Building Your Portfolio
Okay, so what I want to do is I want to segue way into since we came out of critique and putting stuff together I want to just talk a little bit about the process of putting a portfolio together and this goes for your like if you're making a print book or if you're making web galleries all right, you're putting your web galleries together and think mccalla was your website we talked about the flow stopped we got these pictures with these pictures these pictures and then conk what happened there or wow great picture great picture great picture crappy picture great makes a great picture great picture and I don't think a lot of photographers think about the flow of their portfolio of the flow of their work or I have right appear I've got I think fifty something pictures on you know my goal is like how can I get it to twenty right when I start my my the recent round of editing my portfolio this is my current portfolio book I'm not completely happy with the book um I'm probably going to hav...
e to end up making my own all right and we have to learn how to make my own book because everything off the shelf I just don't love but our whip for a round of portfolio critiques in october in new york toe photo editors art directors photography rips their their times what you paid five hundred bucks and you pick these ten people you want to look at your book um, and you get twenty minutes with them. And so here's, a photo editor of esquire magazine here's my book tell me what you think and is I'm like edging into now bigger editorial work and advertising where I'm trying to go now, I need feedback is I'm starting to build this stuff up, and I'm sitting down in front of photo editors and art directors I'd really love to work for here's my book, but tell me what you think of it, man, I mean, I walked out of a couple of those just like, oh, my god, it's over you know, and I walked out with other ones with business cards saying, get back in touch with me, we want to see your book again, make some changes here and there, and then we want your book back in our office, so I had great moments and I'd low moments and I just keep going, and I'm going back for more in june, I think I'm back up to another one to sit in front of ten or twelve art directors and photo editor saying here's, my work, it will have changed from that first one, and right now I'm just testing the waters I'm seeing what's out there, what are people getting to write so currently I have thirty eight pictures in this book it's eleven by fourteen portrait here's butch walker twice but together right so I'm gonna put him in there um and the process of putting this together was very lengthy alright I didn't just take my pick creative life alright creative life photo right there um it's a lengthy process and this is how we worked on it was myself and dan um everyone in the studio and photographer friends of mine in atlanta and I make um I I first I have this folder of about eighteen hundred images all right? These are all pictures like when I do a job and there's who I kind of like the shot I like this shot. I like these five pictures from this job. These are my five favorite photos. They get pulled off over into this archive master folder it's just my initial five ten favorite pictures from a job just get dumped into this one folder that I did is I'm building a new book or new galleries I go into that master folder and I start looking at this was my favorite stuff from all these jobs so I had eighteen hundred something pictures and we start calling that down and calling that down and got it down uh dan, what did we get it down to four hundred pictures four hundred photos, something like that when we got it down to about one hundred, one hundred fifty. Um, I started making just cheap laser prince of them. Don't worry about, like, making all in a jet prints or going to a lab. Just cheap old laser prints just barrel amount set of toner, um, and just made a whole bunch of prince of them and started putting him up on the walls. At one point, when we got it down to about one hundred, we lay them all out on the floor and they'd be all laid out on the floor. And me and dan and whoever would come over just sit here and look at him the same process for, like, put the gallery together. All right, so when you can, if you're sitting there trying to judge your work one picture at a time or little thumbnails on a screen this big it's hard to get a glimpse of your work, right, you take one hundred of your photos and just make just cheap prince of them, all right, just in expensive laser prints and then step back from it and look at it as as a body of work, and you start to see something in your pictures, right, you you want things to start to pop up? So I've got to say let's say I've got fifty up here I want to get it to twenty I want I want to go to my next portfolio reviews with twenty images that's it a book of twenty here you go and you make a judgment about me in twenty pictures a lot of times they're making a judgment about you and three those first three pictures and they already have an idea of what it is and I don't if I walked up there were four hundred pictures how many people are sitting looking four hundred pictures all right, not that many so you start looking at things do you like I want to I want to start off I want to hit him I want to hit him with something I like this in your face eight ball picture all right, so I like that I like eight ball he's got his big gold grill is ray bans and he's pointed in your face now like that picture um maybe and then you start saying ok, like I like this shot dan dan doesn't like this shot dan doesn't like this shot is like I'm not liking that shot I like that shot I like the shot and dance like I don't like that shot it shouldn't be in your book well, let's just I'm put it up on the wall for now but this's a book that you're not seeing one picture of the time you're seeing too at a time, creative life all right, you're seeing two at a time and sometimes the subject material go well together and sometimes they're two different subjects, but you need them to visually work like this is the same job, the same person, the same clothes, it's just kind of a dip tic like what you do there. Mchale um all right, so I've got white on white, that kind of keep, but here I have a dark background in the light background, I have a white guy in a black guy and but so you have to see what's going to flow one from another, so I go dark, dark, dark light back into some more lights, but then it goes dark again and you have to sit there and you've gotta, like, how does that work? Does it flow so like I take these two shots and it put him together, they're very similar to each other. Um but maybe they're too similar, right? Um but I think I liked this one, those air similar, but they're different at the same time, so ok, so those kind of go together so I want to stay with those, but I love this like quiet moment maybe maybe that's going to end the book I want to start in your face and I'm going to end with this kind of like quiet, softer moment um and I like those two pictures together and these were shot this is the m c and a d j of one band of one group mars ill shout upto manchild dust so those are meant as a spread I like this kind of available light picture here but what goes with her? What goes with her like I don't think the's too could go together they just they don't go together at all so that that can't work maybe maybe those two go no, they just they just don't work together. I like how these work together that of course works together so you start this process of just taking things off the wall I like foot and you know, maybe tilson creative life tilson is going to be saying hello and introducing you to butch. I don't know and we spent a week every day walking in the studio it's all laid out for a week and we'd pick stuff up and would lay it together in groups and you just live with it you think about it and you say, does this picture flow into the next? Is your clicking through your galleries? Is it flow flow flow you want someone who started your gala is like a cd like meg was saying, you know, if you listen to a mix tape and it's all like metal and then there's this soft ballot and then it goes into techno like what the text the soft ballot doing in the middle there like it doesn't make sense, you know, there are times where I'm putting my book together and this is just maybe the lighting is so different than every other way I like as much as I love the picture, it doesn't go in the book because it just suddenly feels different. The feedback I got from new york mostly it was anything that has even a remote look of fashion to them. I love these two pictures I love those two pictures, but in new york and I'm dealing with people who live in new york, work in new york and new york is likes fashioned hub of the world I'm not even going out trying to say yeah, I'm zacarias some of fashion photographer I know better, but it has sort of a fashion sensibility to it and they know fashion and they're like this isn't fashion like, well, I'm not trying to pass off being a fashion photographer and there a lot of feedback was it looks like you're trying to be a fashion photographer you're not a fashion photographer out of those pictures I want those pictures in my book in atlanta they might work when I go to new york these pictures I like a nice prince of about love that especially this would like like I love this the nice print of it her I it's just this little reflects little details gone okay and it wasn't one person told me that six people told me that from magazines ah photo rip and ad agencies, different disciplines and genres of people who hire photographers all told me the same thing if one person and told me that and then let's say they were unedited at cosmopolitan or something that ok, you know I'm not trying to go get fashion jobs from cosmopolitan I'm not a fashion photographer and that's what fashion editor said but no one else pointed that out it stays I like otherwise not um it's very difficult excuse me it's very difficult now these two two I love these two shots they're just beautiful shots and they're out they're gone right it's some for it's all about normal people editorial kind of stuff musicians, entertainers you're you just just people are not trying to be fashion not trying to be more even though I sometimes shoot normal people under kind of fashion conditions it just wasn't working for my book so out they go now it's very, very, very difficult for you as a lone photographer working in your apartment or your house and just tied to your screen to pick your work and it's important to network inside of the industry and your local town if you could have two or three good photo buddies people you trust they might be at the same level in you and you'd like to get some people a little further up the food chain right always look up the food chain from you find a portrait photographer in your town and just say look I just I'm looking for honest feedback I love your work your work is amazing I'm just getting started can I take it out for a cup of coffee can you just give me feedback on my work you know um you know some people don't know you're my competition I'm not going tell you anything you know what then screw them like whatever um other people they might like I'd love to but it's too busy right um you could email me I'd love to go have a cup of coffee and particular work but but it will be six months from now until I can do so right so you just ask around and you get together and you know you pop open a couple beers you have a cup of coffee and you everyone pulls out their work and you get a fresh perspective on your work and I can't tell you how important it is two palled print your work put it up on the wall, put it out on the floor something get a physical copy of it and look at and look at it as a body of work and what's interesting to me what I found after I put my whole portfolio together is my bread and butter shop for seven something years has been wait like we did at the sky upstairs on the roof wait for that son to drop get that sky to f or bring in a soft box an umbrella something bam that's but that's my bread and butter shot in fact when I don't shoot that picture on some jobs like my clients aren't quite happy I had to do a reshoot for a client's I never took that picture I didn't want to I was kind of like, ok, I've done that picture I want to move on from that and I didn't shoot that picture there like we really wanted that picture so well come on back in next tuesday and will and tuesday evening and we'll go out and shoot that picture I shot that actually yeah we love it. Okay um so what you go from there to what happened in my little flip book um hold on a second I thought I had it up here I thought this is it all right? So after this process was done I made a few smaller prints and then just really messy stapled them together to see how did that flow and I would take it home and I just you know flip through it well what's what's the flow like you know can I put something very dark and something very white and bright can they go together in the contrast actually have a nice flow or is it too jarring is it too trying to go from black to white um and you'll get an idea and there have been times I flipped that page I don't dance that does not work at all all right so that has to come out and that's going to move back off over here somewhere and these things have been like re stapled and stapled again you're just making a dummy book all right, so um if you only really know your work on your computer screen even if they're just cheap old glaser prints print it put it on the wall then you had uh deborah dragon was it told you to do this the exact same thing photo editor at rolling stone uh dan sat down with her showed his book and what I love about dan dan is my right hand coming your damn coming come here you have had enough camera time so this is dan um dan is my right hand dan and what I love about dan is that um he signed me up for these portfolio reviews and then he went himself and we're going to see the same people and we're showing our book and we're going back and forth and he works for me and he helps me and assists me but I love the fact that you know, he's not built toe work for me forever like he's out there pushing his stuff to um and he has ah different a totally different style than me that I love um anyway so she said the same thing to you and uh you went to a talk was it arts driver you said something similar just make prince uh somebody pacified the often and then just constantly looking at it kind of matching these over your ranging as you want but yeah, yeah so it's not just me saying this and in portfolio class uh thanks to you as your microphone. Um no that's that's good. Thank you. But thanks for all you do. Thank you. Yeah. Um you're gonna be my other another key members sherry she's somewhere around here. So I'll bring her up um later, but yeah, so striver he says, put it somewhere where you see it every day put it, you know, down a hallway that you walk every day something where you could look at your work uh, did this process during my eighth quarter of photography school? That was our portfolio quarter and you make a whole ton of test prints and you let him out on the floor, you'd hang them up on walls and you just sit back and look at it and what's interesting to me to get back to that whole blue sky soft box thing is after I put my I think, thirty eight pictures together and printed them all up at a local lab, put them all together is a book I'm flipping through it. Guess what, there's not one blue sky soft box umbrella picture in it, and I didn't try to set out to do that, but there's some sort of natural progression that I am, I am naturally moving away from that shot it's on my website, and they'll probably still be those kind of pictures on my website, and I still shoot those kind of pictures for my clients. I still love that kind of picture, but when this all boiled down, not one of those was there and to me, I find that interesting because that's what? I shoot that stuff all the time, right?