How To Organize Your Portfolio

You just got your new portfolio and can’t wait to show off all of your work!

Tell a story

Whether you have five images or fifty, your book has to flow. Think of it like this, you are telling a story in pictures and the story is about your work. Every basic story contains a beginning/introduction, middle/content and end. The same should hold true for your book.

Start solid and end solid

Make your first and last pictures solid. Your first image should be strong in the sense that it’s the introduction to your book. Likewise, your last image is your ending. I personally like the idea of starting with a single image and ending with a single image, there won’t be any other distractions.

Arranging your content

If you have been working for a while, you probably have some random images and 2-3 page stories but not the slightest idea of how to arrange them.

To start, lay all of your photos out on the floor. With the exception of the photos you would like to use as your intro and ending, separate the images into two’s since they will be double images next to each other.

As a guide look at the tone and color of your pictures. One photo can lead seamlessly into the next by taking into consideration the mood, lighting, background and theme of the pictures. Ask yourself some specific questions. Are your images serious or fun, a mix of both? Do you have some lifestyle and advertising or more glamourous? Clean beauty, edgy fashion, period looks?

Next, arrange the photos in the order that you think looks best. You can start out with fashion in bright colors, let it flow to more muted colors, then into black & white, back to color and ending with beauty shots. If you have a lot of cover or celebrity photos start out with those, let them lead into your advertising which can lead to either lifestyle or fashion or beauty. Another option is starting with your in-studio work then leading to your location shots. The combinations are endless.

Only show your best work

This is the hard part, especially when you are starting out. You don’t have a lot of images but you need to show your work, such a Catch-22. Unfortunately, you have to be brutal with the editing process. Be honest about which photos you choose to represent yourself with. People do realize that in the beginning that you won’t have a lot of work to show so keep in mind, quality is always better than quantity. As you work more, your eye will learn what makes a good strong photo.

Not sure if you need more than one portfolio, check out my post here.

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