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If you’re planning to go into a career in professional photography, you must shoot shoot shoot, but you must also know how to make a photography portfolio in which to showcase your work. The main purpose of your portfolio is to show your potential clientele how your skills can serve as a solution to their problem, how they meet your client’s specific needs. How you’re the right person for the job. Here are a few steps to start you going:
Step One - Assist an Experienced Photographer or Shoot for Free
If you’re looking to focus on a specific field of interest, it is a good idea to join a field-experienced photographer in order to create an entry-level portfolio. Though photography apprenticeships pay very little, if anything, they offer valuable experience. You can learn hands-on about lighting, editing, self-marketing, and various business techniques. Alternatively, you can offer your services to friends, family, or small business in the area for free to get together a career-building portfolio. This is a win-win situation: they get fussy pictures; you get some experience and portfolio entries.
Step Two - Charge A Minimum
When you feel you’re ready to move on or are up to your neck with a well-priced service ($0…), start taking on work for a minimal fee. Though you might feel a bit awkward accepting money at first, try not to apologize too much and remind yourself that money is a customary means of self-support.
Step Three - Edit Down
Never, never deliver to a client images that do a poor job in representing your ability. Shots that are poorly lit, are poorly composed or are just plain poor are best to last be seen by your own computer. Remember that a poor representation of your work can be not only embarrassing to you in the long run, when you’re a world-famous photographer, but also a hindrance to gaining future clients. Still, don’t forget that you’re developing an individual style; this is your own art. Be prepared to throw out some of your work, but don’t credit others’ (friends or professional acquaintances) with ‘scientific’ insightfulness.
Step Four - Keep a Well-Organized Electronic Archive
An organized and detailed archive makes photo editing, portfolio building and image selection most efficient. You might opt to take advantage of a free photography portfolio website to get together portfolios for different industries. Make sure to create separate folders for commercial, editorial and wedding photographs, and to narrow down to folders for people, objects, and buildings. Then pare things down even further with sub-folders devoted to a specific type of people, object, or building.
Step Five - Choose an Industry and Client-Specific Theme
Your portfolio should never be a scrapbook of pictures of flowers, children, brides, or animals. The more geared it is to your client's needs, the more likely they will be to offer you a job. For this reason, you should make sure you tailor your photography portfolio book to a particular industry, with pictures of a variety of industry themes.
Step Six - Keep your Portfolio Fresh
As soon as you have created a strong, professional-looking portfolio (e.g., a wedding photography portfolio), update it at least once a month with new information about you, a blog, or new images.
… So don’t talk, shoot!