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Print Portfolios - How Important Are They?

In today’s world where ease of access, instant gratification and convenience are king, it’s very easy to get caught up and even lost in the digital world. I have been asked many times: “Do you have an online presence?”, “Do you have a portfolio we can look at online?” Yes I do have a website not unlike most people in our business do and I have some work in other places that could be considered a portfolio. Normally when I get asked these questions, it is usually by people who are looking to see a sample of my work in order to jury it to make a decision for a show or a magazine submission. Now in this type of situation it makes perfect sense because it’s quick and incredibly convenient. This is usually the way I roll when it comes to portfolios. A printed portfolio was always more, maybe I should put one together one day. I never really gave it much weight that is until very recently.
A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with a friend of mine and he asked me if I had ever given any thought to trying to get my art into some corporate spaces. To be honest, the thought had crossed my mind previously but just as fast as it entered, it was gone again. He told me I should give it some serious thought because he had a place in mind for my work. He just so happened to have some high level contacts and said he would be happy to send along an email to attempt to facilitate a meeting for me. Well that was all I needed to hear and I thought why not! Nothing ventured, nothing gained! I immediately told him YES! Let’s see what happens.
The very next day I was copied on an email from my friend to an Executive explaining how he knew a photographer whose work he thought would fit in well in their workplace. Three days later, I received an email with a request for a meeting to show him my portfolio. I was ecstatic, over the moon excited and a bundle of nerves all at once. I knew I had but this one opportunity to rock this meeting and really make it count so everything had to be perfect! I was only going to get one shot at making an impression so I had to ensure I left one hell of a good one! Right away the thought came to me! I have to present a printed portfolio for this one. I replied back with a date which was a couple of weeks away which would afford me the time needed to get this whole thing put together.
That night I went home and immediately got to work on selecting my images - which ended up initially being nineteen but got whittled down to a final ten - which I would send off to be printed. Fast forward a week and there I was with these images in my hands. Wow, what a very different feeling. Actually having the tactile feel of physical images in my hands. It took me back to my film and darkroom days. I immediately went to work placing them into my brand new portfolio book. When I was finished, I stood there and looked at the images this way and I felt proud in that moment to have something like this in my hands that I could call “MY” portfolio.
In my opinion, a printed portfolio goes a long way and speaks volumes. It shows you take pride in your work and care to take that extra step to ensure you leave a lasting impression. Not every situation calls for this type of investment but at some point you will encounter it in your career and I strongly urge you to follow through and make the investment in print, you will be glad you did!