How To Build a Good Portfolio and Showcase Your Work in the Best Way Possible

Updated: Apr 11, 2020

photo by justina brandt of lola brockhaus and hadley woolsey

Creating a portfolio is an essential step in branding yourself and showcasing your work, in whatever creative field you may be in. However, especially if you have a versatile body of work, it can be difficult to know how to narrow it down and what your best options are. Here are some important pointers to keep in mind when figuring this out.

1. Choose only your best work.

Although this seems fairly obvious, narrowing this down is harder than you’d expect. You don’t want to have too little to showcase, but also don’t want to be overwhelmed by too much. In my opinion, the magic number is 12. Submissions for contests, magazines, or other ways to showcase your work may have a limit to how many pieces you want to have. 12 can be divided in enough ways that it will make your life easy. You can have 12 pictures that are very different from each other, or 2 themes with 6 pieces each, 4 themes with 3, and so on. This will make your life easier to narrow down the best out of each category.

2. Show a range of work.

If you are creating a portfolio just for yourself, have fun with it! See how much versatility you can put into your selection of works. If you find yourself struggling with this, that could be a sign that you need to maybe experiment more, or that you are really strong in your particular field. Either way, showing a a broader spectrum of your work will allow viewers to see your talents in different areas and help your business in the long run!

3. Use high-resolution images.

Something more technical, but also super important, is to use high-resolution images! A lot of website builders will give you the option of what resolution you want your images to appear in. Opt for whatever will make your images pop the most. This also goes for presentation. Make your images large and striking. I designed my website to be viewed best on a large iMac at full screen, this way they look best wherever they are presented!

4. Create multiple portfolios.

When organizing my work in Apple’s Photos, I create albums and sub-albums and sub-sub-albums for all of my work, the focus and selective process getting more specific each time. I have an album of thousands of pictures from over the years that I use as options for Instagram, which is pretty much everything that is edited, refined, and pretty good. I then have my album “Favorite Favorites”, that are my favorite 2-3 photos from every shoot, which is what will go on my website. From there, I have my portfolio, which are my top 12 favorite photos that I rotate through as a formal portfolio. Keeping an organization like this will make your life easier and keep you from getting overwhelmed by too much work.

5. Keep it simple.

My first portfolio website was definitely not simple. It has pictures layered over pictures, auto-playing slideshows, and pop-ups on every page. It was pretty cool looking, but definitely had way too much going on, and it took away from the quality of the work. When building an online portfolio, you want to show off each piece of work in the best way you can, with as little distractions as possible. A great resource for this is the website builder, which is entirely built up of modern, clean, and simple portfolio templates.

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