Choosing the Best Photos for Your Portfolio

Want to stress a photographer out? Ask them to pick out their best photos. Talk about panic inducing pain. Choosing the best photos for your portfolio doesn’t have to be painful as a root canal. Here are some quick tips to make the process of choosing the best photos a bit easier.

Who is Your Audience?

The purpose of your portfolio is to attract new clients right? To show off what you can do and what your style is. If you’re a wedding photographer trying to attract more brides you shouldn’t have landscape photos in your portfolio unless there is a bride in there.

Too often as photographers we think our audience is either ourselves or other photographers we’re trying to impress. Yes it’s your portfolio, but the audience it’s intended for are the clients you want. If you’re trying to get into Vogue, as an example, look at what type of photos they consistently use; meaning look at the style, the poses etc. How does that match up to what you have? Cater your portfolio to what you think your clients would want.

How Many Photos Should You Choose?

Ah yes, the how many photos question. There is no real mathematical equation that can help you decide the right amount of photos. What I like to do it take my best 100 photos and then I cut it down from there. It’s a repetitive process where you go back and forth trying to find the best ones. Somewhere between 10 and 20 should be more than enough.

You want to have enough to show your range and versatility as a photographer but you also don’t want to inundate the viewer with a plethora of photos. Only show the most impactful photos in your collection.

Find Emotion but Don’t be Emotional

Erykah Badu once said, ” I am an artist and I’m sensitive about my shit.” Aren’t we all. We sometimes can’t handle criticism about our work. Maybe the viewer didn’t understand our purpose or what we were trying to achieve with the photo. It’s ok. Not everyone will understand you. Hell sometimes I don’t understand myself.

When going through your photos find the photos take evoke emotions to those looking at it. Just don’t get emotion when they don’t see what you’re trying to convey. Maybe what you think it straightforward isn’t straightforward to those looking at your photos. Choosing the best photos is never an easy task.

Don’t Ask Your Family or Friends

The problem with asking your family or friends for their opinion is that they’re trying not to hurt your feelings. They can’t be objective. Your mom is going to tell you that you’re amazing because that is what moms do. Unfortunately asking them is only going to hinder you more than it will help you.

Asking a peer or a mentor is the best way to go. They can be objective and can offer your feedback that would only serve to benefit you. You can let them know your intention with the photos you chose and they can let you know if the photos you chose are conveying the message you want to.

Where to Keep Your Portfolio

Choosing the best photos is only half the battle. Where should you display your portfolio? You should always have an online portfolio that you can bring up at a moment’s notice. If you don’t know how to code a website you can always hire a web designer, web developer or code to help you. There are also other sites that do all the work for you and all you have to do is just drag and drop elements on a webpage.

Make sure you have bought your own domain name to look more professional. Seeing something like doesn’t seem as professional as A lot of web hosting companies offer domains as well. I highly recommend Dreamhost for your domain and hosting. There are plenty of others out there, but avoid GoDaddy and Wix. They’re the cheapest priced for a reason.

Sometimes your clients want to feel the photos in their hand. You can create a professional portfolio book to bring around with you. Sometimes looking at photos in your hand feels different than looking at them through a screen. There are plenty of places to offer to create photo books for you.

If you do go with a service online make sure that their business name isn’t on any of the pages. You want to look professional and seeing Shutterfly logo on your pages kind of detracts from that professional feel. Nothing against Shutterfly, but like GoDaddy it’s the lower level of options.

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