6 Tips for Building a Photography Portfolio (and reputation)

It doesn’t matter if you are an established and seasoned photographer or you are just starting out your journey, and are still in the midst of your photography portfolio building season. Every one of you has words of wisdom, or painful stories to share about what they learned about photography portfolio building, and things they wish they’ve know before going through the process.

1. Take time to observe, analyze and learn from other professionals. And learn who you are as an artist.

Take the time to look at the work of other photographers several times a week. Observe, analyze – what works and why does it work? What do you like about a shot and why?
Get involved in forums where professional photographers are active. Seek criticism not praise. Don’t undervalue your work – that’s not what we are saying. But do keep an open mind. And do be ready to stand up for your work if you think people are stepping on it needlessly. Carry yourself professionally, be curteous and respectful and you’ll be respected.

6 Tips for Building a Photography Portfolio (and reputation)

2. If you know you will be targeting 1 million dollar home owners, don’t post ads for models on Craigslist.

Be choosy about who you are photographing. Might sound politically incorrect but you want cute subjects and cute clothing on them – it is your photography portfolio you’re working on – and you’d better spend your time well. Especially when you are getting towards the end of your portfolio building, you want to photograph subjects in your target market.
If you know you want to photograph clients that shop at Nordstroms and most likely see the value and have the money to pay for the type of custom photography and experience you are aiming to provide, choose models that live that lifestyle. Their friends who live the same kind of lifestyle will see your work hanging above their friends’ fireplace and might just ask for your business card.

3. Photography Portfolio | Start building value for your work and business.

Revise the number of files you give to your models, as you move through different stages of portfolio building. Make that number smaller as you get closer to the end of your portfolio building.
It is easier for people to come back to you and hire you once you start charging your full prices, knowing they are getting 25-30 images, instead of the 3 to 5 they got when you were doing portfolio building.

You want to start building the value for your work and making your possible future clients aware of it, in a really nice way. Especially if you are not charging you are offering an immense value to your models in exchange for their time. In the most serious way, memories are forever and the older they’ll get the more value they will gain.

4. Don’t try to become a Jack of all trades, but rather the master of one.

On the same note with #1, Find your Voice! Be an artist, be who you are, set yourself apart, get better at what you do best. Don’t try to be a jack of all trades. Do explore all different types of photography, but become a master of one.

We always evolve and change, but try and find who you are and what you like best shooting and follow that. Once you figure out you like shooting kids – find yourself mainly kid models and do that. …You discover you like weddings? Find photogs that would take you as a second shooter and do that.

5. Research and figure out what it takes to open your business, research your desired target market, web providers, labs, pricing, products, logo design resources.

Research your target market/desired clientele and their needs (print vs. digital files packages). Start researching website providers, learn about their customer services and the features they offer.

Photography Site Design – www.medianovak.com

Learn what kind of products you could be offering and how you could set yourself apart from other photographers in your area that cater to the same target market. Start thinking (really hard) about your business name. Research and learn what it takes to register your business, research logo designers.

Releasing your logo/identity at the same time you release your website and start your business officially, makes sense. Your pricing kicking in at the same time will make a whole lot of sense as well. You’ve officially established your business and there is no doubt about that. (You could start out in business by offering a discount on your full prices for a select number of sessions, for a defined period of time.)

6. Post sneak peeks of your best portfolio work to your blog.

Get a blog and post your BEST work (sneak peeks of your portfolio sessions). There are many free/inexpensive options out there and really great, and paid ones that are worth the investment. Word spreads FAST, and before you know it you’ll be getting inquires.

Elena Wilken

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