A general portfolio.
The portfolio, every photographer needs one. I don’t care if you are an amateur that just got your first camera for Christmas a few days ago or you have 30 years of photojournalism under your belt, you need a portfolio. I know… you’re thinking “man this guy is crazy,” but it is so true and you’ll see why, just read on my friend. Whether you know it or not you want to get better at taking photos. I mean, come on; who wants to take crappy photos? Right! So here is a really good tip for improving your photography and seeing the fruits of your labor at the same time. You are going to start a portfolio and it is easy, free and fun.
I have always had some sort of gallery or at the very least a folder in my computer where I stored what I thought was really cool photos. Well at least I thought they were cool. But it was not until earlier this year (about April) that I heard Scott Kelby & crew talking about the power of a portfolio and printed portfolios. We’re not going to discuss “printed” today because they serve a specific purpose and they cost money. My printed portfolios are reserved for the purpose of attracting a client to hire me for photography services. A printed portfolio is a very powerful tool for this purpose. Now enough said on printed. We are talking web based or digital in some way shape or form. Now I will state for the record that although I heard Scott & crew talking about this topic, I have put a new twist in the sense I am not going to promote online services that want money. We are talking free baby. So here it goes.
All you need is an organized gallery of no more than 20 of your best photos. We’ll talk in a minute on how to choose those 20. Take the 20 best and in some way post them. Preferably online, this way you can pass the link on to friend, family & strangers for viewing. But here is how it will really improve your photography; you are always going to want to add to it, but remember you have to keep it at or about 20 photos. So if you go out this weekend and take that awesome photo of the lion walking down Main Street after escaping from the zoo, well then something in the portfolio is going to have to go. Most likely one of the photos of the dog… they get a little boring and you can take a better photo of the dog anytime… and besides the dog can’t read the portfolio anyhow. If the dog can read the portfolio… you better watch out, he’ll be using your camera to start his own portfolio.
So where to post the photos? Well my friend there are so many options here. My first & easiest suggestion would be in a folder on your Facebook page and name it what else; you got it Poco… name the folder “Portfolio.” Set the privacy settings to “Public” and you’re done. All Facebook folders have a link and you can copy & past that link in an email or where ever you want somebody to see it. Now I’m using Facebook as a very basic example, but you have many options. Flickr is another option. Flickr is powered by Yahoo and Google+ is an option, there really are many places that will let you place photos for viewing. All you have to do is put your 20 best up there.
So how pray tell do you derive at your 20 best shots? This can be a little tricky due to the fact that we are a little jaded by our own photos. I know for some people, if they were to choose their 20 best they would have a portfolio full of the squirrel outside their window or their child, and I know some guys who would think that their 20 best would be the day they went to the beach and snuck shots of girls butts in swim suits. But that is what “you think” is your best work. However you may not realize what is really some of your best work. So get about 30 to 40 photos of what you think is your best work and have a friend or even a few friends look over and make their choices. Also it doesn’t have to be a friend, and they don’t have to even know how to use a camera. All they need is eyes and one good finger to point out which photos they like. Remember beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this is so true when it comes to photos. A quick little story; I did a band shoot sometime back and there were photos that the lead singer absolutely loved, he was blown away. Now of course they were photos of him, but he went on to point out and explain what he seen when he viewed the photos. What moved him was the placement of the band’s logo behind him. This was something I had never even thought of. So what one person sees may not be what you see, get a second or even third opinion.
One more thing I want to mention is about when people view your portfolio. So now you have put your work out there for everyone to see. Don’t be discouraged if not everyone like every photo. Also don’t think you’re a pro because all your Facebook friends hit the “Like” button for every photo. Remember they are your friends and friends like to tell us when we do good, but they don’t always like to tell us when we do not so good. When was the last time you walked up to a good friend, looked him/her in the eye and said “did you know you suck at what you do?” It is not something we typically do… or well… we wouldn’t have too many friends. So what I’m getting at is; although you have now created this portfolio, take criticism in stride and consider the source and take compliment is stride and consider the source. Now when fellow photographers look at your work and criticize or compliment you’re getting a more accurate opinion. This then leads us to a topic for another blog post on another day and that is why you should network with other people that do what you do. That too will improve your photography. Until next time, keep shootin’.