This past week we looked at the work of Yousef Karsh. The students in the 8 Week Portrait Workshop are learning a ton and putting it to practical use. Here are their images from last weeks assignment.
“What makes a photograph “Portfolio Worthy”
I want to talk about what makes an image worthy of your portfolio today, and have you think about your work in possibly a different sort of way.
What is your portfolio, anyway?
It is the repository of the work you have made, and limited to be the outstanding pieces from the volume of work created. It is the instrument you use to say “this is what I do.”
Whether it is a printed book, a ‘traditional portfolio’, an online gallery or your website, your portfolio is a collection of your best work. And hopefully one can see a style emerging from that collection.
A portfolio is not a congregation of your most popular shots, nor is it the ones your mom or boyfriend think ‘rock’. Those are great compliments of course, but the portfolio images should show more of another viewpoint.
The images should be chosen with care and the knowledge that they reflect your sensibilities, with your unique vision stamped across them clearly.
In fact, they may not be the most popular shots in your collections. They may be a bit on the obtuse side, or more challenging in composition and design. They may show your more experimental choices or they may be the quiet nature of simplicity that you love so much. They can range from mild to wild, black and white to HDR, people to landscapes to interiors to food.
But they are yours. They represent the images you want to make, how you want to make them and with all of the parts genuinely yours.
Why? Because that ‘genuinely yours’ approach will help you as you begin to develop a style, a vision and a body of work that you will be proud of.
Shooting what other people like will make you madder than the proverbial hatter. There is no style in the world that will satisfy everyone. No matter what you shoot, someone is not going to like it. Changing your work to match their needs only means you will alienate someone else.
So don’t bother.
Shoot your work. Shoot it your way.
Find out what the images you love have in common.
Here’s a little assignment for you;
Put 20 of your favorite images onto a single large image… a collage. Photoshop can do that for you now (again) with a tool under the File menu.
File/Automate/Contact Sheet II
Put the twenty images into a single folder and run the Contact Sheet II script. Choose the largest paper size you can print (or take to Costco/Sams Club/Walmart… whatever) so that all of the images are displayed together on one sheet.
This one is done on 8.5 x 11 and I used a setting of 12 images per page.
Now take that sheet and look at it closely, with the intent of really seeing each image.
What are the similarities between your images?
What are the differences that jump out at you?
Which images, if any, look out of place in the selection?
Which images, if any, look wrong or not as good as the others that are similar?
Show the sheet of images to people you trust to give honest feedback. Even your mom, BFF, buds, and the guys you hang out with and discuss photography. As long as it is honest, it will be good feedback.
It is not a good critique, however. Critiques are done with intentions in mind, goals determined, and a frank discussion of what the images were created to do.
But feedback is good, and if you don’t know anyone who can give a good critique (yet) they are a good place to start.
The last thing to do is to analyze the ways the feedback made you feel about your work. Do you agree with their assessments? Do you believe they see what you shot the way you see what you shot? Does an image still stand up in your mind as being a strong image even if others say it was not their favorite?
Do this repeatedly with 20 images at a time. Find the ones that really resonate with you. The ones you want to show to everybody, everywhere, every day.
I’ll close with this quote by Photographer Bela Borsodi:
“If it touches you, if it excites you, if it makes you cry, if it makes you smile. A good photograph is something you cannot resist looking at. There might be a sense of surprise or discovery. something pleasant or painful. There is this quote by Oscar Wilde: “I can resist everything except temptation” In a way a good photograph is what you can’t resist and want to engage with. It doesn’t matter if you take photographs of your dog, or girlfriend, or whether you’re in a big studio with supermodels in it. If it speaks to you, then that’s when you know you have a good photograph.”
(Thanks to Hiram Chee for finding this great quote.)
“W magazine is renowned for its avant-garde fashion stories, those elaborate confections of magic and mystery that have inspired and captivated readers for more than two decades. This volume gathers 10 of the most remarkable stories, each in its entirety, along with never-before-seen outtakes. Each story was the centerpiece of the issue it appeared in, and together they ride the razor’s edge between outrageously provocative and enchanting, from the bizarre (Steven Klein’s “One for the Ages”) to the alien (Tim Walker’s “Planet Tilda”) and whimsical (Paolo Roversi’s “Carnevale”). These and other stories by Klein, Walker, and Roversi, as well as Steven Meisel, Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, and Alex Prager, are featured. A special code inside the book provides access to short films shot on the sets of the featured stories by Meisel, Walker, Klein, and Prager.”
Awesome book if you like new fashion photography.
“How can a photographer of internationally known stars create iconic portraits that linger in the memory–especially since these actors have already been photographed and filmed millions of times? Vincent Peters–who has been working since 1995 for magazines such as Vogue and GQ and fashion brands including Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Yves Saint Laurent–relies entirely on the classic art of portrait photography for his pictures. Focusing on small gestures and subtle productions instead of prominent poses, he ensures that his subjects do not disappear into the backdrop and that their faces are the focal point. Emma Watson’s features are lent a tragic note with white makeup. Annie Lennox appears like a stern missionary in a suit and fedora. Photographs of stars such as David Beckham and Christian Bale are markedly masculine. Even more intimate are the images that Peters has taken in private surroundings, like when he accompanied Monica Bellucci during her second pregnancy. His sophisticated lighting has the most impact in his black-and-white photos, bestowing them with a breathtaking cinematic quality.”
Cinematic lighting, classic style of the 40′ – 50’s given new life with Vincent’s contemporary approach. I was not all that familiar with is work, and the book is expensive – but worth every nickel. Wow.
“Moss’s magic has been captured by the world’s leading photographers, and this volume spans the entirety of her unparalleled career, from model to fashion designer, and muse to icon. Told through images that Moss has personally selected, KATE shows the influence of her collaborations with top photographers and artists over the last two decades, and clearly demonstrates why her career has had, and continues to have, such incredible longevity.
Photography by Arthur Elgort, Corinne Day, Craig McDean, David Sims, Hedi Slimane, Inez & Vinoodh, Juergen Teller, Mario Sorrenti, Mario Testino, Mert & Marcus, Nick Knight, Patrick Demarchelier, Peter Lindbergh, Roxanne Lowit, Steven Klein, Terry Richardson and others”
You see that list of photographers there, right? And the incredible Ms Moss?
This one is so full of ideas and brilliant photography that it addles the brain. Simply astounding.
“This new collection of Peter Lindbergh’s photographs presents his work from the past ten years. The prolific fashion and portrait photographer is one of the leading commercial artists of our day. His special subject are women.”
Because Peter Lindbergh… duh. If you are not familiar with Peter’s work, and love fashion/beauty… well, you need this book.
“Stephen Shore has had a significant influence on multiple generations of artists and photographers. Even for the youngest photographers working today, his work remains an ongoing and indisputable reference point. Stephen Shore: Survey includes over 250 images that span Shore’s impressive and productive career. The images range from 1969 to 2013, with series such as Early Works, Amarillo, New York City, American Surfaces and Uncommon Places, among others. Stephen Shore: Survey elucidates Shore’s contributions, as well as the historiographical interpretations of his work that have influenced photographic culture over the past four decades. The narrative of the catalogue is conceptualized around three particularly revealing aspects of Shore’s work, including his analysis of photographic and visual language, his topographical approach to the contemporary landscape and his significant use of color within a photographic context.”
Stephen Shore is an enigma to me. I both love and dislike his work… for sometimes the very same reason. He will challenge your beliefs in what makes a photograph as well as show you ways you have never thought about. Not an instant attraction, Shore takes a bit of time to digest. This is, in my opinion, some of his best photography.
An older book, and still available at a decent price. I loved this approach, and look forward to hopefully seeing another book on a select group of women by legendary photographer Peter Lindbergh (who we are studying next week for the 8 Week Portrait Class (see workshops tab).
Yeah… I done spent all my Christmas money. But then I love books, and books full of photographs… how can you beat that?
Shooting for the web has created some interesting configured imagery. From very wide and narrow images for banners to tall and skinny images for side bars, shooting to layout is as important as ever.
Here is a simple video for making a viewing tool that can help you when shooting for banners or whatever layout you may have.
In the 8 week portrait class we looked at the work of famed Chicago photographer Victor Skrebneski. The students were asked to make a photograph inspired by what they saw in Skrebneski’s work. Not to copy it, but to be inspired by it.
Here are the remarkable expamples created by the students: