Portfolios are important in many different professions. Whether you’re a photographer, designer, stylist, make up artist, or model, at some point you’re going to want to display your work so others can decide if you’re the right fit for their project. A couple times a year, I spend time at Paul Mitchell the School Portland talking to students about how Evernote can help them build their portfolios, and I thought the information might help others get started with their own work. This is just a basic outline—use it as a starting point, and make it work for you.
The Evernote Web Clipper is your friend. Instead of collecting a bunch of bookmarks with no context, clip content that inspires you into a dedicated notebook, and tag it accordingly. The day before a shoot, use this notebook to come up with ideas. Share it with your client so you can collaborate on ideas. This is also a great place to store ideas for portfolio display. Clip any portfolio sites that contain components or layouts you may want to use on your own online portfolio. The Web Clipper also allows you to mark up a page so you can easily remember which aspects you really liked.
This is the hard part. It is for me, anyway. Select only your best work for your portfolio. It’s far too easy to go through your work and end up with a hundred photos you like. Keep in mind that someone looking at your portfolio probably doesn’t have time to browse through hundreds of photos—you need to grab their attention in the first 10-15 seconds. It helps to enlist the help of others when selecting portfolio work. Friends and family are awesome, but they aren’t the most critical when it comes to your work. Get input from people who will be critical and offer you their honest opinion. Ultimately, you have to decide which images best represent your work, but bringing others’ opinions into the process will give you an idea of how the general public will view your portfolio. I have one friend I go to on a regular basis for constructive criticism, simply because I can trust him to be blunt and honest. I don’t always agree with him, but his input is incredibly valuable when working on my portfolio.
Create a Portfolio notebook. Start adding your content, one image per note. Add any additional information directly in the note itself. I’ve been asked why I don’t use Dropbox or something similar to keep my portfolio images, and this is why. I can add text information to the same note that stores the image, so it’s all in one place. I’ll add EXIF info, captions, descriptions, model information—basically any information about that photo that I might need at a later date. Also, since I create a note in a Models notebook for each model I work with, I can create a note link back to that model’s note. The Model note contains basic information and their signed release form.
Once all your images are in the Portfolio notebook, decide on some top-level genres. I opted for Men, Women, Teens, Kids, and Other. These will become the main tags for your portfolio notes. Add any additional tags that make sense: black and white, model name, MUA name, stylist name, and shoot location. This makes creating and/or saving searches much easier.
This one is definitely personal preference. There are many ways to display your work, but I’m only going to cover the methods with which I have experience.
You can display your work on the web through Evernote itself. You’ll want to copy your image notes to a dedicated Web Portfolio notebook. This lets you pick and choose what additional text information is available for each image. Displaying your work this way is probably the easiest method, but doesn’t allow you much in the way of customizing the look and feel for your portfolio.
**Be sure to remove the location information from your Evernote notes in any public notebook. It’s a great feature for personal notes, but you don’t want the world knowing where you live.
This is where my portfolio currently sits. Squarespace offers some great portfolio templates, and adding image galleries is simple and straightforward. It’s a managed solution, (meaning you can’t download it and use it on your own web host,) and customization is somewhat limited compared to WordPress, but in my opinion, it’s the best combination of speed, reliability, and ease of use. Drag and drop from Evernote to Squarespace.
WordPress has become more than just a blogging platform. You can easily build your entire website in WordPress, and there are some awesome free and paid themes that work well for portfolios. With both managed and self-hosted options, you can choose what works best for you. The self-hosted option gives you the ability to customize it to your heart’s content if you have the knowledge to edit templates. You can drag and drop from Evernote to the WordPress image upload screen.
Koken is fairly new as far as content management solutions go. It is developed by the same guy that created SlideShow Pro. He’s a photographer and a developer, and it shows in Koken. Because it is so new, there aren’t a lot of themes to choose from, but since it is self-hosted, you can create your own themes. Image management is where Koken really shines. Drag and drop to upload images from Evernote.
I’ve been a Flickr user since 2005, and still love it. The site has gone through some changes since Yahoo purchased it—some good, some bad—but it is still one of the most popular photo sharing sites out there. If you want to keep your portfolio separate from your personal photos, just create a new account. You don’t have control over how your images are displayed, but it is a simple and free portfolio solution. There are paid accounts, but the free account is more than enough for a portfolio. Drag and drop between Evernote and Flickr’s upload page.
I read somewhere that Flickr is where photographers upload all their photos, and 500px is where they upload their best photos. Just browsing through the 500px site will show you how accurate that statement is. 500px displays some of the most amazing work I’ve seen on the web. There are free and paid options, but the free account should be more than enough for your portfolio. There is also an option to create a Store where you can sell your images. Drag and drop from Evernote to 500px upload page.
Let’s address the elephant in the room. Facebook is probably the best way to get exposure for your work. You can create a business page, upload your photos into albums, and start sharing with your friends, who will hopefully share with their friends, and so on. The biggest issue with Facebook is the compression they apply to uploaded photos. Let’s face it—Facebook gets hundreds of millions of photos uploaded daily, so they focus more on image file size than display quality. Don’t get me wrong—putting your portfolio on Facebook is a great way to gain exposure, but you’ll probably want an additional site where people can see your high-quality portfolio images. To upload images to Facebook, drag and drop images from Evernote to a folder on your desktop, then go through the Add Photos function in Facebook. They don’t seem to support drag and drop uploading yet.
Online portfolios are a great way to reach a broad audience, but there’s something about being able to hand someone a physical copy of your portfolio to flip through. How often you update this book depends on how quickly you add new images to your portfolio. I try to do one new book a year. There are plenty of options when it comes to creating portfolio books, and prices range from fairly inexpensive for a basic book, to I’m going to have to eat Top Ramen for a week in order to afford this for the super high quality books. Shutterfly is a great solution for the less-expensive books. Printing and binding your own portfolio is always an option, as well. Some services may support drag-and-drop. For others, simply drag and drop photos to a folder on your desktop, then upload or print.
Do what works best for you
There are plenty of ways to curate and display your portfolio. Ultimately, you should choose a method that works best for you. Your portfolio should reflect your personal style in the best way possible.