Curious how to strengthen your photography portfolio? Here are 6 quick tips for creating a strong and cohesive portfolio!

When it comes to displaying our photography portfolio, your goal should be to show off the very best of the best! There are some great ways to intentionally choose photos to show off your technical skills, artistic abilities and personality.  The truth is, being yourself and unique in this industry is key, so let’s discuss how you can display your strongest work to attract more ideal clients!

1. Curate with intention, by only choosing your strongest images for your photography portfolio.

What are “strong” images exactly? Strong images typically include technically strong attributes (exposure, white balance, sharpness and artistic composition). People tend to spend ONE minute looking at your website, so we need to make that minute count! The main questions you should be asking yourself when posting images (especially on your website) are the following:

  • Would I want to photograph this again? You should only display what you want to shoot.  If you HATE photographing large groups, don’t post them to your portfolio. Why? Because people are paying attention!! If you post something on your website/social media, people assume that’s what you do.  You can still say yes to those things you don’t love (we all have to make a living), but essentially, you’re training your clients what they can expect from you.
  • Will this image attract more of what I want? This falls in directly in line with the last question.  Posting images of cute cats most likely won’t attract families.
  • What are your images saying? Choose a few key words that you want your photography to represent.  For example, say you like the “bright and airy” look. Maybe you’d pick the words, “bright, clean, happy, and colorful.”  Now, every single time you post an image to any public forum, ask yourself if THAT specific photo meets those key words! You’ll be more consistent instantly!
  • Does the image I’m about to post ADD or TAKE AWAY from my portfolio? Does it make it stronger or weaker?

2. Consistency is key!

Let’s be real, people have expectations and first impressions are SO important.  When someone is looking to hire a photographer, they want to know what they are going to get.  If your Instagram has moody/dark images, light and bright images, with birds, plants, a senior, both natural lighting and artificial lighting, people are probably going to have a hard time nailing down what you do.  People most often have an image of what they want in their heads and if your photography style doesn’t fall in line with that image, they move on.  What are your photographs saying?  If you’re a colorful/bright wedding photographer that loves natural light, stick to that! Consistency builds trust, and when people are spending money, they want know exactly what they will get. And no, consistency doesn’t mean you’re boring, it means you have an artistic style that is uniquely YOU!

3. Don’t get attached.

It sounds harsh, but don’t get attached to ANY of the photos in your professional portfolio.

We ALL take photos of our friends, family, our adorable kids, pretty flowers, and quirky animals. We are in love with all of those images because we have an emotional attachment to them. That doesn’t mean our clients will.  Keep it simple and post what you think your ideal client will love! For example, I posted a super cute photo on my website’s front page of my daughter laughing (that I was ridiculously in love with). My husband saw it and mentioned it was totally out of focus. It was, I was annoyed, but it wasn’t my best work.  Now I have that photo on my phone and personal Instagram, but it’s not on my website.

So, go through your website and ditch the images that don’t fit!

4. Choosing images for your photography portfolio (website, blog, Facebook and Instagram).

A common myth is that you need to replicate the same images on all of your social media sites, website and blog. This isn’t necessarily the case.  The truth is, because they are all different platforms, you can tailor each one to showcase your work.  Let’s examine your website first.  Websites are important if you’re seriously considering a photography business, because it’s 100% a reflection of you and your work and your professionalism.  You get to choose everything from the layout, colors, and format of how people view your photography, so this is where we really need to take our time.

For each category of photography you manage, we suggest choosing a minimum of 10 images to a maximum of 20. LESS IS MORE.  With 50 images, it’s much more likely you’re going to be inconsistent overall, so limit to those few images that really speak to what you want to photograph in the future.

We don’t want to overwhelm our potential clients with 100 different images! The great thing about this method is that you can continually change and strengthen your official portfolio.  With every new session (paid or not), you can choose 1-2 photos that really showcase your work the way you want people to see it.  Your blog fits in the same category, and allows your future clients to get to know your personality through your writing! For more on why you need to be blogging, read here!

5. How to size images.

Knowing how to correctly size your images when posting to all forms of social media and a website is important.  You need to know how to resize photos to avoid distortion/pixilation.  Uploading full high resolution images can also cause your website to become overloaded and slow when loading. The same high resolution images posted to Facebook and Instagram will cause the photos to appear blurry, which doesn’t showcase our work the way we’d like it to.

photography portfolio

These are the best Lightroom export settings for posting on social media.

Also consider how you’re sizing your images for each platform! For a full explanation of the best export settings in Lightroom, click here!

6. What if you’re not busy yet?

That’s ok! We all start somewhere.  Seriously, you’re not going to wake up, pick up a new camera (that you may or may not know how to use), and automatically have a killer photography portfolio. It’s better to have FIVE strong images, than 20 mediocre images that confuse your clients. Ask friends, family or take photos around town and start there. The best way to build your photography portfolio quickly is to do a 365 day challenge!

Building a strong representation of your photography work is a LONG process, so be gentle with yourself.  Take your camera everywhere you go and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The greatest artists are willing to fail and take bad photos. With every session, commit yourself to learning something new.  Maybe you didn’t like the lighting in a photo you took last week? So analyze it! How could you have done better? What should I study before the next session to improve the lighting? What do I ultimately want to achieve in your portfolio? Effort is key! You’re portfolio isn’t going to build itself, so be intentional in your technique and in your message! It takes time, but it’s SO worth it! I promise.

For more support, join Cole’s Classmates-Photo School on Facebook, a free resource to help you continue to grow your photography.