Writing A Portfolio Statement

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
| Philip Pullman

“The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.”
| Brandon Sanderson

During the past weeks, I have been intensively working on my portfolio “Together”. The photograph heading this post stems from that series. As expressive photographers we are storytellers that intend to evoke emotions. While a single photograph can already tell many such stories, I do believe that with a portfolio of different photographs around a shared conceptual focus, the story becomes more meaningful and important. With single images we consciously frame around a specific idea. With a collection of such frames, we are able to enrich the view, giving it context, connections and depth.

A Project or Portfolio therefore is a set or series of photographs intended to communicate a story and evoke emotions based on a conceptual idea. However, in my eyes, a portfolio should most importantly introduce the identity of the photographer without telling too much of the personality leaving certain areas in the myst.

A Portfolio Statement is a characterization and description of one project. Portfolio statements come in different length, and depth depending on the targeted use (e.g. website statements, competitions, shows, galleries, or catalogues). In order to write my own statement for the series “Together”, I researched many existing statements of other artists and discussed the idea with some fine art photographers. Based on these discussions, I made up my mind what my statements should do. To me, the statement should:

  • Invite viewers, readers or any audience to come closer;
  • Introduce the artist in a very personal, yet professional way;
  • Create interest in the specific body of work;
  • Start an ongoing conversation with the observer, raising questions or inviting for discourse;
  • Explain the artist’s inspiration and intend for creating the work;
  • Introduce the process and technique of creating the work;
  • Make the observer enjoy and appreciate the artist’s work.

These thoughts are work in progress and I don’t have a diploma in fine arts. Thus, consider it as ongoing thoughts and discussions. In the following, I am trying to craft my ideas for creating my portfolio “Together” into a portfolio statement.

Portfolio Statement of “Together”

TOGETHER: This ongoing body of work explores togetherness and examines the role of the individual in the group. It is therefore about the “I” in the “We”.

As a child, I have been raised into a family with strong bonds. Often, we – with four generations of family members – went out together into the farmlands to fertilize the soil, to cut the trees or to collect the fruits. The moments in which our grandfather showed us how to drive the tractor are still very vivid. But so are the situations when we sat together and shared the home-made food in silence enjoying each other’s company. This reciprocal support, the love for the individual quirkiness and the importance of harmony and family values have accompanied me throughout my life and I try to hand it over to my children as well.

When I grew older however, I needed to learn finding my own place within this family setting. And up until today, I have recognized that, because of different social roles we obtain in our life, we need to continuously re-define the positioning of the “I” in the group. As a scientist, this has become my major research topic and interconnectivity is fascinating me up until today.

This ongoing series explores the importance of togetherness and the role of the individual for the survival of a species. These photographs capture different dimensions of togetherness, such as belongingness, identification, ethnocentrism, support, fulfilment, influence, isolation, unfolding, development or competition. The subject of this series are families of trees that group and stand together on a high plateau in Switzerland, coping with the harsh weather conditions. It is a place I call home. During the years, I often came back to this place and I know most of these tress closely, observed their growth and decay.

For this series, I wanted to convey that Togetherness is a duality between the individual and a group having both enriching, positive as well as limiting, negative aspects that need to be balanced. To create the photographs, I recalled specific dimensions of Togetherness and searched for tree settings that mirror this dimension. After finding a suitable photograph, I invert and mirror it with the original to juxtapose the duality. Presenting them together with a certain stillness has taught me to find my “me” in my “we”.

In the upcoming weeks, I am trying to compress the statement making it more dense. However, I hope that you got the idea of the project and are interested to view it in its current state.

Have a Great Easter!