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Thread: Building up of portfolio...

  1. #1
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    Default Building up of portfolio...

    hey guys, i wonder how do i build up my portfolio? i have approached people who needs services, but they are all interested in portfolio (which i have none). how do aspiring photographers build portfolios then?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Building up of portfolio...

    do for free? lol! cover public events/shows maybe? car shows etc.. erm volunteer to be backup photographer for anyone you know getting married? jus some suggestions..

  3. #3
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Building up of portfolio...

    baby steps, one step at a time.

    do whatever you can, tell the clients what you can do, what you can't do, let them decide to hire you or not, slowly you will have enough portfolio you get the jobs you want.

    anyway, portfolio can fake, experience can't, the choice is yours.
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    Default Re: Building up of portfolio...

    help some pros carry their equipment, learn abit, etc.
    Don't brag about your accomplishments; Show us your future works.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Building up of portfolio...

    agree. never over promise. make clear what u can do or cannot do. people respect you more. also there is no way to really kick start these things. baby steps, be hungry and ambitious and aim to not only built your portfolio but also to built your network.

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    Default Re: Building up of portfolio...

    i'm trying to find people who would let me be their back up photographer. man, its not easy. i do have some experience as i did weddings during my internship, i just need a portfolio to get jobs to finance my uni education. i know that portfolio can fake, but that would be terribly dishonest. its the opportunity that i need. man, it's hard finding one.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Building up of portfolio...

    The question should be what are you going to put into your portfolio and who is going to see it?

  8. #8

    Default Re: Building up of portfolio...

    never do for free. u can start cheap but never for free. either that, or u can tag along as a 2nd photographer to someone first.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Building up of portfolio...

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Lim View Post
    never do for free. u can start cheap but never for free. either that, or u can tag along as a 2nd photographer to someone first.
    so you're saying even if you volunteer your services as a backup photog, u should still charge?
    :: Nikon D90 | Tamron 17 - 50mm f2.8 VC | Nikkor 85mm f1.8| Nikkor 50mm f1.8 ::

  10. #10
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Building up of portfolio...

    Quote Originally Posted by pooQy View Post
    so you're saying even if you volunteer your services as a backup photog, u should still charge?
    read again.

    is "free shoot no no, cheap cheap can, die die must charge customers, or tag along another photographer."

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Lim View Post
    never do for free. u can start cheap but never for free. either that, or u can tag along as a 2nd photographer to someone first.
    Shoot to Live, Live to Shoot
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Building up of portfolio...

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Lim View Post
    never do for free. u can start cheap but never for free. either that, or u can tag along as a 2nd photographer to someone first.
    why not do for free? my experience is that people demand less if they understand you are learning and you are doing it free.
    Any nominal fee that you charge raises people expectation. Any "ang pow" that you sheepishly ask for translates into complains if your pictures are not up to standard. But if it's free, people do not have a right to complain..

    Impt thing is to communicate to your clients what u can and cannot do. Be outright, be frank and no one can fault you. You will be suprised that many people dun mind pple who wanmt

    throughout the years, you have many wedding photographers who blast every single newbie photographer comming here to advertise cheap services. I think they are just insecure chaps ( you know who u are...lol)

  12. #12
    vince123123
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    Default Re: Building up of portfolio...

    I'll give 2 thumbs up for this, every word said here is so true and correct.

    There are some of those who often try to come into this forum to say "oh I increased my prices x2 , x3 etc" trying to get everyone to do the same. So funny :P I really wonder if we check their income tax returns whether got x 2 or x3 or not heheeh

    Quote Originally Posted by cosycatus View Post
    why not do for free? my experience is that people demand less if they understand you are learning and you are doing it free.
    Any nominal fee that you charge raises people expectation. Any "ang pow" that you sheepishly ask for translates into complains if your pictures are not up to standard. But if it's free, people do not have a right to complain..

    Impt thing is to communicate to your clients what u can and cannot do. Be outright, be frank and no one can fault you. You will be suprised that many people dun mind pple who wanmt

    throughout the years, you have many wedding photographers who blast every single newbie photographer comming here to advertise cheap services. I think they are just insecure chaps ( you know who u are...lol)

  13. #13

    Default Re: Building up of portfolio...

    Quote Originally Posted by cosycatus View Post
    But if it's free, people do not have a right to complain..
    this is where you are sorely wrong.


    if the client is mean enough to ask people to do it for free, you can bet he will be thick-skinned enough to comment that your photos are horrible even though you did it for free.

    as to why you shouldn't do for free or cheaply, this is my view. my view is that most of the people who don't know what they are doing and therefore will incur reasonable complaints should just go home, learn how to photograph properly before they dare to start taking on proper jobs (i.e. not favours for friends, or brother's wedding.. meaning, people that source them out).

    there are so many people out there who just think that with a professional camera, they are good enough to shoot for people, they don't get the consequences, or the fact that they are not worth the money they are charging. and then there are also the bunch that think that going for free is fine..

    it is not, you just encourage exploitation of photographers as a whole. i have encountered many many commercial companies (some of which are not SMALL FRY companies) shopping for free photographs for anything..

    from publications to book covers.. their compensation per se is "oh, we will credit you".. despite the fact that the resultant usage generates profit for them.

    both ends of the scale should wake up their idea. if you can't shoot, go home and learn and brush up before pretending that you can and charging. if you can't shoot and do it for free, you should still brush up first.

    by "doing photography for free" i am talking about offering services to any tom, dick or harry that "oh, i will do this for free even though i don't know you." if you want to build up portfolio, can always offer to be backup for friend, and treat it seriously, read up before you go, try to make the best effort you can, so that you will improve faster.

  14. #14
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Building up of portfolio...

    Quote Originally Posted by cosycatus View Post
    why not do for free? my experience is that people demand less if they understand you are learning and you are doing it free.
    Any nominal fee that you charge raises people expectation. Any "ang pow" that you sheepishly ask for translates into complains if your pictures are not up to standard. But if it's free, people do not have a right to complain..

    ........................................
    this is very wrong, a photographer who shoot for free does not mean he/she has less or no responsibility to deliver quality photos.

    unless the photographer tell the "customers" directly he/she is taking them as guinea pig, if they still engage the photographer, that is their choice and be responsible for any outcome.

    in real life, people who complain a lot and very demanding, are those people look for cheap or free stuffs/services.
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  15. #15
    vince123123
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    Default Re: Building up of portfolio...

    Actually I beg to differ. It is common that the greater the sum paid, the higher the expectations. On a sliding scale, if the lesser the sum paid, the expectation is therefore reduced. As they say, "yi fen qian yi fen huo". I think this concept is applicable to many things we encounter daily, from the amount you pay for first party lenses compared to third party lenses etc; expectation is directly correlated to price paid.

    In my line of work, I have also given free consultation to people on a "without responsibility" basis; meaning that they are free to take my advice as is if they trust me; but if I turn out to be wrong; then there is no responsibility to them. If they want a "responsibility based" consultation, then charges are imposed.

    Where no payment is being made, the other person will be hard pressed to hold the photographer liable for poor quality photos.

    A photographer who shoots for free and for no return at all, can even argue that there is no contract binding him to the other party; and hence, with no liability as to the results.

    Yes, the customer can complain all they want, but whether the photographer needs to take credence or even deal with it is another question altogether. If a customer wishes to broadcast a complaint, the photographer can rebutt by saying "the job is free" and let the audience judge for themselves who is being reasonable.

    I do disagree that people who complain are people who look for cheap or free services. There are many people who are demanding (reasonably so) when they are paying for top notch stuff. My own personal view is that the level of my demand will depend on how much is paid. If I got something for free, I won't bother to demand; if I paid top dollar, the person better jolly well do a good job.

    Quote Originally Posted by catchlights View Post
    this is very wrong, a photographer who shoot for free does not mean he/she has less or no responsibility to deliver quality photos.

    unless the photographer tell the "customers" directly he/she is taking them as guinea pig, if they still engage the photographer, that is their choice and be responsible for any outcome.

    in real life, people who complain a lot and very demanding, are those people look for cheap or free stuffs/services.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Building up of portfolio...

    Quote Originally Posted by vince123123 View Post

    Where no payment is being made, the other person will be hard pressed to hold the photographer liable for poor quality photos.

    A photographer who shoots for free and for no return at all, can even argue that there is no contract binding him to the other party; and hence, with no liability as to the results.

    Yes, the customer can complain all they want, but whether the photographer needs to take credence or even deal with it is another question altogether. If a customer wishes to broadcast a complaint, the photographer can rebutt by saying "the job is free" and let the audience judge for themselves who is being reasonable.

    I do disagree that people who complain are people who look for cheap or free services. There are many people who are demanding (reasonably so) when they are paying for top notch stuff. My own personal view is that the level of my demand will depend on how much is paid. If I got something for free, I won't bother to demand; if I paid top dollar, the person better jolly well do a good job.

    yes, but this is just theoretical logic.

    unfortunately, as with economics, and many other branches of study, theoretical logic can fall apart when it comes to humans.

    you get all sorts. yes, of course freeloaders cannot take up the issue, of course they shouldn't have a right to demand more.. but in reality, sometimes people do not care about this logic, or the fact that they are getting the service for free.

    in short, all that is needed to make demands is a mouth.

    from another point of view, just because a person is unwilling to pay for a service doesn't mean that he is going to have low expectations. i think it is only fair to acknowledge that this happens. do we have low expectations of everything that is "free" in life?

    take for example, our "free" newspapers, if they printed nonsense, are you saying that no one will complain? by your logic, no one has a right to complain..

  17. #17
    vince123123
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    Default Re: Building up of portfolio...

    Actually, I'm no economics graduate and hence, what I wrote is based on observations in real life and not so much theory or theoretical logic.

    They can demand all the want, whether they get it is another question altogether. Also, whether they can get what they want enforced in a court is yet another question.

    A person who got photography for free and gave no other benefit to the photographer will be very hard pressed to show the legal consideration necessary to enforce a contract against the photographer.

    You are right, a mouth is all that is required to make a demand; and as stated above, whether anyone will pay attention to that demand, or whether that demand will just be treated as "wind beside the ear" is another question altogether.

    I didn't say that something that is free gives no right to complain, but surely you agree that if you pay S$1000 for a newspaper, you have a greater right and inclination to complain than if you paid S$0 for the newspaper. Stretching this further, if I gave you S$1000 to take my newspaper, do you really think you will raise any complaints against my newspaper?

    My point is that there is a sliding scale, not absolutes of black or white.

    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    yes, but this is just theoretical logic.

    unfortunately, as with economics, and many other branches of study, theoretical logic can fall apart when it comes to humans.

    you get all sorts. yes, of course freeloaders cannot take up the issue, of course they shouldn't have a right to demand more.. but in reality, sometimes people do not care about this logic, or the fact that they are getting the service for free.

    in short, all that is needed to make demands is a mouth.

    from another point of view, just because a person is unwilling to pay for a service doesn't mean that he is going to have low expectations. i think it is only fair to acknowledge that this happens. do we have low expectations of everything that is "free" in life?

    take for example, our "free" newspapers, if they printed nonsense, are you saying that no one will complain? by your logic, no one has a right to complain..

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Building up of portfolio...

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Lim View Post
    never do for free. u can start cheap but never for free. either that, or u can tag along as a 2nd photographer to someone first.
    then can i tag along with you for a couple of AD weddings or events as a spare? lol.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Building up of portfolio...

    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    this is where you are sorely wrong.


    if the client is mean enough to ask people to do it for free, you can bet he will be thick-skinned enough to comment that your photos are horrible even though you did it for free.

    as to why you shouldn't do for free or cheaply, this is my view. my view is that most of the people who don't know what they are doing and therefore will incur reasonable complaints should just go home, learn how to photograph properly before they dare to start taking on proper jobs (i.e. not favours for friends, or brother's wedding.. meaning, people that source them out).

    there are so many people out there who just think that with a professional camera, they are good enough to shoot for people, they don't get the consequences, or the fact that they are not worth the money they are charging. and then there are also the bunch that think that going for free is fine..

    it is not, you just encourage exploitation of photographers as a whole. i have encountered many many commercial companies (some of which are not SMALL FRY companies) shopping for free photographs for anything..

    from publications to book covers.. their compensation per se is "oh, we will credit you".. despite the fact that the resultant usage generates profit for them.

    both ends of the scale should wake up their idea. if you can't shoot, go home and learn and brush up before pretending that you can and charging. if you can't shoot and do it for free, you should still brush up first.

    by "doing photography for free" i am talking about offering services to any tom, dick or harry that "oh, i will do this for free even though i don't know you." if you want to build up portfolio, can always offer to be backup for friend, and treat it seriously, read up before you go, try to make the best effort you can, so that you will improve faster.
    thank you for your advice. but what is "can't shoot"?

  20. #20

    Default Re: Building up of portfolio...

    Wah piangz... some of you guys got so much energy to philosophize at length whenever this senstive topic of pricing is discussed!

    Personally, I think this Photo Biz forum should be closed. Every time a good question is being asked, whether by a newbie or someone who is sincere in learning, the topic inevitably will drift over to pricing and photography standards here. (The original question was on how to start a portfolio but what has it become??!) We can argue till the cows come home and there will be no fixed answers. The rules for what you should or should not do is very fuzzy.

    But I do generally agree that it's over-emphasized how some photographers (especially wedding) who seem constantly to tell others how they have increased their prices and why others should do the same. Sometimes I wonder, are there any ulterior motives why they are doing this? I think, the answer is that, their fate is dependent on many of the unknown newbie photographers. Imagine, if everyone starts to charge cheaply, who will want to go to the photographer who charges a lot more but produces standards that could be only a bit higher than the average Joe?

    But think about it, all you who are living the "atas" or good life: If everyone starts to increase their pricing, then who will serve the lower end market? And by lower end, I don't mean photographers who necessarily produce lower quality works. But those clients who can only afford to pay a certain amount due to their economic status.

    My fianl observations are:

    1. No one is going to help you much in answering good, sincere questions over in this "Photo biz" section.

    2. Do whatever you want as long as it pleases you or the people you are serving.

    3. At the end of the day, money is a human's best friend. I don't care how much a full time photographer can philosophize about his job and how much he loves what he is doing, only money talks. So whenever you hear a pro who says, Charge more! Think again. What is he actually saying? Is he really helping you in your passion? Or are there other ulterior motives on his part?

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