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Photography Question 
Jessica Rae Hardy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/12/2005


Hi Guys... I want to know how to go about making a portfolio. I have no idea where to start. Can anyone help me out?

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4/6/2006 7:55:07 PM

Liza M. Franco
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/26/2004
  Jessica, I learned so much from a book I purchased called, Portfolios That Sell by Selina Oppenheim. It was packed with information and I bought mine on ebay.

Presentation is really important. It doesn't matter how fancy your portfolio is or how expensive it is, however, neatness counts. Photo sizes should be consistent throughout. The recommended size portfolio should have 15-20 photos that represent your work well. You may have different portfolios, maybe one for weddings, one for children, one for commercial, etc... It is better to let the viewer have a wonderful taste of your work that leaves them longing to see more, rather than an overwhelming volume with too many photos that they will then feel obligated to look through.

Some of the portfolios out there are absolutely amazing. If you get a chance, take a look at this website:

Her handmade portfolio boxes are beautiful for a knock-your-socks off serious presentation. I saw these and right away set to work to create one. I had so much fun making mine. I don't know how much she charges. My first one I made out of foam core and a print fabric that I already had, just so that I could experiment with measurements and wouldn't be out too much money if it didn't go well.

I am now ready to make one that will be the one I will use and have decided, definitely no printed fabric. I have opted for two solid colors of ultra suede. If you're crafty, give it a go.

Good Luck to you, hope this helps.

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4/6/2006 8:45:09 PM

Jessica Rae Hardy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/12/2005
  I was looking for how to go about making know...where to start...what I need..i dont know anything about it..

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4/7/2006 10:50:58 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  A portfolio that you send out or that you carry with you, the number of photos depends on who you ask. But it's probably about 15-20 good photos to show. What they should be of is either a particular type. Meaning if you're trying to get a job shooting jewelry, show good jewelry photos. But there should be variety and range within the subject matter, and also with different subject matter.
If jewelry, don't show everything with the same kind of background, like everything with a black background. Show translucent jewelry, opaque, jewelry with props. And also show other types of still lifes, or portraits, fashion. Show good use of color, good use of black&white.
I don't think decorative porfolio books hold any advantage to any other type if both are neat and hold good photos. Reading an interview of an art director, he said the higher up you go(meaning not small papers or some family portrait studio) the less they are concerned about how the book looks on the outside as how the photos look. More and more prefer that people get websites. And if you send something, send a comp card with an address on it.
But back to your original question, gather up your best photos and show consistency and range/variety within a select few. Anything that's been used or published also helps.

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4/7/2006 11:43:10 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  For what it may or may not be worth to you Jessica, I'm in complete accord with Gregory. You're essentially selling the steak, not the sizzle, so professional photo buyers, art directors, etc., don't care what your photos appear in, as long as the way they're presented simply shows some care toward preservation of the work. You're not selling porfolio boxes or wedding books, you're selling your services.

Maria Piscopo is a photo rep who teaches seminars on presentations and marketing techniques for photographers. You'd do well to find her book on the subject and look at her web site.

Also to add a bit to what Gregory mentioned, if you know in advance what the assignment is, try and show the art director or editor or creative director work that demonstrates you have an understanding for that type of assignment. In other words, if [s]he wants you to shoot people in black and white, don't show them photographs of bridges and sunsets in color. If you're showing a generic portfolio that's somewhat geared to say a publication you want to obtain work from, again Greg is exactly right by suggesting that you show them 15-20 high quality prints of work that shows diversity, sensitivity to a subject or series of them, and attention to details.

Good luck

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4/7/2006 3:56:41 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  It's not set in stone thing to show what the exact same things as the type of job that you're going for. Eric Meola said the first commercial job he got was to shoot an auto ad, and he didn't have a single car in his porfolio. He said the art director liked his use of color. So like I said, the higher up you go, the more they look for quality stuff, good ides, creativness.
The flip of that is that you could try for a cat magazine, and show very nice pictures of dogs, thinking how you took the picture can be the same, just replace the dog with a cat and you have it. But they'll ask, these are nice but do you have any cat pictures?

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4/7/2006 10:08:38 PM

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