photography portfolio

Creating a Photography Portfolio That Shows Your Creative Vision

One of the first things you’re going to be thinking about when starting a photography business is creating a photography portfolio website. Or maybe you’ve been in business awhile but you want to make sure your photography portfolio showcases your creative vision. For me, the longer I’ve been in business the more important it is to me that I’m being hired for my creative vision and finding clients that value me and my work.

A strong photography portfolio will showcase strong images while also demonstrating your cohesive style and diverse skills. You’ll also want to consider your target audience as well. Artists need patrons if we’re going to build a sustainable photography career. This article will talk through those steps to help you craft a photography portfolio that you’re proud of.

Mostly we’re going to talk about an online portfolio that you’ll put on your photography website but it can be fun to have a print portfolio too. The trick is knowing if and when you’ll be able to show it off because it would require meeting potential clients in person. This reminds me of something that you need to remember, I already hinted at it above, there’s no point in having a photography portfolio if you don’t share it with anyone!

creating a photography portfolio

First, The Basics of a Photo Portfolio

There are no rules but there are some industry standards that will help you build a professional photography portfolio. For example, you don’t want too many images or any bad images that will stop ideal clients in their tracks. Getting feedback or even tracking data in google analytics is always a good idea.

How many images?

There’s no specific rule about how many photos you should use but people tend to scroll through a portfolio quickly. Therefore, so it’s a good idea to share only your best work and aim for quality over quantity.

What if each potential client had to make a decision based on seeing one image? Choose images that have that power, that’s what a portfolio is.

I tend to get attached to images that I worked hard on even if they didn’t actually turn out well. Make sure images are strong enough to earn a place in your portfolio.

Get feedback

It also never hurts to get a second opinion. When getting a second opinion, make sure you ask for specifics about why a photo is or isn’t working. That will help you start to identify and nail down your style, which is the subject of the next section.

You want to make a photography portfolio that shows your creative vision. You don’t want just another online portfolio that looks just like every other photographers online portfolio out there.

Pay attention to photos that clients love. They may not be your best photos technically but if they have impact, that’s important.

creating a photography portfolio

Cohesive Style Obvious in Your Photography Portfolio

We can be obsessed with putting together the perfect portfolio website and never set about the business of getting work. The best way to solidify your photography style is to shoot more, work more, and create more images. As your business grows and evolves so will your photography portfolio simply because your style starts to emerge.

When you build your photography business you will read a lot of tips about branding as a way to bring in potential clients, you want to have a brand and a style that draws more clients to your website. Ideally, your brand compliments your photography style. For example, if you shoot really edgy images then your brand is probably edgy too.

When you’re just starting out you might simply be picking the best images that make you look professional and experienced. As you have more to choose from you can pick images that demonstrate your style and interests. The more you’re able to shoot and share images that demonstrate your style, the more you’ll be able to book that work.

photography portfolio that shows your vision

While Also Showcasing Your Diverse Skills

As adventurous wedding photographers, we made sure early on to showcase adventurous images in our portfolio because we wanted clients who were looking for a specific kind of wedding photographer. However, we learned that if you only show a certain type of image then people will question your ability to do something outside of that.

Therefore, it’s important to let your style come through with a cohesive and professional photography portfolio but you also need to show the diversity of your skills. Show the range of your abilities in order to instill confidence in your clients. This doesn’t mean mixing different genres of photography, our commercial portfolio is separate from our wedding portfolio, it just means showing both the depth and breadth of your skillset.

When you choose photos for your photography portfolio you don’t want them all to look the same. You want to vary the focal length, and show different uses of lighting or color, or negative space. Prospective clients want to see your best photos and your artistic style but they also want to feel confident in your ability to capture what they’re asking for.

Considering Your Target Audience

Last, but not least we want to consider our target audience and the future clients that we’re trying to attract. Ideally, we create a photography portfolio that helps us attract clients that are the right fit for us and our business. In the beginning, we might just want to attract clients to pay the bills, but eventually, we want to attract the right clients that will value and appreciate our individual creative vision.

Who are your potential clients and what will make them choose you over someone else? Sure, their decision might come down to price but what we want is to find the clients that are hiring you for your portrait skills or specialization in outdoor events, or even your unique post-production skills. The goal is to make a photography portfolio that separates you from other photographers so that the decision doesn’t come down to price but rather your creative vision.

Your photography website will contain the stunning photography portfolio that you’re creating but you also have other opportunities to include images in other areas on your site. Make the first image potential clients see a strong one, and have strong images on your about page even if they’re images from your personal life. Potential clients want to see strong images throughout your photography website, not just in your online portfolio.

Some Details About Your Portfolio Website

You’ve chosen the perfect images that tell the story of your creative vision, now you build your online photography portfolio. That means you need a photography portfolio website. There are countless tools for building websites and even a handful targeted specifically to professional photographers.

Here are a few things to know when it comes to photography websites. Since your portfolio website is image heavy, you need to be aware of the load time. Potential clients might not stick around to view your photography portfolio website if it’s a dinosaur.

Remember, even if you have a photo you’re attached to if it’s improperly exposed or out of focus, leave it off your photography portfolio website. Your online photography portfolio has to cut through the noise of everything else on the internet. It has to compete with every portfolio website a potential client is looking at. Make sure your online photography portfolio isn’t full of simple mistakes, it’s like typos, they can make or break a resume.

photography portfolio that shows your vision

Building a Photography Portfolio that Shows Your Creative Vision in Review

Let’s review a few tips for building a photography portfolio that shows your creative vision. Starting with the basics you want to focus on quality over quantity when choosing photos for your portfolio. Then, create a photography portfolio that has a cohesive style. At the same time, showcase the diversity of your skills and what you are capable of. From there consider your target audience and the types of interested clients that you’re attracting to your photography portfolio website.

One more detail to consider is the portfolio format, if you view a handful of photography portfolios online you’ll see mostly grid and hero images. Have a look and see which style will work best for your own photography portfolio, and which will showcase your images best. Look to other photographers for inspiration but then make sure you set your photography apart.

Essentially, everything works together from your marketing plant to your photography portfolio. Your branding, marketing, and portfolio should match your style. Your entire creative vision is threaded in every client interaction whether it’s an online or printed portfolio. Make your photography portfolio an opportunity to share your vision, not just what you do but why you do it.


About the author:

I am Brenda Bergreen, one half of a husband and wife photography team. We specialize in Colorado wedding photography and videography and adventure photography. Check out my own website to view my photography portfolio or sample videos.

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