building a portfolio

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by jnanian, May 20, 2014.

  1. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,995
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    in a recent thread an OP asked questions about building a portfolio.

    some posters gave advice, some was old, some was new
    ... maybe this thread could be
    a how to make a good portfolio stucky thread ?

    no more than 10 images, some say 15 others say 20 ?

    some say the images should all be one large series, like a photo essay,
    others say it should just have your best work, nothing really in common because
    it IS a series of your best work ... but no art.

    if you were going to make a portfolio to go to art school, technical photography college, whatever (or even a job portfolio )

    what would you include and how would you present it?

    is genre work, not a generalist portfolio OK or a faux pas ?

    i know there are people who teach art here on apug, what sort of advice do you have for someone putting together a post graduate ( college level or beyond )
    portfolio of their work ?

    and how should it be presented
    website? self published book? pressbook? matted/drymounted/overmat in a clamshell portfolio box ?

    or something totally unique?
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    18,040
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    In the past I've used a general Portfolio of images to present a short sequences of images from different projects. This is usually alongside a second portfolio showing a project in progress that I'm trying to get exhibited, or get sponsorship for.

    I tend to go for 20-30 images actually in a Portfolio case, and have additional boxed prints available if required. I'm about to revamp my portfolios in the next few weeks after some printing sessions.

    Ian
     
  3. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,995
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    hi ian

    i sort of have the same approach ... for everything but portrait work, but not really.
    i usually have 2-3 views from an assortment of projects if i am trying to get architectural work.
    but somewhere between 15-20 images, if it is more portrait.editorial work a variety of portraits
    maybe of people they might know, or stories they might have heard of / read ... and a few tear sheets of the work in print.
    if i am showing the portfolio "locally" there is 1 image that the paper i worked for sold for ad campaigns all over the place
    it was on billboards, in print, on sides of buses &c and i make sure to end with that ...
    people figured out where i shot it from and now everyone uses that view ... lol its kind of funny to be honest.

    i also have a special portfolio which is of people at work and where they work, that i sometimes bring, like you do, work in progress ...
    the images go in a leather bound book and the person and his/her workplace are each "spread".
    all the images in that portfolio are printed the same aspect ratio/cropping whether they are 35mm, 6x6 5x7 &c to give it a continuity.

    i used to have my website have more of the images, and the portfolio/s be a "taste" my site is being rebuilt this summer and i will probably do something similar
    as i used to do ..

    john
     
  4. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,118
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2008
    Location:
    Hamburg, DE
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    What about size of the photos? I hear that usually galleries like 30x40 cm - because this is most common paper size for exhibitions and selling. Of course there are different approaches - but I am interested what is most common.
     
  5. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,717
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I would suggest no more than 25 images at about 10" X 8" size. You don't need to mount them and you could take them along in a Tesco carrier bag. Some students put too much emphasis on presentation in an expensive leather bound portfolio. We know you can throw money at the presentation, but it is the images which will show your worth.
     
  6. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,995
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    hi darko:

    i have both 11x14 + 8x10 portfolio ...

    ===

    clive,

    if a perspective student / applicant showed loose prints would you look at them differently than
    one who would bring, trimmed and dry mounted ones?

    i was always taught dry mounted in a box &c is acceptable, but loose prints ... not as much so ... i guess one looks more "polished"

    i had a roomate in college applying to architecture school who had everything spiral bound at a copy shop
    they looked extremely nice, and didn't cost much to present them in that form.
     
  7. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,717
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    No, what we need to see is the image, what is it about, context, composition, the way you think. The presentation is the wrapping and that needs to be discarded as it it purely superficial.
     
  8. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

    Messages:
    3,432
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    Location:
    UK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'd disagree.
    You may be one of the rare people who will take into account the image and only the image, but few others will be uninfluenced by how the image is presented.
    The "packaging" may also give a clue as to the overall sensibility that informs the photographer, especially now that those who are bothering to make portfolios are quite often artists using photography as a medium, rather than photographers trying to get work as photographers ... if you see the distinction I am trying to make?
     
  9. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,717
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    pdeeh, I think I see what you mean, but is this not more in the fine art genre (if I may use that phrase). For example red paint splashed over the image and mounted in a steel box for example? I thought the OP was thinking more straight photography.
     
  10. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,995
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    hi clive

    fine art, straight photography, portfolio pieces to get into a school to show to friends, or to a perspective client / gallery ...
    its all the same in my eyes ... besides, id be worried a loose print would be damaged by being handled, besides looking pretty, the packaging protects ...
     
  11. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,717
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    John, I agree, but I'm just saying that all the package is not the product. A damaged print can still be read as an image that has been damaged if you get my drift.
     
  12. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,985
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2005
    Location:
    Northern Vir
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    In college, the head of the Photography Department invited me to sit in on portfolio reviews for Master's Degree applicants. In addition to the Dept. Head, there were 2 other photo profs, and a few from other disciplines ( I remember them being from painting, graphic design, and sculpture, though there may have been more). I learned that presentation mattered, regardless of the quality of the work. I didn't speak, at the review, but did ask a few of them questions afterwards. The consensus was, a poorly presented portfolio showed a lack of respect for both the work, and the viewers.
    "You never get a second chance to make a first impression..."
     
  13. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,717
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Presentation does matter, I'm just saying for some it is not the prime consideration.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,985
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2005
    Location:
    Northern Vir
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you're competing for commercial work, gallery representation, or school acceptance, why damage your chances by not presenting your work in the best way possible?
     
  16. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,717
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I agree that you are correct. All I’m saying is if someone like Andre kertesz presented me with a set of curly water damaged prints in a brown paper bag, I would probably select those as opposed to a series by Joe blogs showing 20” X 16” mounted full colour views in a hand crafted leather portfolio of sunsets over Birmingham.
     
  17. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,985
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2005
    Location:
    Northern Vir
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If he ever gave me water damaged prints, I'd probably have framed them, and hung them in my living room.
    I think you're getting a bit off the original question, though. I believe John was asking about portfolios presented by a bunch of "Joe blogs". A situation where one is vying for a job, or school acceptance, against a number of unknowns. Attention to detail goes a long way in helping a potential employer, gallery, or school gauge commitment. While I understand the expression, "the work speaks for itself", how it's presented speaks a great deal about the creator's pride in the work.
     
  18. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,995
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    clive

    in your example it is 2 extremely different types of work, one by a known quantity and the other of mundane boring sunsets ..
    if both kertsez and joe presented the same caliber work ( and kertsez was an unknown ) and one presented wrecked images in a bag
    and the other drymounted on 2ply .. you'd pick the damaged prints ?

    john
     
  19. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,985
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2005
    Location:
    Northern Vir
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    That would make a great experiment. It would be interesting to see what would happen if sloppy portfolios (by famous photographers) were submitted, unacknowledged, for review. It's probably been done... :confused:
     
  20. pdjr1991

    pdjr1991 Member

    Messages:
    184
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Location:
    Salisbury, M
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    At the recent SPE conference, i noticed most portfolios are now digital. Its a damn shame but its the truth. Typically 20 images. Ipads have made digital portfolios too convenient. For my school's recent Scholarship and awards we were required to submit about 12 digital images. Its a shame because i am mostly analog. I still got a top reward but i question if the digital images were as effective as the analog ones. I think not.
     
  21. pdjr1991

    pdjr1991 Member

    Messages:
    184
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Location:
    Salisbury, M
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ooo i should mention coffee table books are really hot now too. Just as effective as a portfolio.
     
  22. ROL

    ROL Member

    Messages:
    792
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2005
    Location:
    California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You've asked a lot of disparate questions – too many for a coherent "stucky", IMO.

    Regarding the last, one must take advantage of any and all available forms these days, unless your target is extremely targetable. If your forte is physical prints, then you must include those as the basis of your outreach quiver. That has been discussed elsewhere. The work had better be top notch, no matter how many you end up with. Websites, though entirely necessary, are also nearly universally reviled as 'portfolios'.

    Many, including myself but for somewhat different reasons, are now producing instantly obtainable, ultimately transportable, cost negligible e-book portfolios that can coherently contain one's best work, supporting descriptions, and mission statements. I have written a basic how-to article to assist others, Making an iBook, on some of the considerations of producing an e-book one such platform.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 20, 2014
  23. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

    Messages:
    2,385
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Location:
    Boston area
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    In my former life, helping kids get into college often meant helping them put their work in a portfolio to be submitted with their application. The rule of thumb was often that less is more. One sheet of slides, or it's digital equivalent was the maximum. The reasoning was entirely based on what a viewer was willing to go through before getting overwhelmed. Within that framework, we would include work from at least two different projects, trying for three, but with enough of any one series to show the continuity and depth of the thought behind the work. This was not an easy task.

    As I say, the deciding factor was the viewer–in this case overloaded college application readers. The set of people who will be looking at the portfolio, and the setting in which it will be viewed are as important as what is in it in the first place. Multiple versions of ant portfolio to accommodate different scenarios, then, would seem like a very good idea.
     
  24. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    18,040
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think that a good Portfolio is rather like a book, it should show chapters of your work and essentially it's a short Précis.

    It's also important to be able to talk about your work (in a portfolio) and to be able to contextualise the images, motives, reasons for shooting what your showing and what you hope to do with it.

    Presentation is part of the key to a good portfolio as well, I don't slip prints straight into plastic sleeves preferring to mount them behind thin card so they look more like my exhibition prints, I might make small prints and put 2 on a page. I did this for one set from a past exhibition using two facing pages 2 prints on each choosing the 4 images very carefully chosen to work as a whole.

    Sequencing in a portfolio needs to be considered carefully just as you would for a book or exhibition. I would produce an electronic version as well as a physical portfolio of prints ensuring they have a similar style/look.

    Ian
     
  25. winger

    winger Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,898
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2005
    Location:
    southwest PA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    For the one and only portfolio review I've done, my prints (12, IIRC) were matted as they would be to put in a frame. I had them in a nice black box, but they had us put them out on the table so the reviewers could see all of them at once.
    A talk I went to in Boston about 8 years ago was by a gallery owner in NYC and she said you need to have different portfolios for different audiences. Sometimes, it's important to show one complete body of work; others you want to show parts of several projects to show your range. As far as packaging, I would incline towards making it all look nice and gallery-ready because that shows you care about your work and the time of the reviewer.
    For number, I'd never go more than about 15 - people's eyes tend to start glazing over soon after that, I'd think. Since it's supposed to be your best work, you should show you can edit it and only show the absolute best.
     
  26. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,995
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    its not really a lot of different questions, it all boils down to the same question
    how does someone who has never made a portfolio for themselves make one ...
    ( it really doesn't matter if it is for a job, gallery, school or for personal bragging rights / to show friends )

    different people have a different approach for the same thing ...