Making a cohesive portfolio
Subject matter is the most obvious way to make a portfolio cohesive. I'm facing the challenge of trying to cherry pick my very best work for a portfolio, and I'm picking from a few different "mini-projects" so the look is different. Some are square, some are from 6x7 negs, and some are 6x6 Holga.
What they have going for them is that they're nearly all graphically very strong, ie. geometry and lines dominating the composition. They're obviously not from the same project though, where some are macro studies of concrete, some are the undersides of bridges, and some are farris wheels and giant clear balls with people in them (a variety I tell you!)
Can these be successfully combined in one portfolio? What will hold them together? Are similar sizes and printing/toning enough? Or should I be thinking in terms of singular projects and leave off what I might consider my best work?
I know it's tough to judge without seeing photos, but I don't have much in the digital realm, so we can talk in generalities! I'd be interested in hearing opinions from people who have submitted work to galleries or portfolio evaluations, or especially those who do the evaluating.
Thanks so much!
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The choice of original negative will doubtfully be of major interest to anyone viewing your portfolios, other than myopic photographers. A print portfolio is about the prints. Subject and style should inhabit the distinct portfolio. Usually no more than between 10 to 15 images, "professionally" matted. so that they may be handled safely. Create separate portfolios for disparate theme and style. If someone likes the first, presumably your strongest work, they will ask to see more.
in general i am sure your varied projects can work together as one portfolio ,,
aside from matting ( window mats ) and everything having the same size matboard as
the backing ( all the images being on 11x14 or 16x20 board ... )
if you do groupings in you different "looks" you should be OK ...
each grouping from whatever format &c will be like a miniseries / family working together.
even if they are different cameras/formats as long as they are in the same string/thought &c they will work ...
begin and end with your strongest images ( both in mini series and total images )
first and last impressions always make a difference.
good luck !
My portfolio differs in the size of the images, but the outer dimensions of the mattes are all the same. If possible, keep all your mattes vertical and the images can be either horizontal or vertical, and of course square. Next is the image order. This is most important. Images from one project may work together, but sometimes you can follow one image with something diverse, if it has the right content, the right feel. What the poets call a ''slant rhyme.'' Undoubtedly you will get different reactions to what you come up with. Listen to criticism, but weigh it carefully before yielding to it. You must develop your own deliberate method as an artist, IMHO.
Great advice, Doug. I'm trying to put together some images to hang in a local coffee shop and found your post quite helpful. Like the OP my work is kind of all over the place but all my favorite shots have a theme of strong composition, well I think they do any way. Actually I'm going to look at all my prints right now to start to see what fits and what doesn't.
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You can mix different projects in the same portfolio, but it would be best to limit the number of projects represented. In a 20-image portfolio, don't have more than 3 projects represented. Any more than that and it looks like you're not able to concentrate on a theme and develop an idea. This is just one opinion. Bear in mind that the guidance from graduate school applications is that (generally speaking) they expect a 20-image portfolio on a SINGLE theme. Galleries may or may not have this same expectation - depends on the gallery. Submitting a portfolio to a gallery like Fraenkel or Bonni Benrubi or Modernbook, they will be the most critical of the work submitted, whereas a small gallery outside of a major metropolitan area would be more likely to be flexible, and your neighborhood coffee shop will probably only care that they like the pictures. Your best bet is to prepare for the most rigorous standard, and then you'll stand out anywhere that doesn't have as stringent a set of requirements.