A lovely reader had some questions about the use of printed portfolio books so I thought it would make a great blog post!
|My Book: Glossy white 11x14.|
My printed book (pictured left) is 11 x 14 inches and made by Pina Zangaro) . This seems to be the most common, standard size that our industry uses. It is by no means absolute though. I have known some photographers to have huge printed books because of the high impact and detail it gives when they are showing their work and likewise I have seen beautiful smaller 8 x 10 books. Its a personal preference at the end of the day.
Inside my book the prints are all 11x14 and fill the wallets as you can see in this picture. However makeup artist Vanessa Collins (see her print book and link further down) chose 8.5x11 for her prints so that they look uniform against her tear sheets from magazines and print campaigns. Such a brilliant idea that had never occurred to me!
I think the most important aspect of your printed book should be the print and work quality within it. Don't scrimp on your prints! Always go with the highest quality that your budget allows. If to start with that's only a few pounds then hunt down the best, budget printers you can find. Local independent labs can often be both high quality and low cost and many will do a deal with you should you be printing off lots of pictures at once. My favourite high end printers is The Print Space. They are by no means cheap but the quality is unparalleled in my opinion. I know a lot of photographers that use them too.
Matte or glossy prints?
Again, its personal preference I think. I prefer the way makeup looks in a matte print. I also think that once you add the glossy wallet over the top, glossy prints can give off too much glare. Go with what you prefer.
How many prints?
Here is the philosophy I work to:
It is better to have 5 stunning pictures than 15-20 average ones.
In my book at the moment I have 26 shots of my absolute best work. No fillers. No mediocre tear sheets "just for the sake of it". No outdated looks or weak models. You are only as good as your weakest shot. Remember that. As your work grows and you expand your portfolio by working with better teams, then add and replace. Constantly work on your book to make it the absolute best it can look. Furtermore, you should be tailoring your book depending on the client you are going to see. Research the client and see what their usual preference is. If its clean and pretty then a book full of creative colourful work will either scare them or make them think you arent the right fit for them. Just like a book full of clean commercial work wont float the boat of a high fashion, editorial photographer.
Where and what to buy?
There are so many options when it comes to buying your portfolio book it can seem a bit daunting. One of my favourite companies is Brewer-Cantelmo. The choice and diversity of the books they offer is amazing and there is truly something for everyone. One of my first books was from them. It was a raspberry red fabric 11x14 embossed book. It was beautiful. Beautiful and totally impractical. The realisation of this was something quite heart breaking as I spent a lot of money on it. The fabric meant that as soon as it was handled a lot, the natural oils and grubbiness of peoples hands marked and stained the fabric and made it impossible to keep looking clean and professional. The slightest mark looked like a massive stain and made it rather stressful when I went on go sees to show my book. That's when I switched to the book I have now. Because its acrylic its wipe clean and the scratches don't show due to its glossy white finish.
|Fellow Makeup Artist's book|
When choosing your book its so easy to go with something visually stunning that matches your style. Whether that's bright red PVC (like my current iPad case ;) ) or purple suede (swoon!) but the practicalities of carrying your book around whilst lots of people touch it means that, unfortunately plain leather or acrylic is the most practical. Take Vanessa Collins (all round kick ass makeup artist) for example. Her book in the following picture is 11 x 14, black embossed leather. It looks smart, neat and professional. I would also say that 90% of the creatives I know have a black, leather book. Leather looks nice as it ages and handling leather books actually keeps them soft and lush looking.
Digital Books and alternative presentation
There is also a current "Digital Revolution" happening (just in case you hadn't noticed haha!) and many people are switching from printed books, to ipad/tablet books. I currently have some of my book on my iPad and should probably get a move on and transfer all of my book over so I have the option of showing my portfolio when I'm not expecting to. I wont give up my printed book anytime soon because it looks so pretty...I mean its still the industry standard. Obviously. Ahem. Having your portfolio on your smartphone or tablet device is a really convenient way of showing your work on the fly. It means you always have it to hand, which can only be a good thing.
My friend and all time favourite photographer Keith Clouston has an innovative and rather genius way of showing his book. You can see it on the following video by Pixiwoo's Sam Chapman. This way of promoting your book not only shows the client how your work actually looks in a "magazine" style setting but you can also leave a physical copy of it with them for their reference! Cool huh?