Northern Virginia Photographic Society
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Portfolio Project
NVPS Portfolio Project Portfolio Presentation Options
After working hard on your theme, artist's statement, and image selection it's time to present the fruits of your labor. Your art deserves to be shown at its best and there are many options available to you. This article describes several presentation options including - 
    • Prints
    • Portfolio Binders, Books and Boxes
    • Print-on-Demand (POD) Books
    • Self-Printed Books
    • Slide Shows
    • Web Gallery
Please note that although I have provided links to sites, I do not have personal experience with all of these sites nor their products. The links are merely for your convenience as a place to begin your search and not an endorsement - Caveat Emptor.

Photographs and prints are synonymous to many people. A well prepared and presented print portfolio makes a statement that other options can't match. If you choose to present your portfolio via prints you have many choices in terms of -
    • Custom lab vs. printing on your own (home printer or - gasp! - wet darkroom)
      • Take a look at West Coast Imaging for an example of custom lab services
      • Costco is inexpensive but good (as long as your monitor is calibrated and you use their printer profile; paper limited to Fuji Crystal Archive)
    • Paper - try something special by using a nice fine art paper
    • Whether to mount and/or mat the prints
    • From here, it's just a small step to an exhibit or show.
Regardless of your choices, ensure that the print craftsmanship matches the time and effort that you spent selecting your portfolio images.  Properly calibrated and profiled equipment are essential.

Portfolio Binders, Books & Boxes
If you decide to go with prints, then what? Well, if your name is Ansel Adams you could bring your images to the viewer in a recycled plastic grocery bag and still make a positive impression - but how about the rest of us? The good news is that there are almost a bewildering number of products to choose from - and that's the bad news, too. I can't help you with your choice but can provide links to sites that illustrate your options. The option you choose should complement your personal style and your portfolio.
    • Prat Paris  - a bit over the top maybe, but look at their 123 page catalog to see your range of options (& then search the web for "best buys")
    • Adorama - Choose Print & Document Storage from within the Storage and Presentation Boxes section; from the page this gives you, you can select further by manufacturer (incl. Prat Paris above) and by size. For example, leave manufacturer blank and choose 16x20 to look at the different styles available from various manufacturers.
Print on Demand Books
There are many on-line sources for printing books on demand (POD) with many options for size, page layout, paper quality, hard or soft cover and price. Needless to say, with the various options come varying degrees of quality. Matt Schmidt provided this article that provides a comparison of the three POD sites shown below (the article is a year old as of this writing). If you decide to present your portfolio in a book, I recommend that you read the above article even if you choose to use a different POD source. If nothing else, it provides an excellent introduction to the subject of POD - and what to watch for. Note - if you're a Costco member, they occasionally run an on-line special for My Publisher (which I've never tried. I have used Blurb and like the quality of the finished product but I wasn't wild about their page layout software. I got done what I wanted but had to work around - instead of with - their package on occasion)
    • MyPublisher.com 
    • Blurb
    • Lulu
    • There are many other sites - just Google something like "photo book print". The above three are linked mainly because the article provides details for them
Self Printed Books
This is an interesting option that closely parallels the Prints Option mentioned first in this article. It's another way to present quality prints. The quality of the prints will match that of any other fine art prints made on your own printer - except that the prints are presented in a book. You can design a custom book with captions, essays and page numbers (or not) using page layout software such as PageMaker, Microsoft Publisher or Word, or any other comparable software.
    • Inkjetart.com (digital books comparison/review)    
    • ArtZ  - sorry about the Flash intro - skip intro; click on Products at bottom left; click on Digital Products; look at any of the top four products in the left column
Slide Shows
In the digital age, slide shows are an option for presenting your portfolio. As with the other options above, choices abound. Some photographers use Microsoft PowerPoint - many because it's already on their computers (and the same is true for the Mac counterpart). I use Photodex's Proshow which comes in several flavors -
    • Proshow (PC only. I personally can recommend this highly.)
    • iPhoto (Mac)
Website Galleries
A final digital age option for displaying your work is via a website photo gallery. There are many available - free and subscription. Here is one link to a site comparison - there are many others all with different conclusions. Use this as your starting point. Be sure to log on to the forum for any site you may be considering to read what users are saying. Like anything else, there is often a difference between self-serving promotional material and real user experience. I have recently begun switching my galleries from Pbase to SmugMug and can recommend SmugMug highly.
If this is your first portfolio, you may want to try all of these for a personal comparison. Who knows, your experience in trying these options may be the basis for a future NVPS program.

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