A primer on portfolios: How to make them work for you, continued

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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.

Through the Viewfinder – Portfolio

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the works | alian design

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Carrie’s Cakes Portfolio vol. II

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Matt Eiben Photography

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Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania
A Portfolio of 30 Photographs

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2 Comments

  1. Blurb portfolios rock! I have tried a number of other services, with mixed results. The worst case was inconsistent print quality from one vendor, followed closely by the printer’s logo very obviously in the back of the book.

    Now, the logo isn’t too bad, except it is someone else’s brand. And it is a little too obvious. And the brand is too consumer to make it look like the book was the labor of love and hard work that it represented.

    But, bad print quality ranks up there with shoddy design. It takes away from the images on the page and everyone ends up discussing the printing process and not my work.

    Blurb had none of these problems and people who view my portfolios can concentrate on my work and me as a potential vendor.

    Of course, all of the other tips in this article are right on! Be specific, be clear and show what other people will think is your best work!

    To see my blurb portfolio, check out http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/40535

    Thanks Blurb!

      July 25, 2007 – 10:52 am   Permalink
  2. This post is great!

    I’ve been looking for ideas and inspiration to help with a website makeover, and also to create my first blurb portfolio.. and I think I have found it.

    - kelly sharon
    eight19.com

      September 25, 2007 – 4:13 pm   Permalink

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