the easiest ways to make portfolio prints is with an ink
jet printer and high quality paper. This image of an old
fire truck, from the author's fine art series on aesthetically
abandoned vehicles, was originally captured on film in Georgetown,
Colorado, tweaked in Adobe Photoshop, then printed on Epson's
Premium Semigloss Photo paper using an Epson Stylus Photo
2002, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved
You know how it goes: The Art
Director says, "I know you can photograph right-handed baseball players,
but can you photograph left-handed ones?"
An unfortunate reality of the
photography business is that you have to constantly prove to potential
buyers that you can produce--or have already made--images just like the
one they need right now. Your key marketing tool during this aspect of
the sales process is the portfolio. Yet, traditional laminated print portfolios
can be so expensive that many photographers find it difficult to create
additional ones for specific market segments. Whether you use a laminated
portfolio of prints and tear sheets or a tray of slides, you'll need several
of them and they must constantly be updated. All of which adds up to additional
time and expense.
Recently, my friend Barry Staver
who is a People magazine photographer asked me about a fast, easy way
to produce a portfolio that he could overnight to potential clients. In
this digital age he was, understandably, looking for a digital solution
to his dilemma. One of the biggest problems with using any form of purely
digital portfolio is you cannot even assume your potential client has
the same kind of computer system that you have. With a traditional print
portfolio, all a client has to do is open the box you shipped it in and
look. There is nothing to plug-in, insert, or turn on. No batteries are
required. They can review your images while on a train coming in to work
or during downtime while waiting for a meeting to start. With a digital
portfolio, you have to ask: How big is their monitor, what is its resolution,
and how many colors does their video card support? What about the amount
of system memory?
Take My Portfolio, Please
In this post-Palm Pilot world, there is no one-size-fits-all approach
to producing portfolios that work as hard as you do. Your best choice
may be a combination of using both print and digital methods:
Prints: One advantage
of making prints with a photo quality desktop printer is your ability
to update and customize a portfolio. Larger format ink jet printers, such
as the Epson Stylus Photo 1280, let you output prints up to 11x14" on
Web site: A web site
can be indispensable in making sales to web-aware clients, but won't help
you with digital-phobic photo buyers. Each month in Shutterbug's Web Profiles
department, I feature one or two portfolio sites. Take the time to visit
these homepages to get ideas on how to construct your own web site.
Digital: Like a web
site, an on-disc digital portfolio can be a powerful marketing tool that
will fit inside your shirt pocket or purse. The downside is that you must
consider the computer system on which the user may display your images.
If large image files in your digital portfolio causes a potential client's
system to crash you can forget about making any sales to them--now or
in the future.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not
opposed to creating a digital portfolio. Effective marketing has always
included a mix of media and you have to select a combination of promotional
tools that will work for your specific demographics. In a perfect world,
one method will work for all of your potential clients, but out here in
the real world, you'll need both digital and print portfolios.
What Staver decided to do was produce customized portfolios for specific
market segments, such as architecture or business portraits, using Art
Leather Preview albums. These binders come in nine different colors and
can be imprinted in gold with your studio name or logo. Page inserts are
available in four colors, but Staver prefers black, which he feels best
shows off his commercial photographs. If you use both sides, a portfolio
album can hold up to 15 inserts providing a 30 print capacity.
For his 35mm and 120 negatives
and transparencies, Staver uses Photo CD as an image acquisition method.
He tweaks each image's color, brightness, and contrast and occasionally
performs subtle manipulations with a Power Macintosh G4 and Adobe Photoshop
software. Images are sized to fit the album pages and, depending on the
portfolio, Staver places a single image on a page. This is not a hard-and-fast
rule for him and shouldn't be for you either. Using Quark XPress he combines
as many images as will fit on a 13x19 sheet and gang prints them with
an Epson Stylus Pro 5000 ink jet printer. After the sheet of images is
printed he trims them, leaving a thin white boarder around each photograph
to separate the images from the black album page. Prints are attached
to the inserts using double-sided adhesive tape. When he's finished, he
has a 14-page portfolio with his studio name imprinted in gold that cost
$40--less than the cost of a single laminated custom lab print.
Other binders are available
from companies such as Icon Distribution, and I plan to convert my own
print portfolio to their inexpensive, but classy looking Turbo Folio.
One of the best ways to
create a completely digital portfolio is with Voyager's
PhotoFolio 3.0 software that lets you make a QuickTime movie
from your photographs in a few steps. This panoramic image
of a Victorian house in the mountains of Colorado is part
of a 6.2MB QuickTime movie being viewed with Apple's latest
(free) QuickTime Player software.
What A Web We Weave
A homepage on the World Wide Web has many advantages over a conventional
laminated print portfolio or four-color promotional piece.
First, a web site is less expensive
to change and update than traditional, non-electronic media. Four-color
printing is expensive and if you order 5000 brochures it may take some
time to distribute all of them. By the time you're down to brochure number
4989 you've probably created many better photographs than the ones pictured
on the brochure. Changing images on a web site is a matter of scanning
new ones (or having someone do it for you) and posting them on your homepage.
Adobe Photoshop's File>Save for web command makes creating images that
look good and display quickly easy for even a web newbie.
Second, you only need to have
one web site. There's no need to have 5000 brochures printed or to have
duplicate portfolios made so you can ship the images to several different
places at the same time. A single web site will be accessible to many
thousands of photo buyers around the country--even around the world. Before
you construct a web site, you should establish the parameters. Start by
asking what you hope to accomplish and how you intend to accomplish it.
Without clear goals, a web site will be just as much a waste of time and
effort as a brochure that's full of pretty pictures but doesn't ask for
All Digital All The Time
Voyager's PhotoFolio 3.0 software lets you create a digital portfolio
in just a few steps. After creating a folder of images in Photoshop, PICT,
GIF, or JPEG formats, just drag them into Photo-Folio's workspace. This
action displays all the images and you can double click on each of them
to attach sound, music or add transition effects using the slider controls
built into the image control dialog box. When you're finished setting
the transition effects and maybe adding some tunes, click the Build Movie
command and you're finished. If you don't select any transitions between
images, PhotoFolio automatically adds different effects. Within a few
seconds, you'll have a QuickTime file that can be e-mailed, recorded onto
a business card-sized CD-ROM disc (see sidebar below) or placed on your
web site. The software costs just $49.95 and is currently available for
the Mac OS, although a Windows version is expected.
MGI's PhotoSuite Mobile Edition
software lets users store, view, and share photographic and video files
using Palm OS handheld devices. The package includes a Windows-based desktop
application called PhotoSuite Mobile Organizer that lets you enhance image
files before transferring them to their PDA (Personal Data Assistant)
software PhotoSuite Mobile Organizer. This package supports graphic image
file formats including JPEG, PNG, BMP, GIF, as well as AVI, WMV, and MOV.
Since the program supports MOV files, you can also display portfolios
created with Voyager's PhotoFolio software. PhotoSuite Mobile Organizer
also lets you "beam" photos and video clips to other handheld devices,
even transferring color images to a gray scale PDA. The retail price of
MGI PhotoSuite Mobile Edition is $24.95 and you can download a 14-day
trial version at www.photosuite.com/palm.
Voyager's CD-Rs write from
the inside out and because every CD-ROM drive has a recessed
area for these smaller discs, mini CD-Rs make an ideal tool
for digital portfolios. The only catch? Prices are still
slightly higher for minis than full-sized discs but are
starting to come down.
Edit, Edit Again, Then Edit
While the temptation may be to show potential photo buyers the length
and breadth of your work, keep the overall number of images shorter rather
than longer. Be sure to feature the kind of work that you would like to
do as well as the kind of projects you normally tackle. While selecting
photographs, look for "signature" images that show your unique perspective
and clearly represent your style. Lastly, get some advice about what images
to include in whatever portfolio format you decide to use. (Who says you
only have to use one; why not try all of them?) Because it's sometimes
difficult to separate the image from the conditions under which it was
made, photographers are not always the best judges of their own work.
Ask your significant other or someone whose opinion you trust to help
you select the final group of photographs. Lastly, remember that any portfolio
in whatever form is never finished. Keep updating and improving it using
the latest tools and technologies, as well as your newest photographs.
Portfolio On A Disc
You don't need to use a full-sized CD-ROM disc for your digital portfolio.
A curved end business card-sized CD-ROM disc can hold 50MB, as can the
new rectangular version. For the ultimate in storage in a small space,
consider using the 3" mini discs that can hold up to 185MB of data. Bulk
CD-R mini discs, without cases, are available for about a $1 in quantities
from 50 to 100. Small CD-ROM discs, including some you can make on your
own desktop CD recorder, are available from some of the suppliers listed.
CD Biz Card (www.bizcardcdrom.com/downloads.htm)
Disc Makers (www.discmakers.com/cdrom)
Power Card CD-R (www.powercardcd.co.uk)
Metatec International (www.metatec.com)
NicheStuff.com; blank discs in several sizes (www.nichestuff.com/recordable.htm)
Adobe Systems Inc.
fax: (408) 537-6000
Art Leather Manufacturing
fax: (888) 882-5286
fax: (407) 944-0408
fax: (805) 707-3694
fax: (303) 894-3398
StreamRocket Data Centers,
a Voyager Company
fax: (505) 471-1511