Ice Nine Porfolio
Seems strange in this current internet age that photographer’s still need portfolios to show prospective clients in order to solicit work. One would think that with websites and email marketing campaigns, we wouldn’t need portfolios anymore. But it isn’t true. We still need to have a portfolio to show off our prints and tear sheets. It actually gets me a little irked, to be honest. I need a website, a portfolio (actually I need 2 portfolios…one I keep and one my rep keeps), a promo card and a business card. That’s a lot of money and a lot of time and energy to put into your marketing tools. But it’s an industry “must” and so I must conform. And you must too if you want to compete in today’s highly competitive market.
I intend to write a lot about the business side of fashion photography, with marketing yourself a main subject. Today I will start with the Portfolio! I have had one since graduating from college in 1987. “Back in the day”, can you believe I wrote that?, we all had the same style of book. 11″ X 14″ black leather Brewer-Cantelmo book (shown below).
Oh and by the way, “book” is another word for portfolio. In fact, I rarely use the word portfolio. I call it “my book”. Brewer-Cantlemo is a pretty hip company and they’ve been making portfolios and cases for 80 years! That’s a long time to be in the industry making books!! I love their quality and they are very service oriented, but they tend to be a bit pricey. So after about 4 years, a lot of us jumped over to House of Portfolios.
In the early ’90’s, House of Portfolios was about $100 less expensive for relatively the same book. The standard back then was your black leather portfolio with your name stamped on the cover and after a few years, we chucked in the fancy carrying cases that both companies offer in lieu of the canvas tote bag. After trying to get that Fed Ex sticker off the front of your expensive leather carrying case with no luck, we opted for the canvas bag because we didn’t care if it got beaten up on the road. And it does. My book has come back in all kinds of disarray. You can’t sweat that but you can cut costs by going with the simpler bag.
By looking at the two sites today, their prices are fairly even. Brewer-Cantelmo’s 11″ X 14″ genuine leather book runs about $289.00. That’s without the stamp or the extra sleeves. And of course you can all kinds of extras like a front as well as back cover pocket, accent stitching, custom stamping, lining upgrade, etc. There’s a lot to choose from to make your book a bit more unique. At House of Portfolios, for their genuine leather 11″ X 14″ book, you’re looking at $245.00. And you can pretty much get some of the added extra features from them as well.
A year ago, however, I signed with a rep who informed me that my black leather House of Portfolio book was (and I quote) “too nineties!”. I need to “get with the program” and update my entire “look” to the new millennium. OUCH! So where do photographers go now? There are a couple of options: Case Envy or Pina Zanaro.
I bought a beautiful book from Case Envy last year. I got the ice nine portfolio in a frosted acetate (pictured on top). You can see the first image in my book through the frosted front cover and it looks amazing. I got the white frost for this effect. They have other colors you can choose from.
I just signed with a new rep. The relationship between photographer/rep is something I will definitely cover in future posts! It’s a very important relationship (and I have a lot to say on the subject). Any way, she wanted me to get a black high gloss book from Pina Zangaro because it matched with my website and my business cards. It’s an overall brand to my style and my name. So I just bought two new shiny black 11″ X 14″ books last week! I bought the Vista Portrait book (pictured below). They both were significantly less expensive than Brewer-Cantlemo or House of Portfolios. And they are more up to date. Photographers are using more acetate and plastic for portfolio materials than leather.
I do remember the first time my rep had me “drop off” my book to a client. I spent an hour shining up my leather book, cleaning the sleeves and straightening the prints. I drove my book over to the ad agency and walked in to the pristine lobby. I told the receptionist that I was there to drop off my book. She pointed to the floor to the right of her desk and said, you can drop you it there. I looked over to where she was pointing and saw at least 50 books that all looked the same! Wow, was that an eye opener! I guess now days our books stand apart a little bit. There still are 50 books up for the same gig, but now we have different portfolios to give it a little bit of an “edge” to the competition. Although, in the end, it’s not what’s on the outside of your book that counts but what’s on the inside.
So in saying that, go with what you feel represents your style the best! If you think a chrome cover shows your high fashion off well, go with it! It’s important, like my current agent says, to keep within a “brand” or identity to who you are. My websites are black, my business card is black, my promo cards are black, so it makes sense to go with a shiny black portfolio cover. Find out what your style is and then order your book accordingly. I will say that I like to stick with vertical or “portrait” style books. I know fashion photographers are stepping outside the box these days and going with “landscape” style portfolios. But fashion is vertical! It’s not landscape, generally. This is a personal taste thing, and I’m always an advocate for breaking the rules, as you all should know by now. So if that’s your taste, go for it! Figure out if you consider your work to be conservative and you’re going after big clients or if you’re book is going to go in to the more hip agencies and magazines. The look of your book should compliment you and your style of photography!