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What is a photographer’s portfolio?

 A portfolio shows a lot about you and your work. It is a collection of your photos created to show people your best work. Its purpose is usually to get a photography gig. Whether you want to do weddings, portraits, commercial jobs, a portfolio is the tool that shows a customer your capabilities.

Venice, Arcades, Doge's Palace

 

Why should you have a portfolio?

 You are at a special occasion or a friend introduces you to someone who needs photography work done. A portfolio is a way to show this person that you’re the one to do the job.

Grand_Canal_by_Annette_Schreiber          Venetian Gondolas

 

What should be in a photography portfolio?

 Some experts say that a portfolio is a printed presentation of your best work, showing your best skills.

Some say a portfolio should be tailored to the customer you’re approaching.

If your portfolio is a traditional folder of printed photographs, it will be much less dynamic than an online gallery could be..

Consider your audience. If you want to do weddings, your portfolio would contain portraits of couples, groups, wedding events like getting ready throwing the bouquet, and still-life shots including flowers, rings, and invitations. If you want to work for an online travel magazine, your portfolio should include landscapes, urban scenes and portraits. DO YOUR RESEARCH! Know your prospective customer’s needs and show that you can fill them.

 

  • Be Original

There’s nothing worse than having a portfolio that looks like every other portfolio. You want to be remembered! You want to leave a lasting impression. While it is useful to study other portfolios and web sites, imitation is NOT suggested.

Show some creativity in your thought process and reflect it in your work.

 

  • Content is King

Your portfolio represents what is most important to you. Play to your strengths. Your portfolio is a sales medium. Make sure the product you are selling is quality work that you stand behind. No one wants to buy an inferior product.

 

  • Editing

There’s an old adage that says, “Your portfolio is only as good as your weakest picture!” Show only your best work. Editing is critical. Be objective. Don’t get too emotionally attached to your work. Learn to eliminate photos that mean a lot to you. If you think a picture is weak, it probably is. Lead with your best shot. Be wise in your sequencing and don’t be repetitive. When a prospective client is finished viewing your portfolio they should feel like the same photographer took all the images!

  • Quality

 Make sure your prints or digital images are of the highest quality possible. It must be well-organized, cleanly design and presented in a way consistent with work and ethics.

 

  • Personal Project or Story

A story or personal project will tell a reviewer a lot about you and your capabilities. Single images are fine but they give no indication of how you approached your assignment. Including a story shows a reviewer you understand and can execute visual storytelling. Does your story have a beginning (opener), a middle (transit images) and an end (a closer)? Did you vary your perspectives? Did you shoot tight as well as wide? Did your pictures take the viewer on a journey?

 

  • Promo Cards

Absolutely essential! Have a good variety of promo cards which highlight your best work. List your name, website, phone numbers and email address on the promo cards. Also include your location. Don’t expect the reviewer to translate your area code to figure out where you are based.  A resume is something you might want to have handy as well, if applicable.

 

 

  • Digital vs. Print Portfolio

It’s not one or the other anymore. You must have both! Design your website in a similar style as your portfolio. Large single image home pages are very effective. Do not overdesign! The cleaner the look, the stronger the impact. Create easily navigable links to your galleries, published work, and contact information.

 

  • Keep It Current

Update your portfolio regularly. Add new work as you finish new assignments. Keep your images fresh, current and topical. Remove older images and clips as they will make your portfolio look dated.

small alley in Venice       Flooded

 

How many pictures and what should you include in your portfolio?

 Your portfolio should contain only 8 to 12 pictures. Photo buyers are busy people. The worst thing you can do is to overwelm them with photos that are redundant. You might be the best rose photographer in the world, but showing 40 pictures of roses will mark you as an amateur.

Venitian Door        Dead End or Way Out

 

Who will look at your portfolio?

 Well, no one. Portfolios don’t go out and find people. The fact that you have created a stunning showcase of your work won’t bring in one customer. You can create keywords or tags, title your images to maximize web-search results, and tell all your friends to go look at your new site. But finding people to look at your portfolio is your next job.

Print some business cards and go network with buyers.

Marketing and networking is the essential key to get your work out for people to see them and hire you

venice_bridge_by_annette_schreiber       Parking Gondolas at the Grand Canal in Venice

 

With this all being said, don’t wait for the perfect portfolio ever you might create. Get your pictures out now but stay with quality.

 

 

 

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echinacea_2_by_annette_schreiber

There is no end to the number of beautiful flowers out there ready to be photographed. Whether it’s a single bud, a single flower, a bouquet, a plant, a bush, or a blossoming tree, flowers are wonderful subjects to photograph. They’re not temperamental, they generally stay where you put them (or where they grow), they are a great subject to experiment with, and they come in an array of vibrant colors.

 

Now, what if you decide to photograph them in black and white?

 

It is often believed that good photos are ones with beautiful colors. However, there are other forms of photography such as black and white, monochromatic, infrared etc.There is much more than simple shining colors in pictures. Photography is the recording of light regardless of color and outcome. Black and white has been popular since the early days where cameras would only take these images and were unable to interpret colors.

purity and innocence          tulip_4_by_annette_schreiber

Black and White Photography focuses on the details and composition of the object or scenery. Vibrant colors often overshadow the beautiful simplicity of the main subject.

 

You need to understand the incidence and the direction of the light. Pay close attention to how the light hits the subject and reflects off the details, the ups and downs and the curvature in the subject’s surface.

 

Is it coming from a primary light source such as the sun or an artificial flash? Is the light coming from a reflected source such as off a wall or a reflector?

 

Texture in the subject’s surface can define the realism in the photo while smooth or blurred out details produce mythic or ideal images.

Images with a wide range of tonal values tend to work well for black and white imagery. Most black and white images are most successful when there are definite blacks and whites–that is, the tones in the photo range all the way from the blackest black to the whitest white with lots of varying gray tones in between.

dahlia in full bloom          Water droplet inside of a lily.

Black and white images appear to be more timeless than color images.

Many Fine Art Photographers prefer black and white images for their tendency to distance the subject matter from reality.

 

Humans see the world in color, and a rendition of the world in monochrome makes us pause and look closely.

white lily in full bloom

Try different styles. Photograph in color and than convert to black and white and observe what it does to the photograph. Do you like the simplicity of the gray tones?

hibiscus_by_annette_schreiber         Echinacea in full bloom

Enjoy the way to create a new artwork!

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vertical_by_annette_schreiber

 

Architectural photography, whether classic or contemporary, can be both rewarding and challenging. Figuring out how to get the ultimate shot isn’t always easy, even though you try again and again.

There are a lot of factors that play into getting the ultimate shot, some controllable and some not, so here a few tips you should know before you even begin.

While some of these may seem like common sense, they may not be what you think about each time you ‘point and shoot’ your camera at a building. However, taking all these tips into consideration will surely help you get a frame-worthy photo.

 

1) Always have your camera and location ready

If you really don’t want to miss anything, then perhaps you should consider carrying your camera with you everywhere— you never know when inspiration will strike. If your location is already chosen beforehand, then be sure you are prepared for that particular location. You should also check with the owners of the building or property, or possibly the city to see if you need a permit to take photos. Not knowing could get you into trouble, impeding the opportunity to get your dream photo.

Lastly, take a look at the weather report for the location you are heading to. Depending on the type of shot you want , sunny, cloudy, rainy, stormy, clear , the weather could ruin your day.

 

Las Vegas, City, Urban, Architecture         backlit_by_annette_schreiber

 

2) Invest in the right photo equipment

It is most important that you have the right gear with you for the job you’re going to do. When it comes to architectural photography, a wide angle, fish eye or ultra-wide angle lens is the best option.

These types of lenses allow you to get a dramatic composition, and provide you with the ability to fit the entire frame of the building into one shot. However, not all buildings will fit into every shot.

This is where a camera with panoramic format can be beneficial.

 

futuristic_by_annette_schreiber

 

3) Don’t rush perfection

One of the biggest tips for shooting amazing architectural subjects is to take your time.

Not only does this give you enough time to get the shots you want, but it allows you the opportunity to explore the building.

You want to give yourself enough time to walk around and look at all sides of the building to discover which area will give you the best and most unique view.

 

heights_by_annette_schreiber        glass_armor_by_annette_schreiber

 

4) Pay attention to the light

You might be surprised at how different a building and its surroundings can look when the sun goes down at night, or disappears behind a cloud. Take shots during the day from different angles of the building to see how they look.

Then, return at night and see what has changed about the building and its environment. You will find, that as the sun sets, different shadows appear and the building may even take on a new appearance or facade.

Furthermore, the direction of the sun compared to you and the building can make a difference. It can create shadows and reflections, and increase textural elements, as well as contrast. For instance, if you want to create a silhouette as the sunsets, you want to make sure the building is between you and the sun.

 

asymmetrical_by_annette_schreiber        Dubai Skyscraper

 

5) Black & White or Color?

Another thing to think about is deciding between color and black and white. Although the decision is purely up to the photographer, there are some points you should take into consideration.

When it comes to architectural photography, color is often the most important feature of the structure that you would want to highlight. Therefore, shooting the building in color might just be the best option.

 

Side by Side

 

Conversely, if you are merely after a very graphical shot or one that highlights the structural lines of a building, you might be better shooting in black and white only. It allows the contrast to be much more present in the finished product.

 

mosaic_by_annette_schreiber         NYC Ground Zero

 

6) Don’t forget post processing

Post processing normally consists of color correction, sharpness, and increasing the contrast. However, to get the ultimate shot, you will want to do a little extra.

Mostly, you will want to think about lens distortion that may have occurred while you were taking the photos.

There are many famous architectural locations around the globe that have been photographed many different times, in different light, and in different weather conditions. Perhaps this is why they are so famous. Does that mean that’s where you should go?

As a photographer looking to create the ultimate shot, perhaps you should find your own location. Find someplace that no one has been, a building that isn’t usually photographed, and give yourself the challenge of turning it into the next spot that architectural photographers are dying to go.

As always, have a great time out there shooting!

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I have long incorporated the “Photo of the Day” exercise into my daily routine. This is a great way to make sure you are taking a least one photo a day.

 

Chester County, Pennsylvania

 

It forces you to begin to think creatively as you have to find more and more ways to photograph the same thing everyday. You begin to simplify as you become creative, and simplification is the main criteria to great composition. You start to play with techniques you may not otherwise have tried out as you make each day’s photograph different from the last one.

 

Lake scenery in Pennsylvania        Pennsylvania Morning

 

You do lens study’s to see how different lenses affect your subject. You play with perspective. You play with light. You play with time. You begin to stop thinking of your subject (after all – it’s the same subject everyday) and start thinking solely about the creative process and how you can push yourself. You begin to imagine fun things you can do with your subject and you start to try some of these imaginings out.

 

Open Invitation       Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn, East River       Manhattan Bridge

 

You might think: I have to have my camera with me every day; I have to take a photo every day; I don’t have time to take a photo a day; what am I going to shoot every single day; how am I going to shoot the same thing every single day; what in the world will I do with all the photos I’ve taken??

I had similar doubts. Until three years ago. I decided to take action. Wow. How difficult I found this to be the first couple of weeks. So – after randomly deciding on 6:00am each day to post one of my photographs to social media , I was ready about to start my Photo of the Day Assignment. I started to photograph each day. How quickly I learned the true point of photo of the day assignments.

Knowing these points intellectually – and knowing them photographically – two entirely different things all together.

 

Moon in different stages while in a eclipse

 

How in the world did I think any object could be boring?? I had totally missed the point!!! And while time of the day seems like a great idea – it doesn’t give me the same subject everyday so I don’t get the chance to lose myself in the creative process of making the same subject look different everyday.

I decided to travel a lot more to get inspired but also because I love to see foreign places and and its diversities.

 

desert        Desert, Mojave

 

It doesn’t have to be far away. Sometimes the most incredible things wait right around the corner.

 

fall        Iced Fence

 

Get creative and set an assignment for yourself to shoot something every single day. You will find out that the things you see every day change, and also how you look at them will change.

 

The most important thing is, have fun!

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Wide angle photography, probably one of the easiest types of photos to take, but also one of the hardest areas in which to excel.

 

Burj Khalifa and Aston Martin Building

 

Wide angle lets you portray the scene in full detail with unusual and sometimes exaggerated perspectives. This is especially true of super wide angle lenses. Small objects can be made to appear larger than larger objects within the same scene, effectively shifting the balance of the image composition.

 

Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn, East River        Venice_Lantern_by_Annette_Schreiber

 

When used well, it can bring attention to the subject of interest in the foreground, at the same time preserving the context of the whole image by showing the location or event in the background.

 

NYC View from Manhattan Bridge        Manhattan, East River Brooklyn Bridge

 

Lens Options

Lenses are categorized by their focal lengths. Typically, lenses fall into one of these categories:

super wide angle (10~24mm)
wide angle (24~35mm)
standard (about 50mm)
telephoto (70~300mm)
super telephoto (300mm and beyond)

 

These numbers indicate the focal length, which describes the field of view achievable using that lens. Incidentally, the field of view of a 50mm lens is considered to be an approximation to what the human eye sees. DSLR owners can choose from a variety of lenses ranging from a super wide lens all the way up to a super telephoto. But what about the rest of us?

 

 

Focusing with Wide Angle Lenses

An inherent characteristic of camera lenses is that wide angle lenses come with more depth-of-field compared to telephoto lenses. This reduces focusing errors to some extent, which means that you can focus on almost anything around the center of the frame and get an acceptably sharp image. In this case, a small aperture further increases the chance of a sharp image.

 

Mojave Desert        Double_Vision_by_Annette_Schreiber

 

For best results though, we can use the “one third of the distance rule”. Look inside your camera viewfinder, estimate the distance from the nearest point that is visible in the viewfinder, to the furthest point that is also visible in your viewfinder. Focus on a point that is roughly one-third of the distance away from you. If you cannot use autofocus effectively on that point you can estimate the distance and manually focus your lens, using the distance scale on your lens. A small aperture (e.g. f/22) gives you more depth-of-field, so use it if possible. That’s why it’s good to carry a tripod, which will let you use smaller apertures without camera shake.

 

Composing with Wide Angle Lenses

Wide angle photography has its own set of challenges. While it lets you show more of the scene, sometimes less is more. If not properly framed, a super wide angle image may include distracting elements which detract from your image, because a wide angle lens sees a wider field of view than a normal lens. Therefore it’s good to fill the frame well, composing it in such a way that only the necessary elements are included.

 

UAE, Burj Khalifa, Dubai

 

Landscape photography is a classic candidate for using wide angle lenses. In order to shoot great landscape photography, foreground interest is important. Wide angle lenses let you include a sizable portion of the foreground in the frame, so use it well by choosing a foreground that is actually interesting.

 

Schwangau, Germany, Lake        death valley

 

Try out different techniques in wide angle photography because it opens up a whole new spectrum of perspectives.

 

Have fun and create!