Knowing how to create a photography portfolio is a skill any photog must develop if they want to build a solid book of business. Along with understanding the basics of photography, having an attractive place to showcase your skills are prerequisites for building a client list.
As your confidence and experience grow, your photos are getting noticed, purchased, and published. You’re starting to see consistent results from the hours you spend behind the lens and your computer — and you want to share them with the world. But how do you create a portfolio? Follow these ten steps to creating a professional photography portfolio that is the perfect snapshot of your work.
10 steps to create a photography portfolio
Learning how to create a digital photography portfolio that will get photography clients is different from simply posting all of your favorite pics in online albums or social media. While those methods are great for sharing photos with friends and family, your professional photography portfolio must attract potential clients who can picture working with you. Here’s where to start.
1. Shoot more photos
We’ll let you in on the best-kept secret to building a portfolio for photography. Shoot more photos! OK, maybe it isn’t so secret. However, shooting more photos is a great way to practice your skill, learn new tricks and develop your one-of-a-kind aesthetic. It’s true what they say — practice makes perfect.
If you find you are low on portfolio-worthy images or you don’t love your past work, don’t wait for the next client session to take new photos. Get out and reconnect with your love of photography. It could also be an excellent time to upgrade your professional photography equipment to level up your shots.
2. Take the time to edit carefully
While you are probably already editing photos for your clients, consider retouching images in your photography portfolio. Prospective clients need to see your attention to detail and will likely compare your work with other photographers’ final products. With this in mind, ensure you have the best editing apps for photographers. Some of our favorites include Photoshop and Lightroom. If you love shooting with your phone, you can make high-quality edits on your phone with iPhone photo apps like VSCO and Snapseed.
3. Choose the best of the best
Building a portfolio for photography is the easy part. What’s really hard is refining it. While you may love all of your final pictures, you don’t want to stuff your portfolio with too many shots that will overwhelm a potential client. Less is more. Limit your selections to the best of the best. Try to choose only one pic from each project or photoshoot. It’s hard to cut some of your favorite shots, but know your portfolio will be stronger for it.
4. Categorize images by niche
Let’s say you specialize in wedding photography, but you also really like food photography, and sometimes you take nature pics in your spare time. It’s great to have a diverse eye, but including all of your work on the same page could confuse and frustrate a bride-to-be who wants to see your wedding photography skills. Categorize your images so potential clients can find what they’re looking for without sorting through what they don’t need to see. If you find that you mainly book wedding clients, it may be better to highlight your niche and remove your other photos from your portfolio altogether (or host them on a companion site).
5. Seek feedback from others
Learning how to create a portfolio for photography will take some trial and error, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Since you are naturally biased about your work, seek feedback from family and friends. Additionally, get insight from industry professionals who work in the areas where you make your photos. For example, if you’d like to become a real estate photographer, run your portfolio by a real estate agent and see what they think. Their feedback can help you make adjustments to land your next client.
6. Build a personal website
While a coffee table book of your work is nice to have on hand, an online portfolio on a custom website is much more powerful (and likely to be seen). Create a digital photography portfolio by building a website on platforms like Squarespace, WordPress or Wix. In addition to sharing your images, include a bio highlighting your experience, areas of expertise and contact information. Make sure it’s easy for prospects to book a session or schedule a project.
7. Showcase your work on other sites
Don’t stop at sharing your photos on your website. Be sure to get the word out on other free photography sharing sites. While your professional website may take some time to build traction, people interested in photography are already browsing portfolio sites like Flickr and Behance. Sites like these are great places to get noticed and have other people connect with your work who may not have otherwise seen it.
8. Curate a social media presence
Have you ever stopped and stared at the screen mid-scroll because you saw a jaw-dropping photo? That could be your image! A strong social media presence will help you build a network of future clients. Since Instagram is an image-heavy social platform, it’s a great place to start. However, you could also showcase your work and behind-the-scenes fun on social sites like TikTok. To increase engagement, don’t be afraid to ask people to give you a follow, check out your website and book a session.
9. Include client testimonials
We know pictures are worth a thousand words, but words carry weight, too. Ask loyal clients to leave detailed reviews and testimonials about your work that you can share on your website and social media pages like LinkedIn. In addition to building outside credibility, testimonials will help future clients see what it’s really like to work with you from people who are satisfied with your performance.
10. Ask people to share your work
Now that you’ve built a photo-worthy photography portfolio, you have one last job. Ask people to share your work. Ask your friends, family and clients to share your new digital photography portfolio with their networks. They’re likely to share pictures anyway, so take advantage of the exposure opportunity by requesting they tag you in their posts. (You can even ask them to talk you up a bit!) Don’t be shy. Your next client is waiting to see what you can do.
Protect your growing portfolio
While your new photography portfolio will help you book clients, more shoots mean more risks. For example, a client could trip in your studio, you could drop your camera on the way to a wedding shoot, or your computer could crash while editing. Thimble’s Photographer Insurance helps protect you from the impact of third-party claims of injury and negligence. It can even help cover the cost of replacing a broken camera. Get covered by the shoot, month or year in as little as 60 seconds. Just download the Thimble app or click “get a quote” to get started.