In our first post on how to create a portfolio, we interviewed professional photographer Dan Milnor. Next up is Jack Fulton, Chair of the San Francisco Art Institute Photo Department. Jack discusses how to select the best photos or images for your photographic portfolio.
Quality – Make sure all the images chosen are equivalent in terms of focus detailing and color-balance/gray-scale.
Coherence – To keep your images from being a pastiche or gathering of your favorite photographs, create a book in sections wherein different aspects of your oeuvre could be put into chapters, each with a heading that defines your interest in that particular aspect of your work. For instance, consider doing a chapter on landscapes, then portraits, then abstract imagery. This approach is more of a presentation portfolio – at least 10 images each that represent a serious approach to each part of your practice. That makes your work come across as more serious and not looking as if you cannot concentrate. Pages can be left blank to create a rest for the eye and mind. Every single page does not need a photograph on it.
Theme – There should be a theme or thread to follow through the book. It does not need to be a narrative tale with beginning and end, but do look closely at each photograph and the one that follows and precedes it. Test on someone who you think has good taste, but not just a close friend who likes you. Be serious and don’t think of this process as putting together a scrapbook. Basic themes or story lines include the classic trip to somewhere, or a particularly important family gathering such as a celebration of an important birthday. Vacation photographs can work, but are greatly aided by a narrative, so consider adding text. Don’t make the text too large. Think of adding some information at the end of the book such as a list of the photographs, dates, etc. Dates (when a set of images was photographed), titles of the pieces, and location are all factors that give an interested party more information than what they generally see and it makes for good conversation.
About Jack Fulton
As an artist and filmmaker, Jack has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Paris Audiovisuel, Marin Arts Council, and is the recipient of the Belkin Wilderness Lectureship from the University of California, San Diego. His work has been exhibited internationally, including solo shows at the San Jose Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the M.H. de Young Museum of San Francisco; Encontros de Fotografia, Portugal; Musee d’Art Moderne, Paris; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, London.
Although our experts mainly discussed photography portfolios, know that these tips are applicable to other types of portfolios. For the fine art professionals out there, here are some great portfolio insights from Irene Gallo’s blog, The Art Department. And Michael Ray’s food photography blog also had some detailed thoughts on creating an effective portfolio. Let us know about other good portfolio resources if you’ve got some.
So, what do Blurb portfolios look like and who’s making them? See for yourself.
Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania
A Portfolio of 30 Photographs