Building your portfolio

Apr 23, 2019

If you scroll through my Instagram feed Monica Vargas Photography, you’ll probably see a lot of my earlier work, maybe even personal posts before my profile became a business page. I’ve grown so much within the last year but back then I had no idea how to build my portfolio. So today I’d like to share 5 tips with you on how to get started.

1. Find Inspiration.

Follow photographers that inspire you! Save images on Instagram or Pinterest. Have a visual example of what you’re going for. This will make it easy for you and your model/subject to work together in achieving your vision. Ultimately bringing something beautiful to the creative world!

Blue inspired table setting

2. Practice with friends and family

Start with who you know. Practicing with those who make you feel comfortable will help build your confidence. I swear, in the beginning I was only taking photos of my husband, sister and mom 🙂 I had to start somewhere. But in doing so, I eventually felt the urge of wanting more. Which leads me to my next tip.

3. Reach out to local aspiring models.

Local aspiring models are usually willing to collaborate with photographers. The mutual benefit is that you both are able to build a portfolio. Follow local models on Instagram that you are looking to work with and genuinely engage with them by liking and commenting on their photos. When you’re ready to reach out directly, draft up a quick message making sure to you introduce yourself, give a compliment, ask if they’d be willing to collaborate and describe your ideas and concepts. Sending over a mood board doesn’t hurt either! I was terrified the first time I contacted a local model! I winded up getting great feed back from her on how polite and organized I was which made it that much easier to keep reaching out.

4. Attend local photography meetups.

In the Bay Area we have a large community of creatives that get together and take photos. Follow California Meet Ups on Instagram, they share upcoming events and meet ups all over California. You’ll meet other like-minded creatives and connect with models that you could potentially work with in the future. It’s all about connecting and networking.

5. Invest in yourself.

Sometimes you have to make a financial investment in yourself. Whether it be in education, marketing, gear, workshops etc. One of the best investments I’ve made were attending styled shoots. The hosts of these styled shoots do all of the planning and coordinating for you! It gives you a chance to build your portfolio with the confidence in knowing that everything will be provided and be a lot less stressful. Another powerful investment is spending time in FRONT of the camera! You’ll gain a new prospective by putting yourself in the model/client’s shoes, giving you the opportunity to relate to them.

That’s all I have for you today! I hope these tips were helpful! Don’t forget to step out of your comfort zone, try new things and experiment!

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