A personal portfolio has a number of benefits. The process of creating it can be stimulating and rewarding, and may provide the author with a revealing review of his or her own work. Once created, a portfolio provides an excellent and convenient means of displaying a selection of work to family and friends, models, prospective customers, publishers or other interested people. If you photograph weddings, it can be used to illustrate the character and quality of your work. If you hope to interest a magazine in your images, a portfolio is a practical and professional format in which to display your work. If you are interested in photographing people, a personal portfolio demonstrates the quality of your work to those with whom you plan to work.
The most difficult aspect of creating a portfolio is the process of selecting just a few images from a large collection. Technically and aesthetically pleasing images are obviously to be recommended, but it is also important to remember that an image is good only when it is appropriate for its intended audience. It is pointless to produce a beautiful portfolio of sports images when working with a travel editor. Selection is generally a multi-layer process. Go through a large number of images and select perhaps five times as many as are required for the project. Then go back through them again to weed out the weakest ten percent. Repeat this process, so that the number of images decreases and the overall standard rises, until the excess is relatively small. Then look at all the images as a group and try to arrange them in some sort of sequence. Finally, remove the weaker few to bring the total down to the required number.
Portfolios can be assembled in a number of ways. The simplest is perhaps to use an A4 ring-binder with suitable leaves, which can be purchased from local suppliers of office stationery. Tailor-made zip-up portfolio cases are also available from art shops and photographic dealers. These work much like the A4-ring binders but provide an enclosed and hence safer environment for valuable prints or slides. Digital technology has also provided a means of acquiring a personal portfolio of almost any size and design. An increasing number of internet-based organizations offer on-line services which allow photographers to upload their work and then design and print one-off bound volumes on demand.
Professional-quality purpose-made folders and books are also available in various sizes. Extremely high-quality custom-designed photographers' portfolios are usually available from companies who specialize in the design and printing of modern wedding albums. In general they do not mind that the photographs are not of brides and grooms, and can easily change a front cover to meet personal requirements. Internet-based companies that offer such services include:
- Italian Wedding Albums;
- Parker Photographics Limited;
A personal portfolio can also be created digitally, organized into a presentation and written on to a CD or DVD. This is an inexpensive way of making a large number of images available to a publisher or customer, but the need for a computer raises the potential for hardware compatibility problems. Such difficulties may spell disaster when a client has only limited time available. A final possibility is to make a portfolio presentation using a personal laptop computer. This eliminates compatibility problems but may only be suitable for an audience of two or three people.