Lisa Pritchard advises her photographers on their portfolios, be they digital (here showcasing Julian Calvert’s work) or print, saying keep it simple but big on impact. Image courtesy Lisa Pritchard Agency.
Lisa Pritchard founded her own agency in 2001, representing photographers, stylists, hair and make-up artists, and producers. She added LPA Futures, a division devoted to upcoming photographers, in 2007. She gives her advice, as part of our 11 Tips for 2011 series, on how to make your portfolio stand out form the crowd
Your portfolio determines the success or failure of your business – it defines you, represents you and sells you. Whether it’s a traditional leather-bound book, a presentation on your iPad, or a body of work on your website, what you show and how you show it can make or break your career. A badly presented portfolio containing a mish-mash of irrelevant images can be professional suicide; a considered selection of images, appropriate for the market, will keep clients coming back for more.
Only include your best work and make sure there is a cohesive thread running through it. Some photographers say they don’t want to be pigeonholed, but how else will they be remembered? Make sure the images flow well. There should be a beginning, a middle and an end, and the first and last images should have the most impact. Sections on your website should be logical and useful. Get a second opinion from an expert and listen to their advice and, when you’ve got the right images, include relevant background information and contact details.
Cover different subjects within a niche to give yourself a fighting chance, because commissioners can be very literal. If you’re including portraits, for example, you should include portraits of different sexes, ethnicities and age groups, rather than assuming that the client will realise you can shoot any one of these. Include UK-based location shots as well as overseas. But keep the edit tight – you don’t need five shots of a trolley in a supermarket car park, but, at the very least, the portfolio should look like it’s all by the same photographer.
Don’t show work that’s irrelevant to the viewer, such as corporate portraits to a fashion magazine or hard-hitting reportage to a branding agency. Once in a blue moon it may help them do something off the wall but, in general, you’ll just be wasting everyone’s time.
Include a mix of personal work and commissions – if you’re just starting out and haven’t had any commissions, consider shooting some fictitious ones as a personal project. By the same token, clients are really interested in your personal work as they want to see what you can bring to the party.
Make the viewing experience easy. Don’t buy a cumbersome portfolio case or create a slow, hard-to-navigate website. And make sure you revisit your portfolio regularly, to ensure you always have current or recent projects in the mix. Doing this will also give you an excuse to contact people – you don’t want to stalk people, but it’s good to remind them you exist.
This article, and the other 10 tips from our panel of experts [to be published each day until 31 January], were first appeared in BJP's January issue, published on 05 January 2011. It's still available for purchase from your nearest newsagent until 02 February 2011. To find your nearest newsagent, check our Store Finder.
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