Former Art Buyers and current photography consultants Amanda Sosa Stone and Suzanne Sease have agreed to take anonymous questions from photographers and not only give their expert advice but put it out to a wide range of photographers, reps and art buyers to gather a variety of opinions. The goal with this column is to solicit honest questions and answers through anonymity.
I am a photo assistant and studio manager that is taking steps to go out on my own, getting everything in place before the storm. Or at least what I hope will be the storm of work coming my way. Trying to stay positive here. Getting started is hard hitting, financially, so every decision I make I’m putting a lot of thought into, what tripod to invest in, cases, website, etc. There are so many options out there. Now I’ve reached portfolios. I just redid portfolios for a photographer I work for. This photographer dropped thousands on beautiful new portfolios and prints. They are really lovely. Whenever I contact others about this photographer’s work, or am contacted about it, never do they want to see the printed version. They simply say, send me a link to the website, or send a digital portfolio focusing on this. This really makes me wonder if I should be spending the time and money to print my work. I’ve heard of other photographers sending around an ipad with their work instead of a printed book. While I find it rather silly, as many computer screens are larger than the ipad, in which case I think you will get a better experience with the images, it does make some sense as well. At least you can control the color and quickly revise the images as necessary. I’ve heard what photographers think about this, but I’m wondering what art buyers, photo editors, and you think of this.
Amanda and Suzanne:
A portfolio is your visual voice that allows you to tell the story/journey of who you are creatively. We hope that portfolios will continue to transform, but we believe will continue to exist in some form. The website and the portfolio still stand as 2 separate entities and each tells your story differently.
I think if you’re going to be a photographer… be a photographer… save your money and have your book printed on nice paper. But, it really all depends on who’s asking and what they are asking for. Maybe the job is shooting something that will only go online. Look, I know that showing your books digitally is easier, but believe me there are still a lot of traditional clients, AD’s & AB’s who like to see a portfolio. Most still do. Let’s put this way, have ever gone to see an apartment that you saw online and when you arrived you can’t believe it’s the same apartment. Photoshop is beautiful thing. Not to say you can’t photoshop images and print them in your printed portfolio. You can. I just think touching and feeling it gives clients, AD’s & AB’s a lot more to talk about.
BTW: I just finished A job that sent books all over the place. Not just the photographer, but hair, make-up & wardrobe stylist as well. It pays to be prepared. Keep in mind that if you only have one book, be creative and tell clients all your books are out… they’ll want you more.
If I were a new photographer, I’d invest in 1) a killer website, 2) an iPad portfolio and 3) and FTP service.
Don’t get me wrong; as a Print person, I love a beautifully crafted physical portfolio. But the reality is, the iPad is already revolutionizing portfolio showing. It does everything I would want a portfolio to do: it’s easy to use; the images look great; I can pass it around; I can view multiple portfolios at will; shipping is cheap!
As a photographer, you can customize it to each client and it’s cheaper than printing out multiple physical portfolios.
I have to admit, I’ve requested fewer and fewer physical portfolios of any kind over the past year. Photographers have become more techno-savvy and can provide me links or PDFs to what I need to see.
That’s where the FTP service comes in. Rather than sending large files via email, send links to your work via an FTP site. There are several out there, some entirely free.
I can’t remember the last time that I called in/used an actual printed book. I first evaluate work by what I see online. If I need more, I’ll ask, but usually I’ll want to see more work digitally. Books are expensive; take time to get to me, etc. I also like showing only relevant shots to our clients. While very beautiful, I can’t do that with an already put together book. I’m a big fan of treatments (previous post on treatments). They go along way with clients and with my creative team. These are catered to a particular client/project and show insightful ideas that relate directly to my client/project. I’ve been using these in replacement of a book.
To Summarize: Have something PREPARED and READY waiting to go out. 3 different buyers and they both say to be prepared – please listen to your potential clients.
Call To Action: print your book, or buy the iPad you have been dying to buy, and/or get your digital/virtual portfolio together. If budget allows we vote for all 3. If budget is tight and $500 is more realistic, then the iPad. If budget is $0 – virtual all the way.
If you want more insight from Amanda and Suzanne you can contact them directly (here and here) or tune in once a week or so for more of “Ask Anything.” Amanda and Suzanne review your comments for 2 days, and then they are off researching next week’s question.