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11 Components of a Successful Portfolio

Question: What makes a portfolio work for creatives? Is it the sequence of images? Length? Design elements?

Based on my experience, here are 11 components of a successful portfolio:

1. Consistent Vision

If you are promoting to different markets you should create different portfolios to support those markets, i.e. food, automotive, lifestyle.

2. Flow and Sequence

Pacing your portfolio to have a strong opening, middle and end is very important. You want to hold the viewer’s attention and build their confidence in knowing who you are and what you have to offer.

3. Length

Go with 15 to 30 spreads max. Show enough of your work to clearly demonstrate your style and vision, but not so much that you lose your viewer’s interest.

4.Keep it Current

Especially if a client calls your book in more than once - you do not want them seeing the same images as previously viewed.

5. Brand it to Your Vision

Be sure to match the color and feel of your portfolio to your overall brand, as well as to your photographic style. The best time to ensure this is to take a look at your portfolio before you print it, as your brand plays a strong focus in your marketing plan.

6. Good Craftsmanship

Since you spend so much time and money building and creating your portfolio, ensure that you also invest in producing a quality printed piece. Make sure the pages are scored evenly - and that there is no glue mess or unevenness. If you do not have good crafting skills, I strongly recommend going with a custom bookmaker - they can also assemble your pages. Remember, your pages must be able to flip easily and lay somewhat flat without diluting the quality of your images.

7. Paper Choice

I am not a fan of plastic pages - pre-scored Moab, glossy and matte work well. You should get a sample pack to see what showcases your work best. You will find that different paper choices will need to be handled differently in terms of binding and post systems, so make sure if you are working with a bookmaker that you let them know what type of paper you have selected.

8. Case Choice

Again, it should work with your brand. Two companies with custom cases are PACE Cases and Lost Luggage.

9. Size

11 x 14 landscape, 12 x 12 orientated, 11 x 14 portrait or 11 x 17 landscape.

10. Digital Portfolio

An iPad is a great addition, especially if you want to show multiple focuses - personal work, projects or video.

11. Custom iPad Covers

Try the new Lost Luggage iPad Case, Apple’s The Smart Cover, Gelaskins, Skinit or a cover slipcase by Mullenberg Designs.

Portfolio companies that I like

Printers

All custom portfolios and iPad cases shown below are designed by Scott Mullenberg www.mullenbergdesigns.com & http://www.portfoliodesignstudio.com

The Marketing Lab Scott Mullenberg custom portfolio cover 01 resized 600

The Marketing Lab Scott Mullenberg custom portfolio cover 02 resized 600

The Marketing Lab Scott Mullenberg custom portfolio iPad cover 01 resized 600

The Marketing Lab Scott Mullenberg custom portfolio iPad cover 02 resized 600

About Jennifer

Jennifer Kilberg’s unique insight into the photo industry is a result of her extensive experience and understanding of all aspects of photography since joining the industry in 1996. In 2004, Jennifer started FluidVision Inc. and has worked with a diverse international client base of photographers and illustrators of all styles and specialties. As a strong communicator, Jennifer enjoys working with all types of personalities, and her loyal client base is a testament to her ability to build long-term relationships. Jennifer has worked with Agency Access clients since 2009 in both Campaign Manager programs and other types of consultations. FluidVision

Related Articles:

1. A Memorable Portfolio Tells a Great Story

2. Creative Collision: Making Sense of Printed vs. iPad Portfolios

3. Updating Your Portfolio – Images vs. Branding

Consistency is Key with Design.