Trying to find work as a photographer is, quite literally, what separates an amateur from a professional. Having a go to photography portfolio is a HUGE part of finding work.
Nowadays you need more than a good set of images to find work. With the advancement of phone cameras and access to easy content it is more important now than ever to be able to market yourself.
So what exactly goes into creating a photography portfolio? What even is a photography portfolio? How can I market myself?
Do not worry. We are here to help!
We have used the Photographer WildCoyPhotography to show you examples of how to do it right.
The Classic Photography Portfolio
Most photographers start out expanding their professional network from their hometown. This means in the early stages of your career you will be shooting for friends, family, friends of friends etc.
If you have a face to face meeting take with you a physical portfolio of your best shots. People love having something physical to hold and go through. It is also a great way to show the potential client what you can do.
A physical portfolio looks best in a photo book with powerful images on each page. much like the image below. They should be carefully designed by you to encapsulate each service you offer.
What should I include in my physical photography portfolio?
If you have ever read our blogs before you know we stand by a photographer brining in multiple photography revenue streams. Nowadays photography is 60% skill, 40% marketing. This means you should be focusing on a few markets especially when you are starting out. If you are a studio portrait photographer you should try expanding into headshots, event photography, weddings etc.
This does not mean to say you do not need to have the talent. You still should be very confident and able to shoot in each niche. However, as long as you have the skillsets, covering more bases will mean more work opportunities. These different markets should also be displayed in your portfolio. They should be grouped together or produced in separate books so that you can walk the client through each one. You should think about even including rates inside your portfolio. Although this may divide opinion particularly if you are not charging full rates to begin with.
Remember the main aim of a portfolio is to show the client why they must pick YOU. It is not enough to show you are competent. You want to show you are the best. You should only be picking shots that make people go ‘WOW’. If you are struggling to find places to create a photo book we always recommend Photobox.
Top Tip: There is no need to watermark your images inside your physical portfolio. Since they cannot be shared or used elsewhere there is no point having a watermark that distract people from the quality of the shot.
Still in the mindset of face to face meetings, it is important to have a business card handy to give out. Give the potential client a few so they can recommend people aswell. Remember marketing yourself is nearly as important as the images you are producing. Never pass up a free marketing opportunity!
A good business card should be informative, clean and easy to read. It should include:
- Your Name
- Company Name
- Phone Number
- A reminder that you are on social media. A Facebook logo, Instagram Logo etc.
- A Double side. A blank white side is a missed opportunity to market yourself again.
Digital Photography Portfolio
Your digital portfolio should be an extension of the photo book you have produced. Besides social media this will probably be your most viewed assessment of your work.
A good website should be easy to navigate and strikingly beautiful. Do not worry if you are not tech savvy. There are websites out there that have easy drag and drop templates specifically designed for a photography portfolio. Websites like Squarespace and Wix come highly recommended and at very reasonable monthly rates.
The images on your website should be of the highest possible quality so that they look as good as they can be. Do not sacrifice quality for file size unless you really have to.
Unlike in your photo book we recommend watermarking the images on your website. You never know who will get their hands on them and because the image quality is top notch you do not want them to be distributed, particularly without credit.
Having said that you still do not want to slap your watermark all the way across the middle of the image. It should be carefully placed on each image so as not to be obtrusive.
The beauty of the digital photography portfolio is that you can keep changing it. You can add to it and change rates if need be. Nothing is permanent.
A Reminder of things to include on your website:
- Your highest quality, watermarked images
- Your rates
- Hyperlinks to social accounts
- A contact page that is connected to your main email.
- A phone number
Top tip: If you are including shots of previous clients in your portfolio just make sure you have their permission. Most of the time it will be fine but it should never come as a shock to the client. Particularly if you are shooting weddings or portraits. You want to always build bridges, not burn them.
Your Social Portfolio
You may find it hard to believe but social media is the most important part of your portfolio now. Let that sink in. People are more inclined to search for you on Facebook or Instagram than they are for you on google. This means they will visit your social accounts more than your website.
Your social account needs to look as good as it possibly can. Your main focus should be Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin. They all have very different layouts and so should be approached differently.
Firstly your personal page should really be private. A photographer is almost always known by name so when a client searches for you, you want them to find your photography page and not your personal one. If they do stumble upon your personal page it is probably best to have it private just in case you have anything on there they deem inappropriate.
Your photography page should be simply laid out and clear. Your best bet is to have a professional headshot profile picture and a lovely image as your cover photo. Something that stands out.
As long as you have a good bulk of images for any potential client to go through it is not essential to keep a regular posting schedule. Although it is always good to show people you are busy!
Facebook compresses the images you put onto the platform greatly. So a watermark is not essential but many photographers opt to use them anyway in case any work is shared.
Most communication through the page will happen with the Facebook messenger tool. Facebook now tells potential clients how quickly you respond to messages so try to get back to people immediately.
If you have done a recent shoot try to get the clients to review you on your page. More reviews = more traffic.
Instagram is very different to Facebook. Firstly, a regular posting schedule is essential especially if you want some organic work to come in. It is very difficult for users to find you on Instagram unless you are regularly posting.
Your posts should be portfolio worthy images and ONLY that. Content is key here. Nobody wants to see the Friday night drinks you had with friends. If you like posting those images have a separate personal account.
Your BIO should be as informative as your business card. Your link should take people where you want them to go (usually your website) and you should briefly explain what you do and where you are based.
LinkedIn is the main place for you to look for work outside of word of mouth and face to face contact.
You can use the same professional headshot you used for your Facebook page as your profile picture. LinkedIn is all about people buying from people so allowing people to see the person behind the camera is very important.
Keep yourself up to date with whats going on with your connections on LinkedIn. If someone seems interesting or seems like they may be able to push work your way ask to connect with them. Do not try to sell to them though! Very important. You will be ignored most of the time.
Strike up genuine conversations and offer them as much from the conversation as you get. Think about it as a word of mouth tool. A genuine connection that likes talking to you is much more likely to think about you when some work comes up than someone you have immediately sales pitched to.
It is not weird to request connections from people you do not know. LinkedIn is a professional social network. The aim is to literally connect with people you do not know yet. Thats how networks grow. So you should never feel awkward about doing so.
In the end it always comes down to talent and content. Those who produce the best images will always get what they deserve in the end. Having said that photography is a very different industry now and marketing yourself is SO important. Even if you are still learning you can find work if you can get the marketing right.
We hope this guide helps you start to achieve your dreams. If you are interested in learning more about venturing into the professional photography world these two blogs may be of great interest to you.