5 Tips For Building A Killer Photography Portfolio

A laptop and a cup of coffee sitting on a desk

You may have hundreds or thousands of photos or photoshoots under your belt but without a standout portfolio, how can you attract more clients and show them you are the right photographer they're looking for? Just going through and shortlisting your favourites is unfortunately not enough to create a powerful portfolio. That's why, we’re going to give you insider tips on putting together a truly stunning photography portfolio.

By the end of this article, you'll be able to identify the ins and outs of creating a compelling portfolio that not only showcases your best work but also resonates with your target audience. Plus, you'll learn about a hack to create a portfolio without lifting a finger and keep it constantly updated!

#1 Know your target audience and style

Understanding who your portfolio is intended for and what stylistic themes resonate with them is the cornerstone of portfolio design. Of course, you might say "I want to get the attention of EVERYONE!". However, that approach does not really bring the results you want. What you actually need to do is to identify your niche—be it weddings, corporate events, nature, or portrait photography.

That way you can tailor your portfolio to showcase the work that best speaks to your ideal client's needs. This personalization not only makes your portfolio more effective but also helps in establishing a strong brand identity.

Here are some questions that can help you consider:

  • Who are my past clients?
  • Who are my ideal clients?
  • What style of photography best suits them?
  • What style of photography do I enjoy?
  • What do I offer that no other photographer can?
  • If I could pick one photo to represent my work, which one would it be?
  • What are my business goals? Do I need to attract more clients? Do I need to lean into my niche? Do I need to improve my workflow to increase efficiency?
Photographer working on her portfolio
Answering these questions will give you a better idea of what you want to achieve with your new photography portfolio.

If you're feeling stuck, you can get inspired by other photographer's portfolios to see how they showcase their work. Then create a mood board of your favourites to guide you in certain themes or styles that emerge that can guide you in setting up your own.

#2 Client testimonials are a must!

Incorporating testimonials from past clients adds a layer of trust and authenticity to your portfolio. Beyond the stunning photos, potential clients want to connect with the person behind the lens - show them who you are and what you’re like to work with. This approach also helps humanise your brand and create a deeper connection with your audience!

The photography industry is very saturated with talented photographers hence building credibility is essential for standing out. Positive reviews from satisfied customers reinforce your reputation as a trustworthy and reliable photographer.

We humans are inherently social beings and we often look to others for guidance when making decisions. When potential clients see that others have had a positive experience working with you, it alleviates any doubts or concerns they may have, making them more likely to choose you over your competitors.

But we're not just talking about ANY testimonial! Be tactical about which testimonials to pick.

The ones that highlight specific aspects of your service that clients appreciate the most are often the best. Maybe it's the posing guidance you provide, the ability to put clients at ease during shoots, or your exceptional customer journey! These very specific testimonials are the ones you're looking for. They help potential clients understand what sets you apart from other photographers and why you're the right choice for their needs.

#3 Regularly refresh your portfolio

Many get this wrong! Regularly refreshing your portfolio is never about swapping out old photos for new ones; it's all about presenting your evolving style, skills, and maybe even niche. Regular updates signal that you are actively evolving in your craft and keep your portfolio dynamic and engaging.

How often you update your portfolio depends on several factors, including how frequently you produce new work and how quickly your style evolves. We recommend aiming for at least every few months to keep it relevant and up-to-date. This not only keeps potential clients engaged but also boosts your visibility in search engine results if your portfolio is a website.

Another way to keep your portfolio dynamic and engaging is by organising your work into themed galleries. This not only helps potential clients navigate your portfolio more easily but also showcases your ability to tell stories through your photography.

While the final images are undoubtedly primary, potential clients are often intrigued by the behind-the-scenes process. Consider including a section in your portfolio that showcases your workflow, from initial concept development to the final edited images. This not only adds depth to your portfolio but also provides insight into your creative process and attention to detail.

Alternatively, you can consider sharing success stories or case studies that highlight specific projects you’ve worked on and the results you’ve achieved for your clients. These success stories provide concrete examples of your expertise and the value you bring to your clients.

#4 Let your personality & professionalism shine

Your portfolio should be more than a collection of images but a reflection of your personality and professionalism. Let's take a closer look at the 'About Me' section of your portfolio. This is the perfect place to introduce yourself to potential clients and give a peek into who you are as a person and a photographer.

Your 'About Me' section should be all about your story, including what inspired you to pursue photography and any personal anecdotes that highlight your passion for the craft. The key here is to make readers feel like they’re getting to know the person behind the lens. Speaking of a sneak peek, you can alternatively display behind-the-scenes photos here. This is an effective method to show potential clients how you work and what they can anticipate from working with you.

Show off your brand identity and aesthetic! It's important to maintain a consistent visual aesthetic throughout your portfolio to create a cohesive and memorable experience. This not only adds a personal touch to your portfolio but also reinforces your professionalism and attention to detail.

Another way of showcasing your personality and creativity is by including personal or passion projects in your portfolio. These projects allow you to explore themes, subjects, and techniques that inspire you. By selecting photos that reflect your interests or passions you can convey your personality within your portfolio. You can give some context to the readers by adding captions or descriptions to the photos.

#5 Use Smiler's storefront

If you've come this far, you likely understand that crafting a portfolio is neither a quick nor an effortless task, let alone maintaining its constant updates. The good news is that's precisely why storefronts exist! The Smiler Photographer Suite offers photographers a streamlined solution to the challenges of portfolio creation and maintenance! With storefronts, you can showcase your work effortlessly without the hassle of coding or design expertise.

Consider storefront your online business card that maintains and updates itself with every shoot! With each new booking, your storefront becomes a dynamic reflection of your growth, expertise, and style as a photographer. It's a digital showcase of your best work, ready to impress potential clients and collaborators at any moment.


Check out Gesti's impressive storefront!

Plus, you can automate crucial yet time-consuming tasks such as review collection and marketing consent gathering. This empowers you to redirect your focus towards what truly matters—delivering outstanding photography services and crafting unforgettable experiences for your clients. By leveraging the power of Smiler storefronts, you can ensure that your online presence remains fresh, engaging, and effortlessly professional, leaving a lasting impression on visitors and setting the stage for successful client engagements.

Final words

While creating and updating a photography portfolio may seem like a time-consuming admin task, it is undeniably a worthwhile investment in growing your photography business. Embrace the process, continue to refine and refresh your portfolio, and let your creativity shine through!

If you find yourself grappling with your current portfolio or seeking a more streamlined and autonomous approach to managing it, consider exploring the Smiler Photographer Suite. The benefits of Smiler extend far beyond just portfolio presentation. Its integrated suite of features encompasses everything from client management and online booking to payment processing. With Smiler, you can streamline your workflow, manage bookings with ease, and get paid faster—all within a single platform.

If you'd like to learn more about the best practices for your photography business and discover helpful tips and tools, browse our growing collection of articles containing useful tools, techniques, and best practices!