Q: How often do you update your portfolio — from complete overhaul to regular project updates?
Laura Hodges: We update our portfolio with new projects every time we have a photoshoot and we shoot only the projects that I feel will tell a new story for our firm. We might adjust the layout of the website every once in a while but we aim to have a consistent aesthetic across our website and social media.
Liz Caan: Not often enough! I think we photograph about 3-4 projects a year, then we try and get them published… which takes another year sometimes and then once published, we put them on the site. I did my last overhaul/new website in 2019… added a small update/refresh in 2022. I am getting ready to do another complete overhaul in 2024. It’s quite expensive and requires a lot of thought and planning…. especially if you want to incorporate video, etc.
Sara Malek Barney: I honestly don’t feel it’s necessary to completely overhaul our portfolio. All our designs really capture our clients’ personalities, so they’re all very unique. I think it’s important to see the range of our creative design, so I tend to add new projects as we grow.
Q: Requirements for featuring work — do your clients sign a contract up front? who owns the rights to the images? what things do you wish you would’ve known early on about building your portfolio?
Sara Malek Barney: Our clients agree to allow their projects to be photographed during all stages of the project. And they understand we will be using those images for business purposes such as press, publications, online, marketing, etc. If the client has additional photography taken, the designer + firm will be given credit if it is released publicly.
Liz Caan: I own the rights to the images with the photographer. It is in our contract up front with clients that we can photograph after the project is completed, however, some clients are not on board with that. We don’t pressure them. I would rather have a client relationship than a photo, but it is important to document as much of your work as possible. Content is key these days. If a client is adamant about no photos prior to working with them, then we really think hard about whether we should take the project. Photos are our only content, so it’s important we get something out of the work…. even if it’s just social media content.
From the start of my design career, I always hired a photographer to document every project. Fifteen years ago, the photographer would send the photos to editors, and they would publish them which made it so easy. Now it’s a different story. There is a lot more content and fewer publications. Social media is now really important, and you need a lot of content to stay relevant, so I would have probably done more detailed shots and vignettes if I had known how useful they would have been to me now.
Laura Hodges: We talk about photography in our contract and also ask our clients to allow us to photograph closer to the time of the finish date as well, just in case anything has changed and they have any concerns. Our photographers generally own the rights to their images unless we outline an agreement in advance.