The Perfect Portfolio

By Jim Colton

Perhaps the single greatest dilemma all image-makers face is putting together a portfolio that is marketable and satisfies their "photographic soul". In an effort to find the balance photographers will often make more additions and subtractions than a 5th grader doing their math homework. 

This three part series will explore the many variables that go into creating the well-balanced portfolio. 

Part one outlines basic Do’s and Don’ts with suggestions on creating the right mix. It answers the most frequent questions photographers pose, such as: Do I need a print and digital portfolio? Should I include clips? Are promo cards or leave-behinds still important? And how do I create the right mix of styles and subject matter?

Part two looks at recent major photography contest winning portfolios and provides perspective and advice from the winners. Paul Hansen, RJ Sangosti and Chip Somodevilla, describe the process of building their portfolios.  

Part three shares wisdom and advice from photo editors, curators and art buyers who look at hundreds of portfolios every year. Maryanne Golon, Mary Virginia Swanson, Pancho Bernasconi, Staci Mackenzie and Doug Hill, tell us what gets their attention and makes a portfolio stand out from the rest. 

Part One: A Photographer's Guide

 Part Two: Advice from Award Winners (Coming Wednesday)

Part Three: Advice from Editors and Buyers