A Perfect Portfolio, Without the Photo Studio

Only one year ago, I was working on my own portfolio, preparing to graduate from the Graphic Design Program at the University of Utah. Lucky for me, I was already working at Underbelly. This afforded me the opportunity to not only shoot all of my work in a professional studio with top of the line equipment, but I also had our Creative Director, Dave Keller, by my side. This guy is beyond talented, and we spent hours working together to make my portfolio the best it could be. From tips on proper exposure, to tricks for cool shadows and advice on how to make my lesser interesting works shine in photo format, Dave knew it all. In the end, I had a polished portfolio that ensured I passed my final class with flying colors.

Fast forward one year later, I'm still happily designing at Underbelly, and the next round of students are gearing up to enter the job market. Reflecting on the past year, as well as having a handful of students reach out to me for advice on their work, an idea spawned. I wanted to provide these up and coming designers with the same opportunity and resources I had! I mentioned this to my team lead, and Underbelly was more than happy to support this effort. So, I reached out once again to Dave, and togther we formed a game plan.

Dave Taking Photos

Unfortunately, photographing complete portfolios for 15 students in one evening in a single space, was not a practical goal. With this setup, most students would be able to get at least one project photographed. However, having one beautifully shot project, with the others varying in quality is not very helpful for creatinga polished portfolio, so we pivoted. Enter: The Light Box.


Instead of helping students photograph one project in a setup that cost thousands of dollars, we created at home set-ups that could be recreated for less than $45. We then helped the students shoot their projects in these exact setups. The instructions were simple; I created all four photo setups in just an afternoon!

If you are interested in creating your own lightbox, here are some references we found helpful while creating ours: How To Build A Photo Light Box For Less Than $10 DIY Product Photos - Easy, Cheap and Good-Looking

Bryson Helping with Light Box

Each light box had a volunteer designer from our team helping out and sharing expertise. We also had additional designers taking headshots for students and giving in progress feedback for anyone that brought their working portfolios.

Jeff Portfolio Review

At the end of the workshop, we had a drawing and four lucky students were sent home with complete lighting setups to continue photographig their work at home. We also sent out resources covering all of the materials we used to ensure everyone could create their own, and employ the tactics learned in the workshop.

arranging photo for portfolio

These types of events are so fun to be apart of. Even being freshly out of college, I already miss the wide-eyed excitement that students exude. It's inspiring to me, and sharing my own experiencesd to help and inspire others is one of the best feelings ever. I'm grateful to be part of a company that encourages this type of community involvement.

Portfolio Headshots

P.S. If working at a place like this sounds super fun (it is), then apply! We are going to be taking applications for an intership this summer. Keep your eyes peeled for this listing here. In the meantime, for anyone who is interested in getting feedback on their work, professional advice, or anything else really, our inbox is always open! Drop us a line

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