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portfolio sucess question
Old 03-02-2006, 12:42 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Hey All,

I am finally putting together a book to send to potential clients. My question is, what do you all look for in images to put into your book. Before I get blasted, I understand the many things that go into this decision, IE: composition, lighting, possing, crop, mood, impact, story and what type of book you are putting together for the types of jobs you are seeking. Having said that, I am looking for some feedback from the pro's. Thought processes and any general info would be great.

Thanks,
Michael
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Re: portfolio sucess question
Old 03-02-2006, 02:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Micheal

One suggestion - consistency. Make sure that your book tells a single story. It may be a collection of different models in different places, but it should be about your ability to produce a great headshot, or a great commerical images, or a great swimsuit image. Don't make the client guess what you do or why they might hire you.

We've all been guilty of this. We want to provide 20 images each of which show something different that we can do... To us, it makes us think that we're versatile. To the viewer, it's confusing. That's why many people have more than one book and they're careful which book they send to which client.

Let the content of the image be a component of your edit as much as composition, exposure and the other technical issues.

Best of luck
Bob

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Re: portfolio sucess question
Old 03-02-2006, 03:45 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I'm in the process of doing mine and it is a little nerve racking. What goes into it very much depends on who you plan on showing it to. I took my current one to a meeting of photographers and a guy who used to have a modeling agency in NY was there. He said my book said I was a glamour photographer and agencies wouldn't be interested in me. I needed "edgy" fashion or catalog images.

I was reading a book at the store the other day about how to organize your portfolio. Some of the things I took from it were:

Put your best image first. You want to wow from image one.
Don't organize by type because it highlights what isn't there.
Put a good image with the feeling you want to leave them with at the end. Put any controversial images in the middle.
Your book gets eliminated based on its weakest images. People judging your book go through looking for a weak image to reject you for, not all the great images to accept you for. Found that kind of sobering.

I wish I could remember the name of that book.
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Re: portfolio sucess question
Old 03-02-2006, 03:45 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Bob,

Thank you for the great advice! In other words..if I want to submitt to a potential catolog client, then show all images of like swimsuit, fashion or types of images that convey I can make their clothing look good? Lingerie should be all about lingerie? Am I on the mark here?

Thanks again,
Michael
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Re: portfolio sucess question
Old 03-02-2006, 06:47 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Michael

generally, you have it. One of the editing points is how broad or how narrow to focus. You could put fashion, commercial, swimwear and lingerie together if you're aiming for the catalog market. You could also separate out the fashion/commercial images from the swimsuit/lingerie to focus your book a little more on the clothes vs less clothes. Remember - the images shouldn't look like T&A swimwear and lingerie shots. T&A sells the model and catalog people want to sell the clothes.

Bob
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Re: portfolio sucess question
Old 03-02-2006, 08:34 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I'm not certain this is the book Ron was thinking of but it's a great book... Successful Self-Promotion for Photographers by Elyse Weissberg. Incidentally, the author, a world class advertising photographer's rep, died of melonoma and this book was her last great effort to put everything she knew about promoting photographers in a book.

It's mostly about portfolios since its the portfolio that represents the photographer in cases where you have to send it rather than present it.

I support what RJW says about keeping the story consistent with each shot complementing and reinforcing the others. Don't try to cover lots of bases. The key to marketing is targeting your customers. Know what you want to shoot and make your book tell the story of how you visualize and shoot it.

You don't need 20 images. I've counted pages turned during presentations and I've never seen an AD go past ten without stopping and either closing the conversation or switching to a discussion of the project. If they like you a lot, they'll want to keep your book to show to their collegues and/or clients. It's never a bad idea to have a self-addressed, padded mailer with postage on you so they can mail it back to you easily.

Always shoot for your portfolio, update it often, make sure it always represents your current visual style.

Good luck,
Chip
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Re: portfolio sucess question
Old 03-02-2006, 10:39 PM   #7 (permalink)
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best advice I ever got from a successful (now retired) working model who is also a friend and took time to look at my book a couple of years back when it wasn't really even a book:

"Make sure you kill with the first shot in and make sure you KILL with the last shot in your book."

Best advice I ever got from the head of a large modeling agency:

"stay away from the tuna sushi in this place"

second best piece of advice from the head of a large modeling agency:

"put your fashion in a fashion book. Put your headshots in a headshot book. leave your artsy cool portrait sh!t at home, that's not what we'd hire you to do."

In other words, what Bob said about not being too broad in one collection of shots.

Final tiny bit of advice based SOLELY on my own experience as a now third year full time pro in the Nashville market: People will make decisions about your shooting ability based on your website long before they ever give you a chance to hand them a book.

Hope it helps, best of luck, and here's some artsy portrait sh!t to keep things moving right along:

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My totally \'non-professional\' test...
Old 03-04-2006, 08:41 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I am not a professional, don't wanna be one. But here's a simple test I use to 'qualify' images as good enough to show...

Pretend you are leafing through a magazine at a newsstand. If you ran across the image in a magazine would you immediately flip on, or would you take an extra few seconds to look at it?

If it can't grab your attention for a few seconds, think long and hard about putting in your book...

One book you might look through is "Professional Model Portfolios... A step-by-step guide for photographers" by Billy Pegram, published by Amherst Media, and available widely. While it is aimed at developing a model's book, most of the same information should apply to your book.

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