The Lounge: Your Portfolios (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Go Sleeveless)

by Heather on November 22, 2009

This is a follow up to the comments from last week’s post about the State of the Print Portfolio. Despite the fact that it’s a bit insane to look at print portfolios on-line, these shots do a good job of showing the possibility of life without sleeves. Thanks to everyone who sent in pics of their books.

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Tony Fouhse wrote me a novel about this issue but that’s OK ’cause Tony usually has something interesting to say:

I have this theory that a photograph isn’t really a photograph until you can hold it in your hands.

Just because you take ‘em and do an edit and some post production and look at ‘em on your monitor doesn’t mean you’re done. No sirree. If you’re serious about it, if you’re shooting for a project or to move your practice forward you’ve got to make prints and put them into an order.

I believe that making prints is what separates the men/women from the boys/girls. Making a print is a form of commitment. It forces you to make hard choices because you’re going to spend extra time and energy and money turning your negatives or your ones and zeros into something you can hold.

As well, printing changes the way you look at images. They are no longer back lit, glowing, things on your screen…..they take on a life of their own. You leave them laying around, or pinned to a wall. You bump into them on your way to the bathroom, or when you just get up. You can put the prints in books and carry them around. They’ll have way more weight than showing pix on your iPhone. It’s a fact.

What you’re looking at here, on your screen, what we consume so much of every day, is virtual. Prints are sensual.

And I want my world to be sensual. Yes sirree.

So, here are some snaps of 2 of the 4 personal projects I shot last year, in portfolio form.

The Passaic one is sort of large: 14×17. The project was shot on 4×5 film and the larger pages really show that well. The Mississippi book 11×14.

When I go to see editorial clients the only thing I show them are my latest personal project portfolios.

I use Pina Zangaro covers and the pages are held in using Pina Zingaro adhesive hinge strips. All in all, the binding is the easiest part of the thing.

© Tony Fouhse

© Tony Fouhse

© Tony Fouhse

© Tony Fouhse

© Tony Fouhse

© Tony Fouhse

© Tony Fouhse

© Tony Fouhse

© Tony Fouhse

© Tony Fouhse

© Tony Fouhse

© Tony Fouhse

© Tony Fouhse

© Tony Fouhse

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Here’s Graham Winterbottom’s book, fresh off the press. The specs:

- 11″x14″ portrait plexi book by Pina ZIngaro with custom name engraving
- all full bleed prints on matte 1 sided
- pages glued, assembled and hinged by bookbinder
- custom sleeve built and name embossed by bookbinder

© Graham Winterbottom

© Graham Winterbottom

© Graham Winterbottom

© Graham Winterbottom

© Graham Winterbottom

© Graham Winterbottom

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Bob O’Connor
:

The book/case are covered in a grayish blue book cloth reminiscent of a cloudy sky color- something that is a recurring theme in my photographs (despite none being show in these sample spreads). My name is hot stamped on the slipcase and book in white.

Book specs:

Dimensions: 11″ H x 15″W x 1.75″D
Number of images: 70
Paper: Inkpress Luster Duo Paper

© Bob O'Connor

© Bob O'Connor

© Bob O'Connor

© Bob O'Connor

© Bob O'Connor

© Bob O'Connor

© Bob O'Connor

© Bob O'Connor

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Ed McCulloch has included some shots of his well branded collateral pieces. His whole branding package earned him a mention in the 2008 Applied Arts Design Annual in the Logo Application section. From Applied Arts:

Ed lives in Utah and creates images as big as the western sky. Inspirations for his brand and site were maps, national parks, boy scouts and first aid- all helpful items in a rugged land. His brand uses common, hard-working kraft envelopes and brown paper silkscreen and letterpress printed for an earthy, uncommon touch. A tiny kraft business card envelope holds a sewn patch of the ED logo as a reminder of his accessibility and powerful work.

© Ed McCulloch

© Ed McCulloch

© Ed McCulloch

© Ed McCulloch

© Ed McCulloch

© Ed McCulloch

© Ed McCulloch

© Ed McCulloch

© Ed McCulloch

© Ed McCulloch

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Simon Winnall’s folio is Pina Zangaro aluminium, printed doublesided on photorag:

© Simon Winnall

© Simon Winnall

© Simon Winnall

© Simon Winnall

© Simon Winnall

© Simon Winnall

© Simon Winnall

© Simon Winnall

© Simon Winnall

© Simon Winnall

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John Beebe:

Details on the book:
Brushed Aluminium 13 x 19 Pina Zangaro
Embossing done at local Awards Shop
Printing on single sided Ilford Galerie Silk Gold
I do printing on Epson 3800

Based on feedback on your blog and from reviewers, I will reprint with double-sided paper which is now more readily available.

I use this book when I am meeting in person. The size has initially surprised people but I consistently get very positive feedback because it really allows people to dig into the quality of the image. Even on the largest screen my website can not replicate this. I have a smaller book that I ship.

I have gone for consistency in the book. Not a spattering of my best work, but a range of work from my strongest projects. My logic is that I would rather be remembered for one exceptionally strong approach then vaguely recalled for a variety of strong work (the jury is still out on this approach).

© John Beebe

© John Beebe

© John Beebe

© John Beebe

© John Beebe

© John Beebe

© John Beebe

© John Beebe

© John Beebe

© John Beebe

© John Beebe

© John Beebe

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And you may remember Evaan Kheraj, who’s beautiful book/promo I dove into a couple of months ago. Here is the book:

Evaan Kheraj Portfolio from Heather Morton on Vimeo.

It’s a unique one and I’d encourage you to go back and read that post, plus the few that follow up on the same subject. Here is some feedback that Evaan has collected about his book:

• enjoyed the ability to hold on to it for quick reference
• thickness was comfortable and easy to flip through
• liked not having to worry about being overly delicate with it
• paper quality was a good representation of how it might print in client work

Following my original post on Evaan’s book, we had a look at Lauren Greenfield’s much more substantial book.

Lauren’s book:

Lauren Greenfield Porfolio from Heather Morton on Vimeo.

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And finally, to elucidate my advice to put thumbnail tears in the back of your book, this from Jaime Hogge:

© Jaime Hogge

© Jaime Hogge

Lots of cool stuff here. Carry on.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

aaron mckenzie fraser November 22, 2009 at 10:27 pm

Your tip about thumbnail tears in the back of my book was one of the best tips I’ve had in awhile.
Thanks again Heather!

aaron.

Mark Harmel November 23, 2009 at 1:34 am

My book artist and design came up with a way to design across spreads as well using a French Fold approach. http://www.harmelphoto.com/blog/healthcare/portfolio-featured-on-photonet/

Jaime Hogge November 23, 2009 at 11:45 am

Great post, so many good ideas going on here. I really have to get on the engraving/labeling train. How do logos and branding make Art Buyers see you? Does doing something like Ed McColloch’s stuff there make you guys pay more attention to a book/promo?

Actually the only thing I don’t like here is how it makes me like my book even less.

danno watts November 23, 2009 at 6:51 pm

ya know, since i’ve started shooting i have never had a portfolio that had my shots inside sleeves. i thought i was the odd one out ( still may be ) , but it’s pretty cool to see other people now migrating towards that.

i’ll take some shots of my book and send them to ya heather.

rocksteady,
danno~

Jackson Couse November 23, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Aaron, next time you’re in town I want to see your book. It’s been too long!

About the sleeves (@danno, above) – I use a book with sleeves as a maquette for whatever book I am working on. I agree with Tony about holding the prints in your hands, and I find that holding in a book in my hands, even as an intermediary step, helps the editing process.

danno watts November 24, 2009 at 2:27 am

@jackson
yeah, i can understand and relate to that. fire off some scaled down 8×10 versions and put them in an inexpensive black binder to be able to have something tangible. my preference in the past has been to just print my book from the selections i’ve made and edited down ( from hours upon hours on my computer ) and then assemble them in all their glorious 13×19 glory.

for me, having that large of a finished piece is what seals the deal for me and anything smaller than the end result ends up feeling less of a finished piece, ya know?

rocksteady,
danno~

Jason Dailey November 24, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Great to see what people are doing, thanks for sharing. Five years ago I got the hinges and had a terrible time getting them on right. Did Graham just use a local bookbinder? “- pages glued, assembled and hinged by bookbinder”

thanks,

Jason

Heather November 25, 2009 at 11:13 am

Jaime- good question re: the importance of branding etc., I’ll address this in a post next week. Watch for it.

Andrea LaBarge Mills November 28, 2009 at 6:11 am

I’m curious about the page layout/design of many of the portfolios you’ve shown recently. I’ve been out of school for only 6 years, and I spent 3 of those years as a photo editor for a magazine, so I still consider myself emerging as a freelance photographer. Yet it seems like portfolios have changed tremendously in that short time! When I was in school, it was the norm to have the vast majority of pages as full-bleeds (and full-bleed double-page spreads for horizontal shots, as most books at the time were portrait orientation). Even as a photo editor, the vast majority of the books I saw had mostly full-bleed pages. But many of these examples here have borders. Personally, I prefer the impact of a full-page, full-bleed image, at least for the majority of the pages if mixed with some that are bordered/have multiple images/etc. – and now I feel so “old-school” for saying so!

I’m curious why the move to borders has become so common. Is it a technical issue – many people are buying the portfolio paper that is the exact page size and pre-scored (rather than larger and then cutting it down) and their printers don’t handle full-bleeds well? Is it just personal preference with regards to presentation? Has it just been decided that borderless looks too old-school? I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but I am curious as to the motivation for anyone willing to respond. Thanks!

tony fouhse December 1, 2009 at 10:04 pm

A large part of me thinks that all the discussion about page layout, full bleed or not full bleed, the color of your portfolio cover, whether or not to include gimmicks and so on, is just noise. I say….do what you want, as long as that includes taking better pictures. The only thing I insist on for my portfolios is: no sleeves. I’m pretty sure that nothing else matters that much.

Jon-Paul Mountford December 2, 2009 at 7:34 am

This is a great article, and rings true to a lot of feedback I’ve been getting. I only wish I could have had this advise about three folio’s ago. Could have saved a lot of expense on useless bits of plastic.

Peter Taylor January 20, 2010 at 5:39 pm

ok, maybe I am a bit slow on the up take here. but how are the pages held into the books with sleeves. I have not shown a physical portfolio in over 5 years but I want to again. I hate sleeves too. So once I have my prints, single or double side printed, what do I do with them? how are they bound? do I send them to a book maker, like a wedding album and have them bind them? or do I get adhesive hinge strips and put them into my portfolios that way? will the adhesive strips look ok with double trucks? will they hold up to much viewing?

Watson April 8, 2010 at 7:41 pm

@Andrea LaBarge Mills

The reason many people include boarders is because these are no more sleeves to protect the edges of the prints. Unless hit with a protective coating spray, a full bleed ink jet print will take a beating and show wear and tear much faster at the edges.

Plus, as you mentioned there are also too many variables with printing large for full bleed, cutting down, scoring and punching the paper.

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