Even with digital images and online galleries everywhere, the most impressive way to show off your work is with a printed portfolio. A printed book shows more than your photography skills. It expresses your design abilities, your taste in materials and your high standards as an artist. If you're thinking about creating your own portfolio, here are some ideas to get you started.
They're not like wedding and portrait albums
Sample albums normally mimic what you want to sell. They show prospective clients what to expect, and help them visualise their own album. Portfolios are different, and you need to start by asking what they're for.
David Edmonson's portfolio records a major photographic project. Ken Adams' illustrates work he's done over the last ten years. If you're a commercial or art photographer looking for clients, agencies will want to see highlights, your best work, your range and style. The design should flow and be cohesive, but each layout could illustrate a different aspect of your photography rather than focusing on one project.
Which images should I choose?
Your absolute best. People will make decisions based on the first few pages, so don't save the best until last. But you won't want to leave them on a low either, so the end needs to be great. And the middle needs to be strong so they keep turning the pages! Don’t add images that are the same or similar, and try not to use the same images in your portfolio as on your website (they've probably seen them already). So yes, your absolute best from first page to last.
Keep the page count manageable too — enough to see your range, but not so many they rush through them.
Should I add text?
Sometimes, more context is needed for the images. Ken Adams' album is divided into sections, each with an introduction. The images are accompanied by descriptions of the location, back story and photographic technique, which certainly enhance the experience. Do your images need a bit of context to be understood? Perhaps you've shot for a particular brand or company – you might want to add their company name in the corner of the page, or a description of the project.
This might be obvious, but don't forget your name! In an obvious location and easy to read. Really... just put it on the cover.
How do I figure out if it’s good?
Have a few trusted eyes look over it. Perhaps they’re photographer peers or designers. Once you submit a portfolio, you could request some overall feedback – they may be generous and offer some insight into their impressions of your portfolio.
There are also people you can pay to review your book, and dedicated review events. It’s best to Google search 'portfolio review' to find events in your area.
How do I choose what it’s made of?
Your portfolio should showcase your images at their best. It should stand out and reflect your brand. Do you have bright, bold imagery? Is your style sleek and classic? The first impression of your work isn't your photographs, it's the cover of the book. Make sure they work together. Same goes with the pages: choose the printing and pages that synch best with your style.
Durability is a concern if you want to show the book a lot, as people aren’t terribly gentle. Choose materials that last. Think library buckrams and real leathers.
Choose a size that suits what you want to do with your portfolio. A 10x10 is nice and portable, but a 15x12 album, like our three examples, allows you to display a 15x24 panoramic image. Impressive!
How do I get started?
You could design it yourself, or take advantage of Queensberry's free album design service. If you'd like a little more creative control, why not try the online album designer to see how your images are working together? With templates you can throw a ten-page design together in just a few minutes, then experiment with changes. You might want full bleed images, one to two per layout, like the By The Horns example, to take maximise the available print space.
Once you've seen how the images work together, you might decide to add text. You could draft a layout in Photoshop and import it as an image into Workspace. Add it into a "text" collection to make it easy to find in the online designer. Just make sure the image is the right size.