Family Portraits

This week I was asked to take some portraits of Sarah and her daughter, Abigail. They simply wanted some photographs of themselves, individually and together that they could hang on the wall and give out to family members as gifts. They had no particular style in mind, just something fun, simple and that reflected the images I took for them a few years ago.

I set the studio up at college with a simple white background highlighted by two lamps, one with barn doors and one with a standard hood. I added red and purple coloured gels part way through the session just to give some of the images a subtly different look. To light the subject I used two more lamps, one with a softbox and another with a snood. I set the lights so that I could use the camera at ISO100, f8 and 1/125sec all with my Sony camera and a 50mm prime lens.

When they arrived at the studio the daughter was a little tired and perhaps a little shy. We had a bit of a joke and she soon cheered up and got into the mindset of a catwalk model. These are a few of my favourite photos from the shoot.

I have done very little editing of these photos. Sarah is a very good photographer and editor herself and will amend the photos or turn them black and white to suit her own taste.

I’m pleased to say that Sarah has sent me some very positive comments about them.

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Portfolio Book Options

This week I have researched a number of options for my portfolio book. There is a bit of a mismatch between what I can afford and the quality of the album that I would like. However, I have to say that the quality of the album needs to reflect the aspirations of the target market that I hope to reach, so I think I will have to save up and make an investment in this book.

I have previously used organisations like Blurb and Photobox to produce family or holiday albums.

The following are some example prices for Photobox but there is very often an offer on these prices. This weekend there is up to 60% off.

  • 30 pages, large square 30cm x 30cm, gloss finish hardcover, lay flat, lustre paper – £49.99
  • 90 pages, premium square 29.5cm x 29.5cm, padded hardcover, perfect bound, 260gsm matt photo paper, clam shell presentation box – £99.99

The following are some example prices for Blurb but again, they often offer a discount on repeat or multiple orders

  • 20 pages, large landscape 33cm x 28cm, dust cover, proline uncoated paper (archival), no logo, mid grey end sheets – £56.09
  • 20 pages, large square 30cm x 30cm, image wrap cover, proline pearl photo paper (archival), no logo, mid grey end sheets – £58.13

There are lots of companies offering high-end books that are great for wedding albums and possibly for my portfolio. Most of these need photographers to register with the website before they will let you know prices.

Most of these companies require you to download and use their own software to create their books. I would prefer to use InDesign to create my book to give me complete control over the design and layout.

  • Loxley Colour – uses Loxley Designer Pro software and has discounted sample album packs available to order when you upload and order your first album.
  • Graphi Studio
  • Colourworld – uses Colourworld Designer Pro software. Sample albums are available at a 50% discount – just email them and they will send a code to use for when you place your order.
  • Proam Studio – uses free album design software
  • GF Smith Photographic – uses PPS software
  • Folio Albums are even more luxury with prices that are upwards of £250.00

2 Nov 2015 Update

Today at college we had a visit from the people at GF Smith in Hull. They showed us some samples of their albums, including some very nice portfolio books. Although the photographic albums are only available through GF Smith Photographic they do have a version called Make Book which is available through their paper division. This can be produced in InDesign and uploaded to order.

An A4 book with 20 pages (10 spreads) can be ordered for around £100. So I think that this will be my preferred option.

Print Portfolio v Digital Portfolio

Last year I created a website which acts as an online portfolio and showcases my best photographs. This year I want to make a printed portfolio that compliments what I have done online.

I hope the online portfolio will help me to get in front of potential clients but when I am face to face with a client a printed portfolio will be easier to look at together and will hopefully enable me to stand out from other people. It means that I won’t have to rely on a wi-fi connection or be caught out by low batteries or electronic malfunctions. And it means that I have complete control over how my photos are displayed to clients so that images are not affected by low resolution screens or screens that are set to the wrong display size or colour settings.

A printed portfolio shows that I have taken the time to prepare and come along to meet with a client with images that I am ready to show off. So much better than just telling them a url to to look up. There is something about the tactile nature of a book or prints that makes the experience of looking at photographs more memorable.

There are any number of distractions that can interrupt viewing on a computer, especially email notifications or adverts but a printed portfolio allows clients to focus directly on my photos with no opportunity to navigate away.

On the downside, it is more costly and time-consuming to update a printed portfolio than it is a digital portfolio. Also, if it is too big, a printed portfolio can be a real pain to carry around and then there is the problem of keeping it smart, neat and not battered or dented at the corners.

Despite the failings of a printed portfolio I think it is still a useful tool for today’s photographers.

Portfolio Inspiration

I love the Lonely Planet magazine and would love to see my photographs printed in its pages so I’ve mocked-up a few feature pages, using Adobe Indesign, just to see what it looks like. Although the photographs are displayed very clearly I feel that there is too much copy for use in my portfolio.

I visited an exhibition at the National Geographic Society during the summer and purchased the accompanying book, The Tuareg or Kel Tamasheq: The People Who Speak Tamasheq and a History of the Sahara, edited by Henrietta Butler. Apart from being a really interesting read, I like the way that some of the pages of photographs are laid out, with the photographs large and clear and a small amount of descriptive text. It is quite a thick book that doesn’t lay flat when it is opened and I don’t like that some of the photographs go across two pages and get lost down the deep centre crease.

I’ve also been leafing through The Family of Man, by Edward Steichen. It is a lovely book with photographs displayed on the pages clearly. The only text is a small identification for each photograph, probably not enough for my portfolio. But what I do like are the quotes that are randomly found among the images on some of the pages.

I’ve also been to the Blurb website to get some inspiration from some of the photography portfolio books on there.

  • The Harbour, Savannah, GA is nicely laid out but where there is text, it is too large and distracts from the photos.
  • Free Bird Photography has too many photographs on each page for my liking.
  • Portafolio 2014 is very nice.
  • fotographie 4 is also very nice but I prefer the photographs printed on a white page rather than on a black page.

I’ve seen another couple of website with travel portfolios that I quite like too.

I have also re-looked at the inspiration that I used to create my web portfolio – Tools for Creating a Professional Web Portfolio.

Portfolio Statement of Intent

For my Professional Practice Module I plan to create a portfolio book based on my travel photography. This is the type of work I would love to be able to do in the future so it makes sense for me to spend time creating something that could help me with that. I will focus mainly on the humanitarian aspect of my travel photography and most of the photographs used will be from my trip to Tanzania in 2015 and to India in 2014 although I will include a few other images from previous trips.

I will chose my very favourite pieces of work to show fewer excellent quality images as opposed to lots of good or ok images.

I will include some text throughout the book but will keep this limited so that the portfolio book is simple and the photographs can take centre stage.

Location Based Photographs

I’ve been asked to put together some examples of my best location based photographs. I’ve included some new and old favourites from various places that I hope shows the variety and quality of my work in both informal and formal situations.

Most of these photographs were taken discretely with just one or two taken following a nod of acknowledgement from the subject.