It’s not easy to select the best (most impactful, appealing, selling, effective) images for your own portfolio, and it is an even tougher call to throw some of your most beloved images out. To clarify: With “editing” I talk about the selection of images, not any pixel-bending in photoshop.
I personally find it relatively easy to select my – let’s say – top 50 images, but getting them down to 10 or 15 is difficult, confusing, annoying, even heart breaking at times. This is where someone from the outside comes in, someone you trust. Not family or friends, they like you and therefore like your work (maybe not always, but most of the time). It has to be someone unrelated, someone who knows what he/she talks about. Someone who says it how it is, honest and straight.
Even though I shoot professionally for a long time now, and I offer portfolio reviews for others, I still organise a review for my own work every year. This not only means that (on the day) I hope my initial edit was a successful one, but in the days leading up to the event I revisit my folio myself (and of course make a few little changes).
Every time my portfolio changes, new images are added and old “pre-loved” ones are removed, I re-evaluate my work, and it has a subtle yet important impact on my photography. This is today, after shooting for many years. My very first review however had quite a massive (and to be honest in parts devastating) impact on how I ranked and valued my own work. It was important, but painful.
I know, we are our own most critical editor, but it never hurts to listen to others – IF they know what they are talking about. Not just during official reviews, but throughout the year. As an example, the gorgeous +Catherine Hall had a look through my work and while she loved (so I hope) most of my images, she was quite frank on a particular image that she felt doesn’t belong in my folio. I still love the image, but I value and understand her point of view. And yes – I removed the photo from my port.
My advice : Find someone to review your portfolio. Ideally someone up the food-chain as we say, someone with experience, not just technically/photographically, but commercially as well. You find some offerings online, some free, some paid, and some large events like Photoshop world also offer 1-on-1 portfolio reviews.
As for the image below: The gymnast loves the shot, her trainer does too, it hangs as a huge print in the gym and everyone comments on it. It took quite a bit of lighting and many attempts to create it, yet all this together doesn’t mean it made the cut for my portfolio.