audience and keep your goal in mind.
Have you ever tried to build a portfolio to show your work? What are the obstacles that you have overcome? Keep on sharing your photos with our community .