The New Portfolio Book; A Fresh Way To Make A Powerful Presentation

Just as you thought everything is swinging to online promotion, a new type of printed portfolio book has finally broken through and onto the scene. The printing of an actual "coffee-table" book as a portfolio uses the latest technology as a business tool for you to market your services. Presenting prospective clients with a beautifully bound and printed book makes a powerful presentation! New technology makes the production of top-quality bound books both simple and affordable. These books can also be added to your line of photography products for client sales. Clients--both consumer and commercial--love them and it really gives you a competitive edge.

There are many different ways to create this new portfolio book. Products and services include Aperture 1.5 picture books from Apple (, wedding and portrait books from Graphistudio (, and mini-portfolios and art books from Paper Chase Printing ( This is not a definitive list but just a sampling of the different types of companies that can offer custom book printing services.

Each company offers a variety of services. These range from dragging and dropping text and pictures into page layout templates to customized designing, printing, and binding. Before, custom printed books were both expensive and difficult to produce. Digital technology has changed all that. This new technology no longer requires artwork and film for printing. Because the workflow is digital, you can now order online and create one-up books or small volume print runs. This allows you to affordably target your clients with different books for different markets.

For the consumer/wedding and portrait photographer, Graphistudio produces unique one-up wedding books (The Original Wedding Book) and their book copy program includes parent books, guest books, pocket books, family books, and portrait books. For the commercial photographer, Paper Chase Printing offers everything from folding promotional books and perfect-bound mini-portfolios to beautiful, limited edition hardcover art books.

Many photographers are still hesitant to consider printing books so we asked for some advice on getting started.

Shutterbug: Why should a photographer consider making the move to books--either for their own portfolio use or for selling
to clients?

Maureen Neises, Graphistudio: The market is shifting, and both brides and photographers have come to appreciate digitally produced coffee-table books. This type of service helps photographers by reducing their workflow and increasing their profits.

Jeremy Matters, Paper Chase Printing: For a moment, switch places with the art director. Think about what catches your attention and what gets thrown away. An average commercial photography client gets promotional post cards as frequently as you get coupons for pizza and oil changes. Your goal is to get someone's undivided attention, even if it is only for a little while. This is where the "book" comes in. The perceived value and effort you put into it is enough to get someone to take a second look. Keep in mind that 90 percent of the promo is inside the book; this sets it aside from any post card promo, giving your promotion an additional nudge in your direction.

SB: What about content? What do you recommend photographers use as guidelines for image selection?

JM: Once you have their attention, you really have to shine. Fill your book with your most commercial material, and a wide range of styles. The purpose of a promotion is to get work, not to tackle social issues. Show your mastery of technique, your attention to detail, your ability to use lighting, how you can get something special or unique for the client from a model.

SB: Production details are critically important to work out beforehand. What have been the biggest production problems or obstacles your photographer clients have encountered, so our readers will not make the same mistakes?

MN: The most common mistake is to put too much in. Avoid putting too many images in a book. In this case, less is more. Also, consider your options for the book size. Because we print books our photographers are selling to their clients we offer lots of options, such as our primary book sizes of 8x12, 9.5x13, and 12x16. All three size options are also available in both horizontal and square formats. Our parent books are available in 8x12, 8x8, or 12x8, or our new 6x8, 6x6, or 8x6 books. The guest books come in six different sizes.

JM: I have a check list to share with your readers that works no matter what kind of book or booklet project they
are considering.

1) Have a realistic expectation of quality. Demanding exact matches on the first round of proofs can be a frustrating experience. Your goal should be a piece that looks great, not a scientific match of the print-outs that came from your Epson at home.

2) Call your printer beforehand. Ask for their color profiles, as well as sheet specifications. Printing your job at a good size can save you a lot of money. Printing at a bad size can really waste your resources.

3) Be careful when choosing paper stock. Many photographers are used to proofing on an ultra-matte paper in their studios. This is not critically important, considering most advertising photography is printed on glossy paper. Most offset printers will be able to print on a matte paper sheet, but a good matte paper can be quite expensive, and a cheap matte paper isn't worth using.

4) Don't assume that being a great photographer or designer makes you a printing expert. Ask for help from your printer when you need it, and consider using a graphic artist with job experience in this area.

So, when you want exceptional promotional material, consider a hardcover book. They can be used as portfolios, as premium promotional material for top clients, as a product you can sell, or even be used as catalogs for customers to order your fine art prints. The technology is here to print high quality in small quantities.

One final thought from Matters at Paper Chase Printing: "Don't get bogged down by cost. Consider the fact that one assignment will pay for the cost of your promo. You will need a marketing plan no matter what kind of promotion you print because you can't sit around waiting for word of mouth to pull you through. We work with some very well-known, highly-paid photography professionals with great resumes and active photo representation. If they need to spend money on promotion, it goes without saying that people new to the industry can benefit from it as well."

Contact Info
Maureen Neises (Director)

Paper Chase Printing, Inc.
Jeremy Matters (Prepress Manager)