Ah, the portfolio! It’s something I very rarely think about nearly a decade into my business. But, when I started it was something I agonised over and updated constantly.
So, what do you include in a killer wedding photography portfolio to actually get you more clients?
Who is your ideal client?
Knowing your ideal client is everything. I feel like I say this at least once a day. Everything you do in your marketing revolves around who you’re talking to and what you’re saying to them. Your portfolio is no exception, we want this is make sense for your ideal client.
Get clear on who your clients are and what they’ll want to see and use that as a guide.
If you’re not clear on your ideal client yet, I have a FREE training just for figuring out how to define and speak to your ideal clients over here.
What do you want people to think?
OK…so…you know your ideal client. That means you probably know your messaging too, right? What do you want your clients to think when they visit your website?
Let’s use my wedding photography portfolio as an example.
My tagline is “real, fun, never-awkward wedding photography.” In my messaging I talk about having lots of fun and not spending much time on posed photos.
So I use those words as a guide – I include some “real” moments – you know, the emotional ones – a whole lot of “fun” ones – and I don’t have any cheesy poses, even my “posed” couple shots look organic, they’re full of laughter. Oh and I don’t show family/group shots.
Use your tagline, or your key message, or your values, or talking points – whatever you want to call them – as a guide for what to include.
What you keep out is more important than what you keep in
As I said above, what you want people to think is important.
Let’s say you’re promising “natural moments” and then your portfolio is half super staged and highly produced couple and group shots. I bet they’re gorgeous, but, it’s not what you promised.
A lot of my clients are worried that if they cut out a whole aspect of the wedding from their portfolio that clients will be put off. That if they don’t include the detail shots/groups/couples/speeches/candids/whatever that clients will think they don’t take those photos at all.
That’s not the case. You’re simply showing what you’re the best at and the main reason clients are hiring you.
And if you’re struggling to figure out what you should and shouldn’t show, there’s a chance that your messaging isn’t defined enough. If you can’t figure it out, they won’t be able to either.
How many photos?
There’s no hard and fast rule to how many photos you have in your portfolio. But, how likely it is that someone is going to scroll through 500 photos?
Also, give some thought to how the images are delivered…if they have to click on every single one, then that will be 500 clicks…if it’s an automatic scroll, it’s more passive so you can probably show more.
Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity though. You don’t want to end up doing that thing where you include more to try to mask the fact that you don’t have much that you super duper love. Your portfolio is for the best of the best – 10 incredible images are better than 100 mediocre ones.
I’ve seen a lot of wedding photography websites that don’t even have official “portfolios” any more. They show specific real weddings, either as a gallery or blog post in their place.
If you’re the kind of photographer who focuses on story-telling with your images (like a candid/documentary photographer) this might make sense as you want to take your viewers on the journey of the whole day. If you’re all about the hero shots, a traditional portfolio still makes the most sense.
I use both – I have a portfolio, but, below the gallery of favourites there are links to a few blog posts of real weddings. And those weddings are carefully selected to represent the kinds of weddings my ideal clients are most likely to be having.
Over the years my editing has changed significantly, I’m on my fourth big style change editing-wise. There’s a good chance you’ve gone through different editing styles too.
Make sure your editing is consistent in your portfolio. We don’t want your editing style from 3 years ago creeping in. It should be clear what your clients can expect as the end result from your portfolio.
If there are some great older shots in there, think about running them through your new editing.
I once ran into trouble here because a client had found me through a mega old blog post, where I was doing “vintage” editing (cringe). When she got her final images, edited in my much more “true to life” style, she was disappointed and felt she had been misled. I had been regularly clearing out my main portfolio, so, I could refer her to that as an accurate idea of my editing.
Clients want to see themselves
Clients want to see themselves represented in your portfolio. They want to see a wedding with a similar style, similar couple, etc.
So…show what you want to book.
If your ideal wedding is in a tipi, but, your portfolio is all manor houses, chances are you’ll be getting a lot of manor house enquiries.
Weed out the images of weddings you don’t want to shoot and show weddings you do.
And remember, this applies to demographics too – if there are no same sex couples or ethnic minorities in your portfolio, there’s a good chance you won’t be booking clients from those communities going forward.
If you would love to work with a certain type of client but don’t have images of them yet, make it explicitly clear elsewhere in your marketing that those are your kinds of weddings or think about arranging a styled shoot.
Get someone to review it
Do you know what is never a good idea? Asking someone who doesn’t understand your industry or what you do to wade in on your business.
Unless it’s a portfolio review. Then I would say totally go and ask some friends to look at it…tell them your messaging and to keep that in mind while they look. Bonus points if they’re engaged/married so they know what it’s like to be on the hunt for wedding suppliers.
Remember to optimise
Oh and remember to get all the boring technical stuff right. Make sure your images are resized so they load fast and you’ve got those file names optimised for SEO.
Go get it done!
Don’t stress too much about the portfolio. I recommend doing a quick review of it every 6 months. That’s literally just half an hour, checking there’s nothing in there that doesn’t match up, while optimising and adding new images. And a more in-depth review any time you change your branding, messaging or ideal client.
If this whole messaging and ideal client thing is brand new to you, or you’re not sure you’ve got it down yet. My FREE 5 Days to Clients training is made for wedding businesses who want to finally master their marketing and book more clients (you know, the fun ones, not the ghosters and the price-shoppers). You can sign up for free over here.
Photos by Hannah Mia Photography (that’s me!)