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In the over saturated photography market, photographers need to be armed with more than just impeccable images and talent. You need to ensure your audience is seeing your talent. If clients never see your images, it won’t matter how great they are.
As a photographer your best asset is your online portfolio. It is a consistent online presence that puts your work in the hands of potential clients, wherever, whenever.
There is no one ideal portfolio. Every photographer will have a different style and that should be reflected across your entire brand, including your portfolio. But there are a few common portfolio mistakes that can detract from your work. I asked Format’s CEO and co-founder Lukas Dryja to show us how to avoid seven of those mistakes when crafting your own portfolio.
Mistake #1: Your portfolio is too cluttered
When you have a large body of work, it’s easy to think that a portfolio including the majority of your work will provide a more nuanced look at your abilities. In reality, an endless horizontal scroll with too many images can be overwhelming to navigate.
Instead, carefully curate your work and choose only your very best pieces for your portfolio. You’ll leave visitors wanting more instead of feeling like they’ve already seen everything you have to offer.
If you have a small body of work, don’t stress, it’s still possible to create an effective, professional-looking portfolio. The key is portfolio design. You’ll want to chose a theme or layout that works with your content. A grid-based theme works best with a larger volume of images, while a horizontally scrolling theme is suited to fewer images.
Mistake #2: Your portfolio is disorganized and unclear
With any website, the desired result is for visitors to know clearly and confidently what it is that you do or sell. Lukas explained it this way:
Think of your portfolio as a storefront. If you took a look around, would you know what you were selling?
If you’re primarily a wedding photographer, ensure those images are front and center. If you also shoot street photography and travel photography, those projects can be included too. Instead of letting these three genres coexist side-by-side, consider using your site’s navigation to divide your portfolio clearly.
As well as genres, you might also consider separating work by projects or clients.
Mistake #3: You’re not including enough “you”
The About page is the most clicked-on links on Format portfolio websites, so make yours count.
People looking to hire you or buy your work want to know about you. Make sure your bio is personal and authentic. Really introduce yourself, include a photo and provide some interesting background about who you are.
Let clients know what kind of work you are passionate about and use your About page to brag a bit: list your schooling, professional experience, accolades and client testimonials.
Mistake #4: You’re presenting work without context
It’s easy to think your work should speak for itself. But just like potential clients want to know about you, they also want to know about your work—who is in the photograph, where was it published, what project is it a part of, where the photo was taken?
Giving a bit of context about the projects you display online helps to give your work authenticity. You don’t need to provide a novel on your creative process, but a brief explanation gives your work more weight and gives visitors a deeper understanding of the project and, ultimately, you.
Mistake #5: You aren’t proofreading
Whether your site is content heavy or relies mostly on images, it’s in your best interest to ensure all copy is free of misspelled words and grammatical errors. A typo will take away from the sense of professionalism you’ve cultivated in your portfolio.
Take the extra time to review new edits before publishing to avoid distracting visitors from your carefully curated images.
Mistake #6: You’re ignoring your dream client
Many photographers believe that if they highlight a specialization, they’ll box themselves in. In reality, the opposite is true. By highlighting your preference for a particular type of work, you’re more likely to attract the clients who will help to further your career in the right direction.
For example, if you’re a wedding photographer by trade but you’d like to start shooting more travel projects, set up a portfolio that shows off more of your travel-centric work. A travel client wants to hire a photographer with a portfolio of travel photography, not a wedding photographer who has dabbled in destination photography.
Brainstorm five dream clients that you’d like to work for one day. Think about the kinds of photos they shoot, then create a portfolio that reflects the same aesthetic.
Mistake #7: Your portfolio is out of date
Your portfolio should always be evolving in order to showcase your new work. If your portfolio hasn’t been updated in a long time, you could be inadvertently signaling to potential clients that you aren’t committed to your work.
Create a schedule for yourself and stick to it—maybe you’ll update your portfolio every month or every quarter. Whatever you decide, challenge yourself to update your portfolio with fresh work and you’ll be rewarded by the results
Also, check out what others are doing when developing your own portfolio. Here’s a resource with some design portfolio examples for inspiration.