I've heard the recommendation often enough. You should limit the number of pictures visible on your portfolio page to just a few of your very best images, but how many are enough and when does the collection become excessive.
|Portland Head Dawn|
Over the many years I have spent selling my images for books, magazines, the web or fine art prints, I have been amazed at how seldom the images I feel are my best are the ones that are most popular and profitable. Sometimes it has to do with practical matters related to the media. A magazine cover must be a beautiful image, but often it is more important that the picture compliments the topic, fits on the page and has room for the necessary text. My cover for the March 2011 Edition of NH To Do Magazine was far from my favorite view of sap gathering but it had nice open areas for the title and the list of articles. Compositions with large swaths of dead space are usually not the strongest images, but they are often exactly what the graphic designer is looking for.
|Putney Sugar Shack|
|Grand Tetons Sunset :"Across the Country"|
The point here is that the pictures which turn out to be most important to me are often not the ones that I judge to be my strongest images. Everyone eye and heart is different and that is why I tend to have a much more broadly inclusive portfolio.
|Sugar Hill Lupines|
Of course this discussion applies solely to on-line portfolios. In the good old days of paper, a portfolio generally referred to a book which contained 10 or 12 of your best images, but with the limitless capacity of electronic collections it is easy to get out of control with the number of images. The secret is to have a clear organization to make it easier for visitors to find what they are looking for, but an obvious and easily accessible collection of the "hero" images is still an important piece of the presentation. Here my discussion has more to do with an ideal that I am still short of fully attaining.
|Web Site Cover & Featured Slide Show|
Scope of the Problem
Presently I have over 10,000 images in my web portfolio distributed over 65 Galleries. My current challenge is to rearrange the galleries into coherent groups.
|The New England Seasons|
I suspect I will add and subtract groups as I time goes by. My point here is that, although it is impossible to reliably predict the taste and needs of your clients, your online portfolio can offer a substantially larger collection of choices if it is organize to help potential customers find what they are looking for. At the same time you can drawn attention to what you think is your best work from a link, gallery or slide show placed prominently on the front page.