Professional Contexts Blog

Portfolios (lecture 2)

An artist's portfolio is about marketing and says a lot about themselves as a person as well as their ability.

A physical portfolio contains prints and may also be referred to as a book, hard copy portfolio or a folio. It is a smart folder or box containing an edit of your best and most up-to-date work and must be reviewed and changed regularly.

Portfolio books and boxes are available at Delta Design and Wyvern Bindery, but they are quite pricey, costing at least a couple of hundred pounds. They are really nice, good quality looking books and boxes, but I imagine that everyone's does look the same, so I think that when it comes to making mine, I think I will see if I can think outside of the box a little and try to think of an alternative way of presentation that still has that quality. I will avoid a bound book as even though aesthetically I prefer these, I will be making work frequently, so will need to be updating my portfolio often and have the ability to tailor the edit to specific clients.


If you meet someone in person to discuss your work, it is expected of you to bring along your physical portfolio as it is much more professional that showing work on your phone or laptop. Also, when recruiting, people may 'call in' your portfolio, meaning that you have to send it off or drop it off somewhere, so being able to do this will make you stand out from others who only have an online portfolio.


I think that having my name embossed into the portfolio would look quite professional and one with sleeves so that business cards or small publications could also be included, but would not use acetate sleeves to hold the prints as they are reflective so can be distracting and can be easily scratched. A neutral coloured portfolio casing would fit the colour schemes throughout my images, but a darker shade so that it is less likely to show marks or wear-and-tear. I would use the same paper stock throughout, I personally prefer matte paper and will work on my portfolio whilst at university as I know that it will be much cheaper to print the images through the university. I would like the casing of my portfolio to be somewhere between A4 and A3 so that it isn't too big and difficult to transport but the images are still readable.


Expectations of a physical portfolio are; to have a page with contact details, the same orientation of the images throughout to make the experience easier for whoever is looking through it, include 30-40 pages but you can have multiple on one page, include thumbnails at the back with captions to put the work into context and a list of recent clients and tear sheets. Do not have multiple images from the same photo shoot as it looks like you are just filling the space. I imagine that building a portfolio is similar to building a publication or exhibition, in that you should only include the best images and pay attention to the juxtaposition and flow, thinking about how the photos work together. It is important to leave an impression and be memorable but the work should be able to speak for yourself, so if you are in a portfolio review, try not to speak whilst your portfolio is being looked at. At the stage of my practice that I am at now, I have now found my own style of photography, so I am lucky in that sense that when it comes to building a portfolio, my images will all work together and be cohesive.



An online portfolio should be a clean and simple design, it is going to be marked for this module. It needs to be professional but also unique, again so that you will be memorable. You want to give off a good impression from the homepage but also throughout and you should be able to get anywhere on the website within three clicks. It needs to be changing and growing with you as you change as a photographer and in what you are wanting to say.


The website will need a landing page of your best work, then pages or galleries on individual personal projects, your commissioned work could be shown on your website to show who you have worked with and what you have made for them, then an about page so that you are easy to contact. I updated my website recently, but will be reviewing it again before the deadline to ensure that it still presents me in a way that I want to be presented and that it functions well. I will have a look at the online presence of photographers who are in the position right now that I want to be in a few years to have an understanding of the quality that it expected.