Online or off, you NEED a portfolio!
We talked about this earlier but let’s run over it again
Your portfolio is everything as a photographer. It is the initial contact point whenever anyone considers you for any photographic work whatsoever. It is the foot in the door so to speak.
You need to make it as perfect as it can be…with your best work laid out in a professional style.
Ways to promote your portfolio are:
- Your website
- Actual prints and enlargements
- DVD slideshows both online and offline
- Business cards
- Photographer’s directories
Once again, don’t host too many images on your website unless they are in an eCommerce section for people to buy from weddings or events. Your portfolio should be a few images of each category showing your best work. People make an impression in seconds when viewing photographs so if you have too many you will only bore them.
Leave them hungry for more which is where you arrange a meet to show the work in print form.
Photobooks have come on a long way in recent years and give anyone the opportunity to display their work in book form but not everyone knows how to arrange, display and organise their books professionally.
Make the layout as you would if you were compiling a wedding photobook for a client or a “day in the life” book for a family. Make it look sharp and unique with high quality images.
For cheaper, but still good quality, books, try Blurb. I will be testing their products as soon as I have finished this book but I have heard from people that saw their books at a trade show and they say the quality is great! You can choose higher quality, heavier paper too.
Get a nice presentation box and show it to people at every opportunity. When photo books were first popular, I think I got booked by every wedding couple I showed it too. Today, you need to explain that these are professionally designed and manufactured books and not just the typical Vistaprint, high street style.
If you have the budget, create a few different photo books with different styles and layouts. Asukabook give you a 50% discount from your first order as long as it is a studio copy…i.e. for your portfolio so what are you waiting for?
The cheaper books with soft covers and fewer pages are perfect for leaving with suppliers but make sure to have your contact details, website address etc on the 1st page inside.
Prints and Enlargements
Find a good, professional printer either locally or online in your country and get some professional prints made. There is such a huge selection of incredibly diverse and high quality paper out there it is worth getting a few samples of each.
People love the feel of a pure matt image or the look of a metallic print. Get a small canvas bonded print made up as part of your portfolio.
All of these are great to take along to a viewing session after a wedding or portrait session as people tend to buy more when they see the quality of the paper…people like nice stuff!
I use One Vision Imaging (formerly Colab) in the UK for many of my prints as they have a wide variety of papers and techniques such as the archival, 100% acid free, PH neutral, highest print quality Giclee printing or metallic prints. The main reason however, is that they have an excellent customer service and turnaround time.
Maybe even frame a few and sell a framing service to your client?
Ever since it has been possible to easily show them, I have used slideshows set to appropriate music to show my portfolio to prospective clients or sell to existing ones. They touch emotions and triggers within people that prints cannot.
When a bride sees her images fading in and out to “their” song, it usually involves a lot of tears. Sold.
The initial show can be shown online with a multitude of host sites and even some of the software companies have free hosting. One of the best programs I know for creating and hosting slideshows online for free is Photodex Pro Show Gold.
Here is an example of the Proshow quality online.
The Photodex software allows you to burn slideshows to DVD, create as Flash files for the web, upload them to YouTube in the appropriate format or even burn to Blu Ray disks in full HD.
A great alternative and a way to produce fast paced, action packed slideshows with transitions that automatically work to the soundtrack used is Animoto. If you haven’t used them before, go now and test it out for free…amazing website.
Once you have your DVD Slideshow made into a physical DVD, it is worth making a good looking case to go with it. I have done this using Photoshop as well as online design websites and made it to the same design as the Photobook I show to clients. Below is a photo of what I take to meet clients for the first time before I am booked.
This shows them the style of what they can expect in their book and they can view the slideshow on the laptop or even on their TV, it is already in HD quality.
Of course, if you have a decent tablet (like the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1), you can use that to show them. I use this amazing Bluetooth speaker from Bose (4,500 5-star reviews!) to add BOOM to the sound which really helps!
There is no reason why you cannot display a miniature portfolio of images on your business cards. This is a sample of one of my old business cards from Spain with images on both the front and back:
I received quite a few good comments and like to feel it gives the client a good first impression of your work. I have a similar one now for the UK.
There are companies online such as Moo.com that will produce your business cards randomly with different images and styles for each meaning no two business cards are the same.
Some photographer directories give you the chance to display your work in the form of images or slideshow with music. Use these to get your work and website seen as much as possible and they are particularly useful if you don’t yet have a website of your own.
Directories will also create links into your website which helps with SEO and if they are web optimised, you should also receive extra traffic to your site.
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