When you decide to transition from being a hobbyist photographer to working in the photography industry, putting together a professional portfolio is one of the first things you should do, to show people your skills and your specialties.
Whether it’s a website, a blog or just a simple online gallery, it’s important to have a space on the web for people to easily view your work. Albums and photobooks are lovely, but almost anyone who will hire you for a photography job will expect to be able to see your work online. Emailing photos takes too long, and you’ll need to reduce the size of your images to be able to send them anyway, so it’s worth taking the time to set up a portfolio. You can even make it password protected if you like, so don’t let privacy concerns stop you from getting started.
1) Make your interests clear
If you’ve been studying photography for many years, you’ll probably have photos of lots of different subjects, but if you want to specialise in a certain area, your portfolio should reflect that specialty. There’s no point in sending someone who is looking to hire you as a real estate photographer to a site full of portrait images.
Alternatively, if you want to be able to be hired to work on any photography project you might be offered, your portfolio should show plenty of variety. As a starting point, showing a mixture of photography taken in natural/outdoor and indoor lighting is always a good way to show you have experience working in different situations, and what you are capable of.
2) Don’t show everything, just your best work
Do you love all your photos and can’t decide which ones to display? That doesn’t mean you should feature every image. Try to get opinions from people not so close to you to help you cull your selections, rather than asking a friend, who may not be objective enough. Online communities can help to give constructive and honest feedback, such as on Flickr, or in the Photoh Facebook groups in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide. Choose your photos carefully to attract the type of people you want to work for, and make sure your most recent or relevant work is at the top or the front of the site.
3) Presentation is essential
Clean design and neutral colours are best for people who are starting out. Logo design and website templates can be customised to suit your style once you know what your brand is, but if you’re in the early stages of starting out, try to keep things simple.
4) No more than 3 clicks
It’s a golden rule of web architecture. If your visitor needs to click more than 3 times to get to their final point, chances are they will give up in the middle of their navigation. To avoid this, pay extra attention when building the menu. Label categories and tabs in layman’s terms, make your contact information very visible, including the places where you’re sharing your photos on social media.
5) No bugs!
Your portfolio might look amazing, but it could be a nightmare to visit if doesn’t run right. Test it before you start sending it out to people, and be sure to check it across different devices such as computers, phones and tablets. So many people access things online through their smartphones now, so it’s vital that you use a site that is mobile-friendly. Functionality is an important part of presenting yourself as a professional.
6) Be seen to be remembered
Maintaining your portfolio doesn’t mean constantly redesigning it (unless you want to), just regularly uploading new images, which helps with Google rankings and SEO. This means the more often you post new content, the more likely it is that someone will come across your site when doing a Google search.
Being part of photography communities or groups that your target audience is a part of, and regularly sharing your work with a link to your site, is another good strategy to lead people to your portfolio. Don’t be afraid to promote yourself.
Here are some free and paid options to build your online portfolio: