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How to Curate Your Photography Portfolio to Book High End Wedding Clients

by D'Arcy Benincosa

Let me guess: 

You would love to raise your prices and start attracting a higher-end clientele but your current habitué, while lovely enough people, just aren’t on the same playing field as Vera and Dior. 

And your portfolio is suffering because of it. 

It’s a catch-22. 

You can’t raise your prices until you have a curated portfolio, and you can’t book the clients that will help you build your curated portfolio without having the luxury images.

Whether you are new to photography or a veteran trying to raise your prices and upscale your business, just how do you curate your portfolio to start attracting luxury clients, especially when the weddings you are shooting aren’t boasting intricate handmade invitation suites, Jimmy Choo heels, or bridal bouquets tied with fancy French silk ribbons?

You’re probably wondering, “D’Arcy, if bespoke details, couture gowns, and elegant bouquets of spring blooms are supposed to attract luxury brides with beautiful photography budgets, how can I capture that when my average booking is $1,500-$3,500? These elements are practically non-existent at the weddings I’m shooting now.” 

First of all, I’ve been there. 

Before I broke the six-figure mark in my business as a sought after destination wedding photographer, I was right where you are now: trying to transition from budget to luxury and unsure of how exactly to make that happen.

I went through a huge transition period when I was working to elevate my brand. And I’ll tell you one thing: it wasn’t always peony bouquets and silk bridal gowns flowing in the Parisian breeze. That’s why I’m spilling all of my secrets to making a $2,000 backyard barbecue look like a $50,000 soiree from the pages of Martha Stewart Weddings (and it’s a lot easier than you think). 

I am sure of three things: 

  1. Your portfolio is missing the work to back up the incredible value and skill you bring to your couples. 
  2. You deserve to find that missing piece to the puzzle, the piece that will help escalate your business and bring more money into your life. 
  3. And I can give you the tools to go from frustrated photographer feeling guilty for buying that venti matcha to luxury photographer status with the ability to command 5-figure weddings, taking elegant vacations on the Mediterranean.  

There are two main steps to curating a photography portfolio to attract luxury clients: 

  1. You need to be creating images that look like they belong on the pages of Martha Stewart. 
  2. You need to be curating your portfolio in a way that attracts better clients.


Make Lower Budget Weddings Look Like Million Dollar Soirees

Let’s start by talking about shooting real weddings.

As we’ve already established, the problem is that you are booking weddings, but budget weddings. And while your clients are great and you are truly appreciative of their business, their aesthetic isn’t what you want to be showcasing. 

And it definitely isn’t helping you scale and raise your prices. 

Here are my best tips to help you create luxury images without having luxury clients…

Become Your Clients’ Stylist

If your clients don’t have a planner, this is your opportunity to step in and help them create magic! 

This was one of my BIGGEST secrets weapons when I was growing my business (and I share my entire process in my course, The Profitable Portfolio). 

Craft a mood board for them, send them ideas, and guide them in their decisions (delicately and respectfully, of course).

Think fresh over fake flowers and organic, flowy arrangements that scream elegance. Or wooden chairs over white plastic folding chairs (or maybe even intimate farm tables and benches). 

And always encourage a timeline that leaves you time to shoot in the yummiest evening glow.

Here’s an example of a moodboard I created for a client of mine and the images that came from it. ✨ Magic, right?! ✨

Inspirational moodboard versus real wedding photos

Share Only What You Want To Shoot

It doesn’t get much more simple than this. Say it with me: share only what you want to shoot more of. 

To put it simply, if you don’t want to continue shooting weddings with groomsmen wearing superhero tees underneath their dress shirts (and we know you don’t if you are here), don’t share that photo. 

Obviously take the shot for your client. (Always, I repeat, always happily take the shot for the client.)  But you can leave it off of your website. 

Tired of cowboy boots and barn weddings? Graciously and gratefully shoot the wedding, but don’t share any images that show these details.  

Bottom line: If the image doesn’t have a high-end element to it, don’t share it. 

Focus on the Human Connection

An image rich in emotion and connection will trump fancy details every time.

Trends come and go but emotive images will stand the test of time and really showcase your depth and skill as a photographer. 

Focusing on these images in your portfolio will help elevate your image faster than you can say Jimmy Choos.

Styled Shoots to Elevate Your Photography Portfolio

Styled shoots (and using them in your portfolio) are a hot button issue in the photography world but I for one LOVE a beautifully done styled shoot and think you can absolutely use them to curate your photography portfolio. 

Classic Over Trendy – Every-Single-Time

Avoid trends like the plague. Or Covid. Or a drunk groomsmen that thinks he is funny.

You will never see a high-end portfolio that contains shots of groomsmen’s socks, balloons, vintage suitcases, or eucalyptus (I said what I said). 

Simple is usually best and elegance can be added in inexpensive ways. Candles are an easy way to add romance to any shot.

Don’t Waste Your Money On the Wrong Shoots

Don’t waste your time and money on a styled shoot if you aren’t going to take the time to make it unique and impactful.

If you do what everyone else is doing….its going to look like what everyone else is doing. It won’t stand out in a crowd and won’t get you noticed by the more refined market.

Shoot For The Client You Want to Attract

Think about who you want to attract when designing your styled shoot. 

The biggest mistakes that I see are people using young models with no chemistry and clothes that don’t fit quite right. 

My typical wedding couple are successful professionals (think doctors, lawyers, etc) in their mid-30s. They are not going to relate to a portfolio full of young, inexperienced kids in their 20s. 

Just keep that in mind as you create your styled shoot. 

If you want to learn how to create a styled shoot that looks like a million bucks, make sure you enroll in The Profitable Portfolio. It has everything you want to know about, posing like a 10K wedding photographer,  shooting luxury images when you don’t have high-end clients, and how to best curate your portfolio to make an impact. 

Shooting and Editing Tweaks That Make a Big Impact

Be Consistent with Editing

If your work isn’t cohesive, your clients won’t know what to expect. Showing a consistent body of images is key when entering the luxury market. 

And please, for the love of Jason Momoa, stay away from the presets that give skin that sickly oompa-loompa glow. 

cooler editing temperature versus warmer editing temperature

The whole look of a high-end wedding is classic and timeless and the presets that turn your skin orange will not get high-spenders knocking at your door. 

Keep It Clean

Remove distractions. Move people around. Heck, even more furniture around if you need to in order to get a clear, uncluttered image. 

Before and after removing distractions from photos

In post, make sure you have edited out outlets, baby hairs, exit signs, and all of those other little details that will keep your work from going from mundane to marvelous. 

Want more editing tips like these? Grab my FREE Expert Editing Checklist and I’ll also send you videos teaching you how to remove distractions like these examples above!

Make Your Clients Look Good!

First and foremost, make your clients look good! 

Learning the art of posing is one of the MOST fundamental and essential skills that a photographer should acquire. 

And I have discovered that many photographers really do not know the first thing about how to pose appropriately—being mindful of back fat, arm sag, double chins, height and weight. Coming from a tall and curvy girl – can we all agree that we all have our best angles? Let’s learn them for our clients, shall we? 

Learning how to pose in flattering ways is fundamental to becoming a 5-figure wedding photographer. You won’t get far without it. Get a sample of my posing trainings in The Profitable Portfolio with this free Groom Posing Masterclass (and learn how to get GQ-worthy shots of your grooms while you’re at it).

How Do You Curate Your Photography Portfolio to Attract Luxury Clients?

So you have the images. 

Now, how do you decide what to show?  

How do you know what images are actually good?  

And how are you able to start separating yourself from your work so you become an impartial curator of your work?

It’s not easy but mastering the art of curation is what will set your portfolio apart from your competition.

As Stephen King so famously said, ”Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric scribblers little heart, kill your darlings.” 

He’s talking about writing here but the same principle applies when presenting a portfolio that will attract a luxury client. It’s all about quality over quantity.

It’s time to kill your darlings and curate a portfolio that will start bringing in the business (that you want).

What images should a photography portfolio include?

You’ve probably heard this before—but it is worth repeating—your portfolio should include only images that showcase what you want to shoot. Just because you shot it, doesn’t mean it needs to be seen. 

Obviously, take the requested photos of your groom’s dinosaur socks but, beyond the client gallery, that image never needs to see the light of day. 

Instead, focus your portfolio on images that your ideal client will be looking for.  

And also, make sure you aren’t including too many images. I always recommend including no more than 50 images in an online gallery (less if you can cull it down farther) and no more than 100 in a publication submission. 

Remember, more is not always more. 

How can I make sure my portfolio is consistent?

One of my favorite and most productive ways to make sure a portfolio is consistent is to start with picking three descriptive words that you want to be known for and then curate your portfolio around those words. 

If your words are glamorous, editorial, and edgy, then you know that any boho-chic images can immediately hit the cutting room floor.

As you go through your images, this process completely takes the guesswork out of which images to showcase and really helps focus on what images will make a cohesive gallery.

And remember, always set the stage with your most impactful images first—the first 14 images should always be your best—and then complete the portfolio in a meaningful and thoughtful way. 

How do I narrow down the images I love vs the ones that will bring clients in?

As creatives, we’ve all had this problem. We feel so connected to images that it is hard to separate ourselves from the images. 

The hard truth is that to start attracting luxury clients you have to stop thinking like a creator and start thinking like a curator. And exactly how do you do this? 

There are several ways. 

  1. You could always hire someone to curate the gallery.
  2. You could ask an unbiased friend to help you but you can also 
  3. You can curate your images yourself using my storytelling method. 

Your gallery should be telling the story of your ideal client, of the couples that you want clamoring to work with you. Ask yourself what their story is and what type of images they want to see when coming to your site. 

I won’t go through the process here because the exact, step-by-step process is covered thoroughly in The Profitable Portfolio but, if I can just toot my own horn for a sec, it’s pretty genius. 

Conclusion

You can attract better clients by curating a photography portfolio to attract luxury clients. And it is completely possible to do this without having booked any luxury weddings.

You need to create images that look like they belong on the pages of Martha Stewart. 

AND 

You need to curate your portfolio in a way that attracts better clients.

If you really want to boost your portfolio worthy of 5-figure prices, then The Profitable Portfolio is where you need to be. See what the buzz is all about.

free training

Not booking $10k+ weddings?

Play

It Brave

podcast

tune in now

A few of my favorite business tools:

CREATIVE LAW SHOP

Contracts, Privacy Policies, and more. Use code DARCYB10 for 10% off!

goodlight Presets

Struggle to match your digital to your film? You've met your match. Use code PLAYITBRAVE to get $50 off!

pic-time

Say au revoir to lazy galleries! Use code DARCY to get your first month free.

tonic site shop

Crappy website? Say no more. Get 20% off a template with code PLAYITBRAVE. You're welcome.

Learn my simple tweaks you can make that will have you attracting your dream clients with the portfolio you have TODAY.

free guide

Have no time to submit
to publications?

Don’t let your images gather dust on a hard drive – GET THEM SEEN (and gain street cred too).

free training

Not booking $10k+ weddings?

binge-listen

Play

It Brave

podcast

A few of my favorite business tools:

CREATIVE LAW SHOP

Contracts, Privacy Policies, and more. Use code DARCYB10 for 10% off!

goodlight presets

Struggle to match your digital to your film? You've met your match. Use code PLAYITBRAVE to get $50 off!

pic-time

Say au revoir to lazy galleries! Use code DARCY to get your first month free.

tonic site shop

Crappy website? Say no more. Get 20% off a template with code PLAYITBRAVE. You're welcome.

Have no time to submit to publications?

Don’t let your images gather dust on a hard drive – GET THEM SEEN (and gain street cred too).

free guide

Learn my simple tweaks you can make that will have you attracting your dream clients with the portfolio you have TODAY.

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