Guide to curate photo portfolio into top 15 best?

Started Apr 19, 2012 | Discussions
lostearstudio
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Guide to curate photo portfolio into top 15 best?
Apr 19, 2012

Hi, everyone. I currently have way too many photo in my portfolio. I had met with a photographer who is helping me and a few other students with feedback and one of the specific tip he gave me is to curate my photo collection into the best 15 photos so that he can critically analyze these 15 photos this Tuesday. (And to see what kind of photo that I consider the best).

He remarked that I had potentials (especially considering that I'm starting to get frustrated by my camera's limitation) and that he was rather impressed with a few specific photo. He just could not analyze my photo in the limited time we had together because I simply had too many photos for him to look through.

I am hoping to impress him enough to maybe possibly get an internship under him as there are very few deaf photographer with their own photographing business. (I don't mind working for the hearing but he could give me a lot of workplace education on how to communicate with clients and how to deal with the communication barrier).

Thanks.

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Chris R-UK
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Re: Guide to curate photo portfolio into top 15 best?
In reply to lostearstudio, Apr 19, 2012

I find it impossible to give advice on this without having seen your portfolio and without knowing the preferences of the person to whom you want to show them.

I suggest that you start with the images with which he was impressed and then add your other favourite images (which is what he asked you to do).

As an aside, I have never seen "curate" used to mean organise/select before. I only know this definition:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curate
Is the use of curate as a verb common in the US?
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Bjorn_L
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Re: Guide to curate photo portfolio into top 15 best?
In reply to lostearstudio, Apr 19, 2012

Since the assignment is to be used to judge both your technical and artistic vision, I do not see anyone being able to give you help here.

Just do as asked and provide your 15 favorite photos. Perhaps paying attention to more than technical elements will be useful.

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See my plan (in my profile) for what I shoot with. See my gallery for images I find amusing.

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lostearstudio
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Re: Guide to curate photo portfolio into top 15 best?
In reply to Bjorn_L, Apr 19, 2012

My portfolio that I showed him is basically this,

https://plus.google.com/photos/109327038370401662804/albums/5725461224788029105?banner=pwa

The photographer that will be looking at my work is,
Andy Blackburn of http://www.andyblackburn.com

he have newspaper experience and just started his business last year out of Lancaster, PA.

Think of it as a job interview. How should I pick out the best works? I know that some of that is due to my own preferences but I do want to see how other's would see my portfolio as.

Thanks.

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Chris R-UK
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Re: Guide to curate photo portfolio into top 15 best?
In reply to lostearstudio, Apr 19, 2012

Well, his site has mostly portrait shots with a few photo journalist shots - e.g. the ones of Hilary Clinton. He has a reasonable proportion of B&W.

Here are my opinions of your portfolio, and I empasise that they are my personal opinions only:

  • Get rid of just about all of the animal shots. None of them is anywhere near professional quality. The possible exceptions are the older dog against a dark background and just possibly the cat. I would also include the shot of the tiger behind the fence in B&W - it carries a message about zoos.

  • You have some quite good flower shots. Include a couple of those.

  • Include the two portraits that you have plus the statue head shot (as a third "portrait").

  • You've got some interesting architectural shots especially the near B&W corridor with the shafts of sunlight. Include a few of those.

  • Certainly include a couple of your semi-abstracts in the top row.

  • I might include the snow shot of what looks like a bench seen through a tree, but none of the others.

  • Maybe the shot of the truck taken from a car(?). It will at least be a shot to talk about.

  • The first of the fountain shots.

  • Maybe the cigarette shot although there are some technical problems (cigarette out of focus and blown highlights).

  • Make sure that you have a good sprinkling of B&W.

I hope that this gives you some ideas, but definitely get rid of almost all of the animal shots. If you have any shots that you took to show a message, include them because, even if they aren't technically wonderful, they show that you are looking for "message" shots.
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lostearstudio
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Re: Guide to curate photo portfolio into top 15 best?
In reply to Chris R-UK, Apr 19, 2012

Chris R-UK wrote:

Well, his site has mostly portrait shots with a few photo journalist shots - e.g. the ones of Hilary Clinton. He has a reasonable proportion of B&W.

Here are my opinions of your portfolio, and I empasise that they are my personal opinions only:

  • Get rid of just about all of the animal shots. None of them is anywhere near professional quality. The possible exceptions are the older dog against a dark background and just possibly the cat. I would also include the shot of the tiger behind the fence in B&W - it carries a message about zoos.

  • You have some quite good flower shots. Include a couple of those.

  • Include the two portraits that you have plus the statue head shot (as a third "portrait").

  • You've got some interesting architectural shots especially the near B&W corridor with the shafts of sunlight. Include a few of those.

  • Certainly include a couple of your semi-abstracts in the top row.

  • I might include the snow shot of what looks like a bench seen through a tree, but none of the others.

  • Maybe the shot of the truck taken from a car(?). It will at least be a shot to talk about.

  • The first of the fountain shots.

  • Maybe the cigarette shot although there are some technical problems (cigarette out of focus and blown highlights).

  • Make sure that you have a good sprinkling of B&W.

I hope that this gives you some ideas, but definitely get rid of almost all of the animal shots. If you have any shots that you took to show a message, include them because, even if they aren't technically wonderful, they show that you are looking for "message" shots.
--
Chris R

This is exactly what I'm looking for. I may not follow all of the advice listed in there but I will keep them in mind as I sort through my portfolio. Thanks!

I'm curious. Is there any particular reason why some of these animal pic is not that professional? Been having a lot of friends complimenting me on these pics but I can never know if they really do like it or is just being a friend and trying to be supportive.

I do like the truck pic too but I'm not too crazy about the slight reflection you can see of the inside of the window of the car. That reflection goes right over the truck.

Again, thank you for your feedback!

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lostearstudio
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Re: Guide to curate photo portfolio into top 15 best?
In reply to Chris R-UK, Apr 19, 2012

Chris R-UK wrote:

As an aside, I have never seen "curate" used to mean organise/select before. I only know this definition:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curate
Is the use of curate as a verb common in the US?

English is not my strong point so I may not be using the term "curate" right. I'm deaf and the language of America Sign Language is more like spanish in grammer structure and whatnot.

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nelsonal
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Re: Guide to curate photo portfolio into top 15 best?
In reply to lostearstudio, Apr 19, 2012

Is it possible it's related to the care (selection and exhibition) as in a museum's curator's job? I tend to not be bothered by extentions to English though, so long as there's some thread of meaning I can pull from context.

I didn't go through all of his galleries, but everything I saw was almost entirely people. It's possible you're creative visions are different enough that he may not have the best guidance/mentoring ability for you.

I'd keep any he noted as likeing. Otherwise, I'd probably choose 8, 13, 17, 18, 27, 57, 81, 90, 93, 119, 123. But I was trying to cover as many of your styles as I could. You might find it useful to choose one area or subject to specialize for a little while, and build more specific portfolios for that subject area. I think you have a good eye for unique event looks, which would seem to be the best fit toward working with him, so you may want to tailor a more focused portfolio for working with event types photographers (or at least lead with the event shots you choose from your overall portfolio).

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lostearstudio
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Re: Guide to curate photo portfolio into top 15 best?
In reply to nelsonal, Apr 19, 2012

nelsonal wrote:

I'd keep any he noted as likeing. Otherwise, I'd probably choose 8, 13, 17, 18, 27, 57, 81, 90, 93, 119, 123. But I was trying to cover as many of your styles as I could. You might find it useful to choose one area or subject to specialize for a little while, and build more specific portfolios for that subject area. I think you have a good eye for unique event looks, which would seem to be the best fit toward working with him, so you may want to tailor a more focused portfolio for working with event types photographers (or at least lead with the event shots you choose from your overall portfolio).

Thank you for your suggestions on these images. It really helps to see the other's perspective on my portfolio. I have not really felt like I've gotten any real criticism and review of my works until I've met Andy and online.

What do you mean by...

I think you have a good eye for unique event looks

Just curious.

Again, Thanks

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nelsonal
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Re: Guide to curate photo portfolio into top 15 best?
In reply to lostearstudio, Apr 19, 2012

Well your shots that seemed most apropreate to this review either seemed to be somewhat ironic commentaries (the tiger through the chain links, the proud figure with the face obscured by snow, or the officer on horseback, taken from an angle associated with slinking away from a defeat) or scenes that captured a moment well (the cigarette in one's face at a party, and the pairs of legs appearing to wait on a bench, one calmly waiting, the other restlessly moving). There's less room for ironic commentary, in photos of weddings and graduations, but the eye that spotted the other two shots, could probably repeat with some unique candids from events.

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lostearstudio
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Re: Guide to curate photo portfolio into top 15 best?
In reply to nelsonal, Apr 19, 2012

nelsonal wrote:

Well your shots that seemed most apropreate to this review either seemed to be somewhat ironic commentaries (the tiger through the chain links, the proud figure with the face obscured by snow, or the officer on horseback, taken from an angle associated with slinking away from a defeat) or scenes that captured a moment well (the cigarette in one's face at a party, and the pairs of legs appearing to wait on a bench, one calmly waiting, the other restlessly moving). There's less room for ironic commentary, in photos of weddings and graduations, but the eye that spotted the other two shots, could probably repeat with some unique candids from events.

Thanks! That make sense!

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AnandaSim
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curate
In reply to Chris R-UK, Apr 19, 2012

Chris R-UK wrote:

As an aside, I have never seen "curate" used to mean organise/select before. I only know this definition:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curate
Is the use of curate as a verb common in the US?

Curate as in the curator of a museum or art collection.

The word has become very popular in Google+ photog circles covering UK, US, Australia and other countries

https://plus.google.com/u/0/s/curate

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Gary_Scotland
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Re: Guide to curate photo portfolio into top 15 best?
In reply to lostearstudio, Apr 20, 2012

lostearstudio wrote:

.............I'm curious. Is there any particular reason why some of these animal pic is not that professional? Been having a lot of friends complimenting me on these pics but I can never know if they really do like it or is just being a friend and trying to be supportive.

Hello,

Without being disrespectful to anyone, the people that are most likely to give a very biased critique are friends or family, so I would not put a lot of emphasis on what they say about photos.

I suspect that for getting a successful internship the photographer will want to see that you have:

  • A "good eye" for composing a photo

  • Some evidence of understanding 'light'

A GOOD EYE

Whilst technical ability is of importance, a badly composed photo that has been executed technically perfect will still not make a good photo. If we look at it in 'simple' terms, what first makes you want to look at a photo? It needs to have an 'interesting composition/subject'. After your eye has been drawn to the photo, it needs 'something of interest' there to keep it looking. THEN you start to look at the technical ability (and in all honesty, it is probably other photographers that do this more than the 'general public'). So, for me, the composition is the number one factor that you should be thinking about when narrowing down your portfolio.

UNDERSTANDING LIGHT

This is the crux of showing your technical ability in my view. A photographer, from a technical viewpoint, is just 'using light' to create an image. Whether natural or artificial light, it is the number one thing that you need to show you have some understanding of how to control - to simplify things, think in terms of: the 'quality' of the light, the 'direction' of the light, the 'colour' of the light. So, perhaps have a look through the photos that you have narrowed down as being well composed and now start to analyse the lighting in them.

In my view, this is probably a good way for you to move forward.

Another thing that you mentioned that is perhaps best not to pass on to the photographer you are hoping to receive the internship from is that you feel that the camera is limiting your photography. Without being disrespectful you need to remember that your camera is just the tool, and it is more often the person on the other end that limits 'its' ability If you think of it, the camera can't stop a person from composing a good shot, or from getting the light right. Granted that there are cameras (tools) more suited to certain styles of photography (e.g. sports action, landscape, etc), but they all still reply on the user.

Good luck and hope that you get your internship.

Regards,

Gary

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Chris R-UK
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Re: Guide to curate photo portfolio into top 15 best?
In reply to lostearstudio, Apr 20, 2012

lostearstudio wrote:
[snip]

I'm curious. Is there any particular reason why some of these animal pic is not that professional? Been having a lot of friends complimenting me on these pics but I can never know if they really do like it or is just being a friend and trying to be supportive.

The problem with the animal shots is that they are either taken in a zoo or are shots of common animals in your backyard or the local park. Anybody can take these shots with almost any camera. If you are going to show these shots to a professional they have to be out of the ordinary - shots that "anybody with any camera" could not have taken.

I like the tiger shot because it emphasises the cage. I like the dog shot because of the lighting and the dark background. The two cat shots are also interesting.

One thing that you should be prepared for is for him to ask you: "Why did you take this shot and why did you choose this angle or that lighting"? In other words, be prepared for a discussion about each of the shots that you show him. This might affect your choice of shots.

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yvind Strm
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Re: Some advice
In reply to lostearstudio, Apr 20, 2012

Hello

If he wants to see what kind of photos YOU consider the best, then you should pick.

But, since you ask, I sense that you too is insecure on how to recognise a good image. Many are. And it gets even harder when it is about one owns pictures.
The problem is twofold.

1. You (and most of other photographers) lack a language to describe/judge photos, and apply a systematic approach to the task.

2. You are too attached to your images. You was there, and all other sensings are programmed into your brain, and invoked when you judge it. It is like the state of mind where someone has a view on something, and will overlook or argue against any opinion that does not support that view.

A systematic approach helps overcoming the last problem. And training.

Lets go:

1. Find what to photograph with your heart. If you do not feel anything when you find a subject; don't expect anyone else to either.

2. Use your creative part of the brain to find an interesting approach. Decide angle/pov, lighting etc, but do not touch the camera before all creative decisions are made. Make sure to decide your main object. Do not overload.

3. Grab the camera and switch to the other half of the brain. Suppress your emotions, and consentrate on the handwork. This step is about composition, and executing the ideas from 2. Composition is nothing but geometry. Colours, areas, shapes, lines, objects relations. Right? But also exposure, lighting and focus is (or should be) part of the composition to me.

The secret of #3 is to use any trick in the book to EMPHASIZE the main subject, and suppress all objects that have no function in the picture. If a object does not support the composition, it HAS to be elliminated. Change position, lens, angle, or remove it physically. If neither is possible, use focus or lighting to minimize the influence. A very important advice is to force your eye to examine every part of the viewfinder/LCD for disturbing objects, because otherwise, your brain/eye will overlook them. I find all these steps so much easier with the camera on a tripod.

Well, how does this help you judge images?

Ask the same questions:

  • Does the picture affect you in any way? (This is dangerous when judging own pictures, because there will always be a emotional attachment to one owns pictures)

  • Does the picture have a clear main subject/story? Is it interesting, or a

  • Is the picture conducted in a creative way, that supports the main subject?

  • Are there disturbing objects? Nothing must steal the attention, but it is ok to guide the eye around in the image. Again, force your eye to scan all of the image.

  • Does the composition works? (Turn the picture upside/down, to distract the brain from being focused on "What it sees") Use of lines, raport, fibonacci, etc.

  • Is the lighting pleasant, and does it supports the main subject?

  • Is the focus well placed? (Including DOF) So that it highlights the main subject?

  • Does the exposure fits the subject?

Hope this helps you.

lostearstudio wrote:

Hi, everyone. I currently have way too many photo in my portfolio. I had met with a photographer who is helping me and a few other students with feedback and one of the specific tip he gave me is to curate my photo collection into the best 15 photos so that he can critically analyze these 15 photos this Tuesday. (And to see what kind of photo that I consider the best).

He remarked that I had potentials (especially considering that I'm starting to get frustrated by my camera's limitation) and that he was rather impressed with a few specific photo. He just could not analyze my photo in the limited time we had together because I simply had too many photos for him to look through.

I am hoping to impress him enough to maybe possibly get an internship under him as there are very few deaf photographer with their own photographing business. (I don't mind working for the hearing but he could give me a lot of workplace education on how to communicate with clients and how to deal with the communication barrier).

Thanks.

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mlackey
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Re: Guide to curate photo portfolio into top 15 best?
In reply to lostearstudio, Apr 20, 2012

lostearstudio wrote:

He just could not analyze my photo in the limited time we had together because I simply had too many photos for him to look through.

Forget 15, choose your 5 or maybe 10 best photos, the ones you like most, and show those. If he likes, he likes. If not, his loss. It's all about what you want to say with your images.

Mike

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AnandaSim
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Re: Guide to curate photo portfolio into top 15 best?
In reply to lostearstudio, Apr 21, 2012

lostearstudio wrote:

Hi, everyone. I currently have way too many photo in my portfolio. I had met with a photographer who is helping me and a few other students with feedback and one of the specific tip he gave me is to curate my photo collection into the best 15 photos so that he can critically analyze these 15 photos this Tuesday. (And to see what kind of photo that I consider the best).

Yes, he is wanting you to become self aware. He wants you to know or develop and assessment of what you designate as important, what you designate as popular and so on.

You could try my proposal on your own pics

http://anandasim.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/anandas-10-point-photo-critique-rating.html

Most importantly try this for the top 15.

Phase 1: If you were to pick One and ONLY ONE pic, which one? Take it out and put it aside.

Phase 2: If you were next to pick Top Three, take the next two and put them aside

Phase 3: If you were to pick Top Five, take the next two out and put them aside.

The rest of the 15 doesn't matter. You have taken 5 (Five) of your best. Pick whatever to join the 5.

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lostearstudio
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Re: Guide to curate photo portfolio into top 15 best?
In reply to AnandaSim, Apr 27, 2012

Here is my top 15 photo. Some of the pics need to be cropped and tweaked some. I still can't quite decide on the absolutely #1 pic out of my piles of photos. a few of the top 15 pics could still be swapped out for something else maybe.

http://lost-ear.500px.com/#

Thank you so much for all of your feedback. I feel much better about my portfolio. I know I still have a lot more work to do on it but I think I got a good start at the least. I am currently actively seeking critiques and feedback by pro photographer. Had 2 critiqued my portfolio already and I am currently in process of contacting another pro for their feedback and critiques.

P.S. If you want to see where I've selected my photo from, here is my general photo portfolio album consisting of maybe more than 125 pics.

https://picasaweb.google.com/109327038370401662804/Portfolio

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Chris R-UK
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A big improvement on your first attempt.
In reply to lostearstudio, Apr 27, 2012

Well done and thank you for coming back and showing us what you have selected. This is a much more impressive selction.

Best of luck with your portfolio.
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Dennis
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Re: Guide to curate photo portfolio into top 15 best?
In reply to lostearstudio, Apr 27, 2012

Hi Jeffrey,

That looks like a nice portfolio. I just saw this thread for the first time and realize that this input is late, but you might find this article interesting. It's by Mike Johnston (theonlinephotographer.com) and the topic is preparing a portfolio:
http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/opinion/mikejohnston/index.htm

  • Dennis

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