There was a time when a portfolio presentation by a photographer to a potential client was the only way to get a gig. Seeing a pro’s portfolio was a combination of social proof and an insurance policy rolled into one.
It wasn’t uncommon for ad agency indecision to run rampant when choosing a photographer. That meant that even minor projects might get ten to twenty books sent in by artists or agents.
In the lat 90s, I was in the running for a national ad campaign for the defunct car brand Saturn. I was thrilled to be in the mix until the art buyer let it slip that they were looking at 75 portfolios. Little did I know that decision paralysis would go on to be the rule, not the exception.
Even though nobody will ever see them, I have several printed portfolios on a shelf in my office. They’re more for me than for any potential client.
I still drop in on people to demonstrate my capabilities. However, I do it with my camera in the form of a brief on-location portrait. This fellow is the principal of a noteworthy firm in St. Louis. My quickie proof of concept with a camera always tells a more accurate story about my abilities than any portfolio.
About the author: I am Stephen Kennedy, an experienced photographer with more than 2500 completed sessions in all 50 US states.