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Portfolio Tips

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Meet Jason Halayko. Originally born in Victoria, B.C., Canada, he has called Japan home for the last 14 years. He currently focuses on shooting action sports for companies like Red Bull, which has him photographing everything from skateboarding to breakdancing. In addition, he can often be found taking portraits and photographing the streets, saying that he really enjoys anything that gets him behind the camera. His introduction to photography was back in high school, when his friend advised him to take a beginner photography course. It was a great class that taught Jason the fundamentals, and has since developed into a dynamic and action-packed photography career.

Check out all of the interesting things Jason has to say about what went into the creation of his new website, and then be sure to head over to to see his exciting portfolio.

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Q: How would you describe the aesthetic of your website in three words?

JH: Clean, simple, intuitive.

Q: How do you choose the photos that you display on your homepage?

JH: I typically try to choose the newest photos, with the biggest impact, to show on my homepage. This is to try to hook viewers into checking out more of the website.


Q: How often do you typically update your website?

JH: I typically update my website whenever I get an image I really like and want to show to the world. This could be once a week, or every couple of months. It all depends on what I am shooting.

Q: What is your favorite new feature of liveBooks8? 

JH: I think my favorite new feature of the site is the ability to quickly and easily change the layout of the photo pages to fit my design preferences.


Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to someone designing their website? 

JH: I would say keep it simple, and more is not better. Only use your best photos that you are most confident in, as viewers will quickly get bored if they have to search through a lot of mediocre images.

Wes Agee of the United States of America performs in front of the Shitenno Temple in Osaka, Japan on March 22nd, 2014

Have a website you’d like us to feature? Email us at

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Jill’s interest in photography began in high school and continued into college. Taking elective photography classes soon led to picking up photography as a hobby, which has since turned into her career. This is her story:

After college, I travelled around the world for seven months before returning home to San Francisco to find a ‘real job.’ I took photos with a point-and-shoot camera to chronicle my time abroad. The positive feedback that I received from my photographs when I returned home encouraged me to submit my work to a variety of photography exhibitions, invest in a better camera, and figure out a way to continue traveling while improving my portfolio. Eventually, I decided to enroll in the Academy of Art University in San Francisco to pursue a master’s in Fine Arts degree in photography. For my Master’s thesis project, I chose to spend nine months documenting life in the Himalayas. I travelled throughout Nepal, India, Kashmir, Bhutan and Tibet, working with a variety of non-profit agencies. In 2009, I won a National Geographic YourShot photography contest, and I had my first photograph published in National Geographic Magazine. This was the opening that I needed to move my photography career to the next level. Since 2011, my photography has been represented by National Geographic Creative. In 2012, I received my first assignment from National Geographic Books and was sent to Sydney, Australia for five weeks to photograph the National Geographic Traveler: Sydney Guidebook. Following that, I became an intern and then freelance photographer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Since 2011, I have been spending my summers teaching photography to high school students in countries all over the world for National Geographic Student Expeditions.

At home in San Francisco, I photograph events, editorial, lifestyle, architectural and food-related shoots. I also provide private/group and corporate photography workshops, mentoring and portfolio reviews.

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My style is my own personal vision of stories I am drawn to, that are unique to me. I photograph issues and iconic places which I find compelling. My goal is to create a visual of places in the world many people may not have seen while exposing them to the beauty and reality of cultures they may not have experienced.

Check out more of Jill’s recent work on her liveBooks8 site at:

Q: How would you describe the aesthetic of your website in three words?

JS: Bright, colorful, exotic

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Q: How often do you typically update your website?
JS: I typically update my website every few months, after any trip that I take, or whenever I have new work to show.


Q: How do you choose the photos that you display on your homepage?
JS: For my homepage, I typically pick photos that I am particularly drawn to. No specific formula. I choose photos that are vibrant, colorful, thought provoking or unique moments.

Q: What is your favorite new feature of liveBooks8?
JS: I love the new liveBooks8 platform! It is very user friendly. I particularly like all of the new design features. It has a very clean and modern feel. There are more options for easier search optimization, as well. Now, I am anxiously awaiting the capability to sell my images from my website.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to someone designing their website? 
JS: Take your time and have patience. It took me a couple of weeks to design my website. If you have questions, call the liveBooks customer service, as they are very helpful. Show your best work…quality over quantity. A editor once told me: “you are only as good as your worst photograph on your website,” and while this may sound harsh, it always stuck with me. Try to leave people wanting to see more of your work, rather than getting bored and moving on from your site.


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Have a website you’d like us to feature? Email us at

April 24th, 2015

Ten Portfolio Review Tips for Pros

Posted by liveBooks

Guest blogger Manuela Marin Salcedo is a research and development team member and content developer at Momenta Workshops. Her expertise is in visual communications and social media. In addition to her work for Momenta, Manuela is working on long-term, independent multimedia projects. Her work has been featured at LookBetween 2014, Fototazo and Light Work. She was also chosen to participate in the 2014 New York Times Portfolio Review.

As creatives we tend to work in a vacuum. So how do we combat this? With community, collaboration, and connections. How do we get that in today’s modern world? By participating in portfolio reviews!

Portfolio review opportunities seem to be everywhere nowadays. You can get your work reviewed at places like The New York Times Annual Portfolio Review, FOTOfusion, Photoville, NPPA’s Northern Short Course, WPPI, PhotoPlus, and even at workshops such as ours, like The Project Series: Working with Nonprofits. Showing your work to others can be daunting. However it will hone your presentation skills, refine your vision, advance your craft, put your work in front of new people, and spark personal growth.

In an effort to help you better prepare for your next portfolio review, the team at Momenta has compiled a list of portfolio review tips to keep in mind.

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Chris Usher (far right) gives constructive feedback to student, Stephen Van Seters, during Project New Orleans 2015: Working with Nonprofits workshop, hosted by Momenta Workshops. Photo © Jaime Windon/Momenta Workshops 2015.

Research your reviewer

Before going into the review, you should have conducted some background research on your reviewer’s personal and photographic journey. Having an idea of their experience and body of work will help demonstrate your appreciation for their time and consideration for discussing your work with them. It will also help you ask better questions.

Always have a non-digital backup of some kind

Imagine this scenario: your computer freezes, and you are unable to access the image folder on your desktop. As you try to log into your website instead, you realize the hotel WiFi is not working. Quickly you pull out your iPad, and, as if things couldn’t get any worse, you realize you did not bring the right charger and your battery is at 10%. This example is a pretty terrible and unlucky sequence of events – yet it is also completely probable. Technology has been known to let us down, so don’t tempt the tech gods to strike down on your review. Bring a print backup if possible and be prepared for anything!

Include a variety in your images, but never put in anything you do not love

Think of your portfolio as a symphony and each image as a note. Now think about this: if you play the same note throughout the symphony, you are likely to lose the attention of your audience. The same goes for your body of work. If each image is a note, you should attempt to hit different ones. That said, if your portfolio is a symphony, remember that the notes should work together to create a cohesive whole.

Do not be afraid to put in a personal work section

Personal work, or work that has not been commissioned, is just that: personal. While commissioned work demonstrates your level of responsibility and ability to do client work, your personal projects may better demonstrate your vision and style.

Include title slides to help differentiate between singles and stories

As you are presenting your portfolio, it can be helpful to include simple title slides to signify the end of one project from the beginning of another. This can also aid the flow of your presentation and help avoid confusion. Furthermore, if you have a short amount of time, title slides can cut back on lengthy explanations on your part.

Do not be defensive or overly confident about your vision

At the beginning of the review, the reviewer may ask you to talk a bit about your journey and your work. In doing so, remember to take note of your tone. There is no need to be overly confident or to become defensive when being asked why you chose to shoot in a particular way. Being open to outside opinion and commentary about your work will inevitably help you grow as an image-maker.

Do not talk while the reviewer is talking, and don’t interrupt

As a follow up to the previous tip, remember your good table manners. One of the predominant reasons to sign up for a portfolio review is to get another professional’s take on your work. As such, your role is to listen actively, not to talk over the reviewer.

Take notes

Most reviewers will not mind if you take notes while they comment on your work. In fact, they will probably encourage it. Taking notes will help you remember what the reviewer said about certain images as well as give you a general feel for their take on your body of work. It is also a physical demonstration of your engagement and helps to show how much you value and appreciate the reviewer’s time and opinion. You may even consider recording the session as a voice memo on your smartphone.

Bring business cards or leave-behinds

This tip goes back to the notion of being prepared. By meeting the reviewer to show your work, you have already created an impression and, if you are lucky, established a connection. The next step will be to keep in touch. Having business cards or leave-behinds on hand will aid in this process and help make you memorable. At Momenta, we recommend our students look here for promotional ideas and inspiration.

Send a handwritten “thank you” note

No, this does not mean a “thank you” email. Taking the time to hand write a personal note to your reviewer shows how much you appreciate their effort to help your career grow. If your handwriting is terrible, you can always ask a friend or colleague to write it for you. No matter what, a little piece of mail is the perfect follow-up; it will keep you on the reviewer’s radar and put yourself above the rest with a classy gesture.

Momenta Workshops offers one-day, five-day, and two-week documentary, photo, and multimedia training workshops, including the popular Project Series: Working with Nonprofits held in collaboration with Leica Camera. By teaching storytellers to expand their technical and business skills, Momenta explores how to use the camera as a force of change. To learn more about Momenta Workshops, please visit 

For Lisa Wiseman, a San Francisco-based editorial and commercial photographer, it’s important that her portfolio convey her “eye,” the way she sees, no matter what camera she’s using. That’s why, despite her initial hesitancy, she began showing personal work as part of her book and online portfolio last year. This year she was named one of PDN’s 30 — in part because of her “New Polaroids” personal project, taken entirely on her iPhone.

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Name: Lisa Wiseman
Age: 27
San Francisco
Full-time job:

Personal project name and short description
The New Polaroid — This project is shot completely with my iPhone and is an exploration of iPhone as the new Polaroid. As the iPhone is becoming a ubiquitous and trendy accessory, on-the-go picture taking is now the norm. I see people using their iPhones to take spontaneous photos in the same carefree way that cheap Polaroid has been used in the past. In concept and ideology, the iPhone mimics Polaroid; however, it pushes the aesthetic forward by utilizing a new non-film (but technologically infantile) medium. Just like traditional Polaroids had a specific size and unique look, iPhone photos are unmistakable because the technology limits them to a fixed size and resolution and imbues them with a unique chromatic aberration that says “iPhone” and nothing else.

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When and why did you start it?
I have been shooting with my iPhone since I got it approximately two years ago. I started showing The New Polaroid alongside my portraiture portfolios on my website and in my book in June, 2008, along with other personal work including a project shot on traditional Polaroid film. It was important to me to show my potential clients another side of my shooting personality — I wanted creatives to have a feel for what the world looks like to me and what I photograph when I’m not shooting portraits. With a wider breadth of work encompassing still lifes and interiors, I wanted to show that my vision carries through everything I shoot. Showing personal work has directly led to jobs, and when I show my work in person my work seems to resonate more with the viewer because it includes the iPhone images and traditional Polaroids.

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