Don’t Make This Portfolio Mistake
Hi Gang and Happy Friday. I wanted to talk briefly about something I see on a pretty regular basis when doing portfolio reviews or even just looking at another photographer’s work. It’s something that really weakens their portfolio, and so in this case, I want to talk about what not to do — and how to sidestep this portfolio mistake:
Don’t put the same subject in your portfolio more than once
Take a look at the portfolio above. Out of the nine images, eight are different views of the same lighthouse. Here’s what that tells me about your work overall:
(1) You’re not a very experienced travel/landscape photographer. Looks like you’ve been to one place — the Oregon Coast. Even if this was a gallery titled “Oregon Coast” people still wouldn’t want to see eight shots of the same lighthouse from different angles. That’s more a project you do in school (shooting the same subject from different angles), rather than a showcase of your best work.
(2) You must really like that lighthouse
If you love lighthouses, that’s great — now put together a portfolio of different lighthouses from different locations — not a bunch of shots of the same lighthouse. Now you’re cooking! :)
In most cases, I would suggest that you avoid repeating the same exact location twice, unless they are very different photos, maybe taken from entirely different vantage points, in entirely different lighting. So, it can work, but when it comes to portfolios, it’s your job as photographer to pick your best shot of that lighthouse, and only show that one.
This goes for shots of people, too
For example, If you shoot weddings, if potential clients don’t see a wide variety of brides and grooms, they think you’ve shot maybe one or two weddings. That’s a warning flag for getting hired — nobody wants to hire a wedding photographer with what appears to be two weddings under the belt. Same thing with models — If you have 12 shots in your portfolio, and 9 of them are of the same model, and 5 of those are in the same outfit (I see this quite often). It says “this photographer must not have much experience.” Also, it’s just boring. Pick your best shot of that model, and then find more models to photograph and start building your portfolio.
Building a portfolio of different people, different weddings, different landscape locations or travel destinations takes time. It’s something photographers have to constantly work at — you’ll probably wind up scheduling shoots and doing them just for your portfolio, and that’s OK, but while you’re in this process, avoid repetition as much as possible.
NOTE: An exception to this is high-end fashion, where you’ll often see the same model in four very different outfits from an editorial shoot, or a campaign, but for the most part, this “stick to one image of that subject” is a pretty good guideline to stick by.
Hope that helped you side-step a little portfolio quicksand. :)
Hope you have a great weekend, and we’ll catch ya back here on Monday!
P.S. This weekend, do you want to learn the “Top 10 Things Every Photographer Should Know on Their Camera?” Here’s the link. I think you’ll dig it. :)