Your work is important. Whether you’re shooting; music, landscapes, products, promo, portrait or animals it’s important you show your work.
A couple of years ago I had just left university and found it extremely difficult to get a job. I was falling out of love with my work and the constant ‘rejections’ made it more of a challenge to put my work into the world. With so many photographs being pumped into the world and social media apps popping up everywhere, I spent a lot of time looking at others and thinking that there was no point in putting my work out there.
I looked for inspiration to get me back in the game and picked up a book called ‘Show your work’ by Austin Klein. For me, this book was a complete uplift back into putting my work into the world and as creatives I feel we all go through some kind of challenge at some point in our journey.
Before we get to the juicy bits of building your online portfolio. I’d like to share some key things I took away from this book that reminded me about the importance of showing your work.
“You don’t have to be a genius”
“Be an amateur – pursue your work in the spirit of love. Embrace uncertainty and the unknown. Think about what you want to learn, learn it in front of others. Pay attention to what others are not sharing. Look for voids that you can fill with your own efforts. You can’t find your voice if you don’t use it. Talk about the things you love”
“Share something small everyday”
“Anything you post to the internet becomes public. Share work that you want feedback on, but not everything. Don’t show your lunch or your latte; show your work.”
“Open up your cabinet of curiosities”
“Your influences are worth sharing. Be open and honest about what you like, to connect with people who like those things too”
We live in a world where almost everyone has the luxury of carrying a camera in their pocket but what us ‘photographers’ do with that camera and how we use those photographs is what makes us stand out from the crowd.
So, building your online portfolio.
There are tons of blogs and videos out there about how to build your online portfolio that you’re spoilt for choice of inspiration, but we wanted to share our top tips with you.
- Organise your work
As a gig photographer, you will eventually reach a point where you have shot some many gigs that it becomes a challenge to remember the name of every single band or artist you’ve photographed. If you can make a habit of always naming your files in detail this will definitely help you in the long run. Trust me!
People like simplicity. When you build your online portfolio, make it easy for people to navigate around your website/page. If you just shoot music maybe split it into genres, if you shoot a bit of everything you could divide it into categories like promo, music, landscape etc. You get the idea.
- You don’t have to show EVERYTHING
It’s always a challenge choosing what to put in your portfolio but remember, you don’t have to show everything. Your website is not your external hard drive and unfortunately people will not sit for hours scrolling through every single picture.
Choose your best work and show that. It doesn’t necessarily matter if it’s a recent shot and you don’t need to update it every single day, just make it your best work that will make people stop and think “damn they’re good”.
- Choosing a platform
There are so many platforms out there that you can use to show your work. It is important that you choose one that works for you. I’ve made the mistake of choosing platforms that I didn’t know how to use because they were too complicated to add content and I know very little about html/coding.
As an easy start, maybe start with something like Instagram. 99% of you reading this will already have an instagram account but how are you using it? If you’re going to be using your instagram as your portfolio, maybe consider saving the cute selfie, pictures of your lunch and that dog walk for a personal instagram account and keep your photography separate.
Personally, I use a website called Squarespace. It’s super easy to upload work and create a very visual portfolio. It’s also mobile responsive so I never have to worry about how people look at it on their phone because I can test that when i’m building it.
There are tons of platforms out there and my advice to you is google it and have a good look through each one. Make sure you’re happy with the way you add content, upload and publish work. You don’t want to have your portfolio as something you dread updating so make sure you put time into your research first.
- Market yourself
You want people to find it very easy to share your work for you. Choosing a platform that you can integrate with social media networks is a very good idea. The aim of the game is to drive more traffic to your website. Social network integration means that when you post a link to your website it looks good on a platform that your friends and family are comfortable with. If it’s easy enough to them to see it looks pretty, chances are they will be happy to like and share it. Not everyone is tech savvy so make it easy for them.
Start planning what you want people to see and when. For example, If you want to start shooting more band promo shots it’s a good idea to base your portfolio around that – even if it’s just temporary. When you’re contacting a band the first thing they will visit is your portfolio. If that is filled with great pictures of photography you’ve done with bands before then they can really get a feel for your work and will be more likely to work with you.
- Be yourself
My last point is probably the most obvious but I think we sometimes forget we are human. You could be putting out the best work ever but at the end of the day ‘people buy into people’. It adds so much to your work if you tell the story behind it or know more about you and your photography journey. I’m not a great writer and I don’t know much about spelling or grammar as you can probably tell from reading this but if I can tell people more about me or my work then i’m winning a much bigger challenge.
I hope that helps you in some way. Go make that portfolio you’ve been meaning to create!
If you would like to take a look at my work you can find me here:
If you have any questions feel free to get in touch or drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org