No Plastic Sleeves

by Heather on January 4, 2010

Look, by this point, I think you know how I feel about Plastic Sleeves. Well now there’s a whole beautiful blog to back me up.

Aptly titled, No Plastic Sleeves companions a book, set to launch in February, which has collected advice from a bunch of clever ducks on all matters of design and promotion for photographers. If you are not already reading or even submitting your uber-cool promotion to this blog, then you should head over there straight away.

And there’s a funny thing about this book- I was all set to tell you about it in a dispassionate way when I realized, I’m in it! That’s right, my kid-adled mind forgot that last spring author Larry Volk approached me with some questions about my thoughts on promotion and looks like they’ve made it into the venerable Chapter Seven. See, there I am on page 199:


Rereading my answers (dated last July) to Larry’s questions, I’m struck by some of the subtle changes I would make if I were to answer the same questions today. The sands are shifting so fast that what was impactful six months ago may have fallen out of favour today. Trends and oversaturation are forces that effect even the mighty Art Buyer.

I look forward to seeing the book. Thanks for the inclusion Larry.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

aaron mckenzie fraser January 5, 2010 at 12:05 am

I already pre-ordered “No Plastic Sleeves” in anticipation
Looking forward to reading your Q&A

Bree January 5, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Hey i have one nugget to pop into the mix cos i’ve heard it from photographers many times and saw it back when i was a photographers agent…
Even distinguished outlets can maim a book. This includes but is not limited to: spilling lattes, burger goo, sundry drippings and stickiness.
Getting a book back in battered condition is frustrating but part of every photographers experience (at some point).
In these cases Lord love the plastic sleeve.

Personally i am not yet convinced that having a black leather book with fantastic pictures playing to a range of DPS layouts in plastic sheets cannot see you running with the big boys. sorry.

I have just had hundreds of books of fabulous design packed with poor work. There is something unashamed about the unremarkable package that keeps the emphasis squarely on the images.

tony fouhse January 5, 2010 at 5:57 pm

@ Bree~ Sure, I’ve sometimes had my books sent back in rough(ish) shape. Everything gets broken, right? But printing photos is so easy and inexpensive these days that replacing banged up pages is no biggie. And since I’ve been using sleeveless pages there’s no way I’m going back to encasing my pix.

I do agree with you, tho, on the form vs content thing. I believe that many people get too hung up on having flashy/spectacular/ostentatious promos and portfolios. Most of that approach just seems like noise to me. But you know as well as I do that some folks in a position to hire photographers fall for the flash.

clay January 6, 2010 at 11:38 am

I have to say I’ve done both and have gone back to the plastic sleeve. Flow and organization is key to creating a strong book. It’s cost effective and easy. If the work is strong you going to love it no matter what. The last time I saw Dan Winters book it was still in plastic sleeves and it was glorious (said in a Will ferrell voice). lets also not forget; are people still looking at books? I mean it sucks cause it’s a great way to get in the door to see an AB or Art Director, but if you’ve gone through my website you’ve seen my book.

Alex January 6, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Just a quick note – the first link in your blog post is incomplete and doesn’t function – it goes to “p://″

Keep up the great blog. We read it every day.


Heather January 6, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Thanks Alex- fixed.

And Clay, great question. I think the purpose of the book is really changing and the strongest thing it can do for you is just that- get your work in the door.

No Art Buyer can refuse a book especially when there is a reason she should see it- ie. “I’ve just redone my whole book and I’d love for you to take a look”. And then, make sure it grabs attention. Imagery of course, of course, of course (!!!) but also the experience of seeing it. I’ve gone into more detail in the original post on the State of the Print Portfolio which started this whole thread.

Danielle Currier January 6, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Hi Heather,
Happened to do a google search on our No Plastic Sleeves title and your post came up first! Glad I got to check it out. Thanks for mentioning the book and site. Appreciate it. I’d love to do a follow-up interview with you or re-post your recent “Strong Advice: Photographers’ Portfolios in the Digital Age” article. Please let me know if you’re interested.

Best, Danielle

Heather January 7, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Danielle, yes, I’d love to do a follow up- email me off line or I’ll get in touch.

Larry Volk January 10, 2010 at 7:33 pm

HI Heather,
Thanks so much for the mention of our book and the companion site. Your blog is a great asset for those in the industry and we hope to add to the dialogue and resources out there.
best, Larry

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