Marie Kondo Helped Me Clean My Portfolio

Marie Kondo Helped Me Clean My Portfolio

At the start of the new year, Netflix released the cultural hit show, "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo". No show has made me change my lifestyle around more than this one was able to. But I didn’t just use it to clean my room, I used her methods to clean my portfolio.Lately I’ve been scrolling through my website wondering if everything on it is still worth it. Do these images have the impact I think they do? Are certain things hurting or helping me? Do these even fit my style anymore? That’s when I had a thought. Why not try to use the KonMari method I used to organize my closet to try and do the same for my website.

What Is KonMari?

The KonMari Method is Marie Kondo’s proven method of tidying up. It can be broken down into 5 rules.

1. Visualize Your Goals Before You Start

You want to know where you’re going before you start. For me, I want a clean beauty website with my best work that shows my ability to retouch skin as well as my ability to sell a product. As for style I want to keep it bright, fun, and creative in the front with possibly more serious looks in the back.

These are good examples for what I'm trying to accomplish. They're bright, colorful, and can be used to sell product.

Model: Tina Bell - MUA: Bianca Pascale

2. Tidy All at Once

You want to complete everything at once. When you’re in the fixing up mood, that's the time to do everything. If you do one thing a day, you’ll get 2 or 3 things done and then never fully finish.

3. Tidy by Category, Not Location

Marie Kondo has a very specific order for how she tells you to tidy. In order, clothes, books, papers, Komono (misc), and sentimental. This order is very specific to make the tidying flow easily. Clothing is easier to get rid of, whereas papers you might think you need and even sentimental could be tough to get rid of if you start with that. By pushing the things tougher to get rid of towards the back, you’re easing yourself into the process so you will be more comfortable removing things later on.

With this method you should tidy all your clothes at once, not by the room they’re in. To convert this to photography, you should tidy everything by style of photo. Is it a headshot or a fashion photo. Those don't really belong on the same portfolio page so you should have different standards when you're judging them. Separate them by category so you can judge each group fairly.

These images might both be bright, smiling closeups, but they serve different purposes. They shouldn't be in the same portfolio as they aren't selling the same product.

(Left) Model: Nereyda Bird - MUA: Jessie Lynn

4. Determine If the Item “Sparks Joy”

You need to actually touch the item and determine if it sparks joy. What Marie means is do you actually feel something from the item? Does it make you happy to see and touch? For photography, it’s the same thing. When you look at your photo does it spark joy? Do you get that little pinch of happiness when you see it? I want to add in does it add to your portfolio and is it in your style. Those qualifiers are just as important. If you're going for bright and happy in your portfolio, having something dark and brooding takes away from your goal. This is how you determine what stays and what goes. If the item doesn't spark joy, it needs to be left out.

I will leave this piece of advice for others doing this. Leave your feelings at the door. What you like doesn’t matter as much as what the potential clients like. A lot of people romanticize the feeling they had when they were at the shoot or when they took the photo. Unless you write blogs around each photo, the story doesn’t matter. The people seeing the photo don’t know the story behind taking it.

And make sure before you let go of the photo, you appreciate it for what it meant to you at the time before it is gone for good. The whole point of the process is not only to de-clutter, but to appreciate what you currently have more. We all need to appreciate the growth we've taken. Having the opportunity to take something out of your portfolio for something new and better is incredible. Remembering where you came from is important for going forward. So before you throw out that photo of the model with the goofy pose, think of what it meant to you at the time and how it's only going to keep getting better.

5. Organize Everything Completely After You Finish

This just means when you're done throwing away, you organize everything back into place. This is usually where you learn about Marie's incredible way to fold shirts and pants. Unfortunately I can't tell you how to fold your photos.

I will say this is an important step in the process for your portfolio. When you're designing your portfolio, whether it's website or print, you need to think about the flow of the images. As you turn the page, are the next images stylistically similar to the images on the previous page? Are the images on facing pages complimentary? These are important things to think about. It's like putting together a wedding album. You don't put the first kiss in-between photos of people dancing at the reception. It all has a flow to it.

Let’s Get Started

I first started by taking all the beauty photos I’ve shot in the last year and a half, put them into a single folder, and made 3 folders to place them in. "Joy", "Needs Work", and "Trash". All the clean skin, editorial, and commercial images are there together.

Then I went through everything and determined where each went. Some shoots were good, but the overall look just wasn’t there. Maybe we tried something that didn’t work out or just the look isn’t what I'm trying to sell right now. Some things I don't think fully fit, but I know they wow clients and fit enough that I can slide them in there without them being too out of place.

There’s also the "Needs Work" category. There were a few where I liked only a single image in the set, but there wasn’t enough impact in the rest of the images to justify them all being there or the editing and color grading could use a little more work. These are all things I want to put in my portfolio, but can’t yet. I'm going to go back and fix them or try and find other photos from the same series I may have previously ignored.

And for the final images, I was very strict with this. I don’t want too many photos on my website and I want to make sure they all fit a certain style and theme. A big reason I did this was I saw my website going in all different directions. This way I was able to really push a certain style and add images I totally forgot existed.

If you’re feeling stuck with where you're at with your portfolio or website, try the KonMari method out. Removing the clutter could be the remedy to your portfolio renovation stress.

And if you're interested in the idea of the KonMari method for the rest of your life, I highly recommend watching an episode or two of Tidying up with Marie Kondo on Netflix. This show was great in helping me reduce the amount of closet space I used and gear I held on to for no reason. It also really helped me with my GAS. I'm more honest with myself now before I make purchases. I really think about buying something and how long it will be used before it's converted to junk. Here's the trailer.

David Justice's picture

David Justice is a commercial beauty photographer in New York City.

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I think it’s time I KonMari my portfolio.

Putting aside the ridiculous fact that tidying up has become something that can be a 'cultural hit' or a cultural phenomenon, this article seems like a rather thinly veiled attempt at piggybacking off of the success and visibility of Marie Kondo. It's relationship to photography is tenuous at best.