Joey L’s 16 Top Tips for Creating a Portfolio with Impact


In his incredibly insightful Photo Week 2016 class, Creating a Portfolio with Impact: From Shoot Through Print, acclaimed environmental portrait photographer, Joey L guides us through his personal printed portfolio – a book which he personally worked countless hours on organizing and printing with the proper materials and process in mind. The final crafted product is essential in his photography business and becomes a conversation piece with his colleagues and potential clients.


There are a lot of considerations to think through when putting together a print book, it can be difficult and most people don’t know where to start. So while watching him live, we captured what we considered to be some of Joey’s top tips for creating and curating your own personal or professional printed photography portfolio:

  1. Human beings love first impressions. Your first image should say a lot about you and the work that you do.
  2. It should have a strong impact and show your focus – don’t jump from wedding to landscape to photojournalism.
  3. Compile the book as a combination of your personal work and commissioned work.
  4. Your first image should change and update as you grow and develop.
  5. For spreads (images side by side), it’s a good idea to do one close up and one medium shot – important to mix it up.
  6. Step back and ask yourself: how is someone going to view this who isn’t attached to these images?
  7. You have to be very critical and relentless on which ones to eliminate.
  8. Go for variety of styles – provide your clients with as many options as possible.
  9. Find people who will relentlessly pick apart your portfolio. It hurts, but it makes you stronger.
  10. Have it flow together and look like a cohesive story.
  11. Be careful to avoid including work that might be polarizing. While you might be very proud of a dramatic and “dark” image, it might turn potential clients off. 
  12. The order matters – what you display up front and the flow of the images should be catered to who you are presented it to.
  13. Print out small test images, lay them all out on a table, and arrange physically. This will help you decide which ones to remove. 
  14. Use of black and white and color in the same spread is tricky. Make sure it’s not a statement, but if thematically it works, go for it. It can be done, but be careful.
  15. Don’t put anything in there that you’re not happy with. Be honest with yourself.
  16. Go with your gut.


The above list is just the tip of the iceberg. Make sure and watch the full course on Creating a Portfolio with Impact: From Shoot Through Print with Joey L during Photo Week 2016. Incredibly insightful.





Justin Katz

Content Marketer at CreativeLive, and outdoor and landscape photographer. I work with great people to create awesome photography content and education.