Photo editing for the purpose of creating a stunning portfolio for maximum impact is a form of art in itself. Very rarely is a portfolio absolutely perfect but the secret to success is to create a selection of images that captivates the viewer to the point that they might not even notice any tiny flaws that might exist. So here is our step-by-step process of image editing for achieving just that:
Begin by gathering together all your best images in any form. You might want to do some pre-grouping of images in categories to help the process. Now that you have gathered your best pictures, start the selection by aiming for a tight photo editing that results in images ranging between 15 to 30 pictures to showcase your work.
Having said that there is no absolute number of photos to include in a photography portfolio unless you have been specifically asked by the client.
It is important to remember that it is not the number but the quality of the images that counts . So if you are early in your career and do not yet have 20 images you want to showcase, then by all means select 10.
The idea is to start your portfolio with your very best photo to capture the viewer’s attention. Think of this image as the cover of a magazine, it needs to create a good first impression and be enticing enough so that the viewer keeps turning the pages to find out what more you can offer. So make sure the first image is terrific in every way both from technical ability and strong content.
Now that you have selected the portfolio opening image, find another absolute great photograph to use as the end of your photography portfolio. When you make your selection for the final image, think of the kind of impression you want to leave your viewer. It has to be a memorable one, so that you as a photographer will be remembered too.
The next step is to select the images in between and these should be your absolute strongest, the ones you feel need to be part of your portfolio. Again remember what we discussed in Section 1 – when you make this selection also bear in mind the needs of your viewer/client to round off the image selection.
Now that you have made your first photo selection, it is time to review the selected images with some though love. Aim for tight editing by removing redundant photos. For example, if a photojournalist has 3-4 images in the portfolio selection of images showing a tender hug, then perhaps there are two too many.
Remember that the purpose of the photography portfolio is to induce a feeling of confidence in your photographic abilities. Therefore, make sure to include only the images where all elements work on every level. Eliminate any images with technical glitches – out-of-focus photos are out, and so are photos with lighting problems. The aim is to remove any doubt of your abilities as a photographer.
It is a good idea to spread your best images around the portfolio, mixed with those that are not quite as strong. The advantage of this approach to photo editing is that it not let the viewer concentrate on any of your shortcomings but rather keep them interested, eager to see what comes next in the portfolio.
You can go for another photo editing technique and group similar types of images together, however note that this will make it a lot easier for the viewer to spot your weaknesses or notice redundant images in the portfolio. If a photojournalism groups sport pictures together one after the other, it will be much easier for the editor to spot whether he/she is good at shooting sport events.
In addition, be sure not to make the same visual point twice which brings us to the next important point...
Through your portfolio you not only want to show technical ability but also demonstrate your versatility as a photographer. To that purpose make sure that you include images portraying variety of situations, mixing up lens choices such as wide angle and telephoto shots, together with tight and wide compositions along with horizontal and vertical shots.
Before deciding on the presentation format for your portfolio, try to find the best person you think can provide feedback and constructive criticism on your portfolio image selection. Do not just ask anyone though as this can be counter-productive and create more frustration than benefit. Select as your guest editor someone that is involved in the field of photography so that you received some worthwhile insides to your portfolio book.
Once you have decided on the final edit, keep your photography portfolio as up to date as possible going forward. As your work progresses and you shoot more great images, take the time to review your portfolio on a regular basis and reflect that growth in it.