Thursday, June 12, 2008

Create a Digital Photo Portfolio: Part 1

In this series, I am going to present an overview of how to create a digital photography portfolio using Adobe InDesign, Photoshop and Acrobat Professional.

Several years ago, photographers who were interested in getting published or showing work in a gallery were required to present a portfolio of slides or prints to potential clients. However today, digital portfolios created with programs such as Adobe InDesign are becoming the norm. This is especially true for preliminary viewing of work. Unfortunately, many photographers use this new approach as an excuse to cast off the time and effort that they used to spend on creating a nice presentation. Large file sizes, awkward transitions and poor color management ring-out like beacons to savy editors and art directors who often see hundreds of portfolios over the span of a given year.

*Note: The workflow that I use for preparing a digital presentation is typically: 1) Lay out text and images in Adobe InDesign,2) Prep images for final file in Adobe Photoshop 3) Export pdf 4) Optimize pdf in Adobe Acrobat

Step One – Selecting Images for your Portfolio

Everyone is not cut out to be a good graphic designer. The good news is that there are few simple rules that you can follow to make your digital portfolio better.

1) Limit the Number of Images: Don't try to cram every single image that you have ever made in your career into your portfolio. If you've only got five strong images that represent your body of work then send five. For gallery and publication promotion try to limit the number of images in the group to between 10-15. If you have 10 really strong images this will typically be enough to peak the interest of the viewer who may then request to see more.

2) Consider a Theme-Based Portfolio: Although it is often a good idea to show that you have a wide-range of different looking images, these days, many photographers are being selected for their particular styles even if the subject matter varies. One could make the argument that the stock photography market of today is so flooded that individual styles can often be one of the only things to differentiate your work from the masses.

3) Limit the Amount of Copy in the Layout: Other than a brief introduction, biography of the artist and short captions to accompany your photos, too much copy in a digital portfolio may be distracting. If your images can't wow the viewer without a long explanation then you should reconsider the images that you have chosen to include.

Now, you're ready for the design and layout process in InDesign. Stay tuned for Part Two of this series.


Jose Guimaraes said...

Great overview of this topic, just what i was looking for...
If i understood you replace your final images in Acrobat Pro?

Any idea when you posting part2?

Thank you,


Anonymous said...

Great post! I'm interested in part two. I found this posting when I did a google search for: PDF+photo+portfolio