Creating a portfolio

Squarespace has kindly added a 'cover page' feature to their offering - something I've always wanted. Therefore, I've spent far too long this week sorting through my galleries, choosing what would work best for an opening slideshow. 

My rules were:

- have no more than about 15 images. To be honest, few would ever watch through more than about six.

- only to have wide images (to fit the space). And for those to be cropped, only those which work as 3:2. 

- no travel, and less performance. I mainly do other kinds of photography at the moment, so it's not really representative.

It's not quite a portfolio (a complete body of work), more a taster of examples. And it's seriously weakened where images are chosen by the predetermined wide layout. But nevertheless, it's as close as you'll get to an old-school portfolio from me.

I can't remember the last time I put a portfolio together*. These days, for general use on a website, you can have lots (and lots and lots) of thumbnails with little need for careful and tight editing down, and that's ok. More like a tumblr blog, where people can scroll down and view what they like. Where every job is a casual throwaway, nothing of more prominence than anything else. "Oh, this? This instagrammed picture of my coffee was from this morning. Next to it is yesterday's ad campaign for Nike. It's all the same. Whatever." it seems to say, nonchalant. 

Of course, I've tailored examples of certain kinds of work to show clients, but I feel the last time I *really* had to work on it was for my final NCE photojournalism exam, where different categories had to be crossed-off: Use of flash; Character study; Sport; Night; Studio etc. I never think like that now, in terms of areas of technical competence and understanding of a genre. That is, there are some areas I don't do - and wouldn't be very good at compared to the professionals in those fields - weddings, babies, sport, news, landscapes, to name a few. But I think I could do each of them them to a passable degree - well, some better than others at least. All the skills practised during the NCE, and those learned from the various shoots I've done over the past decade, they all feed into one another and overlap. For instance, I've never done jewellery (let's just say it's extremely specialised), yet I know roughly how it's done.

What I'm getting at is that each shoot requires a different combination of skills, knowledge, tricks and abilities. And many photographs, to the trained eye, reveal some of the challenges behind them. I have a few images which I really want to like, and to put in a portfolio, displaying as they do my creative, organisational, problem-solving or lighting skills which I'd be proud to put forward. But they never make it because that still doesn't necessarily make them a good image. It doesn't matter how easy a shoot was, how difficult to achieve or how complicated the setup. The only things that matter are: Is it any good? And could it be done better?

With this in mind, I hope my cover page sideshow ('portfolio') is representative of me, of the work I do, the work I could do, and the kind I'd like to do. To get there, you have to go back out to


*For anyone interested, a portfolio needs to have certain things, including:

- variety (you can't be a one-trick pony).

- flow (there needs to be a progression, something tying the shots together as a group, and from one to the next). In some ways, it means not having too much variety. The viewer needs to get a sense of who you are. If you're a bit this, and a bit that, you can do portraits and motorsport, travel and street photography, and interiors and landscapes, then, just, no.

- only your best work. If there's a flicker of doubt, then get rid of it.