It’s worth paying for a professional portfolio review. But what if the ultimate review tool is already at your fingertips? Here’s what you need to know. (Photos: KRISTIN BROWN PHOTOGRAPHY)
Every Single Photographer Needs a Portfolio Review
No matter how long you’ve been in business, a thorough portfolio review will always reveal fresh ways to promote your brand and fine-tune your visual messaging. A portfolio review will help you:
- know what your clients love so you can deliver consistent value every time
- show your best work and attract more of your dream clients
- do what you’re best at instead of spinning your wheels and burning out
Client Favorites: the Ultimate Portfolio Review Tool
Though a professional portfolio review is almost always a wise investment, you can achieve similar results with a ShootProof feature you’re probably already using:
When your gallery visitors click that little star to mark a photograph as a Favorite, they’re relaying important information. They’re telling you exactly what they like most, what they want to see more of, and how you can continue to appeal to them on every subsequent shoot.
Try it for Yourself
- Login to your ShootProof dashboard.
- Visit Reports > Gallery Visitors for quick access to ALL marked Favorites. OR go directly to Photos > Galleries, choose Actions under a gallery, and select Gallery Visitors to see only that gallery’s Favorited images.
Now that you’re looking at a selection of Favorites, you can start to make note of specific themes. Do your clients seem to prefer:
- Posed portraits or candid moments?
- Close-up images or full-length frames?
- Photos with shallow depth-of-field and lots of beautiful bokeh, or photos that are crisp throughout?
- Color or black-and-white images?
Depending on your photography genre, you can add your own categories as well.
Analyze the Data
Now it’s time to ask yourself one very important question.
Do my clients like the same photographs I like?
If the answer is yes, you’ve either done an excellent job with your branding, or you’ve gotten very, very lucky. When your preferences align with your clients’ preferences, you know you’re attracting your dream client.
If the answer is no, either your portfolio is full of the wrong photos, causing you to attract the wrong clients; or you’re actually taking the wrong photos – photos you don’t even like – because you think it will help you get more work. The problem with this approach is that, while you may book clients, they won’t be the clients you love, and you’ll quickly grow weary of making photographs that don’t inspire you.
Put Your Portfolio Review Data to Work
You’ve analyzed which photos your clients prefer. Now you’ve also determined whether your clients are you ideal clients (booking you for work you love making), or your less-than-ideal clients (booking you for work you made out of obligation.)
It’s time to take an objective look at your portfolio – your website, your social media profiles, your printed albums and samples – and determine whether you’re showing what you want to sell.
Murder Your Darlings
This phrase is used regularly by writers in reference to difficult edits. When you cut a sentence – or a photograph – you think is good, you’re “murdering your darlings.” It’s all too easy to fall in love with a turn of phrase or a series of photographs, only to ignore the reality that your “darling” isn’t actually elevating your body of work.
Look honestly at every single image in your portfolio, and ask yourself:
- Do I love this photograph?
- Am I interested in making more photographs like this one?
- Have I acquired the skill necessary to recreate the photo again and again for subsequent clients?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, the photo needs to go.
Now for the Fun Part
As much as it hurts to cull the wrong photographs from your portfolio, it feels incredible to add the right images back in! Once you’ve identified the kinds of photographs you love, want to make more of, and have the skillset to create intentionally, scour your sessions for those kinds of photographs. Add them into your portfolio in place of the off-brand photos, and begin interviewing potential clients with the express purpose of finding folks who want precisely what you have to offer.
Build the Business of Your Dreams
With a strong portfolio, you’re well on your way to building the business of your dreams. A powerful portfolio attracts your ideal clients, sustains you when you’re in a creative slump, and connects you to people who see the value in what you make. This is when your image-making morphs into an income-earning, empowering future that allows you to make what you love from anywhere you want.
Tell us in the comments how this portfolio review approach worked for you!
Written by ANNE SIMONE | Photographs by KRISTIN BROWN PHOTOGRAPHY via TWO BRIGHT LIGHTS