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Regardless of what level you’re at in photography, your portfolio will say everything about you. Editing it is one of the scariest things you will do , and to make things worse, you have to do it regularly, I would advise at least once a year. It’s basically a process in which you pick out your best photos and set the others aside. It’s hard because most of us think of our photos as our own children. This is a method I recommend to help make to process more rational and bring out the absolute best in your work.
Don’t rush it
It probably took you a few years to shoot all the photos you have now, so don’t expect to be finished with editing them in one day. The first step then is to make time. Take a day off from your work, or sacrifice a few nights if you have to. Gather all your dvd/portable drives/whatever, sit down at your computer and start working. You might be visited by thoughts of how bad your work is. Lock them in a dark ,distant corner in the back of your mind and focus.
Discard in stages
This will be a process in multiple stages. In stage one, gather no more than one thousand images. Because it is quite possible you might have overlooked good images over the years, go through every file and focus on the RAW, unprocessed images instead of the final, retouched jpgs. In the end you will have to end up with a maximum of 50 images.
After the first filtration, you should come up with 150-200. This is a good time to take a break and step away from the whole process and allow your mind to take the attention of the selection process. A lot of the remaining images will be the ones your friends and family liked, and while this may have helped you in the past, you need to get self critical and let them go.
Turn to your peers
Luckily, you don’t have to go thorough this difficult task alone. Seek help from other photographer friends or people with artistic skills you admire. An outside point of view can be very valuable a situation like this. Images you might have overlooked or didn’t think of very much could be appreciated by educated individuals .
The final stage
You end up with 100 images or less, from which you must pick out only the best .Since your portfolio should be regarded as a whole body of work , the pieces must come together in harmony. I highly recommend making prints at this time. They don’t have to be large scale, they should fit on your wall. After printing, start looking for good, visual associations between them. Again, the help of fellow photographers is very welcome. You will find yourself loving one or more photos and being the only one who does. Think of this stage as preparing an exhibition with someone else’s work. Although the images might differ in terms of subject and genre, they have to form a single, solid.
Once you’ve passed this final challenge you can either print a book, or make the final presentation for your iPad or website. Keep all these images in a master folder and keep adding to it each time you do a good job. At the end of the day, what matters for your career isn’t just what you shoot, but what you publish as well.
Image credit: iofoto / 123RF Stock Photo