About Me

My photo
Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer has been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center. Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a weekly blog about photography in New England.

Monday, March 21, 2016

On-line Portfolios, How Much is Too Much

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
I have always had a certain parental pride in my images. It takes time to edit an image and if I didn't like the picture I wouldn't waste my effort. I think I have a good appreciation of my best images, but I am well aware that many of my pictures are not "hero" shots. Even the ones that fall short of the best composition or the most dramatic light usually have value from the story they tell or the memories they evoke.

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
It is often impossible to anticipate what will attract the attention of someone looking for fine art photography. Sometimes it is familiar scenes that I have been able to capture in a different way. A warm sunset, an approaching storm or a colorful rainbow, "I've seen that spot a million times, but never quite like that." A few years ago I came across a small sugar shack in the woods of Putney Vermont. The light wasn't perfect, but for the family, the shack was an important reminder of the husband and father who built it. I sold numerous copies to family members.

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
My online portfolio is constructed and managed in Zenfolio, a system designed primarily to create web sites that can easily display an artist's work. The software is centered on the capability to construct layers of portfolios as well as information on the artist, contact information, a guestbook and even a blog feature. It also has nearly limitless capability to construct custom pages for any purpose.

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.

Getting Organized

Featured Gallery
Instead of a single group with galleries ranging from New England foliage to Castles on the Danube, I have started creating collections of Galleries.  To start I filled a Featured High Resolution with my favorite images and display them in a slide show playing on the front page.  I''m embarrassed to admit that my select "Featured" Gallery holds over 600 images.  What can I say, they are ALL my children, but someday I'll create a top 20-50 "Hero" Collection. Maybe.

Re-Organized Collections
I have grouped the New England Seasons Galleries together and then placed galleries focusing on New England locations and activities in a separate Collection, "Around New England". I actually do travel beyond New England on rare occasions and have separate Collections for images "Around the Country" and "Around the World". That only leaves a couple of catch-all collections including "Events & Projects (weddings, celebrations and client projects) and "Exhibitions" which holds just a few of my showings in the region.

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.

Jeffrey Newcomer