Creating a portfolio can be a profound process of discovery, healing, and artistic growth. In this audio, I share my story. You can see the portfolios I talk about under the gallery tab, just above. Or, you can simply listen and reflect on how the ideas apply to your own work and process. I hope this is helpful for you! 



February 27th - April 6th  2018



The Visionary Portfolio e-course teaches you how to create a compelling, cohesive photography portfolio based on your personal vision
(yes, you do have one).



Do you want to create (or refine) a portfolio so your work can be exhibited in a gallery, published in a book, or beautifully presented on a website? Do your images speak deeply to your heart, but when you put them all together, they’re a bit...random? Or maybe you just love creative exploration and personal discovery, and you want to deepen your relationship to your art?


If any of that is true for you, you’re in the right place.

Led by photographer, curator, and photo juror Laura Valenti, The Visionary Portfolio is a highly interactive e-course that guides you through the process of creating a meaningful portfolio. You’ll learn to move beyond the single image to create a body of work with a meaningful theme and clear aesthetic. No more all-over-the-place images that look like each one was shot by a different person.

This is about understanding the photographs you take and why you take them. 

This is about tying your images together with a message, a story, a deeper meaning.

This is about evolving as an artist (and as a human).

Give your best work to the world.


You know that photographer you admire? The one whose pictures you recognize before you even see the image credit? She has a clearly defined vision and aesthetic. Her images sit effortlessly alongside each other. Her work feels intentional, thoughtful, and carefully woven together.

Your work? It mostly feels like the OPPOSITE of all that. Scatterbrained. Disjointed. Directionless. Unfocused.

This is why The Visionary Portfolio exists.

This e-course will show you how to make your work a brilliant, beautiful whole, instead of a cluster of unrelated parts. You’ll learn about who you really are as an artist and how to channel all that personality and passion into your photographs. During our six weeks together in The Visionary Portfolio, you’ll receive:

  • Guidance to help you identify personally meaningful themes

  • Insight to move beyond simple, broad categorizations (like architecture or portraiture) to make your work more nuanced and focused

  • An honest look at the world of exhibitions and competitions (based on my 15+ years as a curator, juror, and professional portfolio reviewer)

  • My best advice on how to let the images lead the way so you’re never again paralyzed by formal art theories

  • Support and practical tools for releasing “shoulds” so you can confidently navigate your own path

  • My suggestions on printing, framing, and websites so you don’t lose money (or creative control)

  • And so much more!



What’s included in The Visionary Portfolio?

Each week, you’ll receive three rich, thought-provoking lessons and one creative exercise that prompts you to integrate and apply what you’re learning. Lessons are delivered via:

  • In-depth readings

  • Audio essays

  • Audio slideshows

The Visionary Portfolio is designed to fit easily into your busy schedule. Unlike a traditional classroom experience, you can do the lessons anytime day or night. You can take the course at 3am in your pajamas, if you like!

When class begins, you’ll be invited into a warm, welcoming online community. This is where we'll expand on the themes in the weekly lessons. Expect to find lively discussions, honest (always kind) feedback, and lots of encouragement and support.



Laura has shown me how to focus on a photographic path. Through creative discussions, thought-provoking readings, and viewing great images, she has revitalized and wonderfully unleashed the energy and strength of the images I can produce. The course was so well crafted that every step was an adventure. My favorite part is that everywhere I now look I see opportunities to express my artistic vision.
— Alex Hernandez


There are two ways to experience The Visionary Portfolio...

The first option is detailed above. The second option includes everything mentioned above and adds a mentoring component. Here’s what that looks like:

  • Step 1: I will review your past photographic work, your website (if you have one), and any portfolios or other images you want to share. (Yes, I will look at ALL of it.)

  • Step 2: We'll schedule a 60-minute mentoring call. Ask me anything - it’s your time to use however you like. I’ll offer feedback on your images and we’ll chat about your photography goals and any creative challenges you’re experiencing. We’ll also map out your next steps so you feel jazzed, focused, and eager to get going.

The mentoring option is an excellent fit for people who are looking for detailed feedback and personalized advice.


As both a curator and a photographer, Laura provides insights from both perspectives. She has this amazing ability to deconstruct the creative portfolio-building process into smaller, actionable, yet meaningful parts. This demystifies the creative process and allows the students to think about, practice, and reflect on the smaller, manageable components. Laura also masterfully ties together all the parts with the ultimate goal of being an artist.
— Ning Fan
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Why did I create The Visionary Portfolio?

I’ve been a photographer and arts educator for over 20 years. I’ve worked with thousands of students from all over the world, and most of those students have struggled when it comes to building a portfolio.

Creative confusion, perfection-seeking and honestly, a lot of bad advice, has made “portfolio” a scary word for many photographers.I created The Visionary Portfolio to show my students that creating a portfolio can be deeply fulfilling and personally rewarding - not to mention fun!

Thoughtfully crafting a body of work is one of the best ways to develop your aesthetic and artistic vision.


On a more personal note…

Creating portfolios has taught me so much about who I am and who I want to be. Each portfolio has helped me come to terms with some of the biggest events in my life.

I created a portfolio about healing after divorce and another about my family history. I have portfolios that explore cultural issues I care about, and others that reflect my intention to live a more mindful, grateful life.


Our best work happens when we
connect who we are with the art we make.



Each portfolio refined my aesthetic as an artist and helped me articulate what makes my perspective unique. What I love the most about creating portfolios is that it inspires both artistic growth AND personal growth.

Over the past two decades, each portfolio has helped me evolve as an artist, as a teacher, and as a human. A portfolio is a profound tool for insight (artistic and personal), and I love helping other artists uncover that for themselves. 

Is The Visionary Portfolio right for you?

  • If you have thousands of images on your computer and no idea what you're saying as an artist...
  • If you work with multiple styles, aesthetics, and subjects, and you're not sure how to tie it all together…
  • If you're building (or redesigning) a website and want to organize your images into meaningful groups so it doesn't look like a random hodgepodge...
  • If you're thinking about exhibiting or entering a contest and you've heard you need a portfolio instead of a collection of "greatest hits”...
  • If you've created a portfolio before, but you know it missed the mark...
  • If you'd love to tell a story or explore a meaningful subject in much more depth than is possible with a single image…



Then yes, The Visionary Portfolio is right for you.



Laura, you have truly been an inspiration. I was stymied about my future directions in photography
and you have armed me with an entire arsenal of ideas and exciting new pathways.
— Christopher Drake



Frequently Asked Questions


How much time do I need to put in?

We each learn and process information at our own pace, so I’m hesitant to put a number on it, but…my broad estimation is that you’ll make the most of this course if you spend at least two hours a week on the lessons and your weekly assignment.


What happens if I fall behind my classmates?

As far as I'm concerned, there’s no such thing as falling behind. Art doesn’t unfold on a timetable, so there will be absolutely zero pressure to rush or force things in this class. You'll have access to all the lessons for one full year after the course ends, so you can repeat them as many times as you like.


What's your refund policy?

If you need to leave the class for any reason, your registration is transferrable to another session of the same class or any one-on-one mentoring package but it is not refundable. Because you'll get access to the class and all the class resources (and because you'll get to keep your access for a full year), your registration isn't transferrable to a different class. 


What kind of camera do I need?

All cameras are welcome! You don’t need anything fancy to take this course. In fact, the simpler, the better! DSLRs, point-and-shoots, camera phones, pinhole cameras made from oatmeal boxes – I have a strict equipment nondiscrimination policy. If it makes you happy to shoot with it, you've got the right gear for this class.


Tell me honestly - how good do I need to be for this?

Since The Visionary Portfolio is a conceptual photography course (not a technical class), photographers at every level are welcome. It's never too early to start thinking about how your images work together. The only prerequisite is being comfortable with basic camera operations and knowing how to upload images to your computer.


If I’ve already created a portfolio, will this e-course be of any value to me?

One of my most experienced students (her work is shown in galleries all over the world) has taken this class three times. Why? Because each portfolio is its own. If you’ve already created a portfolio and were disappointed with it, or if you’re feeling drawn to create a brand new body of work, this class will provide guidance and daily support as you’re making your creative decisions.




Laura has provided guidance and shared her knowledge and experience willingly, graciously, and so tenderly. I appreciated the individual attention and encouragement. I also loved hearing and seeing what the other participants contributed. I will miss this class every morning with my coffee.
— Penne Fossa
I just completed this amazing six-week course. Laura has offered me inspiration to pursue avenues not yet taken, along with tons of information about how to put together a unified portfolio. Her lessons are always very thought-provoking with lectures, readings, and slideshows. Her style is fun and encouraging with a go get ‘em attitude. She gives great feedback to assignments completed, making this very personalized instruction. I’ve already signed up for another of her online courses.
— Nancy Petrie
Laura your guidance has been a big influence in helping me let go of finding the “right way” and finding “my way.” You are a gifted teacher. I have learned that art is a process that is very personal and at times spiritual and that it also should include a good measure of fun. It means taking risks rather than taking the safe road. Thanks immensely for sharing your wisdom, encouragement, and tools to help us become artists. I was at a point in my photography of starting bodies of work, then getting stuck or frustrated, then starting something else, and than repeat. This course taught me to slow it down and then provided great exercises, examples, and discussions to start developing a more productive way to build portfolios. Your “insider knowledge” as a professional curator was really helpful in clearing up some of my misconceptions, and the depth and detail of the knowledge you shared was awesome! This course and Candela are probably the overall best courses I have ever taken because of the depth and quality of the content and the wonderful interactions. The online format has so many advantages. I really liked going over the lessons first thing in the morning or late in the evening when I had time to think and reflect rather than rushing to an evening class in rush hour traffic.
— Jim Kushman
When I started this class, I only had a vague idea of what a portfolio was and what went into a gallery submission. The class gave a great overview of what’s involved. I like the way we were given an opportunity to practice some of the skills involved - and get feedback from Laura. I feel like I was given a good foundation that I can now go back and build on as I continue to develop. I now feel much more confident about my photography, and I think it has improved. I’m enjoying photography more than ever. I’ve picked up so many interesting, new ideas in this class!
— Jill B.
I can’t thank you enough for your amazing photography e-courses. I have really enjoyed them, learned a lot, and been impressed with the caliber of students they attract. I also love how your classes inspire and motivate me. Life is so busy, but when I am enrolled in one of your classes I find myself logging in at 5:30am just to see what new thing has been posted, and throwing my camera in my backpack when I go for dog walks when I might otherwise have left it at home.
— Judith Bender
“I want to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed taking this class. I can see clearly a way forward. Your words are so inspiring Laura, and this sort of encouragement and advice is much needed in the photography world.
— DeAnna Foran
This was an incredible class. It demonstrated new ways of thinking that inspired me to view my photography in a different way. I thoroughly enjoyed every part of it.
— Mickey Anderson
I had taken Laura’s other online courses, but not this one because I thought I had no interest in creating a “portfolio.” To me the word meant preparing work for exhibition. And, how wrong I was! While this certainly can be a great goal, this course for me was much more about inner exploration, exploring personal themes and building a coherent body of work no matter the end goal. I now look at my existing work in a very different way and I have found a clear path for moving forward. A great gift, indeed.
— Patricia Hogan