The Portfolio group of the Hornsby Heights Camera Club recently held an exhibition of the images they had been working towards since March 2021. The group consist of about a dozen members who meet to encourage each other and critique images, help sort what might fit in a portfolio and discuss processing options. The exhibition was meant to be held last year but was delayed because Covid lockdowns prevented us getting outside to shoot or holding meetings in each others homes. This year the group was grateful to Sonia and Nilmini for taking turns to host the group.
We usually print a few images or take them on a thumb drive for our monthly get togethers. It is almost inevitable that a few members might drop out due to personal or work commitments or because of ill health. Some members toyed with varied genres and ideas before settling on a theme. This was the fun part of our portfolio group because it helped us all grow. 
Once we are comfortable with our collection of images, we put them up on a stand and moved them around like pieces on a chess board as we debated how best they might be arranged. Each individual image must work on its own, while the whole looks balanced, symmetrical and consistent. It can be challenging to put your work out there and have your peers critique it. But being open to how someone else sees the world is the best way to grow as a photographer.
The first challenge in putting a portfolio together was deciding on the theme. I like to call this ‘Finding your Why’. For some of the members like our Nature Photographer Marion, I think it wasn’t so much of an issue although the first images she showed us were some stunning travel images from a pre-Covid trip overseas. The theme can be a particular genre like street photography which is Jonathan’s forte, or macro shots of textures which Malcolm chose to do.
The next challenge is choosing which images to include. Redundancies in a portfolio is frowned on so culling must be your friend. Yet, we all have our ‘favourites’ when it comes to our own photography. Unfortunately, if your strongest image is not connected to the common thread that binds the portfolio you have to let it go. Often, someone in the group might recognise this first, not having the same emotional connection to the photograph or being aware of the story behind it. The ultimate goal is to create a cohesive selection of images that are connected by colour, tone, format or story and remember that often less is more. Ultimately, the author of the portfolio will make the final call, and it is important for the group respects this.
As the portfolio’s took shape, the next challenge for the group members was presentation. Printing and book publishing can be expensive process but ultimately a photograph only comes to life when printed in some form. Some of us chose to do prints and mat the images, while others chose to make a book. As everyone’s portfolios finally came together and we saw the end result, we all felt a sense of pride in what we had achieved. The variety and depth of skill in the group is quite amazing and we applauded the long but rewarding journey with a public exhibition.

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