While you’re still in school, it’s a good idea to periodically document your strongest work. 

Developing a system of storing and archiving images of your work will be an asset later on when you need to assemble a portfolio.  

Visual Documentation

Visual documentation needs to be high quality and look professional. You may want to invest in hiring a professional photographer to document your work. If you do it yourself, take the time to read about and practice photographing artwork.

The Career Resources Center can offer additional tips in documenting your work, but here are the basics:

  • Work should be photographed at 300 dpi.
  • Your artwork should be the only thing in the image, against a neutral (generally black) background.
  • Work needs to be in focus, properly exposed, and evenly lit, with no glare or shadows.
  • Always check the quality of your images before sending them out.

Your documentation will vary according to the type of artwork. For two-dimensional work, use a single image, and possibly a detail image. Three-dimensional pieces and installations will require multiple views. Documentation for video, film, or performance pieces might include both still images and excerpts on DVD, cued to sections that best represent your work.

Rarely, but on occasion, an organization will request slides. Always keep a set of master slides, and send out duplicates or multiples. Label slides with printed labels (your name, title, medium, dimensions, and year are standard) and send them in a plastic slide sleeve unless otherwise instructed.

Physical Portfolios

Photographers and printmakers will often be asked to submit original work, especially in portfolios used for graduate school admission. Depending on the type of work you do, consider how the work will be presented and how it will stand up to repeated handling.