You’ve bought the camera, taken the course, and you’re ready to start making money as a photographer. You know it’s time to create a portfolio to show off your work to prospective clients, but you don’t know how to get started.
An online portfolio is essential for anyone hoping to make a living as a professional photographer. It’s the first place potential clients will look to assess your level of expertise and whether they like your style. They’ll also be looking to see if you’ve worked with similar clients in the past.
A strong digital portfolio can make all the difference between making bank and going broke as a photographer. A great way to get started is to look to successful photographers for inspiration.
This article will cover ten of the best photography portfolios out there (in no particular order). Stick around to the end for five tips on creating a great portfolio site that will help you become a successful photographer.
1. Yasmin Tehrani
Yasmin Tehrani is an Iranian-born photographer based in California. Her work combines hard-hitting documentary photography with fine art and portrait photography. Tehrani’s work has been featured in American publications such as The Corsair, The Nation, City & State New York, and the Santa Monica Daily Press.
Her portfolio is a beautiful, minimalist showcase of some of her best images, covering everything from Black Lives Matter protests to Trump rallies. It also highlights some of her portrait work.
2. Pedro on the World
People are at the center of Pedro Oliveira — aka Pedro on the World’s — work. The Brazilian-born, award-winning photographer is an editorial, documentary, advertising, and still-motion director who splits his time between Portland, Oregon, Orange County, California, and Sao Paulo in Brazil.
Despite having been in the game for only six years, he has created images for the likes of Forbes, National Geographic, The Guardian, Volvo, Vanity Fair, and many more.
His portfolio is divided into categories including Lifestyle, Studio, Cultures, Automotive, and Fitness, so prospective clients can browse his work depending on what they’re looking for.
3. Anwita and Arun
Anwita and Arun are a multidisciplinary creative duo based in Noida, India. Their work includes food photography, styling, illustration, and design.
Their portfolio website is divided into categories that include Food Styling and Photography, Inside and Outside, Still Life, and Illustration. They also have a behind-the-scenes video of their process for creating the design for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes packaging.
Anwita and Arun’s style is colorful, sophisticated, luxurious, and inviting, and their portfolio website does a great job of showing it off. Their clients include Better Homes and Gardens, Discover India, Uber Eats, and The Wine Rack Mumbai, among many others.
4. Jeremy Cowart
Jeremy Cowart is a photographer from Nashville, Tennessee, specializing in celebrity portraiture and humanitarian photography. He’s photographed some of the world’s most famous people, including Taylor Swift, Barack Obama, the Kardashians, and Dolly Parton.
Before embarking on his photography career 15 years ago, Cowart was an abstract artist and graphic designer. He brought all of these mediums together when he created his first NFT collection, “Block Queens,” which sold out within seconds in February 2022.
Cowart’s portfolio is categorized by NFTs, Art, and Photo, and each image is interactive, so users can click around and zoom in and out to get a better perspective of his work. His clients include Nike, Discovery Channel, CNN, and Rolling Stone.
5. Larissa Ong Shu Wen
Larissa Ong Shu Wen is an award-winning Singapore-based creative documentary producer. Through her photography and films, she tells stories of migration and sexuality, with a particular focus on representation and inclusion.
Her portfolio website is divided into two categories: Documentary, where she showcases her documentary film work, and Photography, where she displays a selection of her best work.
6. Aubrie Pick
Aubrie Pick is a San Francisco-based food, portrait, lifestyle, travel, and interiors photographer. She has worked on cookbooks with celebrity chefs such as Chrissy Teigen, Sam Kass, and Giada De Laurentiis, and worked on Food + Wine Magazine’s “Best Chef 2021” feature, with one of her photos making the cover.
Her portfolio is divided into categories such as Food and Drink, People, Interiors, and Travel. Some of her clients include The New York Times, Ogilvy, Kraft Foods, and Impossible Foods.
7. Gentl and Hayers
Gentl and Hayers are a New York-based husband-and-wife photography team. Their work has been a staple in the editorial world since the 1990s, and they work across a range of categories from food and drink to travel, portrait, and accessories, as well as Gentl’s recently published book, “Cooking With Mushrooms.”
You’re probably familiar with their work, even if you don’t know it. Some of their clients include Condé Nast Traveller, Anthropologie, Victoria’s Secret, Starbucks, and Martha Stewart Living.
8. Cadeau Boudoir
Cadeau Boudoir — real name Patricia — is an award-winning Toronto-based photographer specializing in boudoir photography for women. She encourages women of all shapes, sizes, ages, and ethnicities to embrace their bodies and develop confidence and self-acceptance through her work.
Although she may not have a roster of celebrity clients to her name, her photography speaks for itself. Her portfolio page displays beautiful, tasteful boudoir photos of ordinary women celebrating their unique beauty.
9. Alicia Wiley
Alicia Wiley is a Baltimore-based photographer specializing in wedding photography and engagement photos, family portraits, and web design and branding photography for small businesses. She describes her work as “down to earth meets bougie + boho meets disco + industrial meets greenhouse.”
Combining documentary and editorial, Wiley has an eye for capturing candid moments but also provides direction and styling to hone the details. Her portfolio is fun, friendly, and bursting with color and personality. Her work has been featured on The Knot, Baltimore Weddings, Bride & Groom, and Iconic Bride.
10. Dave Hill
Dave Hill is a photographer and director based in Los Angeles, California. He began his career shooting album covers for hip-hop artists such as 50 Cent, Chris Brown, and Soulja Boy. This experience opened the door to shooting national ad campaigns, specializing in automotive brands such as Alfa Romeo, Mercedes, and Ford.
His portfolio includes a mix of branded campaigns and personal photoshoots. It also features his short films and video ads.
5 tips for building a stand-out photography portfolio
Now that you’re feeling inspired, let’s take a look at five of the key features that all these portfolios have in common — and how you can steal their secrets to create an online photography portfolio that will have new clients banging on your door.
1. Know your audience
Find the niche you want to specialize in and tailor your portfolio to your target audience. Some photographers like to be free of labels, but when you’re starting out, serving a clear niche with a specific type of photography can help you build a client base and make a name for yourself.
For example, avoid filling your portfolio with landscape shots if you aspire to be a portrait photographer. Know your ideal clients, and create your portfolio with them in mind.
2. Optimize across devices
Whatever the style of your portfolio, make sure your website is fully optimized for PC, mobile, and tablet. If you only optimize your portfolio for desktop, for example, your bounce rate on mobile will shoot up, and you’ll lose out on potential clients.
An easy way to do this when you’re just starting out is to use a reputable no-code website builder — such as Behance, Dribbble, Wix, or WordPress. Their built-in features make optimization across devices a walk in the park.
3. Prioritize your photos
Here’s where you have to be ruthlessly honest with yourself. Does a visitor really need to see everything you’ve snapped since 2010? Probably not — let them dip their toes into your best shots first, and then offer a buffet of categories to choose from.
Your photo portfolio should balance images with negative space for an aesthetic that’s easy on the eye and makes each photo stand out.
4. Start small if you have to
If you’re building your first professional photography portfolio, chances are you don’t have top models lining up to work with you. But don’t worry — there are plenty of ways around this.
Start by photographing your friends for free and uploading their pictures. Alternatively, shadow an established wedding photographer to get a few shots for your portfolio.
Most photographers start with scraps and gradually build to something formidable. Don’t be afraid to make do with what you have — a potential client will likely admire your resolve.
5. Tell a story
Humans are wired for stories, so there’s nothing that will hook website visitors like a compelling narrative.
Think about the message you want to convey or the statement your photos make about the world. Then, curate a few of your best photos that will turn that message into a story. Do this for your homepage, then rinse and repeat for the rest of your portfolio.
Create your first photography portfolio with Playbook
Your portfolio is your visual calling card and the first port of call for potential clients, so getting it right is crucial to landing gigs and growing your photography business.
It’s also essential to make sure you’re using the right tools to support your business-building activities. One such tool is Playbook, a digital online storage platform for artists, designers, and photographers. Playbook combines the best of digital storage and organization with beautiful visuals — think Dropbox meets Pinterest.
With Playbook, you can store and organize your photos in a way that makes sense to you — and you can even create a photography portfolio website to share with potential clients. Sign up for free to receive 4TB of lifetime storage and start building your portfolio today.