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What To Include In Your Portfolio

Your photography portfolio is one of the best tools that you have at your disposal to market yourself as a photographer. In an instant, it shows your prospective clients how skilled you are at shooting, how creative you are, and how unified your body of work is. In short, your photography portfolio can make or break you. That’s why deciding what to put in your portfolio is such an important consideration. Based on best practices in the industry, here’s what you should include in yours.

A Unifying Theme

Photography portfolios work best when they feature a unifying theme. Not only will it make your body of work look more coherent and consistent to potential clients, but it will also attract clients who are looking for a specific type of shoot. If you are a portrait photographer, for instance, be sure that your portfolio features more portrait shots than anything else. If, on the other hand, you specialize in different kinds of shots, then it’s a good idea to create a separate portfolio for every type of shot, just so each portfolio retains its unifying theme.

A Few Great Shots as Opposed to Many Average Ones

While it is vital to include a variety of photographs in your portfolio, it is more important to show off your best shots. Sure, this may mean that your final image count may be somewhat on the low side—perhaps between 20 and 30 in your portfolio—but it is infinitely better than having a bigger portfolio of average or just good shots. Be sure to exclude any pictures that are out of focus or have any other types of flaws. Again, your portfolio must showcase your very best work!

Complementary Elements

Though your photography portfolio should be mostly about the shots than anything else, it helps to add complementary elements to your portfolio to make it easier for those looking through it. These complementary elements can include:

  • An artistic statement which briefly explains your portfolio’s concept
  • A formal list of included photographs
  • Titles for shots, along with short explanations
  • Locations and dates for shots
  • A thumbnail contact sheet

Creating a Great Portfolio Takes Time Because of the importance of your photography portfolio, you should spend a lot of time thinking about what to put into it. It’s also very helpful to get the opinions of other people—fellow photographers, friends, etc.—to help you see more broadly about what you may want to include. Your portfolio is one of your biggest marketing tools, since it instantly tells prospective clients about you. This is a great opportunity to impress them, which is why you can’t rush this process. Good luck!

Marc Schenker

Marc Schenker is a copywriter, editor and blogger who manages Photodoto. He's also a freelance writer for hire. Connect with him at marcschenkerwriting.com. Don't forget to like him on Facebook.

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