Print Portfolios as Objects of Desire

January 08 2015

A perennial topic of conversation amongst photographers, photo agents and buyers swirls around print books. Everyone wonders if the print portfolio is dead, in a deep slumber, or if it somehow still vital. I’m a big fan of print books – when built around a photographer’s brand and vision, they are seductive and immersive, a place where the viewer can enter and experience your brand in a tangible and tactile way.

These days, many more portfolios are perfect bound, highly designed and sophisticated presentations, and present more like photo art books. This trend in fabrication and presentation places the photo portfolio front and center as a book to explore, appreciate, and return to again and again – much like a great photo art book from a published artist.

Gabriella Imperatori-Penn's perfect bound brand book marries her structural still life photographs and fine art images

This is not news to many of you, yet it was interesting to have my point-of-view confirmed by the recent article in The Business of Fashion, the highly influential London-based fashion blog. The headline of their article is “In Age of Online Inspiration, Fashion Creatives Still Love Beautiful Books.” The article is about coffee table books, and talks about the inspiration and references that Art and Creative Directors find in visually based photo books, whether they are contemporary, retro, or historical. Many Creatives travel with book collections, and many are avid photo, fashion, and art book collectors, using their collections for inspiration and creative juice.

Sarah Silver's portfolio incorporated distinctive design elements in conjunction with her glorious photographs

A great, well designed, thought through print portfolio elevates your brand to the context of a printed photo book, as an object of desire to be explored, and remembered, and to be inspired by. While the days of having eight copies of your portfolio are over, fabricating two or three copies of your “object of desire portfolio” can help to clinch the deal with your highly visual, selective target market.

Artists and agents -- think about this and take it on as you go forth with your branding, design, and marketing activities in 2015.

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