How to Build a Portfolio


While building a portfolio, how many images should I ideally shortlist? Should it only contain singles or a series of photographs? When showing it around, should I print my pictures or carry it on a pendrive?

Answer by: Zishaan A Latif, Photographer, Filmmaker, and Educator

Let’s start by acknowledging that there is no right or wrong ‘way’ to photography, to editing, to sequencing, to any of it! Having said that, the ‘norm’ would have you choosing your toughest contenders without impunity, which should be your last 20 photographs standing in the ring, ready to rumble in a sequence that keeps them on their toes, giving you goosebumps every time they move. So make sure you are in sync with your battle instincts because there are too many of us out there. So, what would make you stand out? Destroying Self Denial!

This diptych is an example of the many connections I construct along the way, a unifying feeling that everything is bound by beauty or despair. Elements within the photographs correspond with a sense of space, one’s horizon meets the other’s reflection, a relationship from intimacy to animosity, as their reality, through attachment in my fictional world, from a hotel room in Shimla, to the Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Photograph/Zishaan A Latif

Steps to destroy Self Denial; Develop.

• Develop a strong gut for criticism.
• Develop a habit to photograph consistently, but less.
• Develop a reasoning mind to talk about your work, even if it’s two lines.
• Develop an unquestionable work ethic.
• Develop a strong sixth sense, whichever one that pushes your creativity.
• Develop a palate for refusal.
• Develop a palate to refuse..any service for free… giving or taking!
• Develop an urge to explore.
• Develop a craving to experiment.
• Develop your visual dictionary. Go back to your inspirations, again and again.
• Develop film, at least once!
• Develop your inner voice that drives your choices.
• Develop a strong culling skill, or just shoot less as mentioned above!
• Develop a need to share your work, with the people who critique it, not flower it.
• Develop the need to travel!
• Develop a habit to write often.
• Develop a keen ear for music.
• Develop a keen eye for abstractions surrounding you, in the forms of alternative arts, mixed media.
• Develop a need to read whatever drives your innate curiosity to expand your horizons.
• Develop an instinct to connect the dots, look for the surreal, connect situations, people, things, to realise that there are no coincidences in life. It’s a beautiful feeling!
• Develop….you!

This article was originally published in the June 2019 issue of Better Photography.