Websites are often the first place we show our work to prospective clients. The prospect arrives at your site via an Internet search looking for a photographer to fulfill a specific assignment. In these tough financial times, the searches usually include a specialty and a business location. If you fit these criteria and they come to your site, the next step is to view your work. It seems increasingly common for photographers to organize their portfolios by subjects; such as people, places, things, environmental portraits, products, architecture, interiors, corporate, lifestyle, fashion etc. In addition, many have a “personal work” portfolio.
I challenge you to look at your photography from a different perspective. Focus on your vision not the subject. Consider putting a portfolio together that speaks to your unique way of seeing the world. One tightly edited portfolio of forty or fifty images will tell the buyer more about you than six portfolios of ten to twenty images each. The latter may look like you are trying to fit any project or worse yet, the portfolios may simply get tiresome as the buyer weeds through to see if you can produce what they need. Many believe it is critical to show your personal work, but if that work is totally out of sync with your client work I am not convinced it helps you. Your vision needs to be honed to the point where your personal work can be integrated into your client work without it feeling awkward.
Prints are still the fastest and most compelling way to edit your work. You can stick them up on a wall, move them around and view them over time to make sure they hold up as your best. The most compelling commercial portfolios I see weave all types of subjects together into a narrative about the photographer’s vision. If you do want to share a personal project that should be seen as a specific collection that is fine just make sure your vision rings through. And, title the portfolio the name of the project rather than “personal work.” All the work on your site should be personal.
As we move into the challenges of our Internet dominant economy, your unique vision is critical to building a sustainable career in this profession. It is the one completely unique offering you bring to the table. Vision is key to your success.