EPUK Editorial Photographers United Kingdom and Ireland. The private mailing list and public resource for editorial photographers

Your portfolio says more about you than pictures ever can

14 October 2005 - Neil Turner

Before you wear out your trainers punting your ‘book’ around town pay attention to some tips from someone who’s been on the other side of the light box, Neil Turner offers the following.

There is no a magic formula to tell you what work your ‘folio should contain or what you should carry it around in. However these few points may help –

What To Show

Only ever show your best work, be that stories or single images. Only ever show work that you are proud of and can defend. You will often have to talk about images, so be positive about what you have in your selection – never be in a position to have to make excuses about the quality of the prints, presentaion or subject.

Have consistent presentation. A mixture of prints, slides and tear sheets will mean that you are moving from desk to lightbox and back again. Many photographers are utilising computer prints now because of control of images and cost. With this option it’s also possible to have duplicate books so more than one client at a time can view them.

Include examples from a wide range of assignments that you have already undertaken.

The pictures that you show must have some relevance to the publication you are pitching to get work from. It’s (usually) pointless to show landscape work to a car magazine.


Something smart and durable. If it is going around picture desks, flimsy folios will be damaged, however make it light enough not to annoy those looking at it, and portable enough to fit on a courier’s bike. It is essential to make an effort

Presenting your work in person

Be on time. Be polite, confident but not arrogant. Turn off your mobile telephone. You will be hired as much on your ability to work with the picture desk, so have ideas for stories that you want to make with you.

The Web

Web space is very cheap, as are domain names. A well put together web folio says almost as much about you as your bound book does. Look at the sites of established photographers and decide what you want from your own site. Don’t copy their designs, learn from them and be prepared to spend some money getting yours properly designed. Remember that the vast majority of picture editors have decent sized monitors and fast internet connections.

The Final Frame

Very little allowance will be made for you being new to the job and having less money than the next person to put your folio together properly. This is a visual industry and the folio is often the first thing a photographer is judged on and first impressions count.

© Neil Turner 2001 Neil Turner is a staff photographer for The Times Education Supplement. His web site has a selection of pictures and technical advice

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