Every photographer today has a digital portfolio of some kind but only a very few have spent the time to create a printed book. In this video, we look into three very differently designed printed portfolios.
Saal Digital recently reached out and offered to print three books for us. Instead of printing our own work, we gave these books to three photographers whose work we truly admire, Mike Kelley, Ben Shirk, and Jason Vinson.
In the video above, Mike Kelley and I go through each book and compare and contrast the different design and marketing techniques.
Here are some things to think about when designing a printed portfolio:
Who Is It For?
Are you showing a client this book to simply present your work, or are you also trying to get them to purchase a book of their own? Mike Kelley's architecture clients won't be buying an album from Mike so he doesn't have to consider upselling them on some expensive album. Instead, Mike designed his album with the intention of mailing it out to prospective clients. Because of this, he chose a lower priced book that didn't have any glossy elements that would potentially pick up fingerprints.
If you are a wedding photographer howerver, a large portion of your income might be coming from marked-up album sales. In that case, I would suggest showing your clients the most expensive and impressive options or at least having a few options to show when you meet with them.
Standard Paper or Lay Flat Pages?
This is a personal preference but lay flat pages are certainly the current trend in the wedding and portrait world. Standard paper pages are a classic that will never go out of style and usually are cheaper to produce as well. If you're unsure, you can't go wrong with paper.
Matte Vs Glossy?
Once again, this is personal preference but it's important to consider the preferences of your potential clients and not just your own. I personally prefer a matte paper but I think the current trend in wedding photography is glossy. If you're a professional photographer, having multiple books with different page types is probably the best decision.
What Should I Put On The Cover?
There are three main choices you have when designing the cover of your book: it can be blank, it can have your logo only, or it could have a photo printed on the cover. Personally, I lean towards only printing my logo on the cover of my books but none of the three photographers in our critique chose this option. Mike Kelley left his cover totally blank, Ben Shirk put his client's name and photo on his cover, and Jason Vinson had a photo without any text or logo on his printed album.
Obviously, there is no right or wrong answer, but it's important to think about how your clients will be viewing your book. Is there a chance they will forget whose work they are looking at? If so, putting your name on the cover is probably a good idea.
Should I buy a Presentation box?
If you own a physical studio that your clients will come visit then you probably won't need one. If you are mailing your books out or if you are traveling to meet with potential clients then a custom box is probably a good decision. A custom box at the very least will protect the book from damage while it also enhances the overall experience of viewing your work.
Keep in mind that different clients will appreciate different types of materials. Mike Kelley went with a cheaper, simple box that would simply protect the book in transit while Jason Vinson chose the leather box to market to his wedding clients. The same leather box would probably look silly to a commercial client and Mike's paper box could look cheap to a couple getting married.
When Is It Time To Buy A Book?
As digital portfolios have become easier to create, it's becoming more and more rare to see printed photographs. If you're a professional, it's probably a good decision to have some sort of printed portfolio. It certainly couldn't hurt.
If you're an amateur or a part-time professional, you may not be able to justify a luxury leather book, but there is something incredibly satisfying about holding your prints in your hand. You don't have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a book, you may actually be able to print one for less than $100.
Use the code "FStoppersBook" at Saal Digital to save $25 on any order over $45 through December 31, 2018.