How to choose a portfolio (book)?
March 14, 2012 7:14 PM   Subscribe

Tell me about your favorite reasonably priced portfolio brand.

I am a photography student, graduating in May. The time has come to assemble my portfolio and I'm thoroughly confused by too many options. I need to assemble 16 images that will be printed on 11x14 paper. I've looked at Lost Luggage and Portfolios and Art Cases so far. I don't want anything that looks or feels cheap but I also hope to have the cost of materials for a binder/book to ring in under $180.

Does the content of a portfolio make any difference when choosing the actual physical materials and, if so, how do I figure out how to match a portfolio to my "style"?
posted by mcbeth to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know where you live, but in Toronto I went to an art supply store very near to OCAD (the big art school) and found good quality and very reasonably priced portfolio books. I can't remember the brand - they were rather generic - but they were under $10 for an 8x11 sized book and under $20 or 30 for a large 11x17 book. All of them were also archival quality - and much cheaper than the archival quality photo albums I had been looking at online.

So if possible, I would hit an art store next to an art school, and see if they had generic brand portfolios.
posted by jb at 9:05 PM on March 14, 2012

They did have black plastic covers - which might strike some as seeming cheap, but struck me more as seeming just "professional" in their utilitarianess.
posted by jb at 9:06 PM on March 14, 2012

Don't spend a fortune on a portfolio - it's not necessary. Plain and black is fine - you should be judged on the work not the cover. I won't talk about specific brands since I'm not in Canada and I don't know what's available here vs there. Do spring for archival sheet protectors of a heavier weight - the light weight ones scratch if you look at them cock-eyed. Beyond that, the paper you print on is more important than an over-the-top binder. ( I'm an artist not a photographer but this is the standard advice I've been given for years.)
posted by leslies at 3:58 AM on March 15, 2012

Do people really use physical portfolios still? Mine was online when i was applying to grad schools a couple of years ago, and I was accepted by both the ten-person-department exclusive schol and the giant, top-ranked big-city school. I don't think anybody cares. I am not a photographer, though.
posted by cmoj at 11:05 AM on March 15, 2012

I'm not in Canada either. I did also have to create a website for my work (link is in my Meta profile), but for this final show we've additionally been asked to assemble the book. There are significantly more images on my website than the no-more-than-16-images I'll print for the book-portfolio and I'd rather point prospective anybodies to the website, but I think the exercise is (probably?) primarily designed to teach us about various paper types, printing, culling... that kind of thing. Also, as it has been explained to me, a number of employers will show up at the portfolio show to look at prospective employees, so I want to make sure my zipper is up and I don't have smudges on my face.

Do people really use physical portfolios still?

I have no personal experience using a portfolio professionally (yet!) and someone else here may have better/different information, but the photographers who've come to classes for grownup show and tell have said yes, they do use them. They add/subtract the images they present based on the potential employer's needs.

I'll use the plain black covered book and I'll def. pop for the heavier archival sheet protectors. Ooh, and I'll use the awesome budget savings to buy myself a good celebratory bottle of whiskey. Thanks!
posted by mcbeth at 7:48 AM on March 17, 2012

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