In a digital age, it’s easy to overlook the value of printed photographs. To me, there is nothing better than presenting your creative work on high quality photographic paper, displayed in a custom portfolio book that will immediately differentiate you and your work.
However, let me start by saying that custom portfolio books are not for everyone. They can be expensive…very expensive!
I must confess that editing and printing is my weakest link. I am very limited as to what I can do in post. Therefore, as I want to keep creative control of my work, I try to get as much right in camera as possible. Whilst I am probably the last person on earth you may want to get advice from on the subject, this post is about how I personally edit, print and produce my custom portfolio’s.
Editing & Printing
My work horse is a Mac Pro (Late 2013) 3.5 GHz, 6-Core Intel Xeon E5 with 32 GB RAM. I have no idea what all this means except that it handles large files and video editing smoothly so I can work quickly. This is attached with lots of cables to a screen and printer.
My screen is an Eizo CG277. This is an awesome 27 inch monitor specifically for photographic editing that reproduces 99% of Adobe RGB colour space. Again gobbledegook but basically means that printed colours are accurate to edited colours. The Eizo CG277 also has a built in calibration system that quickly sets your screen to different work environments (printing, editing etc.).
My printer is an Epson Stylus Pro 3880 (Asian version of the 3885). This allows me to print up to A2 size high quality prints. It was only when I started to print my own photo’s that I realised just how technical printing can be and just how bad I was at editing. Whilst I am getting better at it, I still am a little off sometimes with screen vs printed version (I always blame my gear for anything that goes wrong).
Epson produce a nice range of photographic papers (Ok, paper snobs will prefer other high end papers). For average or test prints I use premium luster but for my fine art prints, I use ultra smooth fine art or hot press natural (especially for my portraits).
Cutting and Scoring Paper
Photo paper usually comes in standard box sizes for home printers (A2, A3 / A3+ etc.). I like to use 11 x 17 inch paper size for my portfolio, which is more an american standard. So I buy A3+ 25 sheet boxes of Epson cold press natural and then cut them to 11 x 17 inches. Then, the paper needs to be scored (a line) so that when turned in the portfolio book, the paper folds easily without creasing. Finally, holes are drilled so that the photo paper can be screw mounted into the portfolio book.
My book can hold up to 30 images. As portfolio’s are always developing, its great to be able to update photo’s easily.
Custom Portfolio Book
My custom portfolio books are made in America. So far, I have 2 books 17.5 x 11.5 inches in black leatherette material. My name is embossed onto the cover.
I also had a clam shell box made that will house my 2 books.
This is more for final presentation and to store my books at home.
Custom Carry Case
Finally, I had a custom carry case made for my portfolio books. Tenba make great bags that are very lightweight for carrying expensive gear (I also have a few for my lighting). This custom case will snuggly fit my 2 books and protect them whilst carrying.
Whilst custom portfolio books may differentiate your work…they are not for everyone. My 2 custom portfolio books, clam shell and tenba carry bag cost me just over $2,000 with shipping etc. Then the ongoing cost of purchasing, cutting and scoring paper as well as ink etc. makes running a quality and up to date custom portfolio expensive.
Is it worth it? Hell yes! You have spent $10,000’s on high quality camera and editing gear and shot some creative images so naturally, throwing some $ at a custom portfolio makes sense.
A quality custom portfolio not only makes your work more distinctive, but it also says a lot about you as a professional. Hopefully, it will help attract client’s who not only value your creative work, but also your attention to detail…and to me, that’s exactly the kind of client you want.
To view my work, please visit my website esam hassanyeh