Matthew Jones Stands Out to Photography Clients with His Pocket Portfolio

Matthew Jones Stands Out to Photography Clients with His Pocket Portfolio

In this age of an increasingly competitive photography market, we shooters need to utilize every tool possible to make us stand out in the pack. My buddy Matthew Jones has gone back to basics with his printed pocket portfolio. He has found that in a world of modern digital portfolios, these printed books allow prospective clients to not only have something that they can take home and remember his work by, but it even easily fits in their pockets! Jones shares his thoughts on the benefits of having a pocket portfolio below.

Jones was nice enough to exclusively share his thoughts with us:

As a photographer, I’m constantly striving for new ways to stand out. While considering that some of the greatest opportunities to create a lasting impression on a potential client in my realm (motorcycle and automotive photography) are at trade shows, or highly publicized events, sometimes all you have is one shot.

Yet how do I set myself apart from the hundreds of other hobbyists walking the showroom floor with a DSLR, a Facebook fan page, and a business card itching for work? 

Digital portfolios are great, but the decision for the potential client to revisit your work is totally in their own hands. Printed portfolio books are amazing, but there’s a reason everyone isn’t running the floor with the looks of a freshman who’s just received their first round of textbooks (mainly cost, in my opinion). And as far as business cards go, yes, they’re an effective way to provide your contact information and should never be dismissed, but rarely will that small rectangle provide you with enough space to show off the entirety of your work and skill set. Which again, leaves the door open for whether or not that potential client will decide to view your work again on their own time.

After wrestling with these thoughts for weeks in anticipation of an upcoming event, I finally landed on the idea of creating a “pocket portfolio.” Something that was small enough to fit in one’s pocket, yet large enough to show off the integrity of my work in a complete body, all at a cost that wouldn’t break the bank. 

The thought process was that with these pocket portfolios, not only would I already be setting myself apart from the rest of the crowd by approaching the potential contact with something they haven’t already received that day, but, by allowing (and encouraging) the contact to keep the book, they’re guaranteed to view my work at least one more time, as it's pulled out of their pocket and thrown to the trash with the rest of the cards they’ve received that day. And maybe, just maybe, at that point they’ll reevaluate and contemplate as to whether or not I’m an individual they’d like to follow up with, or potentially even consider hiring for work.

It’s not rocket science. It’s basic business and effective marketing. Something that plays just as important of a role in being a photographer, as being able to take decent pictures.

I’ll be the first to admit that in no way is this my idea, as I'm sure it's been done many times before me. But then again, when was the last time someone approached you with a portfolio the size of a business card?

So, after an immense amount of digging through Google and dealing with a few massive formatting headaches, I was finally able to find a source that could complete my vision: a 3.5x2.25, 10-page (18 spaces for images) pocket portfolio at $2.99 a piece. The best handout imaginable to follow, “Hello, my name is Matthew Jones. It’s a pleasure to meet you."

Believe it or not, doing this post has motivated me to put together my own little printed carry-around piece. I became so accustomed to showing my work in casual conversation at an event on my iPhone (I don't like to be awkward and carry my iPad around everywhere, especially at a casual event), which can be helpful at showcasing my abilities, but unless they visit my website after we part ways or particularly love my business card, I risk being a faded digital memory. A pocket-sized takeaway such as Jones' "pocket portfolio" can not only be visually impactful, but also has a greater chance of leaving a lasting impression on a prospective client.

Don't forget to put your information clearly on the book!
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Art Sanchez's picture

Really awesome!

Edward Porter's picture

Brilliant ice breaker. I'd imagine quite a few zoolander reactions.

Matt Berkowitz's picture

Where did you end up getting the portfolios printed?

Ken Kotch's picture is the only place I know of to get books of this size at low cost (aside from the linked prestophoto), though I don't know how to make the cover full bleed.

David Justice's picture

Love it. It's cheap, well-done, and perfect. You don't need an 8x10 print to show off your work.

Steven Rosas's picture

Does anybody know what publisher he went with?

Tor Ivan Boine's picture

he answered it in the comments

Mike Yamin's picture

No that was someone else. Matthew Jones please chime in!

Jon Winkleman's picture

I'm curious as to the ballpark expense of putting out a pocket portfolio?
How large of a run did Jones do?

Ken Kotch's picture is $2.99 for each 20page book. is $14.99 for a 4 pack so ~$3.75ea. It doesn't look like either does volume discounts. Does anyone know different?
EDIT: Prestophoto has volume discounts

Ken Kotch's picture

Just got off the phone with The woman I spoke with ware very helpful as far as she could be. There are a few issues though. You can get around some. The rest may or may not be issues for you.
To get a full bleed on the cover you have to make your image a background and move the main image off screen with the hand tool. There are no options for the back cover- it is white. They put a logo on the last page of each book. For me, thats a deal breaker. They will remove it for $10 per book, quickly pricing them out of 'giveaway' books.

ian worthington's picture

Looks like prestophoto also puts a logo on the back cover:

They'll remove it for a $99 pro membership.

(btw I've emailed Matthew asking him his printer. If he replies I'll post it here.)

Ken Kotch's picture

yep. Presto will also remove it for $10 per order. So if you order 100 books, its $10 to remove their logo from all of them.

Simon Dyjas's picture

I love this! thanks for sharing Mr. Sonders

Clint Davis's picture

Digging this, great idea Matthew!!

Adam Lyon's picture

Really, really cool! So... there are no mimimums with these guys? I'd hate to copy such a cool idea, honestly, but this could be something fun to throw in as a replacement to business cards for important projects when you want to show your fun side!

Daniel Rodriguez's picture

This is fantastic. I have an 8x10 portfolio of my work along with my iPad but carrying those around with me everywhere I go is impossible. I was considering grabbing a smaller book like the ones from Artisan State but these tiny ones are a better option for me.