Creating a Portfolio That Works

Lesson 5/6 - Pro-Tips for Building a Solid Portfolio


Creating a Portfolio That Works


Lesson Info

Pro-Tips for Building a Solid Portfolio

Pro tips. I love this word pro tips, two words I guess. Consistency, consistency, consistency. I say it three times 'cause I think there's three things that need to be consistent. Your editing style. Your editing style must be consistent. I really recommend it. Now here's a pro tip within a pro tip. Keep the raw images. When you do render out that image, you edit it, it's amazing. You're like this is going in my portfolio, you render it out. Keep that raw image along side with it because five years down the road, things are gonna change. Your editing style is gonna change, right? What's gonna happen is, you're gonna go through your old portfolio and you're gonna see this stuff that's old and it looks old. It looks dated. It looks like, whoa that's when he was like clipping his blacks or something and now he's not clipping his blacks and everything has that contrast and that punch. So keep those raw files together. The second thing that should be consistent is the content. The content o...

f your portfolio. And let me kind of explain what I mean by this. Like if you're gonna go for like fun, humorous, kind of silly images and that's like your staple, let it be your staple. Ken Pak, you guys should go take a look at Ken Pak's work. Ken Pak, there's this consistency in like the type of content that he photographs. It all has this little humorous component. Again, when I talk about humanity, it's humanity in the silly and the hilarious. Scott Robert Lim. You guys know Scott Robert, right, Scott Robert Lim. His kind of consistency is like this high fashion look. Super ended, right? But it's him, it's what he does. There's consistency that goes along with that. Do you rock that? The third thing that should be consistent is like the technical rendering specs. The technical specs. Let me kind of define what I mean when I say that. The size of the images. You should have some images on your website that are like 19, 20 wide, but then the next one's like 1080 wide and then kind of like now it's small up there and then you go to a big one. The watermark, the placement of the watermark, the look of the watermark. Is it always white? It's got color sometimes. Sometimes it's up here. Sometimes you have rotated it and done some weird stuff. The watermark should be consistent. And the styles you make. If you're gonna do like borders. Some people will have their photographs intentionally. They'll render them out with like a border or something. If you're gonna do that, do it. But do it to every single image. Avoid redundancy. There is a fear that I need a lot of pictures. I need a ton of pictures and I need to just show the best. What happens is, we'll come back from a shoot and we'll be in love with it and oftentimes I see this with a styled shoot. Come back from a styled shoot and you're like oh my gosh this was so great and now suddenly your portfolio has five pictures that are all from the same shoot, all very recognizable and it's all in your portfolio. It's got this redundancy. And again, you're doing it because you wanna make sure your portfolio feels full, but it kind of does the opposite because it's so recognizable, people see it and they're like oh man, this guy's not shooting too much. He just keeps putting this girl in all the pictures. Avoid that redundancy with those recognizable images over and over. Organization. I brought this up in regards to separating yourself earlier. The best way that I can kind of convey organization that photographers understand is through Instagram feed. We're all obsessed with the way that our Instagram or images look. We've organized them intentionally. They play off each other. There's this nice dynamic that they all have together. The same thing is true of your portfolio. The way that you organize the structure of your portfolio will tell a lot about those images and it'll actually change the meaning and the relationship that they have. Images will look better or worse depending on how you organize them. For example, this is what we do in (mumbles) as often as possible, we'll go color image, black and white image, color image, black and white image, color, black and white, color, black and white. You wanna know how to make a really great black and white image like pop off the screen? Put two color images next to it. You wanna know how to make a color image look really amazing? Put two black and white images next to it. (mumbles) The company that we have encompasses both style and story creative. Style and story. This is funny. You can kind of boil style and story down to wonder, style and humanity, story. And it's true in our portfolio. You look through it and you'll see an image that's style. It's style, it's wonder. And then the next picture, it's story, it's humanity. And the next picture is style. Style, wonder, story. Style, story, style, story. So it'll be this image of maybe it's like that really grand ballroom and the next one is like a bride holding her groom and she's weeping. And the next one is a big grand image and baller epic shot in the next one. Style, story. You could as well like a story arc, like bring the tension up throughout your portfolio and it keeps building and building and building and becoming more and more and more and more emotional and then bring it back down. And then build like more and more fun, more and more outrageous, more and more crazy. And you can kind of do that with your portfolio, tell a story. Book ending is a concept that just simply means this. The first piece of information and the last piece of information that someone consumes, they remember. So the very first photograph that you have in your portfolio and the very last photograph that you have in your portfolio should be dope. You should feel so stoked about those. Now obviously, everything in it should be dope in your portfolio. But those two in particular, you should be so proud of those images, book end it. Oh boy, I'm gonna tread into some muddy water here. This is a little bit of like a controversial thing. There's a lot of debate on watermarking. But I'm just gonna dive right in. My choice is to not live in fear. My choice is to not live in fear. If the fear of people stealing your images online keeps you up at night (mumbles). Like I think there are far too many important things to actually be worried about. Plus there's like programs that can remove watermarks now, but alternatively too, there's also programs and software that you can use to detect who's taking stuff, who's taken images from you. So it goes both ways. Now, that all being said, before I get like ah, certain photography images obviously a watermark is important. Stock photography, a watermark is important. It's important, I get that. But we're talking about portfolio. If an image is in your portfolio, I don't believe that a watermark should be present. But as a brand element, as a signature, yes it should. Let me explain the difference here. Let's draw the distinction between a watermark and a brand element. A brand element is signature. A watermark has a brand element. This is a watermark. I even did (mumbles). This is a watermark. The intent of a watermark is to ruin the viewing experience on the photograph. That's why (mumbles) do it. You can't go and use this picture somewhere else. This is kind of ugly now. I used a (mumbles). That's the intent of a watermark. This is a watermark, but as a brand element, as a signature. This watermark has a signature. It's designed to compliment the image, to brand it and to draw attention to the fact that hey I took this picture, it's there. And this is 100% appropriate for your portfolio. There's a distinction there that I think we should make. When and how to use it, I just kind of want to draw attention to this 'cause there's still like what it should be, what it denotes, like a brand element. I think it should be consistent. Same location every time. It doesn't have to be in the bottom right hand corner. That's where I've chosen. I think that's probably the best place because that is where you normally sign, bottom right hand corner. I believe it should take up a third of an image. This is like a standard two by three crop, horizontal image, I think it should take a third of it. Bottom right hand corner, right down there. And it should be all white. This is again what I do, this is what I believe, it should be all white and no color. I think color gets weird, 'cause then you start doing, like what do you do when you get to a black and white picture and then you've got like this selective color weird thing going on with your watermark and everyone just looks down there 'cause it's the only thing that's in color. All white and 80% transparent. Look, are those numbers like hard fast? Is that like the rule? No. But this is what I've seen to compliment a picture. So I do all mine in light room. I don't use any sort of external fancy program to do it. This is exactly what I do for my settings. I actually have an image that I load up. There's my little watermark. White, PNG. Opacity 80%. I go proportional, sized at 19. The inset on both the horizontal and the vertical is five and then I anchor it down here in the bottom. The inset, all that means is how much kind of bleed do you have? What's your safe margins there? I like safe margins. I also came from a design background and so like when things go all the way out to the side, what that tends to do is now composition of composition, but when something goes off the frame, your eye goes off with it. And so I don't want to put it all the way up against. I want that inset to be at five to keep it down there.

Class Description

Your portfolio is the body of work that most defines you as a photographer. It showcases your creativity and helps to convert potential clients to paying clients. The selection process, however, can be daunting! In this course, wedding photographer and educator Ben Hartley walks through how to make all the uncomfortable decisions easier. He'll discuss how many images you should display, which ones have the most impact and the best way to showcase your work. He'll take you step by step through the process of locking in your ideal selection of portfolio images and provide creative ideas on how to best show off your talent to get the jobs you want.


user ec6295

This course is really helpful to give you another perspective when looking at the work we're showing. We fall in love with images and like to show the "hero" shots but Ben makes great points on how to add to that to make more impact. What I really love about Ben's style of communicating is that there is always something concrete and actionable.


Ben Hartley is engaging, knowledgeable, a great storyteller, and so personable. His class was truly a pleasure to watch. You know that moment when you learn something new, and once you know it you'll see your work differently, and without which you'd really (still) be in the dark? And you think, Wow good thing I was right there to learn that thing? That happened to me a bunch of times during this class. Recommended!

rob rob

This course was so helpful!! I love your passion. Thanks Ben for your amazing insights and willingness to share your knowledge with the photography community.