College Art Portfolio

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by AirborneAngel, Jan 1, 2010.

  1. AirborneAngel macrumors 6502

    Sep 8, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Hey guys, I'm submitting a photography portfolio along with my applications to about a dozen or so colleges/universities. I was wondering if any of you could take the time to comment/critique my work and maybe give me some comments.


    College Photography Portfolio 2010 (View as Slideshow)

    The photos are in no particular order

    Just for clarification, I am not applying to any art schools, these materials are sheerly supplemental, as I am hoping to pursue a major in International Relations/Security.
  2. iBookG4user macrumors 604


    Jun 27, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    Hmm, I found a few photos in there that I rather liked. Although the photos really seemed all over the place, like you haven't found what type of photography you like the best. The photos came across as being more random than crafted, like you went through the process like this "That looks interesting" -> "I'll take a picture of that". What I try to do when I take a photograph (I am in no means saying that I'm the best, I already know that I'm not) is go through this process "What here looks interesting in this light?" -> "That catches my attention" -> "What composition would work best?" and then I take the photo. I try to think about it before I snap the photo.

    I would try to create a bit of a theme that binds all of the photos in your portfolio together. My own portfolio is has the overall theme of wildlife with limited depth of field, the compositions vary although I believe they work best for the instances for the most part. Once you find your knack, then it becomes a lot easier.

    Out of your current portfolio, I liked the following three the best:

    Les Lignes - I like the dramatic exposure of the scene and it makes good use of leading lines.

    Dusk - I really enjoyed this one, another great dramatic exposure with a good minimalism aspect to it.

    And finally Ink - I believe that this is a very solid abstract photograph, the only complaint would be that I wish that there was more depth of field.
  3. pdxflint macrumors 68020


    Aug 25, 2006
    Oregon coast
    I enjoyed the slideshow. You have a good eye for composition. I liked the higher contrast on many of the shots and the desaturated colors. Good use of limited depth of field and close-ups of ordinary things that made me stop and take a longer look. I would say you have good potential to develop into a very good fine art photographer in the right program, although I'm not sure what type of program you're applying for, or what the admissions people might be looking for. I might suggest adding some shots of people - there is only one in the group.

    All in all, good marks from me. Good luck.
  4. AirborneAngel thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 8, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
  5. Macshroomer macrumors 65816


    Dec 6, 2009
    Being from the LA area years ago, I would highly advise you to seek out a portfolio review before taking your self to task in submitting to schools. Go to a local college, a studio or newspaper, whatever your desired area of photography is and get a real hard, honest critique. If you are thinking along the lines of Brooks, RIT, Art Center, etc, then you have some *major* work to do as images of bread and cheerios are merely snapshots and fall vastly short of a real portfolio.

    But more important than any of this is the question are you looking to make a living off of photography, because if you are, don't waste too much time in school in photo centric classes, but instead major in business, new media, marketing, all things that will ensure you understand how to earn a living in the photo world.

    Everyone wants / thinks they can be a photographer and I suspect that this is mostly due to the false sense of their work they can get from all the "great capture" comments on sites like Flickr, when in reality, much of the work lauded on amateur driven sites is no where close to being of top caliber.

    In no more than 5 years, only the very top 1% of the world's visual talent pool is going to be able to make anything remotely resembling a full time living in photography, so go big or go home I say.

    Either way, good luck in your quest!
  6. pdxflint macrumors 68020


    Aug 25, 2006
    Oregon coast
    I was always under the impression that a person looking for admission to an art program of some sort didn't need to already be a great artist, or what would be the point of the program? How do we measure potential? Flashy portfolios would suggest to me that someone could skip the art school entirely, and just get out there and hustle the business side of it.

    Macshroomer makes some good points, although I wouldn't quite be as grim about the prospects of making money in the photographic arts as he is. But, definitely the business side of it is where the difference lies between a good amateur and a pro. Just understand the market of the area of photography you are primarily interested in, and be realistic about your own personality fit within that world. When I was photo editing for a small newspaper group in Portland I brought in a high school kid to string for me, especially in the high school sports area. He was eager, I gave him all the film he needed, went through the editing process with him, gave him free reign on our computers/scanners... and paid him for every shot we published - which was great motivation. The money wasn't much, but this kid was always looking for work, so it was easy to give him a chance, since he was also very receptive to guidance about what we were looking for. After a while, I began giving him some news assignments. I was able to actually trim my staff of a couple of lazy part-timers who never showed up unless I called them for an assignment. Long story short: After he graduated from high school he got his first job with a small paper and doing free lance. He got to know all the other photojournalists in the metro area, and made good business contacts and relationships. After three years, he decided he wanted to actually make real money, so he quit and started his own business. Now he does freelance magazine shoots, has his sports shots picked up by AP, USAToday, SportsIllustrated, gets calls from many business magazines... and all that's on the side. His portrait studio and wedding business has leaped into the stratosphere.

    He is fully into the "linked-in" concept of social networking, where his clients become his friends on Facebook, and all the new business it generates through referrals is amazing. He "tweets" about almost all his assignments as he's doing them, which posts to his blog, and all the 'followers' of his endeavors just blows my mind sometimes... everyone seems interested in what he's up to. Lots of photographers now see him as a guru (due to his workshops and visibility) and he's only 30. Now he gets jobs in several states, does weddings in Mexico, Europe (Italy next month) and of course locally. He has figured the business side of things out. He has taken a totally creative approach to senior pictures, corporate portraits and weddings, including video. He's at almost every Blazer home basketball game.

    On top of that, he conducts photo workshops several times a year geared to pro photographers wanting to enhance their business. He gets guest speakers from the wide world of photojournalism, freelance, manufacturers reps, product demos, lighting/portraiture workshops... website current trends and what most photographers are doing wrong in that regard... just lots of stuff he shares. He is now one of the best known photographers in our area, and even on a national level by those who count - the ones who pay for services. What he told me was that the reason he went into business for himself was because he really wanted to "work" less, and although he's busier than ever, he controls his own life and mixes fun and work. It just doesn't seem like he's working, to hear him say it.

    It is all about taking it seriously as a business, if that's what you want to do professionally. You still have to be good at your art, but that just isn't enough to go pro.

    But, anyone can do it. It's like any other entrepreneurial enterprise. The opportunities are there, you just have to have the right ambition and maybe personality to make it happen.

    PS: I have several other stories of regular guys I know who are full-time professional photographers, either employed or in business for themselves, none of whom majored in anything related to photography while in college, if they went at all. All for another time, but an interesting subject for anyone who really wants to know how others broke into the business...
  7. Jason Beck macrumors 68000

    Jason Beck

    Oct 19, 2009
    Cedar City, Utah

    I really enjoyed your post. Good reading. I am currently a design student
    getting my bachelors in graphic design. I have a few photography classes
    coming up and I am really looking forward to them. I am also looking
    forward to learning more about the equipment.

    I don't have a camera right now, but I intend on purchasing probably a Nikon
    DSLR. Hopefully score something nice off Ebay. Don't have the money yet
    but thats what I want.

    I really love the ways you can integrate photography into graphic design. I
    havn't chosen a niche yet to fit myself into.. only being in school for 4-5
    months now. I do some web design on the site, and have my own blog

    In any case, hopefully I can find someone patient like you to take me under
    their wing and show me the ropes! Having friends like that is invaluable.
    I can't wait to assemble my portfolio. I am saving every bit of art and
    design work from school so I can use my best.
    Thanks for the great post!
    *btw, where I live in Southwest Utah there are amazing photo opportunities.
    It's beautiful here.
  8. Macshroomer macrumors 65816


    Dec 6, 2009
    It depends on what school, Brooks, RIT and Art Center in Pasadena have fairly rigorous portfolio requirements, but a good J/C photo program can sort out the chaff fairly quickly. The OP wanted opinions on his portfolio, I gave mine in saying that it needs work.

    But the bottom line is this, the OP needs to get an opinion on his work that is not internet forums based, it would really help a lot. Finding a mentor would be a really good idea, it is face to face dialogue as well. As for as not needing to be a great artist to get into art school, while that might be true, how productive is it? I get letters and calls every year from Brooks for interns and assistants. I have taken a few on and while occasionally, one or two shows signs of raw talent and unique vision, most are just technically proficient and lack any kind of creative eye, the kind you are either born with or have to work long hours / days / months to develop. A lot of these grads are out of work or are in fields that are not photo related and they spent a fortune to go to these schools, it's just a sign of the times and I honestly wonder how long these high dollar photo schools can keep on like this with declining enrollments.

    The example you gave of the guy you know who does sports, seniors, etc, he is a great example of why you should just go for it. But you need to check and balance it all against reality from time to time. When I was young, I could not afford to go to school, so I worked, assisted and was mentored. This business is ruthless and cold at times, you need to know where you stand. When I was young, I showed a mentor some 40 images, he liked many of them, but picked the best one and said to me that the only way you are going to make it is if in a years time, your best image now is your last choice in a new set of 40.

    The outlook on photography as a job is not good, but the outlook on photography as a life you commit to that happens to pay *is* good, you just have to put your heart into it, be a great business man and never settle for just good enough. This is just common sense, look at how many amateur photographers there are that can make a technically good photo, that is wiping out the low to mid end job market for a lot of average shooters.

    That is why I say go big or go home, trust me on this.


    I encourage people to go for it all the time, I have had a great life as a photographer. I have got to see and do things many simply don't have access to because of it. But it has changed a quite a bit in the past 5 years, especially the last 1-2. I am pretty well established and I am willing to do what it takes to stay where I am. But I feel for the younger folks just getting in, it is not the same business and it will never be.

    But you know if you are cut out for the work and sacrifice that is involved or not and you know you have to get your work in front of people who are not going to candy coat it and tell you like it is. Some of those sessions can be hard to hear, but they are by far the most valuable to me at least.

    You don't want Paula Abdul looking at your portfolio, you want Simon Cowell.
  9. iPhoneNYC macrumors 6502a


    Nov 25, 2007
    I would encourage you to more you in your photos. You can find pretty things in the world and nicely frame them but what about The Vision thing? I would suggest looking at lots of photo books and seeing who you respond to - this will also show you that there's a deep photo history beyond what is currently inspiring you. Take a look at the work of Robert Frank, Helen Levitt, Cartier Bresson, Diane Arbus, Joel Meyerowitz, Gary Winogrand, Aaron Siskind, William Eggleston as starters. This list could go on for quite a while but there's much stuff you should see!
  10. AirborneAngel thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 8, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    I definitely see where you're coming from. I've only been doing photography for about 2 years now, and am realizing more and more that I need to define my work in a way that transcends simply taking shots of things that appeal to me visually, as you are suggesting.

    Also, as I said in my original post, I have no interest in, and am not planning on majoring in art. I would, however, enjoy taking courses in photography/photojournalism, and perhaps minor in such fields.


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