How to Select Images to Create an Impressive Photography Portfolio

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Portfolios are a defining factor for a photographer’s career, especially if you’re beginning your career in this industry. Countless renowned and outstanding competitors will surround you. Some of them have years of experience and have maintained a notable reputation. Others are willing to offer their services for free to compel clients. Building a captivating portfolio is your only chance at making your name in this profession. A good portfolio can get you fame and many clients, loyal and returning ones. An unattractive one will send you right back home, even permanently. 

But how does one identify whether your portfolio is good or bad? There are no set criteria or rules to determine what will attract clients and what displeases them, so how to go about it? We’ll get to that in a while. First, let’s see why people still use portfolios when you can market yourself so conveniently on social media? For starters, people mostly hire photographers for large-scale and critical events. These may include weddings, baby showers, birthdays, product launches, inaugurals, corporate events, etc. In any case, these days are super-important to the clients. That’s why they hire photographers to capture the moments. Otherwise, they could take pictures from their cell phones. However, they take time to scrutinize portfolios to finalize the best one as they want their events to be captured most profoundly. Social media just cannot be trusted with something as crucial. Nonetheless, you can publish your portfolio on your website for a broader online reach. 

Now that you’re aware of the significance of building a top-grade portfolio, let’s get right to how to make a compelling one. We’d recommend you check out Gratisography to get inspiration on what kind of pictures create impact and show your abilities the best. The other option is looking up other photographers for their portfolios. Nonetheless, it’s viable to go with the former instead of the latter, as it’s more feasible. It’s imperative to develop a unique value proposition for your services. 

Continue reading to find out more. 

Identify your target audience 

Just like any other profession, you must determine your area of expertise in photography too. Whether you’re a wedding photographer, maternity photographer, fashion photographer, or still life expert, you’ll have to scale down to your niche. Or let’s say if you’re a product photographer, landscape photographer, portrait expert, or all-rounder, you need to select images that are relevant to your target audience. 

Showing pictures of the mountains to a couple who’s finalizing a photographer for their big day is just absurd and unnecessary. Instead, you need to include images that capture moments with emotions, spirit, excitement, sentiments, etc. 

Shoot more often 

As a beginner, you’ll need to provide your services free of cost for a while. You can do that for friends and family, so other people don’t go around asking for your services free of charge. Don’t go after capturing picture-perfect models. Instead, photograph regular people to keep your portfolio natural so that other people can relate to it. Use people with different and complex angles for your shoots to showcase and enhance your skills. 

Shooting more often will help you refine your capability as a photographer, giving you ample options for pictures to incorporate into your portfolio. 

Avoid using similar images 

Using images from the same event, venue, or the exact model will make you appear inexperienced. It will also give out the impression that you’re a lazy photographer. It is okay to use images from the same day or session. Just ensure that the setting and environment are different in each picture. Too much similarity will make your clients switch to other potential candidates to cover their event. 

Remember, you might be compelled to include all of your work but be careful and only include your absolute best pictures. Ensure that each image tells a different and unique story. 

Ensure that your images tell a story 

You can either use 100 meaningless images or cut back and use a handful of pictures that tell a story. Capturing high-quality photos will not make you a celebrity photographer. Even a toddler can do that with a camera phone. Fancy equipment is utterly meaningless if your pictures don’t reflect purpose and emotion. Make your clients stare at each image for a while. Don’t let them skim through your portfolio only to consider other options later on. Your pictures should communicate a message. Include shots with depth, candids with emotional outbursts, portraits with raw ardor, etc. Each image doesn’t just tell a story; it talks about your skillset as a photographer, how loyal you are to your craft, and how consistent you are with your work. All of which is what clients desire these days. 

Your favorite images aren’t your best images 

It’s a bitter truth that every photographer needs to hear, but what you think is best isn’t always going to be someone else’s top pick. You’ll need to figure out a way to perceive things from the eyes of a customer. Put yourself in your client’s shoes. Ask yourself what your goals are and the expected outcomes. Try to take note of their personality and readjust yours to align with it. You’ll learn that beauty isn’t always aesthetic, and aesthetics aren’t always pleasing to see. Be a photographer your clients need and not one that impresses you only. 

Your most captivating images could be the dullest ones in someone else’s eyes. What you must do is get your perception in place with all kinds of clients. 

Get a second opinion 

Are you struggling to finalize pictures for your portfolio? Why not get assistance. As mentioned earlier, what may seem superb to you might not be someone else’s cup of tea. For this, you’ll need to consult someone who’s experienced on the subject and someone who is a potential buyer. An experienced photographer will help you identify the weaknesses and areas of improvement in the portfolio. Likewise, a potential customer will help you take note of all the goals and expectations of customers. However, please don’t go around asking everyone for their POVs. It’ll only overwhelm and perplex you. 


The bottom line 

Photography might seem like a dream career if you have a sense of creativity. Nevertheless, it is also an overwhelming one with countless experienced, unique, and budget-friendly contenders. To stand out, you’ll need to create a spectacular and compelling portfolio. For that, you’ll need to do photography sessions more often to accumulate a pool of amazing pictures to use. Identify your target audience to include what’s relevant to it. Use unique images that tell a story. Include a variety of events and environments. And lastly, get an expert opinion to help you shortlist your best work. 

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