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How to create a photography portfolio from scratch

In professional photography, your portfolio isn’t just a showcase of your work—it’s your business card that creates a first impression and helps clients find you. Having a solid portfolio can open doors to exciting opportunities. In this article, I’ll share with you how to create your first photography portfolio. 

How To Create A Photography Portfolio From Scratch

Ask your friends

Reach out to your friends and invite them to join you for a photoshoot. Share your creative vision and the opportunity they get to receive pretty photos in return. As you do every photoshoot with friends, you’ll build your photography portfolio and create cherished memories for them. It’s a win-win situation. 

Whether you offer these photoshoots for free or charge a nominal fee is entirely up to you. 

When building my initial photography portfolio, I did approximately twelve photoshoots at no cost. This approach led to more frequent “Yes” responses, ultimately accelerating the process of filling my photography portfolio with photos.

In your photography portfolio, feature only the clients who align with your ideal vision. Avoid showcasing every person or group you’ve worked with. Concentrate on sharing images of the individuals you aspire to collaborate with. This strategy, known as curating your portfolio, attracts similar clientele and enhances your professional image.

how to create photographers portfolio

Assist a professional photographer

Consider assisting a professional photographer to gain valuable field experience. Working as an assistant lets you learn directly from a seasoned professional about everything from setting up equipment to interacting with clients. This hands-on experience can help you develop your skills and style. Additionally, this role provides opportunities to network within the industry and potentially open doors to future opportunities. 

portfolio photographer how to start

Attend a workshop

Attending workshops hosted by professional photographers provides a fantastic opportunity for aspiring photographers to excel in their skills and expand their portfolios. These workshops often feature professional models dressed in fashionable outfits posing in scenic landscapes or chic interiors. You’ll have the chance to capture captivating images and gain valuable experience in various photography techniques.

Moreover, most workshops permit you to showcase the photos you take during the event in your photography portfolio.

However, while many workshops offer valuable learning experiences and portfolio-building opportunities, not all of them may align with your artistic vision or provide the desired level of mentorship. So, do your research before choosing a workshop that best suits your goals and preferences. That time invested will help you to maximize the benefits of your photography portfolio development.

start building your photography portfolio

Use TFP agreement

TFP (Time for Print/Time for Photos) is a term that describes an arrangement between a model and a photographer. In TFP agreements, the photographer provides the model with a set number of photos in exchange for their participation in the photo shoot. This arrangement benefits both parties without involving financial transactions. 

You can find TFP groups on Facebook and on the website ModelMayhem.   These groups are a great way for beginner photographers and models to meet, arrange a TFP photo shoot, and enhance their portfolios. 

Explore different options until you find the one that helps you achieve your goal of creating your first photography portfolio.

Stay confident, and don’t let anyone deter you from achieving your goals. Remember, you’re in control of your decisions and actions. The more focused and consistent you are, the faster you’ll reach your goals. Set clear annual and monthly goals to track your progress effectively. Write down in your agenda how many photo sessions you plan to do each month and year, and then pursue them with determination. 

Stay inspired,

Elena Sullivan 

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