The Importance of a Photography Portfolio | Tina Case Photography
Any photographer will tell you how important it is to have a great portfolio. But the importance became very apparent to me in an unexpected way. I do a lot of product photography for Acme Party Box, a sustainable party supply company. Their products are sold in numerous stores including Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, One Kings Lane, Amazon.com and Rue La La. It is quite fun to see my photos on all of those sites. Well it just so happened that the San Francisco Chronicle was running a picnic story for the Fourth of July and found this photo (below) that I took and requested it for their article.
I exchanged a series of emails with the journalist. She provided me with several requirements including file size, DPI and dimension. I emailed the image with all of those requirements but did not realize that Yahoo mail reduces the file size automatically. That prompted a call from the Director of Photography for the Chronicle, Judy Walgren (she is a multi-award winning photo journalist). She found my contact information in my email signature.
Anyway, as Judy was talking about the picnic photo I realized that she was clicking on my website and reviewing my portfolio. (I include my phone number, website and Facebook link in my email signature.) In the back of my mind I was quickly thinking, "What images do I have in my portfolio?" Fortunately I had taken 3 photo sessions for CookApp and added a few of those images in my Food and Restaurant portfolio. Thank Goodness! Because right there, on the spot, she asked me to come in and meet with her and her Director of Features and Visuals. Wow! (How I got a job as a photographer for CookApp is yet another story.)
Two days later I was sitting and reviewing my portfolio at The San Francisco Chronicle. What a momentous day. They liked the overall diversity of my portfolio which ranges from people, products to travel. I know everyone says to specialize. But I love to photograph lots of stuff. Anyway, the result of our meeting? I just signed and submitted a contract with the Chronicle. I'll be doing some special features and learning and working with some Ah-May-Zing pros.
I did ask for direct feedback about my portfolio. Directors don't mince words and provided some crucial feedback which I completely appreciate. Here are the photos they particularly liked (and I'll show the ones they did not like in a second):
And here are two they did not like. They did not like the angle on the soup photo. One editor said it made them feel like it was slipping off the page. In the second photo I liked the frostiness of the glass but they felt the background was too cluttered. Other general feedback was to have more blacks and contrast in the images. I'll be devouring lots of work from these pros and other journalists and practicing, practicing, practicing. I'm super excited!
For any professional photographer out there be sure to always have your best photos on your website and printed portfolio. You never know who might be checking it out.
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