Covered a lot of stuff. The only thing we have left is the portfolio and marketing, so that's what we're gonna do with all these images we've shot, how we're gonna get 'em out to the world to get jobs and show 'em off and all that good stuff. Just to recap real quick, we started off in chapter one, seven chapters ago, with defining an environmental portrait. We all know what that means now. We've seen examples of it, how to create 'em. We did our action editorial. Oops. We did our action editorial shoot in the studio. We did our portrait editorial shoot on the white seamless. We did our post-processing for all of those images. We then moved on, and we showed all of our pre-shoot material with the indoor location shoot at the art studio, the outdoor location shoot at the garage, the post-shoot workflow, making selects and editing through those images, and now finally again, the portfolio and marketing. So, with portfolio and marketing, we're gonna cover a few basic topics here, the firs...
t one being the portfolio; the second one being your online portfolio, also known as your website; the third one being Marketing 101. I'm not a marketing expert by any means. I know what works for me as far as getting jobs for commercial photography and how I get my name out there. There's probably lots of different opinions on that. But I'll just show you what works for me and how I go about doing that. A lot of people ask me about reps. I don't currently have a rep, but I do know some answers when people wanna know about reps, so I'm just gonna give you my quick opinion about reps, and I'm gonna answer that question before it comes up. And then lastly, we're gonna go through a little closing. So I'll kind of show you how this all wraps up together, a few parting words, and hopefully, we'll be tagging some of you guys' environmental portraits that you create and go out and use some of the stuff we talked about, put your spin on it, and create some pretty cool portraits of people in their environments. So, with that said, let's talk about portfolios. So, a portfolio is pretty simple. It's a collection of images that represent your vision as a photographer. It shows off your style and what you do, and it can be a printed book or a digital portfolio, example, an iPad. I currently have a printed book. I change it up about once every year. I have multiple copies of it, because you never know when it's gonna get sent off to an ad agency, you're gonna have it shipped somewhere, you might have portfolio reviews you need to take something to. Things get handled, damaged, and all that, so I like to keep a couple of 'em so I have one as a backup. And now in this day and age, you can do most of that without a printed book. I still like having that tangible, printed portfolio; however, I found myself using the iPad a lot to show off the images. It's, you know, it's something you purchase once. You can update it. You can change the order of the images, unlike a book. You can update it very easily. You can even make albums that are specific to the clients you're trying to, trying to target. So, if I know I have a meeting at an ad agency that specifically wants, you know, a certain type of image, I can make an album on that iPad that really caters to what they wanna see and gets rid of a lot of the fluff, so it almost makes me look better, like I'm more fit for that job. For instance, if it were a meeting with an ad agency whose focus was on agricultural-type portraits, which is something I get a lot of, I might just take out a lot of the more urban stuff. We'll focus on more of the ag stuff with the landscapes and tractors and farmers and all that type of stuff so I can show them all the things that are really relevant to the job they're looking to hire for. And again, it'll show my style. It's really curated at this point to what I wanna show, and we'll talk about getting there. And a beginner portfolio should contain around 25 images. With that said, I don't want, I don't like when portfolios have way too much stuff in them to start, because a lot of times, that leaves room for a lot of weak links. The order is important of your portfolio. You don't wanna just pick all your favorite images and throw them in a book. Like anything you look through, whether it's a magazine, a newspaper, a website, you want that first impact to be pretty strong, so that first impression is kind of hard to get by when it's a poor one. So you want the first images in your portfolio to be your strongest, but you don't wanna necessarily have it just taper off to the weak stuff, because the weak stuff shouldn't be in there in general. I like to have a nice balance, for a couple reasons. One, I always want my absolute best photo that I think sums up my work as a whole to be the first image. Whether it's the high impact of that image, the fact that it takes all of the aspects of my work and puts it into one image, or just something that I'm generally enthusiastic about, and this is a place where it's good to get input from other people, because again, you have that emotional connection to your work. There's work that might be seven years old that you've seen on your computer a million times and you're just kind of over it, but to somebody who's viewing your work for the first time, that still might be one of the best images you shot. And it's good to get other opinions on that. Less is more. That's the case in a lot of aspects of life. It's definitely the case when you're editing your portfolio. Editing a portfolio is brutal. It's one of those things where you put all of your work out there, and then going through to pare it down to, you know, 25 images for a starter portfolio, I'd say. Some of the portfolios I've seen for, you know, very experienced photographers have 60, 80 images, but it's because they're all so strong. It provides the content the need to try and get the work. So, again, the weak link theory, your portfolio's only as memorable as that weakest image, and there was many times where I had an image in my portfolio, especially at portfolio reviews. The whole point of those is to get critiqued on your portfolio. And I've had many times were I liked an image, but maybe, again, maybe it's a black and white image, and the rest of your portfolio's color. Maybe it's an image that's studio, but everything else is on location. You don't need to prove to those people that you can take a black and white photo or a studio photo if you only have one or two to put in the book. It's just gonna throw it off, and it's gonna confuse them, and those will be your weak links within your portfolio. So, again, less is more. If you're on the fence about an image, you're better off taking it out, because one of the worst things you can do at a portfolio review, and I'm guilty of this, is knowing after a while that there's a weak image in there, having someone thumb through your book, and you kind of talking your way out of that. You're like, well, the situation, you know, all this. It's like, if you have to try and explain it to build that image up, it should stand on its own. Just get rid of it, and you'll save yourself some anxiety when you're about to approach someone to look at your book. So, less is more there. Edit it down. Get help from somebody. With experience, your portfolio will grow and gain more of a point of view. At first, it's going to be a little bit broad. It's gonna be, it might cover a few more topics. It also depends on your market. If you're in a really small market trying to get work, sometimes being a little more of a jack of all trades will help you, because there might not be a lot of competition for photographers, so showing an ad agency or a local marketing client that you can do these jobs will help, but you still need a point of view. Once you get a little more experience and you're competing for higher level jobs or if you're in a larger market, having a much more curated portfolio that has a direct point of view and shows that you can, you know, accomplish one or two styles really, really well rather than all over the place will help you get work, because the main thing these people wanna do when they're hiring you is, their job is on the line when they're giving you that job. They're hiring you thinking, I'm an art producer. I'm giving you this job. I might pay you thousands of dollars. You're gonna go out and create this content. If I don't know what you're gonna come back with, I can't risk my job to hire you. So they wanna have a clear point of view when they're looking at the work knowing that, that whatever they're gonna assign you, they wanna have an idea of what they're gonna get back in return, and having a clear point of view within your portfolio will help assure them of what they're gonna get when they do hire you. And again, targeting portfolios. What I mean by this is having specific portfolios to target certain clients. This might be in your actual portfolio book, but most likely, this is gonna be done in a tablet, like an iPad, where you can make specific folders. This could also be done through creating PDFs and sending out emails to specific clients. If I'm trying to get a meeting with a new ad agency, let's say I'm in a, I live in Omaha. Let's say I'm gonna take a trip to Chicago and meet with a few ad agencies. I might look at some of the stuff they work with. If it's something that I think I can make a .pdf to attach to that email to try and get the meeting, I might limit that to, you know, half a dozen images that are really strong that fit some of the clients that they're working with, but one of the things I wouldn't do is go out and try and create the work that you think they wanna see, because by the time you do that, they're already one step ahead. I've talked to a lot of photographers who will try and do, you know, product placement, and they'll say, well, I'm shooting this ad, pretending it's for Coca-Cola, and then I'm gonna send it to the ad agency responsible for them. That doesn't really work, because who knows where the brand's going as a direction? It ends up feeling really contrived. A lot of times, you're just way off-base with what you're doing, and a Coca-Cola ad probably has hundreds of thousands of dollars in the budget for a print ad. Your little personal shoot you're doing, while great to work on, if you're trying to make it that way, is just gonna feel off-base. So I always say, shoot for you and the work that you wanna enjoy, not what you think other people wanna see, because you have no idea what they're thinking. So, don't force that. Shoot what you wanna see. It's their job as art producers and photo editors to see how your work can adapt to the their client and their needs. So, shoot for you. They'll figure out how to make it work if they like the work, but don't try and come up with, don't try and force these product shoots and things like that. It's good practice sometimes, but I wouldn't go off that thinking you're gonna get a job by forcing that type of, that type of work. Get help with the editing. I know I said this before. I have a couple people. When I'm working on my book, I'll come up with a couple different layouts, and then I'll send that off to people. It'll just be spread numbers. It'll be like, portfolio spread one, two, three, four, five. Usually my book has about 50 spreads in it. So it's about, or 25 spreads, around 50 images, and I'll ask people, which, which has the most impact to you, and we'll take a few people's input, kind of go off a group effort and figure out what should work first. Make four-by-six prints and lay them out. So this is kind of an old-school way of thinking, but for me, it's really important, because what happens when I'm making my book is I have all these images on my computer. You can sort them and look through 'em in different ways, whether it's Photo Mechanic, whether it's Bridge, whether it's just using Finder on your Mac; however, there's something to be said about having a whole dining room table full of four-by-six prints that you can order up. You can compare them directly to, you know. If you squint and look at the images, there's probably some that stand out in a good way, and some that stand out in a bad way. That'll kind of let you know what is a cohesive body of work. It'll also help you change the order really quickly. If you wanna change the order of pages, all you gotta do is mix these four-by-sixes around, and they're pretty cheap. You can get a couple hundred four-by-six prints made at, you know, Walgreens or WHCC or whatever you want for not very much money, and you can get 'em either picked up instantly or shipped to you within a day or two, and then you can start laying out your portfolio. So I have an entire big envelope full of four-by-sixes, and as I create more work, every once in a while, I'll send in another order and get another 60 four-by-sixes made so that way, when I'm making the next portfolio, you can kind of have that quick feedback of yes or no when looking at 'em, and it's nice to have prints of your work, too. So that's how I like to make the portfolio. And knowing that, let's take a look at my portfolio right now. This is not my entire portfolio. I just wanna kind of walk through some of the spreads. I wanna walk through my thought process when I'm making my book. You know, I've been to a lot of portfolio reviews over the years. I've met with tons and tons of photo editors and ad agency people, so I've gotten a lot of feedback. So this is what works for me. Yours might be completely different based on the content of your work. But I will say, there's a general theme as far as design, and we'll talk about that in a minute. So, the opening of my portfolio, if you could imagine this being a book spread that's gonna be printed and wrapped around the cover of a book, this is the cover of my portfolio. If the spine of the book were right up the middle of this monitor, the bottom right from page cover is just my name. Pretty simple. I don't have any crazy graphic elements or anything like that. It's pretty timeless. And on the back is my website, because if I'm shipping my portfolio out to an ad agency out of town because they wanna call in a book, it used to be more popular before websites were so prevalent, but it still does happen, or if I'm leaving it at a portfolio review, they can flip it over and just go to my website, and there's all my contact info. So it's pretty simple. Moving into the book, my opening spread of my book is a newer photo. I keep, I have a lot of spreads that are dual image, you'll see, but I wanted the opening one to have a lot of impact, whether people are laughing when they see it, whether they're cringing. I don't really care. I just want it to be a strong photo. It's a newer photo within my work. I shot this in the last couple of months. It has all the elements that I think represent my work as a whole, being a Midwestern photographer. It kind of has this whole Midwest feel. It has strong lighting. It has a strong theme. It's definitely an environmental portrait that I feel tells a story within a single shot. Technically, it's executed pretty well. I just think that this is a photo that gets a lot of feedback, and it sparks a conversation if you're in a portfolio review, because it has impact. Everybody has a, you know, whether they're, again, whether they're laughing, cringing, or asking questions, it always evokes some sort of reaction from the viewer, so I like to start my book that way, because it's not just a ho-hum photo. It's, oh, what's going on here? So it's kind of unexpected, but it does fit my point of view and my vision as a photographer. From there, I kind of lead into the book, and I start pairing up spreads. So, one of the second, second spread in my book, if you can picture this being a full spread with the gutter of the book down the middle, is this artist. So what I wanna show here is yes, it's still environment. It's still lit. But there is an aspect of portraiture to it, so it brings in a little more of the narrative and a little more range. So it's environmental portrait, similar to the last spread; however, there's some other outtakes from that shoot that give a different vibe. And I feel it's a really strong portrait. Again, people always have a reaction about this guy and this portrait, and technically, I really like what I did with it, so I feel that it's a strong, a strong lead. And once you get past that initial spread, I just wanna keep some strong work going. But I don't want it to be the same thing page after page. So, the next one, this is kind of where I start pairing narratives together. So I like to tell stories within my work. This is just a portrait of a girl, environmental portrait. She was sitting in an old-school Mercedes in a parking garage. It has absolutely nothing to do with that other shot; however, when I'm pairing work in my book, and again, this is just me, I like to kind of tell stories. So again, my pictures as a whole like to tell a story within a single image, but I like the spreads to even suggest more of a story, and what you think's going on, that's up to you, because in reality, that's a picture, I was on a shoot for ESPN shooting a bunch of football players down in Texas, and that was, I was bored waiting in between sets, and I looked off the top of the stadium and saw the parking lot, and I just took a picture, and that's the picture that made it in my portfolio, out of the entire shoot, but this parking lot paired with the garage, it's like, oh, is she parked somewhere in this lot? What's, what's going on? It has a theme of a car to a car. All the tones are very similar. Plus, this is another strong portrait. You'll also notice it's a female. So, I don't wanna have my book be male, male, male, and that was something I learned at a portfolio review. My book actually had hardly any pairs of people. It had all solo shots. It still only has a lot of solo shots, but at the most recent couple meetings, people were like, do you ever photograph more than one person at a time? And it was, in my head, I was like, well, I do that all the time. I guess I just, for some reason, subconsciously choose images with one person. So now my next few test shoots are gonna have multiple people either working together in an environment or posed together in a portrait so I can sprinkle in, you know, two to three of those shots that show groups to show that yeah, as a matter of fact, I doh have groups, so I can avoid that question in the future. So, it was something I didn't know I did, but it became a common theme that people brought up when looking at the work. So, just something to keep in mind. As we move forward, another pairing. So you'll see this pairing had a vertical on the left, a horizontal on the right. I like to mix it up and not have it be the same every time. So we're sticking with this theme. This kind of has an urban feel to it. You can see that's like the New York City Parks logo, for anybody who's familiar, up in the middle of the basketball court. So we have a guy playing basketball. Has some movement, action, 'cause the last few portraits were a little still, so now we have some action. It's fully lit. This is a two-light setup in the middle of the day. It's actually a beauty dish off to the right with a grid on it, and then another beauty dish back left that's the kicker light, and I'm standing on an upside-down trash can. So that was kind of the theme there to get that shot. And with that New York theme, I brought in the New York City taxi. So this was photographed out of an apartment building overlooking the tunnel in Manhattan, one of the tunnels, and it's got this graphic, all these lines painted. So my mind works, and we have these blues contrasting with the yellows, a lot of overall dark themes, but we have lines painted on the ground suggesting, you know, graphic elements and direction. We also have lines painted on the ground here, and for me, having this shot, him looking inward, so he's in the left side of the frame looking in here, and this arrow pointing this way kind of brings your eye back to the middle and keeps you on the frame. So, it's, these things are thought about, and these were just four-by-sixes on the table that I put next to each other, and it's thinking of different themes and narratives and elements. So not only is the composition thought out within each photo; it's also thought out within each spread of the book. So, that's just one example. And then sometimes I like to tell stories. So, this would be an example of something you wouldn't wanna have just one of in your portfolio. I have three of these different stories where it's shoots that I did, an entire story, and I throw these little collages in throughout the book to, again, to show that I can do it. It's still with the same theme. We have that portrait there of the lumberjack. We have him working. It's the same idea as the rest. Similar tones. It's showing a little more detail and action, but it's still an environmental portrait. So it's not, it's not like I threw a picture of a fashion model in here randomly. It all makes sense with the whole body of work. And again, we have the portrait, so I kinda wanted, I wanted to keep it so people know that that's the theme, but then I wanted to show a full story, so if it's something where it's, you know, oh, do you do more reportage style stories with these environments, it's like, yeah, I have. So I have three of these. I have one from an old pizza place. I have this one. And I don't have my entire portfolio loaded on here, but there's another one I can't remember. But, yeah, so these are placed, evenly spaced throughout the book, you know, like maybe every five spreads or so. So it's, it's always kind of a surprise, but it's consistent. There isn't something that's just jarring. Again, another full-page. So you saw we had one full image, the very opener. Then we had a couple of pairs. Then we had this collage. Now another full image, because I wanna keep people on their toes, and again, this is just an image that's really strong to me as far as visually, but I didn't really have anything to pair it with that made sense. So rather than force it, I just threw it in there on its own and made it in my book. My book is 24 inches wide, 12 inches tall, so this image right here sits in there at about an 11 by 20. So it's pretty big when it's sitting on the table in front of you. And again, it's, it's just a solo image, and then as you move forward, there's another story. Here's the picture of my brother and his wife and this neon sign, so I'm kind of playing with the red and the red, and again, this definitely forces a narrative, but it's only in your own mind. So I didn't say anything about this. These are just two photos probably taken in separate years, but it definitely suggests a story, and it suggests a, you know, a narrative, and they fit together. Overall, they're dark images. They have these moody tones. We have the neon adult books sign. We have the red. So it's like, oh, is the sign lighting them? Well, clearly not; it's different photos. But it just kind of pairs it all together, and it definitely suggests a story. Earlier, I mentioned the photo of that guy with the wrench. Well, he's in a garage. He's carrying, you know, a tool to work on a car, whatever. So, I wanted to pair him, and the overall tones, it has these gray and brown tones, very subdued, subtle, desaturated tones, and I have this picture of a car driving off in the middle of nowhere, Iowa, in the winter. And I love the texture and the overall feel. So knowing a man's in a garage, you know, again, looking to the center of the frame. I'll make the car drive back towards him within the frame, so we kind of bring your eye back to the middle. The tones fit very much together, and there's kind of a car theme going on. We have this old clunker car, and we have a guy in a garage. So, again, it's just a story that has nothing to do with each other, but they fit well visually. So I kind of like doing a lot of that within my book, and then I'll throw in something a little different. Again, an environmental portrait, but at a completely different angle. So I photographed this girl in a stairwell with the 24-70 with all these full-length portraits, and then I threw on the 70-200, and in the exact same light, it was just super pretty, but it's a lit portrait. The same idea, but again, she's looking this way, and it has these warm tones, and I balanced it with the cool tones and the perspective, almost like she's looking down the tunnel, and this was shot on vacation, shot in Italy. So there's nothing. But it's, again, embraces all the graphic elements. It's warm versus cool. It all fits together, and it brings your eye, and it kind of forces you to have that perspective. So there's a lot of things like that I do. Again, these ones, not a vertical and a horizontal, but two horizontals, and it's just someone, this is the shot that I was actually talking about before with the New York Times editor that she really liked. This is a girl who, this is just some roadside motel in, again, somewhere in Iowa, and I had her standing there, and she was just waiting for, it was kind of like a scenario I put her in. And she's just standing there. These guys were not actors or models. They were guys who were yelling at her to come down there, which I was like, don't do that. So, this is actually fully lit. We had strobes set up just out of frame, because the sun had already set. So I wanted it to look natural, but I wanted her to pop off the screen. I wanted you to wonder what the heck's going on. whether your mind goes somewhere great or bad, I don't really care, but it's definitely, fits my work as far as the perspective and the environmental portrait, you know, thinking about the straight lines here, having all the pillars show, all the other lines and the perspective, but then having her look, with these kind of tones here, looking out there. This is in Iowa; that's in California. So, it's almost like she may be dreaming of some place far way. It's just something that, again, forces a little bit of a story, tells a little bit of a story, whether it's true or not, and the images just kind of fit together. You know, you have the edges of the cars here mixed with the mountainside. So it's all little things I think of, and that's what I do when I have all those four-by-sixes. I'm like, I might have five different options to go with one portrait, and then I just have to pick one. So, and maybe some of those images never make the book, or maybe they make the next portfolio. You never really know how it's all gonna fit together, but it's just, that's how I organize my book. I've seen other portfolios that are single image after single image, and they're amazing, because they don't have, they wouldn't be able to tell this type of story, because they don't do landscapes. I pair the landscapes because I do like doing the still life landscapes. I need to pair those with portraits to really have the book make sense. So, that's kind of a sample. My portfolio includes about 20 more of those spreads, so I think we showed eight of 'em. So yeah, there's 17 other spreads within the book that are of the similar theme, whether they're collages, whether they're little diptychs like this, or whether they're single images, but that's how I have mine set up, and I've gotten great feedback over the years. It's always changing, every time I make a new one, because of new work, and again, that's why I take my camera out and shoot these landscapes, because you never know what's gonna really fit in and help tell another story. So, are there any questions about portfolios and that type of stuff so far?
So, I was wondering, when you are designing your portfolio, are you being mindful of where you put the face of the person, for especially when it's in the middle, for when you print it?
So, that's a great question. Am I being mindful of where I put it because of the gutter of the book? Not so much, only because I print my portfolio, I use, I use a flat-lay WHCC album, so they actually make one print, and it's creased, but there is no actual gutter, so it lays completely flat. So when you have the book open, it looks like one large print. So in most cases, you would have to be mindful, because you would lose someone's nose or eyes to the gutter of the book, but that's actually why I select those to make my portfolio out of 'em, because you don't lose anything. So I don't even have to think about it. So it's nice.
Go ahead, and then we'll go over there.
How often do you do portfolio reviews?
I do them about every year and a half, and they're expensive, so I don't wanna do 'em all the time, but they also give me a hard deadline, when to get new portfolios done, whether that means I have to go out and create new work, or whether that means I need to put a new book together, because last portfolio review, I might see some of the same people, and I don't wanna show them work where they're thinking, haven't I already seen this? So I do 'em about every 18 months or so. It's just enough time. Usually I'll do one in October, 'cause these are when they happen. I'll do one in October. I'll skip all the way through the next year, and I'll do the following one in May or June, because either Palm Springs or New York Photo Week, things like that, have the portfolio reviews, and they're usually in October or late May and June. So, whether it's like the NYCFotoWorks portfolio reviews, there's a New York Times one you can apply for. There's some of the ones at New York Photo Week. There's the Palm Springs one, which, in my opinion, is probably the best one. It's actually next week, if anybody wants a last-minute portfolio review. But yeah, there's some different ones. You can look 'em up online. But I do 'em about every year and a half. And I of a lot of meetings in between then, too, just to get work out there and meet with people. But the portfolio reviews are nice, 'cause you get to meet with, you know, 15 people over the course of a day and a half. So it's kind of like speed dating, but with your portfolio. Any other questions? Yes.
Do you use any special program for your iPad?
No, I don't use any special program for the iPad. I just drag different albums in there, and I don't have any other photos on my iPad, so it's not like I'm sorting through pictures of my dog before I get to pictures of my work, despite what people might wanna see. So I just keep all the albums, you know, you can sort the albums. I just keep 'em in there, because everybody knows how that works, and there's no glitches or anything like that. But there might be some great portfolio programs for iPad. I just have never looked, 'cause I just use the standard albums.
Just logistically, building your portfolio, are you using InDesign, or what software are you using?
I'm using, so I'm actually building all the spreads, that's a great question, in a software called Fundy. So, what Fundy is is it's used by a lot of wedding photographers to build albums, but what it lets you do is select the parameters of your book, and it even has, for instance, if you're using WHCC, it has pre, it already knows the parameters of their albums. So I just select the exact book I'm using, how many pages I want it to be. I drag all those images into one folder, and then what it, I should do a demo of this later. But on the left side of the screen, it has all these thumbnails of your images, and it'll put up the spread. And you can say, oh, I want two images next to each other. So you drag those two into the spread, and it'll automatically format them, and you can flip 'em, you can zoom in on 'em, but it's super, super easy, and it'll make, it'll make your life way easier. It even has the guidelines for like the bleed and trim and things like that, and then you can export it as a high-res .jpg, and it even names the spreads, like 001 through 002. So when you go to upload it to print, you don't need to rename all the files. They're already in order. So, Fundy. It's pretty slick, and definitely what I use for the portfolios.