Portfolio Review – Chapter 5 (“Untitled”)


I never, ever thought I’d be doing Chapter 5 of this series. I was very sure that I’d get to Chapter Two – after all, it’s my blog, and I can do two stupid things if I want to. But I was pretty sure that no one but me was really going to watch them, and/or that I’d get a lot of emails saying, in effect, “this suck, your stupid. so what if it not verticle, it probably just old, or maybe a small owl.” (you’d be amazed at some of the gems that arrive in my inbox)

But it turns out that there are a fair number of people watching these, and the feedback has been pretty good…..and so here we are at Chapter Five, which in my current sleep-deprived state will have to be called, like any good work of art, “Untitled”.

Today we’re going to do two new things: First, we’re going to visit the site of a portraiture photographer from Canada. I love shooting portraiture, and I do a pretty good headshot, but seriously…I’m not a portraiture guy, day to day. I have no idea how I came to be doing this, but I said Yes, and so I did my best. And secondly, I recruited some help for this one, in the form of my good friend Russell Byrne. Russell is an editorial/magazine shooter based in New Zealand the Bay Area Seattle (he gets around), and he’s got a great eye for this sort of thing. Russell won the Pixsylated “Exciting Light” photo contest last year with a fantastic (and technical masterpiece) image of a medical researcher. He’s been published in too many magazines to list here, and is one of my favorite people to have a beer (or two, or three) with.

Next, I took a look at a real estate photographer in Great Britain, who has some really top-shelf work mixed in with a few that ought to be dropped. Way, way too many photos on that site to hit them all, but hopefully I was able to hit a good representative cross-section.

A few points to remember:

First – I am not the end-all and be-all of what makes a good portfolio. In the following video, I speak my mind as the images come up, but mine is not the ultimate authoritative voice. Yours is. So if this is useful as a sounding board, good: but be sure to get other opinions as well. More importantly than that – make sure you are listening carefully to your own voice, more than anyone else’s. Shoot the style (and present the portfolio) that speaks to the message YOU want to send. That’s the road to success in photography.

Second – In order to protect the guilty, I am not linking to sites, and I’m not naming these photographers in print. Please do the same. Thanks. We don’t want Google Juice spilling onto these reviews.

Third – I hope I’ve addressed the video quality in this chapter. Let me know how it looks!

And so, without further ceremony, grab your popcorn and sit back with……Chapter Five: “Untitled”.

8 responses to “Portfolio Review – Chapter 5 (“Untitled”)

  1. Thanks so much Scott and Russell! It’s so hard to cut back photos in the portfolio but with your help I have a better idea of what to cut and why. Not only that but now I have a better idea of how to become a better photographer and what to look for.

    Just a note, the business guy was all natural light. No flash involved, it was a reflection off a building. I just use natural light or I have a 430 flash with packing foam taped around the top.

    Thanks again for your time I feel like I’ve learnt alot and I appreciate feedback from such great photographers!

  2. Big thanks for taking the time to do these Scott. It’s good to have an experienced eye cast over one’s work , I’ll be taking a look at the portfolios and trimming them back some more !
    BTW, you were OK to guess England, home is Somerset in the Westcountry.
    I’ve obviously got this thing about composing / cropping to ‘contain’ the image, not wanting anything to ‘fall off the edge of the frame’ . I’ll be making a concious effort to tighten up my compositions.
    In my defence on the two bathroom shoots there’s a couple of years experience, and a whole heap of lighting and PPing skills separating the two, but yeah: the weaker one must go.

    Great stuff, thanks again.

  3. Eystein Roll Aarseth

    Yeah, this video is better – it’s “in focus”, compared to the last one, but it looks like you’ve compressed the hell out of it instead? The “Down Under” episodes looked great when viewed full screen, this one is compression artifact hell.

  4. Shawn Clabough


    It’s shāz, or you can click on the audio link at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/chaise to hear it.

  5. @ Eystein — OK, so a little better, but still not “there”. Thanks for the feedback, I’ll get this figured out just in time for the series to die. Probably.

    @ Shawn – Excellent. Thanks, man!

  6. The trouble with watching something like this Scott is tat I take one look at my site and almost everything looks rubbish! I wish I had seen this video about a year ago when we started in RE as the best lesson I’ve learnt this morning is to tighten up the images and not include the whole of that cupboard or all of that flower vase. This will help in post as well as I’ve always tended to be at the widest end of my 12-24 and so I’m always having to ‘lens correct’ somewhat. Hearing this from you kind of gives me permission to crop in tighter. Thanks for that one especially.

    I guess if you like ‘old then take a look at this cottage which was built in 1657 http://www.webmovers.co.uk/JC/Houses/Pages/Old_Well_House.html

    Thanks again Scott, it is so nice that a photographer of your standing takes the time to give free advice for the benefit of others all over the world. We are very appreciative as always.

    • Thanks, Colin.
      That’s a cool place. Reminds me of a Bed & Breakfast I shot a couple of years ago, that was actually taken apart in England, shipped to the Bay Area, and re-assembled.

  7. Like the two reviewer format but Russell on the internet phone is difficult to understand on the video.