Advice on Portfolios

“Only show work you’re proud of – it will lead to being commissioned to do more of the same”

Holly Hay, Photography Editor

I love seeing the different formats photographers use to present their images; it can really heighten the experience of seeing their work. Sometimes the ‘traditional’ [physical] portfolio really makes sense, particularly if care has been taken in choosing a fabric cover or the font a name is stamped in. But a box of different-sized analogue prints could also be more in keeping with someone’s aesthetic.

I have seen so many varied and wonderful portfolios, bound books, newspapers, iPads with animated and interactive digital imagery and sketchbooks with prints taped to the pages. From the very slick to completely hand-touched, it makes meeting a great photographer even more memorable. It’s sometimes nice to leave something for the person you meet – a postcard or small print is a brilliant reminder of your work.

Less is so much more for me. I want there to be a real reason for every image in that portfolio. If you don’t love it, I am unlikely to as well. Meeting someone and having them talk through their work is such a pleasure, I only want to see the pictures they enjoyed making. This makes for better commissioning from my side too – if you only show work you’re very proud of, it will lead to being commissioned to do more of the same.

Before you reach out to people, it’s important to work out whether your work is relevant for that particular publication. Do you enjoy what they are already doing? As well as personal emails from photographers I also love getting their newsletters; this quickly updates me with their newest work – it shows that they are out there, taking pictures and that they have faith in what they are producing.

Holly Hay is a photography director at Wallpaper*

Posted 30 May 2017 Collection: Portfolios
Disciplines: Graphic Design


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