need advice building a portfolio

Discussion in 'The Aspiring Professionals Forum' started by Jcederroth94, Jun 15, 2017.

  1. Jcederroth94

    Jcederroth94 TPF Noob!

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    so I'm interested in getting into paid photography and need advice on how to build a portfolio, like what to shoot and what I should include in my portfolio I tried reaching out but no one will take me seriously until I have a portfolio. the problem is how do I create one without work. At this time I'm not planning on focusing in on a particular field just something general to maybe get me an assistant job or some small real estate jobs to get my name out there. I tried to join some local groups on Facebook but haven't gotten accepted into the groups since their mostly pro groups any help would be amazing


     
  2. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    O.K., I had to chuckle at that.

    O.K., I think I know what you mean.

    I recommend that you narrow your interest/experience to one or two main types of photography. You name it. It could be landscape, still life, portraiture, whatever. Do one thing really well. Ignore everything else. Make excellent photographs and discard everything that is not excellent. Collect these superb photographs in one place, such as a notebook, a website or on a CD or flash drive. When you have 20 or 30 really good photographs, then you have a portfolio.
     
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  3. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Assuming you want to get into "people" photography (because landscape photography doesn't pay much, except for the one or two people in a million, literally, who have risen to the top), find friends, family, etc and practice. Spend as much time as you can learning, and practicing. I wouldn't even worry about starting a portfolio until you've got a year or two of shooting under your belt. As Designer mentioned, it's great to have an 'electronic' portfolio, but printed is the best way to go. I have with me at all times, a high-quality, attractive presentation folio with 20 clear pockets (room for 40 images). I typically have about 25 of my BEST images (which rotate as new "bests" come up, or as the situation requires, and the last few pages are tear sheets. The big advantage to a printed portfolio is that you don't have to worry about someone's display being off-colour. You might have a fantastic bridal image, but if her dress looks green to the potential client... that's going to be a problem.
     
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  4. Jcederroth94

    Jcederroth94 TPF Noob!

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    I've been shooting for a few years just all landscape /architecture stuff nothing I feel as professional. I like shooting products and making them appear interesting and such. I'm just unsure of the legality of using product shots that are more or less for personal use.
     
  5. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I would think that if you're not trying to sell the image, use whatever product you want. Pick the hardest subjects to photograph well and make excellent photographs. Just don't try to sell the image without obtaining permission.
     
  6. Jcederroth94

    Jcederroth94 TPF Noob!

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    Ok, that's what I figured. Thanks
     
  7. JoeW

    JoeW Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Portfolios exist for only two reasons. One reason is to show off work you're proud of. You're saying "I don't care if you like this, I like this, so go **** yourself if this isn't your cup of tea." The second reason is to say "I know you're interested in this type of work and I"m GOOD at this type of work so you should hire me." The biggest mistake (other than crappy work) one can make with a portfolio is to lose sight of those two reasons.

    You're focused on #2 (i.e.: you want a portfolio to help you get work). So you need to figure out who your audience is. If you're going to be creating portraits for a church yearbook than you need a range of portraits of older couples and younger families that look pleasant and competent. If you shoot pet photography then a mix of action shots (Fido on the A-frame) and portraits (Fido and human partner posing with his Master's ribbon and jump bar). If it's HS sports than you need a series of action shots from a couple of games (indoor and outdoor). If it's fashion for ad fliers of the local department store, than you need "back to school" clothing and gear poses with attractive yet "girl next door" models. If it's weddings then you need a mix of portraits and wedding ceremony shots.

    Do NOT have a portfolio that attempts to appeal to all potential business...that will just look schizophrenic and incompetent and will be an epic fail...the bride-to-be will be looking at your football shots and the architecture abstracts thinking "while I'm saying 'I do' this weirdo is going to be shooting a closeup of the ceiling rafters in the church, NFW!!!" Imagine if you went in for a job as an accountant and in the interview you also said "and I'm also an experienced lawn service technician--I did that job summers in high school, I also am really good at baking fish--last year in college I worked as a cook in a restaurant. Plus my girlfriend says I'm a good lover." Would any of that be appropriate for applying for the CPA job? Of course not--you'd look weird and turnoff potential employers. Well, that's what it's like when you show up for a potential gig photographing business interiors and your portfolio has fashion, art nudes, sports, and pet photography in it.

    Identify what it is you want to get business in. Get shots of that type of photography. And then design a portfolio from that work that would appeal to decision-makers.

    And if you don't know what area of photography to focus your business in, than you should be going in to business at this point.
     
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  8. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I guess this is why it is often called portfolio building...the portfolio is built, with a plan, and components,and work, and time.
     
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  9. Gary A.

    Gary A. Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Start with a web site of your photos.

    Remember that a portfolio is your resume and should be specifically tailored to the recipient of the resume/portfolio.

    If you're in the USA, take classes at community college or adult school. That may help you decide on a particular photographic genre to pursue.

    Seek out internships and externships vis community college and adult schools. Most community colleges and adult schools have placement services.

    The portfolio should be geared to the the reviewer. If you have an appointment with a wedding photographer, you have best have some wedding images (if you're seeking to be paid). If you're meeting a product photography photog, better have a lot of product images, a newspaper photo editor - gotta have sports and news stuff. et cetera

    If you haven't a lot or any photos of the genre that you are meeting, you gotta talk fast and shoot straight. Tell them that you know you are light on [insert name of genre here] but you are a quick learning and a hard worker.

    As Derrel made a reference to, this stuff doesn't just happen overnight. Put together a collection of you best ten shots. Organise them by genre ... then over time replace and expand this collection. When you go to an appointment draw from your 'best of' collection, weighted to that particular genre of the appointment. The collection will highlight where you are weak and you can focus your photography to strengthen that area.
     
  10. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    If you like photographing landscapes and architecture you obviously can do that on your own, but what makes a difference is usage of the photos. Try pro photographer organizations like American Society of Media Photographers - Homepage or PPA for information and resources on contracts, licensing usage, etc.

    You may need to look into getting property releases if you want to shoot photos of someone's property/building; it depends on how you intend to use the photos. For editorial use (newspaper, magazine) typically a release is not needed but might be requested by the media outlet, for retail use (T shirts, merchandise) usually a release is needed, and for commercial use (business, advertising) a release would be necessary.

    For an assistant job usually there's an expectation that the assistant can get assigned shots on his or her own without the pro photographer needing to supervise. ASMP had a Find an Assistant feature but they changed the website and I'm not sure it's still on there or available to non members. You could try looking at the current issue of the Photo District News to see what you'll need to be able to do to be considered for an assistant job.
    PDN Online | Photography News, Techniques, and Gear Reviews for Professional Photographers

    I don't think there ever were a lot of photography jobs, and now photographers are being undercut by people with cameras listing at low rates on social media or craigslist. It seems to be more of a challenge these days for photography to be a source of income.
     
  11. The_Traveler

    The_Traveler Completely Counter-dependent Supporting Member

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    Try to put yourself in this situation.

    You are a keyboard player that has spent a good amount of time working your way up and now you work in NYC in the pit orchestra for Broadway shows. You are at a social gathering of musicians, you all aren't stars but you are good competent workmen who can sight-read and play just about anything and when faced with just about any situation, you can come through.

    Now a new guy comes into the group and mentions that he got a piano a few weeks ago, really likes it and wants to record a cd of him playing so he can get jobs in the music business and pay off the piano.

    You might think that this guy just has no clue of how much effort, practice, knowledge and skill it takes just to be competent.

    Same with photography.
    Cameras are pretty good now and make up for a lot of user inadequacies (at least mine do) but they need a knowledgable and experienced person to make good pictures all the time, in any situation, no matter what.

    Learn to be a good photographer first and maybe the money will come.
     
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  12. Jcederroth94

    Jcederroth94 TPF Noob!

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    I agree 10000% and I realize now I worded my post wrong. what I really want to get out of my portfolio Is the ability to work with someone to teach me more and to gain experience with, a mentor so to speak. what I meant by paid is just working with someone who does it for a living someone who knows the job and the work involved. I know there's probably no chance I'll ever find a person like that. and I honestly don't care about getting paid now I just want the ability to work in the field and gain the knowledge and experience to maybe one day work on my own. and honestly just to become a better photographer.
     

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