The world of photography can change in a flash (sorry, that was awful), so it’s vital professionals adapt to new technologies as and when they become available. The growth in digital portfolios has brought new opportunities, but also new challenges. Likewise, the increase in high quality cameras in phones has allowed the industry to diversify while simultaneously becoming more competitive than ever. Now anyone with a smartphone and a good sense of timing can capture award-winning shots, lather it in unnecessary filters and tweak it with some post-snap Photoshop manipulation. The jury might still be out on to what extent technology has improved photography itself, but there can be no doubt it’s changed the way photographers get their images out into the wider world. But which method is best for placing your shots into the right hands? We take a look at the benefits and pitfalls of embracing the digital microsite over the traditional printed volume.
Reaching out to clients
As a professional photographer, you want to ensure your images can be distributed to as many clients as possible. A digital microsite enables you to send designs to anyone around the world in an instant, directly to their inbox. Creating a digital portfolio through a microsite app like Clemmie allows you to go a step further and find out exactly when the client has opened your email, see which shots they liked the most and tailor any future interactions with them accordingly. Using a digital microsite app also adds an additional level of interactivity to your designs, allowing you to link to your official website, social accounts and other contact details.
Sending out your portfolio in a physical form is becoming rarer, as more photographers opt for the digital approach. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for shutterbugs still faithful to the printed photo, giving an air of originality and helping you stand apart from the competition. However, even with its agrestal appeal, a printed portfolio comes with its own drawbacks. Short of delivering your photos to the hands of your client and watching them look it over, there’s no way you can be completely sure they have received and viewed your portfolio. You could call in or visit a client’s office to make sure your work found its way to the right desk, but both these options require time, money and effort that could be better spent further developing your portfolio.
When it comes to creating art, money might be no object, but getting it in front of the right eyes requires a keen eye for the best, and cheapest, channels of communication. With a digital catalogue of your best images, it’s vital they are presented in the most accessible format. Take time to find the best platform for your photos and, depending on your budget, don’t be afraid to create multiple microsite portfolios for different occasions or categories. Creating a microsite specifically for wedding photography photos, for instance, could provide a more focused context to your work over a random collection of your best works.
The traditional printed portfolio can be costly to print and send overseas, and sending it out to multiple sources only compounds the costs. Digital has become the primary channel for freelancers and studios to deliver their portfolio. As a result, the cost of physically transporting images has been increasing for the past decade. Even with a regular printing deal, the cost of printing new portfolios means it is far less economic than dedicating your best pics to a digital album.
We all know the feeling. You spend months getting to grips with your latest gadget, only to realise it’s been superseded by an even newer and more shiny tool just as you were entering your comfort zone. A vital attribute as a photographer is the ability to adapt your style according to changing technology, not just behind the camera, but in the process of sharing your images too. One of the key advantages to using a digital portfolio is the freedom it gives you to edit your selection at will. Every artist wants to be able to exercise full control over their own works. A digital portfolio allows you to chop and change according to the clients needs. A couple looking for a wedding photographer for their big day, for instance, are more likely to choose someone with a full portfolio of wedding pics over a photographer featuring just a few wedding photos among a selection of landscape shots.
Traditional printed portfolios, on the other hand, require you to either reprint regularly or send outdated collections and hope they’re enough to win over a client. Even if you own a high quality digital printer capable of creating industry standard images, you’ll spend more time trying to commit your images to paper.
The personal touch
Thanks to the exodus of photographers to digital, the printed portfolio is becoming increasingly difficult to justify. Add to this the dwindling number of commercial printers, the increasingly widespread geographic base for opportunities and the growing pressure on publications to save money by sourcing their images from ‘stock photo’ sites, and the future of the printed photo album looks bleak. Part of reaching out to the right people involves knowing the right channel to reach out through, and a physical copy of your best work is rapidly becoming an obsolete medium. It’s not merely about understanding how best to contact your client. Now, photographers are using technology like Clemmie’s microsite creation tool to develop a portfolio that responds to the exact needs of an individual client, personalised to show you understand what they require, and know exactly how to give it to them.
Despite being an antiquated method of delivery, the printed portfolio isn’t irrelevant to the pitching process. A well-printed, well-bound portfolio and a personalised note can add a human touch to your images, and can even reinforce your commitment if included in conjunction with a customised digital accompaniment.