How to Create Your Own Career Portfolio

Marianne Stenger
3rd April 2017

Whether you’re a photographer, artist or fashion designer, creating a career portfolio is an excellent way to demonstrate your best work to prospective clients or employers. Unlike resumes, career portfolios are visual and enable you to show rather than tell.

Career portfolios come in many different styles and formats, and there’s no right or wrong way to design yours. However, photo books can be excellent tools for creating sleek and modern-looking portfolios.

If you’re interested in designing a photo book that highlights some of your biggest career accomplishments or the projects you’re most proud of, here are a few tips for getting started.

1. Gather all the essential information

Before you can start designing your career portfolio, you’ll need to decide what you want to include and then gather all the essential information.

For instance, you could start with a table of contents followed by a brief career summary or mission statement, an overview of your skills and experience, and finally examples such as screenshots, photos, drawings or diagrams of your projects and accomplishments.

2. Think about your audience

Since it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to include every project you’ve ever worked on, you’ll have to be very selective when deciding what to include and what to leave out.

Your first instinct will probably be to include the projects you most enjoyed working on, but it’s also important to consider your target audience and what would most appeal to them. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer creating a portfolio to show prospective clients, it’s probably best to leave your editorial or creative images out of it, even if you’re proud of those shots.

3. Present a variety of work

When designing your portfolio, it’s best to include samples of your strongest and most recent work, and although your career portfolio should clearly demonstrate your style and appeal to your target audience, it’s also important to showcase a variety of work.

So, for instance as a photographer, you could show off your versatility by including a range of styles from wide-angle to macro or black and white to full colour. If you’re a designer or architect, try to showcase different types of work, from traditional to non-traditional.  

4. Choose a format that matches your personal style

If you’re a photographer, the right format for your career portfolio might be different from that of a writer or graphic designer, so spend some time looking at the different options and thinking about how you want to present your work.

For instance, this business owner started her photo book with a brief explanation about who she is and the work she does, and then included full page photos of some of her favourite products. She also divided the products into seasonal categories to showcase her versatility as a baker.

On the other hand, this artist made the decision to jump straight to his drawings without going into detail about his background or work. So as you can see there’s no right or wrong format, it just depends on how you want to present your work.

If you’d like more tips and advice on choosing a successful theme and layout for your photo book, you can read this article or check out some of the portfolios in the Bob Books Bookshop.