Your (almost) perfect portfolio in 11 steps

Zoe_WhishawZoe Whishaw is a independent commercial photography consultant and mentor. She works with photographers on a one-to-one basis and runs seminars and workshops in and around London.

Marketing your work needs a variety of approaches. Depending on who your end clients are, a physical portfolio will be a must-have in your toolkit.

We are all accustomed to the fact that social media is a very powerful means to get noticed, get connected and to garner information. But given that this all-absorbing digital environment envelops many of us much of the time, nothing touches a potential client quite like a physical portfolio to disrupt this new norm. This may sound a little old-fashioned to some, but it’s true to say that many art buyers, art directors, gallery curators and photo editors crave the tactile and immediacy of beautifully printed pictures on high quality paper given how commonplace the more speedy and practical nature of iPads has become.

That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for a range of platforms to show your work and indeed it may well be that for your particular photography business where you want to demonstrate your skills in motion or you want to show an alternative group of images to those in your standard portfolio, or a more in-depth look at a project, the iPad or a printed book may be preferable. If you’re shooting mainly editorial work, your website is likely to do most of the work.

Whether you are a wedding photographer wanting to impress your clients with an unforgettable, cherished item or one wanting to demonstrate the potential and perfection in enlarging your prints to an advertising agency, a physical, tangible book will be a priority.

It will represent you and be memorable.

A portfolio is an investment – be realistic from the outset about what you can afford to spend. Determining what the design, materials, size, etc should look like will depend on your budget, overall brand and is of course a personal decision. The choices available enable you to create on the one hand a striking, sophisticated yet classic leather-bound book or something that is more characterful and unique and speaks to your own approach and genre of work….and everything in between. Think about what describes your style and consider materials and design that support this element of your brand.

But what of the contents…the all-important lure into you and where your creative passions lie?

Your book needs to have a focus and consistency. If you shoot a wide range of subjects you might decide you need to have more than one book to separate your specialties.

When defining a gallery of work, many seasoned editors like to use both editing software (at the start of the process) as well as tangible small prints (in the latter stages).

Here’s my outline guide to getting to that all-important tight selection of work.

Incidentally, this will be just as relevant to you if you are creating an online portfolio or series of image galleries.

As a starting point, get yourself in the right frame of mind: know it’s going to take time and that you’ll need several breaks away from the process to keep your mind fresh and as objective as possible in what can be an emotionally draining process. These breaks may vary from an hour or two to entire days.

  1. Gather together your favourite images from the last few years of shooting into one master gallery. This group may be as large as 500 or more images. Try to gather images from your personal work, with a sprinkling from commissions if you believe them to be amongst your best.
  2. Whilst I take for granted that you love all these images, now you have to start the ruthless process of throwing out the ones you love least. If you find there is repetition, delete the least strong shot…if you’re keeping in a few to show your range, but you know they aren’t the strongest and you aren’t particularly keen to develop this area, take them out. Try to get your gallery down to around 300. Now take a break – perhaps even wait until the following day.
  3. Do the process again and cull your images down to 100 and then finally to between 40 and 60. Keep the core of a series if you feel you need a sequence. Remember, you’re not trying to show all your work, you’re trying to show the essence of your vision.
  4. Print out these pictures using an inexpensive printer – perhaps 4-up to an A4 page and cut them out.
  5. Find an area you can use to stick these pictures to a wall or lay them out on a large flat surface – that you can leave and come back to and doesn’t need to be cleared away.
  6. Can you identify your 2-4 strongest, most striking images? These may form the start and end of your folio.
  7. Get some perspective and step back – decide which pictures sit naturally well together in terms of colour, style, composition, subject matter, short series. Which images seem to stand alone and not ‘fit’ with the rest? You’re now trying to get to a final set of between 20 and 40 images…so some of these are going to have to be let go.
  8. Start to rearrange the pictures so you start to feel a flow from left to right. Look for pairings of pictures that work together as spreads. Even if you decide to show your work as loose prints, there needs to be a beginning, middle and end to the sequence you present.
  9. Keep removing the images that simply don’t fit or jar with you. You will need to grit your teeth at this point and just do it. I said it would be tough and this is the hardest part! It is better to have an edit that is short and sweet with every page having the ‘wow’ factor that risk a potential client skipping past a great shot.
  10. Try to get some honest feedback at this state from people who have a level of objectivity you can trust and may even provide professional insight. Listen to what they say however painful that might be. Hear common threads from different people and make the changes you now know you need to make.
  11. It’s unlikely to feel perfect – the gaps will tell you where you need to focus your activities going forwards.

The portfolio at this point should represent You and where you are now. You’ll need to revisit the contents several times a year and not feel precious about keeping it as is.

Now that you have your portfolio, you need to get it out there and for it to be seen.

Nothing beats you being present with your book – a potential client can get a much better measure of whether you are likely to be able to help solve their imagery needs. I’ll be talking about those all-important client meetings in my next blog post.


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New Designs!

Change of season, change of design? 3 new templates now available…

#9

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#9 is a “classical” minimalist and up-to-date design. Its layout is centered, including both the logo and the menu bar, something previous designs didn’t offer (except for #5). It includes a lot of white space, and of course, the design style is highly customizable. Demo ›

#10

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#10 offers a 1-column layout to maximize the size of enlarged images. It is unique in the collection in that it allows the menu to be aligned to the right of the layout (screen size permitting), and therefore reinforces the visual frame created by the design around the images. Demo ›

Mobile Two

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Until now, we offered only one design specific to mobile phones. Highly optimized, Mobile One is also styled like a mobile app. With Mobile Two, it is now possible to have a mobile phone design with a more traditional layout. It can be highly customized to align best with your desktop/tablet design, including for example a custom graphical logo.

To be followed…

We’ll keep enriching our design collection, and won’t forget wow-effect lovers who love full-screen effects, like on our design #2.


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Improved watermark management

To start off the week, we’ve just rolled out an update on the watermark module!

Watermarks library

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Not every gallery calls for the same watermark. Now, you can keep several watermarks in store, and pick the one you want to apply to your images and videos (yes, video clips too!) when you upload them. Very handy if you frequently update both your portfolio and client galleries, for example…

Watermarks are now proportional to the image width

No more arbitrary pixel sizes. Instead, you now specify what proportion of the image should be covered by the watermark (text or PNG image). Whatever size is displayed on your site (thumbnail, normal image, fullscreen…), the proportions will be identical.

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Note that this only applies to watermarks created (or updated) as of now!

LITE plans get watermark customization

Members on a LITE plan can now customize a text-based watermark.

Updating your images

Watermarks are applied upon initial upload: if you wish to change the watermark for a selection of your images, you will need to re-upload them. You can also contact us to reapply your default watermark to all your images, simply follow the step-by-step guide !


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Featured Photographer: Léo-Paul Ridet

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Leo-Paul is a photographer working in his native Paris, who loves nothing more than traveling through France and the world for his work.

In this interview, Léo-Paul gives us great insights about his work. Don’t miss his PhotoDeck website : www.leoridet.fr.

“PhotoDeck is first and foremost my website, my window. I wanted it rather minimalist. I also use it to deliver files.”



Continue reading »


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The importance of Personal Work

Tricia ScottTricia Scott is the owner of MergeLeft Artist Agents, an agency representing amazing photographers for 20 years in New York City.

The first time you took a photograph and said, “I love this, I want to do this for the rest of my life” was probably when you were quite young. It may have been when you saw the way the light hit an object or a face, or took a photo of the mountains. It was personal to you, it inspired you and left you wanting to do more.

Personal work is the fuel that allows you to keep moving forward, experiment, make mistakes and push yourself.

Busy photographers can get caught in the circle of jobs; pre-production, shooting, post production, repeat. You can’t let this stop you from thinking about new work, personal work that will continue to help you grow. When you were a child, play expanded your creativity and mind, and you should continue that even as adults.

Great personal projects are born out of a passion for something.

Take the time think about what will really push you to create new work that means something to you. What do you love to do when you aren’t shooting? Do you dance? Find a project with dancers that interests you. Do you have a charity that is important to you? Team up with them to create a project that you can get behind and have creative freedom. Set a goal for a certain amount of personal work per month and stick to it. It can be hard with commercial work, life and family, but it’s necessary to keep your momentum moving forward.

So many of my clients say they love to see the photographer’s personal work as well as commercial work.

It allows them to get a glimpse into what is important to you, what your personality might be like, and what you may have in common. That common interest can translate into them wanting to work with you. You want to be around people with similar passions, why wouldn’t they?

This work can be the catalyst for many opportunities in your photography.

Because you allow yourself to simply create, take risks and make mistakes, you learn. You may find a new style or interest that you didn’t know you had or never explored. It might be the opportunity you need to make a change and create a new client base. You might collaborate with art directors, illustrators, stylists, or film-makers that you have been wanting to work with.

Create something that is long term that you can go back to between jobs that keeps you shooting and fulfilling that personal need in your photography. It’s also a great opportunity for marketing, with new work to show via promotion and social media. Updated work keeps you present in people’s minds.

Don’t sit around waiting for someone to hire you to shoot that perfect job, create it yourself! And with the myriad of ways to promote it – get it out there!


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Describing your Personal Vision

Zoe_WhishawZoe Whishaw is a independent commercial photography consultant and mentor. She works with photographers on a one-to-one basis and runs seminars and workshops in and around London.

How you describe your work and vision as a photographer to a stranger (who unbeknown to you may be in a position to buy your services) or indeed someone to whom you are pitching for work can make the difference between getting an assignment or not.

Even for those photographers with a clear creative vision, this task can seem daunting and many shy away from opportunities where they may need to speak face to face about their work and ideas. Indeed many photographers assume that their work can stand for itself and should be enough to bring in clients. Alas, this may well have been true in the not too distant past, but these days it is more important than ever that your talent and personality shines through your branding which will include any one-to-one contact you have with a potential client, either by phone or in person.

I come across many photographers who would rather walk over hot coals than have to describe their work and creative vision. Yet, who better than you, the photographer, to find the words to describe your excitement, passion and emotion about how you see the world and ideas you may be looking to explore through your work?

How would you feel and what would you say if someone (who might be a potential client) were to ask you what you do? Think about it for a moment…

It’s not uncommon for a sense of panic to set in accompanied by an inexplicable feeling of being exposed or confused about what to say followed by a jumble of words or indeed simply ‘I’m a photographer’. Others may have their ‘spiel’ fluently memorised and can reel it off no problem. These apparently very different responses may in fact have the same effect – switch off the interest from the person who asked the question who then feels none the wiser.

What would hook someone would be a genuine expression of enthusiasm, passion and excitement about your work – what you love to shoot and what you are trying to achieve or explore through your imagery. Remember, you are not trying to ‘sell’ yourself (as though you are a door-to-door salesman, selling something people don’t want), you are tying to express the creative value in what you produce and create a compelling reason for someone to explore your ideas and talent further.

So a compelling ‘pitch’ will be a genuinely motivated, heart-felt and enthusiastic expression of what you do combined with what you believe to be your unique vision and approach, who you aim your work towards and perhaps a current project you are excited by. So long as you are not trying to be theoretical, but genuinely think about what motivates you at best about the work you do, you are much more likely to transfer that enthusiasm on to the listener and provide a richer texture to your work and practice.

Remember, you are likely to have less than a 40 seconds to make an impression, so keep it tight, simple but above all an expression that feels true to life and not akin to something you might have lifted from a text book. Try to explore your own visual language for your work – it may be helpful to get other photographers or professionals in the business to talk to you about your work to help tease out some phraseology that best describes your vision that you may not have thought of.

This is always going to be a journey – what you feel comfortable saying that best describes your work will be constantly changing with time… not least as you get closer to what you feel is the real You photographically-speaking, but also because you are likely to be taking twists and turns in your creative direction. Expect your pitch to change as you discover more about your work and what excites you about personal projects you are exploring.

Try to find occasions to practice your pitch – and expect it not always to be perfect. Each time you say it out loud expect there to be something that can be bettered or expressed in a more compelling way next time. Be critical and ask yourself – would you ask for a business card from this person if you were in a rush and running to catch a train? If not, what would change your mind?


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The importance of partners

Tricia ScottTricia Scott is the owner of MergeLeft Artist Agents, an agency representing amazing photographers for 20 years in New York City.

Recently, my photographer Dustin was on a podcast called Full Time Photographer. Josh Rossi interviews photographers that are working, making a living, doing what they love. Somewhere in the conversation Josh asks Dustin about having an agent. His response was something along the lines of, I’ve worked harder than ever since signing with MergeLeft.

It reminded me that we all need help, a partner, or partners that move us forward. As a photographer, the end goal is to be the very best you can be, creating work to share with the world that fulfills you. Sometimes you need someone to share in that responsibility. You don’t need to have an agent, but you should have someone that holds you accountable, a sounding board, an idea sharer, or someone to help you keep it all organized. It could be a studio manager, an assistant, a spouse, an intern, or all the above. All photographers work differently, some want more outside involvement than others.

The result of people working together is more successful than working alone. Great professional partnerships are based in communication, trust and respect. Disagreements are fine so long as your end goal is the same. Find people who believe in you and your vision. The best photographs are made as a collaboration between the photographer and the subject, your work behind the scenes should be that way as well. Hard decisions should never be solo decisions. Your work is incredibly personal to you, you may need an outside opinion to be objective about your work, and having a sounding board is helpful and necessary.

Photographers can be a isolated bunch. Many freelancers get up, make coffee, make lists of all the things they need to do, get paralyzed and read Facebook all day. Kidding aside, with the myriad of things that need to be done in a day for a person who owns their own business, it can be daunting and paralyzing. Some photographers are so busy shooting, the other important tasks get swept by the wayside and then become enormous if there are slow times. Either of these types can benefit from a partner or partners. Using a project management system with your partner, such as Google, Evernote, Basecamp, can keep you on track and moving towards goals efficiently.

When you aren’t shooting, you should be researching new personal projects, new clients, and expanding your knowledge of your art and craft. As well as accounting and billing, marketing and social media, meetings, reaching out to new people, interacting with your fellow photographers, and taking care of your health and well being. Some companies have teams of people who do this, you have you. Find someone who can help you make these things less of a chore and more of an everyday occurrence so you are always moving forward.

Having a creative partner to talk ideas through is extremely helpful. Have conversations about ideas for future projects or stories or current projects that need a little stimulation. With a creative partner that has no judgment, when all ideas are on the table for discussion, an amazing solution can be the reward. For some photographers it’s so personal that to hear the ideas out loud, and work through the positives and negatives with an objective person is the most essential part of this relationship.

Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, who encourage you and push you to be a better photographer and person, it’s one of the best business decisions you’ll ever make.

To quote Helen Keller, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”


Posted in Photography business | Tagged

PhotoDeck integrates with PICTO

A great day for professional photographers in France!

photodeck_picto

Complementing our integrations with WHCC (USA) and One Vision Imaging (UK), we are delighted to announce our partnership with PICTO, the leading pro lab in France.

Like with WHCC and One Vision Imaging, this new integration allows PhotoDeck members to offer a wide range of high-quality products to their clients, in just a few clicks. The fulfillment and shipping of orders placed on the photographer’s site are then automatically taken care of.

And like previously, PhotoDeck takes no commission on the photographer’s sales.

picto_front

Why Picto ?

We are very happy to work with Picto. Their team is dedicated to quality and to serve the particular needs of professional photographers — just like PhotoDeck. We also love their human values, close to those we stand for.


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The shopping module got a facelift!

Making it easier for your customers to purchase multiple items

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We’ve revamped the way the image/video prices are displayed: instead of opening into a new page, the pricing information now opens as a popup to better keep context. this makes it easier for customers to add multiple items to their shopping cart. For example, customers can add images to their cart without leaving the thumbnails page (see screenshot).

We’ve also redesigned the pricing page to make it look more minimalist and modern.

To apply the changes to your PhotoDeck website, all you need to do is click the big blue button in your admin space to upgrade your design to its latest version. Your customization won’t be lost (unless you edited the themes’s HTML/CSS code), and you can make a backup to be on the safe side).


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What’s your specialism? Styles and Signposts

Zoe_WhishawZoe Whishaw is a independent commercial photography consultant and mentor. She works with photographers on a one-to-one basis and runs seminars and workshops in and around London.

Aside from being functionally efficient, those looking to commission photography will want a photographer’s website to clearly indicate areas of speciality so they can more easily decide if you’re right for their job.

Are you offering uniqueness based on a specialty (eg adventure travel), access (eg the celebrity world), a skill (eg lighting) or a style/technique/treatment of photography? If possible try to make this brand differentiation based on something that is not easy to replicate. Limiting the scope of what you photograph will help you become more effective at penetrating your markets.

When you start out as a photographer, it often takes time to really work out what you want to express through your work and for your signature style to be evident. In fact your whole life as a photographer could be thought of as a journey spent honing and developing the essence of your visual language. It is this personal vision that demonstrates your love of the medium that ideally you want to be hired to express.

Art Buyers and Photo Editors who are actively commissioning photographers will want to know not just what you can shoot but what you really like to shoot; where your passion and excitement as a photographer lies. They will be looking through dozens of websites every day and if there aren’t clear signposts as to what’s on offer you will be easily overlooked.

In my work it is not uncommon to come across websites that feel muddled and cluttered with too many different image galleries alongside a mixture of styles, treatments and themes. In the end I am left wondering what this photographer’s specialism actually is and, given the confusion, who would want to risk their money hiring them. Today, more than ever, you need to stand out from those who try to be a jack-of-all-trades and show your difference. If you can’t differentiate yourself you’ll be competing on price…and then it’s a race to the bottom.

Ideally you need to show off the work you feel passionate about and aim your marketing towards those who are likely to want to hire you for your style and approach. Here are some thoughts on how to get there:

  1. To define your style, shoot loads and then shoot more. In the early days, don’t stop at a single theme or genre. Experiment with your angles, themes, cameras/lenses, lighting and subject areas. Your preferred area will emerge through this intensive process. Allow for many small mistakes and failures and use them indicate new directions.
  2. Don’t let your website galleries be guided only by what you are being commissioned to shoot especially if much of this isn’t your own personally-motivated speciality area. This can be a big mistake and inadvertently you can mould your offering into something that lacks true passion and self-belief.
  3. Ensure you always have a variety of personal projects on the go at any one time. These may range in scale from very short term almost playful daily explorations to more deeply-researched ideas you feel excited by that last months or even years. Show the best of the work from these projects if you feel it shows a creative progression or successfully demonstrates ideas you have explored.
  4. If you are aiming yourself towards the commercial marketplace give your image galleries clear labels so it is obvious what someone should expect to find (eg Lifestyle, Landscape, Portraits, Travel, etc) and keep the number of galleries to a handful (3 or 4 max). If you are more of a documentary photographer you may choose to show a broad range of tightly edited images from a range of different stories each with their own title accompanied by a short statement explaining the ideas behind each of the projects.
  5. Don’t use your portfolio as a dumping ground for all your work – nobody wants to wade through layers and layers of archive content, not least because of time constraints. Less is more. If you choose to host an archive on your site, make sure it is clearly separate from your portfolio galleries as it has a different purpose. It is still worth ensuring you edit and sequence this older work as you may be judged on its contents also.
  6. Do update your site regularly (2-4 times a year) to showcase strong new personal and commissioned work.

In essence, know what you’re good at; show what you’re good at.

 


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