Should You Create a Video Portfolio of Your Photography?

Should You Create a Video Portfolio of Your Photography?

After Google, Youtube is the second largest search engine, and thus having a video-portfolio of one's photography can be a great addition in so far as getting one's work seen.  Any time we get to offer our work in a different format, it allows us to both see and showcase different angles which otherwise may remain hidden or less apparent. Give a client the option to watch your video or scroll through your portfolio, and they might well take you up on the video, which, in being rarer, can also be more memorable.  Rodney Lough Jr., the renown large-format landscape photographer, author, and owner of several galleries, uses videos to showcase his fine art photography:

Another facet which video takes advantage of is that one can add music to the portfolio to help set the tone and mood of one's voice and vision.  A quick, engaging video may have a better chance of introducing a broader spectrum of one's work, while focusing on (and lingering on) the "best of the best" of one's portfolio.  A well-done video can transport a viewer through the work in a most enjoyable way, as shown in this video portfolio by fashion photographer Tina Picard:

Even a simple song and video with minimal editing can be effective, as shown in the work of the legendary fashion photographer Helmut Newton set to a "A House Is Not A Home" by Sarah Vaughan and The Jimmy Rowles Quartet: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMytuf6jqvY

Another cool idea is first of all creating a book, and then showcasing the book in a video, as fashion photographer Trevor Brady has done to great effect.

Joe McNally also created a wonderful book and video portfolio:

As did Laura Stevens:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYQxCwr-oDI

Trevor repeated this idea in a different format:

Matt Hawthorne Photography presents his fashion and lifestyle work in a straight-forward Vimeo video portfolio:

Returning to landscape photography, the famous Peter Lik offers a tightly-edited video of his most remarkable work:

Not so long ago, I had a photography show in West Hollywood.  After I decided to use a 4K OLED TV to showcase some of my work, I needed to create a video for it, and the video became my "video portfolio:"

I'll share another article soon on using 4K OLEDs for displaying photography in homes and galleries, but long story short, because the OLED screen can create a perfect "black" alongside vibrant colors, it looks like a print. More than one attendee thought the OLED TV was a print, until the screen changed to the next photograph, often startling them. I used Adobe Premiere to create my video portfolio, but from iMovie to Youtube's online editor, there are dozens of apps and solutions.

Here's a wonderful Henri Cartier-Bresson video-portfolio appropriately set to the Jazz hit "Paris" by Jacopo Jacopetti:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=az3kgG-Z46s

Finally, I'll leave you with a most epic Ansel Adams video portfolio set to the bold, adventurous music of Aaron Copland:

So have you created a photography portfolio video? Do you know of a cool one? 

If you are thinking of creating a portfolio video, would you create a book first? What music might you use? Be sure to search though Youtube's vast and growing libraries of legally-usable music!

Another advantage to creating a book first is that in addition to showcasing one's portfolio in a video, one can sell the book too!  Regardless of your approach, creating books and video portfolios will focus you on culling through your work, whence the best naturally drifts to the top, raising your own personal bar and challenging all newcomers to your portfolio.

If you have a video showcasing your stills photography, or if you know of a cool video portfolio, please share it in the comments below!  

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16 Comments

william mitchell's picture

Good article The "Book" style is simple something I had not thought about.

Elliot McGucken's picture

Thank you!! :)

Leigh Smith's picture

No no no no no no no no no no no no

I don't know about anyone else, but there is nothing worse to me than slide shows. When I want to look at pictures, I want to do so at my one pace, and not compressed, and not with some crappy soundtrack. Maybe thats just me.

Elliot McGucken's picture

Would you consider Beethoven a "crappy soundtrack"? What about Bach, or Handel?

Leigh Smith's picture

Maybe I'm already listening to music, maybe I don't want to hear anything at all. The point is, I go to a photographers website to look at photos. Not watch a movie.

Soundtrack aside, there is nothing worse than having to pause a YouTube video to look at a low-res picture. If you're going to do a video, at least have a conventional gallery right below it.

Elliot McGucken's picture

Do you consider a 4K still to be a "low res" image? What resolutions are your computer monitor, iphone, and ipad?

4K is not low res as long as it's not compressed to death. That said, if there is any motion in the video (pan and scan or transitions) it can be difficult to view a crisp image with the pause button.

I wouldn't mind a 30 second spot but I don't know many people that would sit through 4 mins of one of these.

Elliot McGucken's picture

In your opinion, does the time spent viewing depend on the quality of the photography, video, music, and editing? For instance, after thirty seconds of Ansel Adams, Richard Avedon, or Henri Cartier-Bresson, are you done for good, having "seen it all"?

If there's no narrative as with these examples, just a video slideshow with the type of background music most photographers can afford to license on YouTube, it's tedious and I'm gonna be wishing for a basic image gallery pretty quickly. Determining for me how long I'm going to look at an image (i.e. video slideshow) is kind of obnoxious to me. Imagine if a gallery did that.

Adam Milton's picture

The books are good, but the videos are hit and miss. A straight video/slideshow needs to be really well done, and not too long. If the flow is erratic, too slow, or the graphics are cheesy, then it doesn't work. Ideally the video adds something that you can't get just by browsing through someone's website.

Elliot McGucken's picture

Yes! The book-video seems a good route to go! :) That way you have both a book and a cool video! :)

Jason Lorette's picture

Quick question...if one was to do this, how do you get permission to use the music? Is there not some royalty/copyright thing going on here? I'm intrigued by this video concept, please enlighten me. Thanks.

Elliot McGucken's picture

Hello Jason! For starters, youtube has an awesome library of music and sounds which one can use. Youtube manages the rights for all the songs, and you can choose music in the editor. Upload a video and check it out! Enjoy! :)

There are very new ideas and all are awesome nice job dude... here's my little addition to this article.... I think the video portfolio should contain some live photos cause it can reduce the work of the viewer...videos can be replaced by live photos easily...and live photos can be easily made by this app(www.movense.com) ........live photos can be easily controlled....with this little addition of live photos can make a good impact...