Editing your own portfolio can change your perspective
I recently updated my Environmental Portraits Portfolio, and it was a great reminder of the diversity of people and places I have been able to photograph. My latest images project a more joyful, lighter and happier expression of photography that aligns with my personality and style of photography. This form of photography truly captures people in their personal and work environments. It exposes their personality and style, and reviewing this work was an eye-opening process that showed me how much my style has changed.
In the past, I hired someone to edit my portfolio. About every 18 months I'd send them outtakes of assignments I felt were worthy, they'd edit, we'd discuss and I'd post the images. At times I added pictures I didn't wholeheartedly agree with, though I understood why the editor felt it made sense.
This round I decided to edit my portfolio by myself. I shared my initial choices with a small group of my trusted advisors to be sure to incorporate external expert opinions. When I start the editing process there is always a part of me that feels I haven't shot "portfolio-worthy" photographs. And every time, I've been pleased to end the process realizing that I have created some incredible photographs. In this case I added over 30 new images to my Environmental Portraits portfolio.
I have three portfolios - Environmental Portraits, Visual Narrative, and Studio Portraits. Every time I do an edit of any one of those, I learn where my focus may need to shift in the next year. For example, my Visual Narrative portfolio may have lots of new images, though my Studio Portrait portfolio had very little. I can then start creating self-assignments to fill in those gaps and make each portfolio fresh and more in line with my current style. Most importantly, it helps to define what type of assignments I want to pursue and receive.
When was the last time you edited your portfolio? In theory, adding images every few months is always fantastic. Though if it's been a year or more, it's time for you to tackle the task of taking a hard look at your overall portfolio. Find a friend or two in the industry that can give you honest feedback. Set aside some time and go through all your work within a particular time frame and mark potential projects to revisit. Then edit each worthy project with a portfolio mindset. Find images that represent who you are and what types of work you want to continue to attract.
If you have multiple portfolios, it can come across as a massive task that you may decide you don't have time. If this is the case, tackle one portfolio at a time. That is what I am doing. In the next few weeks, I will jump into my Studio Portrait portfolio using the same process, and then my Visual Narrative portfolio. Here's where I'd love to receive your feedback and insight. Drop me an email with feedback on any of my portfolios, and I will do the same for you.
Remember: Enjoy the process. This refinement and editing process is always the perfect way to remind yourself why you create photography and videos. When you step back and revisit your recent past, you'll realize how much you have grown and how you want to move forward.