Creating a Compelling Portfolio


How to showcase your work in the best possible light

“If you want a photography portfolio that shows you in the best light, take time to make it coherent and consistent”

Gemma Padley is a freelance journalist and editor who has worked at the British Journal of Photography and written for a host of clients including Foam, Photomonitor, 1000 Words Magazine, Elephant magazine,, and Magnum Photos. In the third of a new educational series, she gives advice on creating a portfolio – how to think about its intended purpose and then edit and refine so that it shines.

A lot has been written on the topic ‘how to edit a photography project or portfolio’ because it is an important (and tricky) thing to get right. It’s hard enough knowing when to call time on a body of work (“have I shot enough?”) let alone finalise an edit that flows and says everything you want it to. Learning how to sequence your work so it conveys an idea or ideas convincingly is a skill worth honing, however, not least because a weak edit can let you and your work down. With practice, it’s possible to become a skilled editor of your work.

The focus of this article is on preparing a portfolio of images to showcase on your website or to send out as a PDF to prospective clients, art buyers, creative directors, photo editors, or other creative types on whose radars you want to be. A portfolio rather than a project is likely to contain a mixture of images from across lots of bodies of work or even single images, so it’s less about creating a single narrative thread and more a case of making sure there’s coherence and consistency. As ever, there are no hard and fast rules, but it’s worth reiterating a few key points.</