With summer internships and graduation looming six months away, assembling a portfolio is the essential piece in applying for internships and jobs. But it's hard. Photographers constantly wrack their brains looking through bodies of work. Which images should they use? In what order? What does this image convey? What does the portfolio, as a cohesive unit, say about the photographer as an artist and a photojournalist?
After sitting through several hours of judging in the portfolio category, I've compiled a list of the different pieces of advice I gathered:
• The first photo sets the tone of the portfolio and photographer.
• Show a variety: composition, light, types of photography, moments, etc.
• Try to offer unique ways of seeing.
• Convey your personal vision as an artist and photojournalist – one that serves as a cohesive unit.
• Focus on moments. Offer intimate views into your subjects, so we connect with people on a deeper level.
• Use layering to show multiple moments within a single frame.
• Surprise the viewer. Show us something we've never seen before.
• Challenge yourself. Stick with long-term stories that fuel your passion. Connect with subjects and offer visual variety. Trust your instincts.
• Take a risk. It will push you beyond what you would normally think of doing. You never know what crazy idea could make an excellent photograph.
• Bring more than your eyeballs. Don't just be a visual photographer; remember to tell a story.
• Have something to say. Offer your point-of-view on life and the world.
• Follow your own path; follow your heart. Photograph what feels right for you, don't feel like you have to trail the paths of others all the time.
• Edit tightly. One photo can ruin a portfolio. I'm not kidding. I saw what could've been an award-winner get voted "out" because of one image.
• And remember, treat your subjects with respect. Empathize with your subject, make the viewer feel. Don't, and I repeat, DO NOT photograph in a way that is at the expense of your subject. We are all human beings. Treat people with the respect and dignity they deserve. The way a photo is communicated may read differently with a viewer than what you intended. Be aware of the sensitivity of the subject-matter and your viewer.
I know this is a lot to think about, but hopefully this list will help when putting together your portfolio and making better photographs.
If you want to understand this advice on a more concrete level, watch the podcast. My points will be reiterated with specific images.