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How to build a Competitive Photographer's Portfolio: Photigy Live talkshow

Last week we had a portfolio review on Photigy Live.  It was not many people joined us on the hangout, but it was surprisingly many who watched us on photigy.com (we have Live video embed on a home page every time we do a broadcast) .

Photographer’s Portfolio Review

Many thanks to Alex Stepanov for the feedback on each portfolio we have discussed, thank you Ron Gibbs, Scott Detweiler and Jerry Nielsen for joining us!

We went through submitted portfolios, and provided our feedback and thoughts on how to improve and make each portfolio to be more competitive on the market. As expected, most of the images I’ve seen on these portfolios are really good, but portfolios are not well organized. It looks like many photographers ¬†still not sure about their targeted market (sort of “I want to do any photo-job for the money”), and this is one of the major issues on the way to successful photographer’s career, IMO.

Let me summarize the common mistakes and solutions:

  • Remember about “rule of 5 seconds”: this is how much average visitor will spend on your portfolio website to decide weather to leave or stay and dig in.¬†Meaning that you have to showcase your best work on the very first page, and it will catch attention and make visitor to continue digging your portfolio.
    Make sure the it is easy to reach your best images, ideally it should be one click action: do not use multilayer menus whenever it is possible.


  • Do not mix different portfolios on one website: serious customers won’t understand weddings, product and landscape photography under one portfolio. In general, seeing such mix tells people that they are seeing emerging/beginner photographer who have not decided what to do yet.

    It does not mean that you should stop doing what you love: if landscape your passion as well as you do a decent job in studio and enjoy working at weddings, and feel/know that your images are competitive on each market, do all of it. My suggestion would be to create a separate portfolios for each segment, and it will be much cleaner and easier to target each market directly advertising your specific portfolio. I am talking about having separate URLs for each type of “in-mixable” portfolios: foodphotoname.com, wddeingbyname.com, etc.

  • Leave only your best images in the portfolio. It is better to have only few ‘”WOW” shots than to present additional 15 “so-so” ¬†just to show that “I can shoot this stuff too”. If potential client would love your work (“WOW” images will be most likely loved) ¬†and won’t find a similar type they are looking for, most likely they will contact you and ask if you can shoot something else. Do not keep mediocre stuff in your portfolio!
    If you uncertain about what to leave and what to remove (it is hard for photographer to judge their own work) , hire professionals: there are people who can help. Here is the list of such guys, provided by Alex Stepanov: List of Photography consultants


  • Use an advantage of fast internet we have now in most of the areas of the world to¬†showcase your portfolio with large images. Most of the monitors are 1920×1080 now, and even larger if we think about wold of commercial photography, where customers are advertising agencies and serious businesses. Make sure your online portfolio is scalable on a large monitors w/o quality loss. There are many solutions on such portfolio builders and ready-to-use applications. Here are few of them:

    SimpleViwer Flash/HTML5 component. I use simpleviwer flash  on my portfolio as well as Alex Stepanov does on his. As you see the same engine can be implemented quite differently.
    – Photographer’s portfolio oriented WP themes. There are many, Genia Larionova have used the one called “This Way” on her (still under construction) retoucher’s portfolio: www.genia-l.com
    500px.com: for $50/year they provide a very good hosting with few photographer-oriented templates for your portfolio, with your own url if needed. Plus, you become “an awesome” :-) ¬† Here is what I have there: alex_koloskov.500px.com

    These are just few examples, and it is up to you to find the best suitable solution.


The video from a portfolio review talkshow:

Few announcement I’ve made:

Our current contest, “The Feeling” gets extended for two more weeks: the new deadline is 8/15/2012. I can’t believe we get so few submissions, considering that contest is world-wide and $350 is a good thing to have. Common guys, engage your creativity and make something to be proud of yourself as a photographer:-)


Our next PHOTIGY Live hangout is new Wednesday, and the assignment is¬† a creative shot of a lamp. It must¬†represent¬†the lamp as a product with lights ON, and we must see quality of actual light (color,¬†intensity, etc) from the lamp as well as the lamp ‚Äúbody‚ÄĚ and texture of the materials used. I have a tutorial on how this type of shot can be done, take a look here:¬†Lighting the lights: Designer‚Äôs tabletop lamp product photography tutorial. Remember about the creative¬†approach!¬†
The winner will receive $150 worth of photography equipment from our sponsor of the show, B&Hphotovideo.com.  Submit your work along with the shooting setup here: Forum Submission Topic. 


1 responses on "How to build a Competitive Photographer's Portfolio: Photigy Live talkshow"

  1. Great discussion! Very useful information to hear!

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