How to build a portfolio without clients
Obviously clients are key to building a reliable and recognisable brand name for yourself as a photographer, but what if you’re just venturing into the world of pro or you're changing genre and you don’t have any clients?
Photography Monthly looked into how to build a portfolio without clients.
Look close to home
If you have children of your own or friends with young ones, nieces, nephews, grandchildren you name it, then have a go at photographing them. Family members will be more than happy to pose for photos and you can spend more time getting the shots just right. Pets are also a great port of call for your photography portfolio; try positioning them in front of different backdrops such as the beach, garden and home to show a wide variation in your work and skills.
Photo by Jacqueline Neugebauer-Kohl
You can offer friends and family prints of the photos in exchange for them allowing you to take their picture. These subjects do come with a warning sticker; children and pets can be difficult to work with and so it may take some serious practice and patience!
Photo by Erin Beck
Get out in your own back garden and beyond
Wildlife is perfect for building a varied and expressive portfolio and best of all it’s easy to access. You could start small, photographing the garden birds that come to visit, or perhaps experiment with some macro photography on insects and take some interesting shots of plants, fungi and other fauna. It’s a good idea, as ever, to think outside the box and try and get images that make people stop and think about your photography and what it’s trying to say.
Photo by Viviana Moreno
You could even be more adventurous and try setting up a hide in a nearby woodland (with the landowner’s permission of course) and get some interesting shots of more shy creatures like foxes, badgers, owls and more elusive birds of prey. Click this link to read our exclusive interview with wildlife photographer Simon Booth about constructing hides and getting great shots for your portfolio.
Photograph food and drink
Food photography has many positive points; it’s free, the pastries won’t ask for payment (apart from their initial purchase, be it ingredients or shop-bought goodies) and you can eat them at the end of the shoot!
Photo by Dasa Warton
If you have some free time you could just bake up some tasty treats and then spend some time taking interesting shots, be it macro images of the fine details of the cake topping or a wide angle of a grand banquet on your table.
Once you feel confident you could even test your mettle by entering your food photography for the first International Food Photography day.
Photo by Addy Newton
You can also practice photographing products in your own home or studio. There are plenty of low-cost, low-risk ways to build a great portfolio without a client base. Just be resourceful, creative and professional. You will soon be replacing those first pictures with client images.
Why not get out and about this weekend and see what you can photograph then upload your best images of your non-client-based portfolio to our website gallery so we can see what you got up to?
A huge thank you also to our talented readers who provided their images to illustrate the great shots you can get when you look a little closer to home. Well done guys!
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