A small printed portfolio to show clients is critical. Many potential clients will talk to several photographers. Having a face to face meeting is important. It gives you a chance to get to know your client and a chance to show them your portfolio.
You are probably thinking why? They have seen it online. Photographers for many years now have gotten used to the online portfolio. The entire time we were getting used to it we knew prints looked better than anything online.
A print does something to a person. It sets it above what we seen on the computer because it can be held. That same client who sees your well done portfolio might just want one for their wedding too. Prints are prints are prints, until we prove they are something more.
A professionally done portfolio is selling point that will set you apart. It shows you care enough to print your work. It shows you stand behind your work. It is the extra step. I choose to keep all of mine in boxes as I feel they look more modern. It also makes it easier to hold the picture, a vital part of my portfolio process.
Successful portfolios have several factors. Each portfolio must have all necessary releases. I keep my releases right in the bottom of the box. They are size appropriate to fit right in the box without folding. No staples or paperclips are allowed. I print these out on high quality paper.
Next up, I have a portfolio for each type of client I may encounter. Weddings, portraiture, commercial and any other types of clients you may have. I have no more than 7-10 pictures of any style in each portfolio. Choose your pictures carefully. I do try and get a mix of clients when possible. I look for the prints that standout in my archive. I look for diversity in the prints that I place in my portfolio.
If you want to go the extra step an embossed or embalmed insignia on the top is a nice touch with the studio name and type of portfolio. This adds to the look of quality. This will also do two other things. It will ensure you always grab the right portfolio. It may also encourage clients to ask if you have other portfolios. That allows you to talk about your business without ever having to sell yourself. Alternatively in this day and age you can order different colors for each portfolio. Let your personality shine with the trendy things done to update these boxes and folios.
Part of this process is right from the beginning I want to meet face to face with my potential client. I want to discuss what they are looking for. If they can’t meet then I try and arrange to at least stop by and leave the portfolio for a day. Most take me up on meeting face to face, the ones that don’t meet with me have not turned down the portfolio being left with them. I follow up a day later to pick up the pictures.
There are so many photographers these days that it is about the personal touch. It is about standing above. Portfolios are a wonderful way to do this.