7 Secrets To A Strong Photographic Portfolio That Most People Will Tell You Not To Do

I read an article the other day on building a photography portfolio. And while the article itself was written well and provided a ton of detail, I disagree with the message.

Most people in the photographic industry teach you to put together a generic, boring portfolio, both online and off. “Choose your best image from each session”, they say. “Never have more than a couple dozen images in your gallery”, they say. I disagree.

When we first built our business in the late 90’s (think dial up modems), we put thousands online in our portfolio. Yes thousands. At our height, we had over 20,000 images on our site. People told us we were crazy. “They’ll never look at that many images.” “Take them down, are you crazy?” The comments when on and on. But we didn’t fail with our 20,000 images. In fact we made it BIG. Because we spoke right to the heart of our ideal client.

Your portfolio should never be “normal”. It shouldn’t be what they teach you in a photography class, or a “best of” series that showcases a few great shots. Nope. It should be a whole lot more.

7 Secrets To A Strong Photographic Portfolio That Most People Will Tell You Not To Do

1. Things You Want To Shoot

Too often a photographer will include things in her portfolio that clients’ expect to be there. Yet if you want to branch out and shoot something very specific, something very unique to you, don’t be afraid to include it because it isn’t the “norm”. People will hire you because of what they see in you. If you showcase certain things, they will expect it as their own results.

2. Beyond The Best Of

Everyone tells you to create a gallery filled with your “best of” images. Your best images are great, but if you’ve ever looked at portfolio after portfolio, “best of” series soon all start looking the same. Do a search for wedding portfolios and you’ll see what I mean. Every photographer includes two to three dozen of his or her “best of” images. And they all look alike. Most are shots of the bride, groom, or some combination. You’ll get a sweet looking image of the ceremony. A couple of great scenics from an outdoor wedding. And of course the mandatory couple of candid images from the reception to prove you are “photojournalistic”. Is that really all there is to it? Or can you stretch and showcase more? We routinely would put together montages that would contain 200, 300 or even 400 images or more from one wedding and include them in our portfolio. A potential client would truly get an understanding of what we could do for her – and it worked every time. [Read more…]

7 Places To Display Your Fine Art Photography

Even if you are a full time photographer photographing commercial work, portraits or weddings, you’ve probably dreamed of having your best work on display for the world to see. As photography is more prevalent in our lives than ever, there are more places to display your work than ever before. Yes, you might have more competition for the few spots out there. But imagine how you will feel when you’re work is accepted?

Whether for display, or to sell as a piece of fine art, consider these places in your community as opportunities waiting for you.

Commercial Galleries

Probably the easiest galleries to find, and what people most commonly think of when you mention an art gallery, is the for profit commercial gallery. These galleries accept work that meets their clients’ expectations, and makes a profit when a piece is sold to a collector. A commercial gallery will offer you a contracted time period to represent you and show your work, and will split the sales price with you if a sale is made. Exhibitions are usually scheduled well in advance – sometimes 12 months or more – to prepare and market for the event.


Co-Op Galleries

Many galleries out there are associated with an artist and a group. In order to show your work, you have to have a membership into the group. Each membership has different requirements for acceptance, so shop around and find a group that meets your needs, as well as accepts your type of work. In some cases you will have to work at the gallery as well, so be sure its accessible to you and your schedule. [Read more…]

Who Is The Best Photographer On Flickr?

Flickr just celebrated 7 years online. Originally created as a service within a multiplayer online game platform, Flickr developed into a more feasible project, and the rest as they say is history.

Flickr can be used in a variety of ways, and a lot of people have found success showcasing their images. Flickr can be a great tool if you use it to compliment your marketing, and use it to drive traffic from place to place. Remember, free is free, and things can happen.

If you’ve ever started searching through Flickr streams, you realize very quickly that somewhere in between all the bad is a whole lot of GREAT. I love surfing around Flickr and seeing what other photographers are creating. While I was searching, I decided to put together a list of photographers that can inspire you with their images.

image by Chodaboy

Forget Me Knott Photography
Darren White Photography
Stuck in Customs
Clayton Perry Photoworks
Heidi Hope
David Belo
Beachwalk Photography
Bahman Farzad
Renaissance Studios Photography
Erik VanHannen
Jason Theaker
Zenith Phuong
Peter Bowers

I know I missed a lot of great photographers – who would you recommend?

Becoming A Fine Art Photographer

This post is Day 19 of 30 Ways In 30 Days To Redesign Your Life With Photography. This series seeks to provide you with practical steps to get you from wherever you are today, to exactly where you want to be – this year! If your goal has always been to take your photography to a whole new level, hang on and start enjoying a new lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of.

Have you ever walked into a gallery of fine art photography, and thought, “I could do that.” How great would it be to have a huge gallery that inspired millions from around the world?

Fine art means many things to different people.

  • Fine art might be selling a few images at a local craft fair.
  • Fine art might be selling your art as calendars, journals and books.
  • Fine art might be selling your work at art exhibits.
  • Fine art might mean ending up in a museum.

And of course how one views a work of art is completely subjective. We’ve all stared at a work of art and said, “Really?”

My definition of fine art photography may be different than others. I view fine art as:

A photograph created by an artist, and sold to an individual for the appreciation of the work itself.

I tend to look at things from a business perspective, so to me, if you can’t sell your work, and maintain an income stream from what you do, you can never be a full fledged fine art photographer. I don’t value the money itself; instead I look at money as a way to continue to work at your art in the best way possible.

So the first thing I do is look for support systems, resources and successful photographers to begin to follow.

Build Your Support Systems

So you want to be a fine art photographer? Let’s get started.

First, let me ask you what that means to you? Do you want to be in a gallery? Do you want to open up your own gallery? Do you want to sell books? Do you want to travel?

Start by defining what it means to you. Imagine yourself in a year, fully supported by what you make as a photographer. What does your life look like? How are you generating income?

Now lets work backwards. With that in mind, it’s easier to find the support systems already in place that you can build around.

If you want to be in a gallery, find a gallery that represents photographers. With a quick search I found Fifty One Fine Art Photography. I also found an Art Support resource that lists dozens and dozens of galleries throughout the United States – just pick your state and find out what’s around you.

Or maybe you have the desire to display your work at arts festivals. It’s a great way to travel to different cities and states, display your work, talk with potential clients, and experience a different lifestyle. I’ve found some great resources that can help you find an art festival, and apply for multiple locations in an easy manner.

With just a little bit of research, you can find a ton of resources that can begin to build up a plan for how to move forward.

Its Who You Know

When you walk into a gallery, it’s easy to wish for something. But because you have no idea how they got there, it will always remain a wish until you do something about it.

People don’t become famous by wishing. They become famous by doing. They find a person to ask a question or two, and then they take that information to heart. They start building one step at a time by acting on what they learn.

If you love what an artist is currently doing, ask him or her a question. If they are simply too large and unavailable, do the next best thing. Learn from their story. Buy their books. Visit their galleries. Read about them on their website. Follow them on Facebook.

You’ll quickly be amazed at how much information you can pick up just by reading.

You may learn of associations and groups they belong to.

By studying one site, I came across a great resource – The Association of International Photography Art Dealers. How much knowledge do you think you could gain from attending their upcoming show in New York? It’s March 17-20, still plenty of time to make your reservations and go.

Before I wrote my first book, I found out about the Book Expo America – a huge event that takes place annually, and has amazing classes, and row after row of publishers, authors and dealers. So off to New York I flew, and just absorbed for a few days. Yes, I was completely overwhelmed. But the notes and books and resources I took away from there were invaluable.
The key to remember in becoming a fine art photographer, or really any type of photographer, is you have to do things one step at a time. You won’t be on the top collector list the first week you try. It may take years. But imagine all of the fun you’ll have along the way. All the people you’ll meet. And all the things you’ll learn.

And that’s really the most important thing of all: the journey.