As a photographer, your portfolio is your lifeline. The more high end, diverse, and viewed it is, the more likely you are to score the type of jobs you’re looking for. Everything from what photos are included (of course), to how it is presented can help you present yourself as professional and skilled as possible. So what does a diverse portfolio look like?
Mix up your subject matter
While it’s great to separate your portfolio or website into different categories, you can’t control who is looking at your portfolio and what they are looking for. In order to appeal to a large amount of potential clients and show off your various skills, diversify your subject matter. While having a niche is great, let’s say you cover music, a mix of live performances, audience shots, outdoor artist portraits, and maybe even video work would be a great way to diversify subject matter while still staying within your desired niche.
Alternate between natural light and flash
Sometimes jobs will require you to shoot in natural light (nice!), other times you may need to use flash outdoors at night, other times you may need to use studio lighting. Understanding how to manipulate lighting scenarios is a critical skill for a professional photographer. Bad lighting or unflattering flash is a rookie mistake that you want your clients to know you would not make.
Minimal, but professional editing
Potential clients looking to hire a photographer want to know that the photos can also come edited if need be. Avoid anything overdone, tacky, or unprofessional. No glowy photoshopped faces that look like portraits taken at the mall. Nicely done edits aren’t even noticeable to the untrained eye. If your specialty is more artful edits, of course that is an exception. Often photographers offer rates that include a certain amount of photos edited, showcasing your talent around that can help seal a deal.
If you fill your portfolio with too much content, your viewers won’t look at all of it. You may cause them to miss some of your best work just because of time restraint or laziness! Make a selection of a dozen or so shots for your general portfolio. Mix up topics, subjects, environments, and styles to fully showcase your skill set. And of course, start and end with your best images, those are the most memorable parts of the viewing experience.
Go digital, and print
Start your portfolio as an online downloadable PDF or a gallery on your website, but when you become more advanced or have the time and means, having a few printed copies can be nice for in-person meetings. As old school as it may sound, it’s a personal touch that many clients may appreciate. Try out printing and binding a few. Make sure your contact info as up to date and super visible!