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A young professional sits at a work desk with a colleague, working on a laptop. A camera sits on the desk with several nearby attachments.
Making your photography portfolio

Showcasing your photography skills

A portfolio for a photographer is akin to a CV for most other professions. And in some cases, more important. It is a compilation of their best work. It is their calling card. It is a pictorial presentation of their creativity, style, capabilities and dedication. It is essential to get jobs (read: make money).

It is nothing to trifle with!

We’ve assembled some tips to guide photographers on how to make an attention-grabbing portfolio. While portfolio building is not something we normally do, helping solve digital storage issues is. More on that later.

What’s in a portfolio?

Naturally, photos that you have shot. We’ll get into that in a minute. For now, we're discussing the other things that you’ll want to include. Besides wanting to see your photos, prospective clients will want to know a little about you.

In creating your “Me” page, give your name, contact information (location/address, phone number, email address) and a little background regarding your interest in photography and your schooling, if relevant. If you specialise in a particular genre of photography, mention it, and say why you chose it. Mention any awards you may have won. A prior-client list and details of what you shot for them are sensible additions to a profile. Include links to any social networks you are on, as well as a price list. Be concise. Four or five paragraphs should do.

What photos to include

A camera on a desk with a Kingston Canvas Go! Plus with 512GB storage half inserted. A succulent and folder are also on the desk.

In a nutshell: the best of the best. So, obviously, this isn’t something to do while waiting for an appointment. TAKE YOUR TIME!!!

Hopefully, your photos are already organised in some manner. If not, it would be a good idea to get them organised first. It will make your job of finding specific types of pictures much easier. Organising them also makes it easier to eliminate any that take up space – meaning they are not portfolio-worthy. For instance, eliminate raw photos, blurry shots, test shots, personal photos of family/friends, holiday snaps, etc.

Now, the hard part, and the most critical: photo selection.

  • Less is best; more you’ll be out the door. 15 to 20 works well. Over 30 is a definite no-no.
  • Variety is the spice of life and portfolios. Similar or identical shots should be avoided. Assorted types of photos, colours, lighting and composition will show your versatility and capabilities.
  • If you are a generalist not specialising in any one genre, build a portfolio for each type. Someone looking for a wedding photographer won’t be the least bit interested in your award-winning, backlit photos of motorcycles.
  • Keep the photo section of your portfolio just that – photos. Captions, backstories and cutesy emojis are mood killers. Photography portfolios are visual, not editorial, so let your work speak for itself.
  • After the first time through the selection process, it is fine to have many more shots than you need (remember, 15-20 best-of-the-best shots is your ultimate goal). Now start eliminating.
  • Repeat the step above.

Repeat again (and as many times as necessary). Keep in mind your portfolio’s category. One genre per portfolio. Most corporate marketers aren’t going to be interested in bridal party shots on the beach.

Put your portfolio to the test

A young woman standing in front of a city view holds a camera, offering it to the viewer.

Once the first draft of your portfolio is completed, put it to the test. Have others look at it. Get their opinion on whether the design/layout is appealing. Are the pictures compelling? Are there enough of them? Are there too many? What needs improving? Would you hire me after looking at this?

Try to get constructive feedback from individuals in these three groups: professional photographers, someone in a creative field other than photography, and friends or family members. Professional photographers should carry the most weight.

Old-school portfolios are still in fashion

Today, digital portfolios are the rule. However, there are still valid reasons for producing a printed version. While prospective clients can see digital portfolios virtually anywhere on earth, a quality printed version can be an eye-opener and quite a selling aid when meeting with local prospects. Not only will you look professional, but there is an aura to a printed copy that demonstrates you care.

Keep it fresh

Your portfolio is not a one-and-done affair. It should depict you in the here and now. Photos of even a year or two ago can look dated. Make it a habit to review and update your portfolio regularly: every quarter, every six months or yearly. Just remember, when you add, you also need to subtract. You want to keep that total between 15 and 20.

Kingston’s role

The beauty of a digital portfolio is the ease and low cost of sending it. Click a few links, and it’s on its way. As mentioned at the beginning, there is still a role for Kingston – in the form of storage. Yes, a portfolio can be stored on a PC or laptop, or in the cloud. But Kingston provides multiple means of storing your portfolio(s) in a mobile-friendly manner:

  • Encrypted USB flash drives
  • High-performance/high-capacity SD and micro-SD memory cards (like the Canvas React Plus and Canvas Go! Plus, designed for industry use with capacities of up to 1TB)
  • Super-fast external SSDs like the XS2000

The value in using these storage options? Portability. Take it with you to a prospective client meeting, crank up whichever media you use and your entire portfolio shows up in all its glory, ready for your client’s viewing and reading pleasure.

So, there you have it. Just a few tips from us to you as you go and grow in your photography career.


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