Portfolios....not a big word but one with huge significance these days. It also can have many different meanings. I have been teaching recently on the topic of making portfolios, what a portfolio is, what a portfolio needs to look like and what it is for. It seems I will be doing more workshops over the winter and spring, 2013 on portfolios.
For me a portfolio is a cohesive body of work designed to show off your photographs in the best way you know how. The key here is "cohesive". This doesn't necessarily mean the photographs are from the same place or time. It simply means that the work represented is edited, has a sequence and is shown in the best way you know how at this point in your development.
If you've seen any of my work or spent any time with it on the website, you''ll know I work most often in series. Each one of the groups on the site is backed up by a portfolio of prints that are from 13 x 19 inches on up to perhaps 40 inches across, laid out in a specific sequence, boxed and labelled, sitting on shelves or in flat files in my studio.
Besides the downsides of the labor involved, the cost of printing and boxing each series and needing the storage space to hold and highlight a great deal of work, there are some obvious advantages in working this way. If the work is well organized, it is easy to look at bodies of work made over a whole career. This is key for me as this is the way I show curators, collectors and gallerists my photography. Another big plus to this way of working is that when I have finished a portfolio I can move on to the next. Don't underestimate this in terms of importance. I can't get to new work without finishing and putting to rest older work.
An additional benefit is that one new outcome of having a website that is as deep as mine is now becoming is that I am able to ask those who are coming to my studio to look at work for the first time to preview various series and come with the request in hand to see specific bodies of work.
In future blogs I will go into more specifics about portfolios and their preparation.
As always, you can email me with your comments: Neal's Email