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Post & Photo by Joe Farace – Follow Joe on Twitter

Once upon a time, the laminated print portfolio was de rigeur for photographers. These slick presentations cost a lot of money to make and bind but they said “I have arrived.” They were considered to be better than any other single promotional tool by most photographers and buyers. As photo quality ink-jet printers became not only affordable, but also actually capable of making lab-quality output, most photographers started using them to make prints. All of a sudden, the cost of creating a portfolio came crashing down.

I wanted my first glamour portfolio to be impressive so I made 11×17 prints. I did so figuring that the size alone would impress models and clients alike. Itoya makes an inexpensive but great looking print portfolio called Profolio that’s available in various sizes and can be found in many art supply stores at surprisingly affordable prices. I found mine at Meininger’s in Denver, but I’m sure that others in your area, such as Towson Artists Supply. If you can’t find them locally, use Google to find a portfolio binder or case that will work to house your own photographs.

Tip: When putting together your first print portfolio, make a series of 4×6 photographs as a preview. You can even put them in a small Itoya book so it looks like a real portfolio and can use it later as a portable portfolio you can keep in your camera or messenger bag. The main reason for constructing this inexpensive mock-up is to get opinions from other photographers that you know. Ask those who will give honest options about the images—should that one even be in there?—or to determine in what order they should be displayed. Another reason for using small prints to decide what images to include and in what order they appear, is that if you make large prints all that Dom Pérignon–priced ink will take its toll on your credit card after a while.

Since prints are displayed behind protective plastic sheets in the Itoya portfolios, I use Epson’s Presentation Paper Matte. It’s cheap, thin, and makes great portfolio prints for the budget-minded photographer, but you can use whatever size and paper fits your budget.

Joe Farace is the author of “Studio Lighting Anywhere” the second book in a planned trilogy from Amherst Media. It’s available in bookstores as well as Amazon.com. The third book, “Available Light Glamour” should be available “real soon now.”

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