Judging your own work – I think it’s one of the hardest things to do. That’s why I usually use a portfolio consultant (typically someone with a great deal of experience as a photo editor for a magazine or book publisher) to help me do my selects. But what if you don’t have access to or money to pay a photo editor?
The next best thing is get some advice from a few hundred of your friends. This is one of my favorite things about 500px. I started using 500px a few months ago to showcase my work. I have what they call an “awesome” account, meaning I pay $75 a year (which works out to $6.25 a month) for their advanced service. This gives me access to their great stats engine. And it’s the stats engine that I am using to help me build out a new portfolio. Is this as the same reliable advice I’d get from a portfolio consultant? I don’t know – I doubt it. But it is helpful. It’s easy to get too close to your own work. If an image resonates with a large enough group of people, then you may be on to something.
I should point out that this is far from scientific. If you wanted the best advice, you’d target your portfolio very narrowly to a specific audience. But again, that kind of advice usually costs money. Assuming that not everyone has the money to pay for that service, I’d argue this is one of the next best things.
Looking at the top 10 images, I can see which resonated most with my audience. Of course these are the top 10 from the limited few I have had time to upload. And these photos have only been up a few weeks to a few months. I also have a small following of about 4000 people at 500px compared to my other social media outlets. All of these factors can skew the results.
But this is unbiased information from people who took time to leave comments, rate or “like” photos, and with all of us leading busy lives these days, I might weigh this advice more heavily than usual because of those facts.
They say that when you’re building your portfolio you have to be willing to “kill your babies” meaning, you have to ignore those images that YOU fell in love with, but which may mean nothing else to a third party. Nobody buy you knows what you went through to get those images. The fact is, probably nobody cares. But getting an unvarnished look at what lots of other photographers thought you did right certainly can’t hurt. Is it the be all end all of portfolio selection? Nope. But it’s better than just winging it.
At least that’s how I see it.