Print Your Portfolio - Media and Presentation Choices

In many ways, your choice of media for printing your portfolio is bound up with the way you decide to present your pictures, so we'll start by outlining the presentation choices open to photographers. Essentially there are three:

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In many ways, your choice of media for printing your portfolio is bound up with the way you decide to present your pictures, so we'll start by outlining the presentation choices open to photographers. Essentially there are three:
1. Images can be printed individually then mounted or framed and hung on walls. This option suits studio photographers whose clients visit their premises, photographers who shoot for exhibitions and photo enthusiasts who have enough space to display their pictures at home.

2. Images can be printed individually and collected in a presentation box or portfolio file. This option suits photographers who visit their clients, as well as photo enthusiasts with limited display space and little interest in making frames. It can also be an excellent archiving option because prints last longer when stored away from light and atmospheric pollutants.

3. Selected images can be printed in book format, either by the photographer or by a specialist agency. This option combines all the advantages of options 1 and 2 but requires the photographer to spend time compiling the images and laying them out on pages. It may also require the addition of text and graphics to make the finished book more attractive. The book will also need to be bound.

The Framing Option
When you are printing pictures that will be framed, the actual surface of the paper you print on is of little importance as both glossy and matte papers look very similar behind glass. Be cautions about printing on textured papers as they may not show up to advantage when prints are framed. The best option is to stick with a paper that has a good lightfastness rating and is thick enough to sit well in the frame without bulging forward and coming in contact with the glass. Papers of 200 grams/square metre (200 gsm) or thicker are ideal.

All framed photographs should be surrounded by a matte. This frame-within-a-frame can be plain or decorated, coloured or pure white. Its purpose is to make an attractive border to the picture and at the same time separate the picture from direct contact with the glass. The small air space prevents moisture build-up and the development of mould and fungus. More than one matte may be used with a picture – although the more mats you use the more you are likely to draw the viewer's attention to the frame and mat and away from the picture itself.

The backing behind the picture should be stiff enough to provide support. Cardboard is popular for smaller prints but more rigid materials are required for prints of A3+ size or larger. The frame itself can be made of any material you like, as long as it can support and contain all the other framing elements. Glass – or a transparent plastic substitute – is used to cover and protect the photograph. Some people prefer anti-reflective glass, which is more expensive than plain glass. Both provide similar protection so this choice is a matter of taste.

All frames should have dust sealing. This usually consists of wide brown paper (or plastic) tape that is stretched across the gaps at the back of the frame to prevent dirt and insects from getting in. Paper tape is more durable – if you can get it. The final touch involves adding hangers (loop screws and wires) to allow the picture to be hung on the wall.

If you don't want to do the job yourself, professional framing shops can be found in most towns and suburbs. A quick check of the Yellow Pages should give you several to choose from.

Presentation Boxes & Portfolios
Although you can buy boxes for prints up to A4 size in most photo shops and some stationery outlets, boxes for larger prints are more difficult to find. Many photographers prefer to make their own from paper-coated foamboard and pH neutral adhesives. If your presentation box will be used for long-term print storage it should be made from materials that will not release damaging chemicals. The safest materials are pH neutral and lignin- and hemicellulose-free.

A well-designed presentation box should open easily to display the prints and have a latch to ensure secure closure. We don't recommend inserting prints in protective sleeves when they will be displayed to clients. It's better to interleave prints with photo-safe tissue as you place them into the box.

Portfolio binders normally require photos to be placed into polyester or polypropylene sleeves, which are clipped into D- or O-rings in the binder. A latch or Velcro strip keeps the binder closed when it's not in use. This method of presentation is handy for photographers who wish to keep a portfolio of their shots on hand when they are travelling. Prints should be removed from the sleeve for presentation to show them off to their best advantage.

Photo Books

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[Right: www.albumlab.com]
Digital technology has made it possible for photographers to produce 'coffee table' books containing their own photographs, with or without text and graphics. Anybody with basic layout skills, a suitable software application and an inkjet printer that can print on double-sided paper can use this way of displaying their best shots.

Several manufacturers have produced do-it-yourself photo book kits that include paper and a hard board cover that is either clipped on or attached with screw-in posts. The results can be quite impressive. (We hope to provide a 'how to' feature on DIY photo books in a future issue of Photo Review Australia magazine.)

If you're too busy to make your own photo book – or feel you may lack some essential skills – there are plenty of companies to help you. In most cases, the production process involves downloading a software application containing a suite of page and cover templates, into which you place your pictures. Once the images, text and graphics have been arranged by the client, the resulting file is sent to the service provider, either via email or by post (on a CD).

The finished book is printed on a high-quality commercial printer and professionally bound. Clients can often choose between spiral binding and stitched, hardcover binding and some companies will produce cover sleeves (dust jackets) or slip-covers for books. Normal turnaround times range from 15 to 30 days.

Photo books look great and are easy to handle and carry about for displaying to clients. One issue to be kept in mind when choosing the most suitable presentation method is to consider the relative flexibility of the different approaches. Obviously, once you've printed a photo book, the only way to make a change is to print a new edition. If you are likely to be updating your work frequently, it may be better to opt for either a portfolo binder or boxed edition.

PRODUCT SUPPLIERS
Some suppliers you can contact for presentation products are listed below. Note: this is by no means an exhaustive list and you may find many more through a Google search or by looking in your local business directory.

PRINTING PAPERS
While you can guarantee excellent results for prints made on the fine-art media from your printer manufacturer, there are times when the manufacturer's range doesn't meet your needs. For example, few manufacturers supply double-sided paper in a wide range of weights and surfaces. The following third party companies sell 'fine art' papers that are suitable for portfolio printing.

D.E.S. Pty Ltd (www.des-pl.com.au)
17 Leeds Street, Rhodes NSW 2138; Ph: (02) 9736 6700
Distributor of Chromajet Centurion papers (including double-sided silk finish paper that is ideal for albums and photo books) and Chromajet canvas for inkjet printing.

Giclee Media Supplies (www.gicleemedia.com.au)
10/35 Taunton Drive, Cheltenham, VIC 3192; Ph: (03) 8682 9587
Distributors of a wide range of archival matt, semi-gloss and full gloss papers from brands including Moab, GMS, Hawk Mountain and Crane plus canvas and other fabrics, stretchers, mounting boards and framing systems. Storage and presentation products are also stocked.

Ilford Imaging
Distributed by C.R. Kennedy (www.crkennedy.com.au)
Ph: (03) 9823 1555
Ilford's Galeries professional range is well suited to Portfolio presentation.

Image Science (www.imagescience.com.au)

14 Purcell Street, North Melbourne, VIC 3051; Ph: (03) 9348 9808
Distributors of Hahnemuhle, Arches, Canson and Crane papers. Offers sample packs of one or all brands.

Kayell Australia (www.kayellaustralia.com.au)
1/19 Hotham Parade, Artarmon NSW 2064; Ph: (02) 9439 9377

108 Johnston Street, CollingwoodVictoria 3066; Ph: (03) 9416 2848
Re-sellers of Arches, Canson, Epson and Hahnemuhle papers and Canson and InteliCoat canvas.

Longbottom Digital Papers (www.longbottom.com.au)
26 Gow Street, Padstow, NSW 2211; Ph: (02) 9709 3299
Carries an extensive range of fine-art and double-sided papers and canvas media from Hahnemuhle, Lumijet and other manufacturers.

PORTFOLIO BINDERS AND BOXES

Conservation Resources (www.conservationresources.com.au)
31-33 Chifley Drive, Preston VIC 3072; Ph: 1300 132 570
Carries a complete range of mounting papers and boards, boxes, binders and presentation books. Some made-to-order products are also available.

Shared Memories (www.sharedmemories.com.au)
Ph: 1300 554 229
A wide range of albums and presentation boxes in sizes up to A3. Free postage for deliveries within Australia.

PHOTO BOOK KITS
Although a number of manufacturers have produced photo book kits, most are more suitable for hobbyist albums than professional presentations. Hahnemuhle produces A4 and A3 size Digital Folio kits using its Lumijet papers. Each contains 20 sheets of edge-punched, double-sided paper and a hard cover that is fitted by screw posts. Black leather-bound versions are available in A4 size. Both are available from Image Science (www.imagescience.com.au). Also suitable for portfolio work is the Innova Book Art Kit from D.E.S. Pty Ltd (www.des-pl.com.au).

PHOTO BOOK CREATORS
Companies offering services that suit professional and/or serious enthusiast photographers include:

AlbumLab (www.albumlab.com)

P.O. Box 331, Coogee, NSW 2034; Ph: 0422 0400 97

Albumprinter (www.albumprinter.com.au)
152 Sturt Street, Southbank VIC 3006
Momento Pro Pty Ltd (www.momento.com.au)
PO Box 14, Camperdown, NSW 1450; Ph: (02) 8568 3222

My Photo Fun (www.myphotofun.com.au)
GPO Box 860, Sydney, NSW 2001; Ph: (02) 8221 0745

My Reflections (www.myreflections.com.au)
48 Ritchie Drive, Rockingham, W.A. 6168; Ph: (08) 9529 3351

Pixel Perfect Digital Pro Lab (www.asukabook.com.au)
90 Abercrombie Street, Chippendale, Sydney, NSW, 2008; Ph: (02) 9319 0455

soFetch (www.sofetch.com.au)

PO Box 191, Lower Plenty, VIC 3093; Ph: 0414 391 079