A Buyers observation: Diverse portfolio's are healthy portfolio's

Diversity is a good thing.

I’ve always heard that being ‘different’ is a good thing. There is truth in that. The more variety, the more change, the more one stands out a little bit - the more interest one garners.

Having images in your portfolio that are different from one another – that diversity – is also valuable – and can be lucrative. Generating a portfolio with diverse content is not difficult – perhaps only a matter of mindset.

Aerial view box of minerals

2022 black numbers on colored paper

As an occasional Buyer, I try to find that perfect shot in as little time as possible. While the DreamsTime search engine gets me started, another venue to success is in exploring a contributors’ portfolio. The more diverse the content, the more likely it can lead to an unexpected find or expand my mindset toward future projects.

Diverse portfolios look eclectic.

‘Different is good’ applies to a healthy portfolio, as well. Look at your collection with a fresh eye – are more than one or two images taken of the same object under the same conditions? Are there photos of same place, from the same day, with the same weather conditions – maybe with just the angle changed? Uploading 18 photographs of an architecturally-interesting building – just taken from different angles - does not diversity make. Nor is it as interesting to surf as a buyer.

Panorama of american southwest desert landscape

Coal under the microscope

Diversify - Get yourself outside your comfort zone.

For me, diversifying my portfolio has taken some thought. The first change I made – I had to get outside my comfort zone.

My early uploads were primarily ‘landscapes’ because I love a good landscape. But I've cut way back on them. Not only are there already a lot of good landscape shots out there (and mine weren’t selling), but my portfolio was landscapes heavy - too much of The Same. So, I’ve diversified. I now work on scientific objects, historical items, macro and abstract textures in nature, newsworthy events, historical locales, and even models. I’ve branched out to photograph from different locations, in different weather, at different times of year, and I'm trying different scales, like The Panorama.

Antique map through nautical magnifying glass

RoundUp Weed and Grass Killer bottles

Do it yourself repairs and cleaning supplies in trainyard

Diversify - Fewer is better.

The second change I made – this one was much harder - I had to critically and harshly cull my own photographs to choose the one (or at most two) that best represents the purpose of the photograph. This was really tough – they are all good (right?!) but in the end, one or two is much better than many of the same. I might take 9 or 12 shots of that ‘ Dragonglass’, but only one will be selected to upload.

Pieces of obsidian, Dragonglass


Then that little voice in my head says ‘But what if a buyer likes the subject, but needs that ‘other angle’ that I didn’t upload?!?’. No problem. They can reach out to me through my now much-diversified portfolio!

Photo credits: Heather Mcardle.

Your article must be written in English

May 12, 2019


Thank you all for reading, I appreciate your comments!

May 11, 2019


Very interesting, thoughtful well written and illustrated.

May 10, 2019


Thank you for this article, it's very interesting.

May 08, 2019


Heather, So glad to hear from a buyer's perspective. It is true that most photography podcasts say you sould specialize a style in your portfolio. I suppose stock sales are "a different animal", so I appreciate your view as a buyer. William

May 07, 2019


So glad you found value in the blog, and specifically the topic.

May 07, 2019


Heather, thanks for this tips, also because I have read somewhere that's contributors in stock photography should upload pretty much similar photos with a unique and precise looks, styles, contents, color palette etc... to get a recognizable and well-ordered portfolio.If I look at my portfolio it's completely different in order to style, contents and overall subjects, beacuase I love to photographs pretty much everything and in different styles (color, black and white) and in different ways (different composition). For the subjects, I choose to photographs what I meet in my everyday life, what inspire me in this precise moment, in this precise mood I find myself, finally I could say that often is the subject that chooses me, and not the other way round.in conclusion I believe that being an eclectic photographer is a virtue and not a defect, just like knowing how to do so many things in life is a virtue, while nowadays it seems that if you are not well defined in a single field you have no value for the society. This thought went a little beyond the simple photographic discourse, but I think that photographers cannot separate real life, feelings, emotions, motivation and what we live from what they photograph and ultimately distinguishes them as artists and human beings

May 06, 2019


Good advice Heather and nice examples too.

Related image searches
Buyer related image searches