Start at the beginning
Model Erin Ochoa, as shot in Austin in January
Model Erin Ochoa, as shot in Austin in January

One of the things I find most irritating about myself is my tendency to get stuck in a sort of inertia of ideas – that phase of thinking about doing something and thinking about how cool it would be to do that something without, you know, actually getting off your arse and doing it. Procrastination is involved, yes, and a large degree of wanting to wait til the Right Moment (which is in itself a nonsensical thing to do; there are no Right Moments, there is only Now). But in truth, the joy of dreaming about doing a thing is that you can get a whiff of how joyous it would be to have done it without having to put any of the effort in and – here’s the key bit – without having to take the risk that you might screw it all up.

One thing-that-has-been-on-my-todo-list-for-ages-now is a print portfolio. I talked about it last year when I started reading No Plastic Sleeves and then I did very little about it, save for starting to print my images out in a large format (18×12″, which is annoyingly unequal to any of the off-the-shelf portfolio books that I’d like to use) just to see what they looked like. They looked gorgeous, and that meant that I just had to start thinking about making a print book again. (For reference here, book = portfolio; I’m not talking about doing a monograph… at least not here).

But now that I’ve really decided to start putting my book together in earnest I thought that putting my thoughts down here would help, both in a Create, Share, Sustain fashion and as a means of keeping myself honest.

Photo über-guru and Atlantan Buddha Zack Arias has a great post about the process of editing your portfolio, and I’m going to start by following his workflow:

  1. Create a Big Edit folder for the best of the best of your work.
  2. Go through all your shoots and copy the original RAW files into the Big Edit folder. Don’t hesitate to go back to images that you didn’t use in the end; you never know how your tastes have changed since you shot that job. Using the RAW files is important because it means that your images are free of any edits that you did – which may now be out-of-date and frankly sucky.
  3. Kill your darlings. Whittle the images down to maybe ~100 or so.
  4. Start to pick pairs of images that can work together on facing pages*.
  5. Print the images, cheaply (say on A4, 4 to a page). Invite your trusted friends and family to come and mess with your selections, move things around, add new images, remove images.
  6. Get Off Your Arse And Get It Made – after a while, you’re just going in circles. You’ll know where the holes are in your work, but don’t wait until you’ve filled them to get the book printed. Get it printed and get it out there, then start working to fill the holes.

So that’s my plan. I also need to think about other things like the size of the portfolio (will it be 11×14″ portrait? A3 Landscape? A 13″x11″ Landscape Blurb book…?), the materials it’s made from, the branding of it (and I’ve already had some conversations about this, but with each day I re-think it a bit).

So here you are, watching the beginning of the journey. I’d love to share more of it with you – and don’t hesitate to share your journeys, too; but be sure to share wherever you can so that we can all slide along the learning curve with you.

* If that’s how your portfolio is going to be laid out. It might be that you only have one image per pair of pages.