A portfolio is a book of a photographer's pictures that showcases his or her best work. A photographer will typically construct a portfolio as a means of obtaining new clients and advertising themselves. A portfolio must always looked polished and professional, regardless of the specialty, and should only feature the photographers most stunning work.
Portfolio cases are sold at most photography supply stores. Images should always be presented in a portfolio because it keeps the images organized, clean and smooth. A portfolio will typically contain anywhere from 10 to 20 photos, and each photo is usually 8x10 inches. If a client or application calls for a portfolio, be sure to confirm the measurements they will take. You may have an amazing photo that is simply too large to submit in a portfolio.
Arranging a portfolio is not difficult, but photographers should adhere to some standard guidelines. Keep similar photos together, and keep your portfolio continuous in terms of subject and style. A disorganized portfolio can mean the difference between getting or losing a client. Also, keep black and white prints grouped together, and color photos together as well.
Always be sure to keep extra copies of your portfolio work behind the displayed prints. Occasionally, a client will be so thrilled with your work, they may want to buy a print right then and there. Also, keep all pertinent information on the back of each photo - both displayed and for sale - that way everyone has a way to contact you should they want to purchase more work!
While you might have a lot of older photos that you're proud of, the majority of your portfolio should be comprised of recent work, so the client can see what you're capable of now - not what you once were capable of.
Nowadays, digital portfolios are becoming more and more common. If you're using a digital portfolio, understand which files are compatible with most clients: JPEG, GIF, and TIFs are the most common files a client can view. Also, if you're sending your portfolio over the Internet, always include all your professional and contact information. It's important that a potential client does not have to look to far to get in touch with you if they like what they see!