How Many Photos in a Portfolio?

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by geraldatwork, Jun 1, 2004.

  1. geraldatwork

    geraldatwork Member

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    I'm in the process (actually almost finished)putting together a portfolio of wet printed B&W fiber prints. The prints are approx 7X9 mounted and matted on 11X14 board mostly street shots. I am preparing this for a presentation to the chairman of the fine arts department at my old college for a possible show in their gallery. Also there are a few cooperative local galleries I would like to show my work to. I was wondering what is a good number to present.
     
  2. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    Just enough to interest them, but not so many that they will become bored! In otherwords less than you think.
     
  3. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    what dave said is certainly true, but i'd like to add that whatever you offer needs to suggest a unified body of work. it's probably better to make all of your portfolio street stuff rather than mix in landscape or portrait or other work unless it relates to the street shots. good luck.
     
  4. bmac

    bmac Member

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    Since you are going to be putting it together to show the chairman of the fine arts department for a possible exhibition, I would say he is used to seeing large sets of work, and as someone in fine arts, expects it. I would say no more than 25 prints as long as they are unified in theme, and quality. You can always bring more if he wants to see more...
     
  5. geraldatwork

    geraldatwork Member

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    What everyone said so far makes sense. I have been printing for a few months on this project and have to date 16 prints. 11 which I would call street shots and 5 I'm not sure what to call them. Not scenics, definitely not portraits, a few almost could be considered in the street category. Possibly I could make 2 more prints before my appointment. I set up a "portfolio" folder on photonet (in no particular order)to see what people think. If anyone has some extra time, maybe they could wander over to my "street" or other folders with a suggestion or two.
    http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=375545
     
  6. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    Gerald,

    I had a look at your portfolio, liked it all but think that you should leave out the car, boat, both seat photographs and the truck radiator when you show the work to the chairman at the college. The street photography is, IMO, the strongest work and I think you should show no more than 12 to 15 images. I am involved in a London gallery and have to look at work for consideration to be hung and I also teach in colleges in the UK and have to look at students work and generally know after the 5 or 6 prints whether the work is strong.
     
  7. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    I second Les's recommendations and would also drop the beach scene. I like it a lot but it does moves out of the realm of "street" work.

    very nice work.
     
  8. bmac

    bmac Member

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    Les, you don't think that showing that few images would give the gallery the impression that he doens't have a full body of work? This is something I am very currious about, as I am hopefully going to finish shooting images tomorrow / Thurs for a color portfolio I have been working on for a year.
     
  9. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Although I am not Les, this has been my experience Brian. It is better to show few prints that are strong and have a strong theme or idea in common than it is to show more images that have no apparent connection to each other. I saw Gerald's portfolio and thought that he has two portfolios, one about street "decisive" moment and the other about "it caught my eye". While all the prints are very good, the street ones seem to have more to "say." The other ones are nice, but IMO a bit derivative.
     
  10. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I would take advantage of Les's knowledge and advice as far as the portfolio goes but I do like the VW shot as a photo.
     
  11. geraldatwork

    geraldatwork Member

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    I want to thank every one again for their input. This is my thinking so far. I have removed the Chevy/radiator and boat photos not only because they are the weakest but they don't fit in any way with the street photos. I think I will leave in the VW's because they are generally well liked (I like them also)and there is a little editorial comment there. I am keeping the stairs and the bench because those two also have been generally well received and I just want to have a few to go with the VW's. Also I have a slightly different crop on the bench and in person it looks much better than the scan.

    I have included 3 extra street shots of which I will print 2 in my next darkroom session before the meeting. The three are "Die Young" (man smoking a cig.) "Calling Home" the 3 women making calls, and "Take Out" the man cooking. I'll probably just flip a coin unless I can get some additional input. Below is the link to the portfolio
    http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=375545
     
  12. mvjim

    mvjim Member

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    My two cents worth - I agree with Les in that after viewing 5 or 6 images that you have a very pretty good idea of the quality of the work. But - If you only have 12 images to show and the gallery area is capable of hanging 30 at the size you are presenting, then as the gallery director, I would ask you to come back when you have enough work to fill the space, even if I loved what you had to show. We run a gallery here at the lab and we need to see a full and developed body of work to consider someone for a one person exhibition - which in our mind would be at least 20 prints. But again that is because of the size of the space.
     
  13. geraldatwork

    geraldatwork Member

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    Actually I have no idea what their intentions are. And I don't think they know either. I emailed them as an alumni to see if they ever have alumni shows which they haven't. They were pretty reluctant to even meet me after a few emails. Only after I sent them 6 jpegs of my work did they agree to meet. They still haven't made any promises. I can't blame them for being hesitant for if my work stunk it is a bad reflection on the college. "So this is the kind of work the fine arts department produces?" they can hear a visitor saying.
    I believe they have 2 places to display work, one larger than the other. So they may just want a few prints or as suggested by Jim, may need at least 20 8X10 prints to fill a room. They may possibly ask for a few to be enlarged to 11X14. No matter what they decide hopefully the feedback will be helpful.
     
  14. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    A Portfolio is a representation of your work ... not - necessarily - the final product. Ar first it is a challenge to "get enough", but as time goes by, the real challenge is selection.

    I have taken a hard look - and this continues endlessly, at mine, trying to place myself in the position of one choosing for a gallery exhibition. At times, that is NOT effective, especially if you find that you would be working far outside of your "style". I would suggest choosing a gallery that goes with your style, rather than the other way around.

    After seeing **many** gallery exhibitions, I have concluded that the greatest sin one commit is "overpopulation". I've seen galleries literally "crammed" with works from floor to ceiling. Not good - it does not allow the experiencer time to absorb any of the emotional content that might be present.
    It is FAR more preferable to err on the side of "too few".... although I've NEVER seen an exhibition that I could describe as "too few".

    I've chosen to limit my portfolio to twenty photographs ... The Panodia Portfolio I use has a ten page insert - room for twenty - each back-to-back.

    I may at some time purchase another insert - for a different subject grouping - but I'll never display more than twenty images at one time.
     
  15. middlecalf

    middlecalf Member

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    Gerald-
    Because you do not know what their intentions are, and this is a potential Fine Art exhibit, what you include needs to be your Fine(st) Art. You can put together portfolios in many different manners, some of which have been referred to herein (e.g. street photographs). But you also have many other options, so I'd go with what I believed to be my strongest images that stand alone by themselves and show what capabilities you have. Otherwise, you risk labeling yourself and your reviewer might not have the same attraction to subject (but to Fine Art they should). My favorite art quote: "It's not about the subject, it's about the space."
     
  16. sparx

    sparx Member

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    Just to throw another question into the mix, is there an optimum picture size for a portfolio or is it best to show prospective exhibitees(?) the actual images you hope to exhibit at the size you want to show?