Photographers And Their Effing iPad Portfolios

- - Portfolio, Working

I’ve heard more than one Art Buyer and Photo Editor comment that if they see another iPad portfolio they’re going to scream. Of course, for photographers the allure of a $500 portfolio is too much to resist, so it’s good to keep tabs on this as it surely evolves. I firmly believe the iPad makes a great supplement to the traditional portfolio and as more photographers add motion, it becomes essential for showing that work. And as a way to show depth or recent material that can impact a hiring decision what a money saver this will be. I don’t think we will find many photographers that don’t have one handy on set, at lunch, at an event and even walking down the street; loaded with all kinds of portfolios of their latest work.

The Photoshelter Blog has a post where 3 photographer talk about how they’ve incorporated the iPad into their portfolio presentation. I liked Darren Carroll’s solution of incorporating it into custom made Brewer-Cantelmo books containing high impact prints. The other two photographers, Steve Boyle and Shawn Corrigan have cool iPad only portfolios that are worth checking out as well.

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There Are 46 Comments On This Article.

    • @Mike Tittel, Excellent Mike- who has a killer printed portfolio that is branded and uses his ipad as a back up to show additional work. BUT the nice thing about an ipad is that you can have it with you for the “chance” meetings that you may find.

  1. I wonder what photo editors in general now think of the plethora of online custom publishing material? Blurb, Magcloud, etc.?

    Are they tired as a whole with those materials?
    Its weird.. a few years ago.. sending out postcards was considered a “dead” marketing strategy. Now recently, some folks are using postcards again.. there seems to be some chatter about that.

    The main thing is to have your work available and I couldn’t agree more with what you have said. I personally haven’t gotten an iPad, maybe one day.

  2. As I love to hear a variety of opinions on the options of presentations and promotions, there is never one right or wrong way of doing either of these things.

    I still believe it always comes down to the work and the personality of the photographer/agent and as long as the presentation is clean and consistent it rarely matters the format.

    I remember in the late 1980s when these fancy-dancy portfolios and cases were being designed. Big custom wooden boxes with mechanical metal inlays and hinges with fabrics and feathers surrounding bold etched in logos. Some of them looked like the book of the Necronomicon. You’d almost be afraid to open them up. Maybe but on white gloves first. Cool huh? Well half the time you would open the damn thing and the work would disappoint. Way too much build up.

    I am coming from an Agents perspective where I usually have to bring in the work of a number of photographers. Unless I am having a breakfast donut-road-show where the books are left out on a table, it is hard for art buyers to view more than a few printed books at one sitting.

    I recall many times being on the road with a bunch of books and the small art buying group would quickly flip through the pages as they asked me how I was enjoying their city (skipping whole groups of images).

    I’ve been giving iMac shows for the past five years bring in a 20 incher in an iLugger® Bag. Great images, wonderful sound and the small group focuses on the work. Less than ten minutes and they can see maybe twenty images each from 8 or 9 artists. And it can be customized the night before for specific clients.

    Yes I love books and am happy when artists regularly update them, but a digital presentation either on a Mac, pad or projection is a wonderful way to to present your latest work. After all, books are rarely called in and most photographers are chosen by viewing their websites only.

    But after all have written about going digital, a one and one meeting with a beautifully printed and updated book, is still a wonderful thing.

  3. I have had success showing the iPad as a portfolio, Art Buyers seem to really like it and images look great on it, (it would be even better if there were a 18 inch iPad.) The rep Paula Gren http://www.paulagrenreps.com/ is always raving about her iPad showings and how great they go, I wonder what these Photo Editors and Art Buyers you mention want to scream about. Steve Boyle commented on PADPORT, http://padportapp.com/ which looks quite strong. I think the tablet is going to be the future of showings especially with so many folks shooting motion nowadays.

  4. I’ve been meeting with ABs and CDs from pretty big agencies who still find the iPad a novelty…some saying it’s the first/second/third time seeing one and that, “…it looks so fun to play with” as said at a recent meeting.

  5. Not all image buyers see iPad portfolios as stupid. Many prefer them and say so. For photographers they make sense. How many times have we picked up our paper portfolios, only to find coffee stains, dog ears, rips, wrinkles, name your damage done to them? The iPad presentation suffers from none of that. Smart buyers know this and champion it.

  6. I showed my first Ipad portfolio a month ago, and the feedback was – “anybody’s work looks good on an illuminated screen”
    “it would be easier for me to turn on my computer and look at your website,
    where the images on the monitor would be larger”
    “I was just at lebook, and if I see another ipad portfolio I’m going to gag”
    (that one was harsh!) These comments came after I asked, “tell me honestly what you think of Ipad portfolios.”

    I would love, love, love- as an agent- for this to be the way of the future because it would help my workflow with getting new work in the portfolios quickly. (no waiting to have portfolios to be printed, rebound, etc.) But tablets have a long way to go before it comes to this being the future that buyers prefer.

  7. I find it somewhat amusing that photographers have attempted to evolve and roll with the changes in economics and the culture of marketing and licensing images at the behest of agency folks (albeit reluctantly!), but now the tables seem to be reversed somewhat in that some agency folks have been vocally resistant to any kind of change to the way images are marketed to them. It just proves that everyone has their own preferences and that everyone is resistant to change on some level.

    The ecosystem of buyers and image providers needs to be mutually beneficial, yet I don’t understand why buyers often can’t or won’t articulate what works for them.

  8. I wouldn’t mind an iPad so I could easily integrate video into my portfolio, instead of showing the print portfolio and then opening up the laptop and showing some videos. The ipad would make it a lot more seamless and integrated. Using an iPad to present what you could easily show on paper just isn’t a good use of the tool.

      • @Steve Boyle, It can be the perfect tool. You cand have ten books of different styles or kinds of work in your hands. You can show your car work and realize they are shooting cars with people and have your lifestyle or portrait work a click or two away.

        I used to send out about 30 requested books per week. This year I’ve sent out no more than five books. Buyers and creatives are used to viewing and selecting artists from your on screen presentations.

        Printed books are beautiful but rarely updated as frequently as is now necessay

  9. I wish we could please everyone but..

    I’m now sending out my portfolio in a pizza box. Each slice has a photograph of mine printed directly on it. Looks great except for those pepperoni extra cheese deals. It comes with Cherry Cokes spiked with love potion. I’ve booked 983 jobs since starting this.

  10. “Photographers and their Effing cameras”

    So you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Kind of like breathing.

    As for myself, I’m kind of looking for a good excuse not to buy any more Evil Empi…errrr…Apple products as it is…

  11. Why does it seem to be a problem or a one-size fits all solution? I have heard from fashion shooters in NY that the iPad is ‘all the rage’ and is THE thing to have. Not having one means something terrible…

    If photographers are carrying only one method of showing, then the problem is that some like what others don’t – and being a single solution vendor may not be the best thing.

    Instead of prima-donna “art” buyers getting all pissy, would it be too difficult to say “oh, and please bring a print book. thank you.”

    Expecting the artist to be able to read ‘your mind’ and do it ‘your way’ and – of course – ‘your way’ is the only way… except for those who want it ‘their way…’ So the poor dumb stupid fool artist who happens to show their work in a ‘personally I hate that’ form is now the new evil? And the fact that the AD doesn’t like that way was never told to the artist?

    Jeeez…

    Are these whiners adults? Really?

    Oh, wait… maybe it is a new reality show.
    “Stupid, Anal, Uncreative People Who Think They are Witty and Remarkable”

    Probably on cable.

  12. It all can work if the work is good and appropriate. I’ve had art buyers and directors tell me that their agencies never look at X directory or site ( not hip enough?) and then sure enough someone from that same agency will call from one of our ads or listings within those places they said they never look at.

    • @Norman Maslov,
      ..some of them would’ve made the same comment when the light bulb replaced candles..I’ve no doubts AD’s like seeing iPad to supplement showing a print book, as long as the work’s good/interesting. Some people want to see other work, some not, and I find it difficult showing video on paper..

  13. I think iPad as supplement–and supplement only–is fine. I think it’s still good to emphasize the importance of putting together a well-printed book. Otherwise, in 5 years no one will know how to print a damn thing.

  14. The worst advice I’ve heard in my time in photography has always been in regard to portfolios. If there are any young people reading this blog, just do whatever you want. NO matter how bad you may be at photography, there is always somebody out there that will hire you. And no matter how good you are at photography, there is always somebody out there that will think you suck. So just do your thing and go out and find the people that click with you.

    Anything that is mainstream will always be looked down upon by the upper tier art buyers that are into avant garde. HOwever, if you try and be different just for the sake they will look down on that too. So just don’t worry about it. Anyway, I think Ipads suck and so do portolio websites. Google image searches are the best portfolio and the best jobs usually come from the people that seek photographers out and not the other way around.

  15. As long as you don’t confuse the message with the medium you’re fine.

    The ipad, or any other means of presentation can’t make your work better than what it is.

  16. Doesn’t it feel like the novelty of technology has peaked, and now computers are merely tolerated as a necessary evil? One has to consider that at least some of your clients will feel that way, so a paper portfolio is a safer choice, as well as being nicer to look at and a way to add more personal flair.

    I have an Ipad, but wouldn’t want to use it to show photos. It’s already been pointed out, but it wouldn’t be any different from a website. And at least on a website, you can use Flash ;)

    • @Christopher Bush,

      Paper takes a lot of time and work to put together right. Putting a book together shows respect for those you’re presenting it to – especially if it is done elegantly.

      ipad portfolio seems like a gimmicky techno novelty. You can put it together quickly – and everyone knows that. Does it play cheesy background music too?

      I think it would have a place as others say, a supplement you can show more work on if it’s asked for. Hell my iphone has done that in impromptu elevator run-ins.

  17. Glenn Harris

    When you are selling something you need to be flexible even if the other party isn’t, or you can walk away. If you are meeting with an AB or CD they have probably seen your website and whatever you have under Portfolios there so the smaller images of an iPad portfolio probably don’t add much value, unless you already know the AB or CD likes playing with an iPad – so do your homework. People still like to flip through pages so why wouldn’t you have a book for those people. The quality of the images is what will probably seal the deal most of the time in any medium.

  18. Well for wedding photographer is really fine. You meet your clients every where and you only need to take an high end album and your IPad.
    Obviously all depends on your market.

  19. Tom Broadbent

    Speaking as a photo editor. So long as the work is high quality, it doesn’t matter to me whether it’s ipad or printed portfolio.

    I think that it needs to be more than a few people moaning about it before you can really take that kind of criticism seriously.

    And for the record, I’ve commissioned photographers on the back of a box of prints. The cream always rises to the top.

  20. I’ve been taking a print portfolio and an iPad to all my meetings in NYC, and so far, I haven’t heard any complaints about the iPad. The reality is, it’s hard to keep updating a print portfolio when print portfolios are rarely called in in this day and age. If you shoot something good today and you want to show it to an art buyer tomorrow, the iPad is a great solution.

    And showing your work on an iPad is not like showing your work on your website. That is like saying that showing a magazine in which your work has been published is like showing a book with high-quality prints. There’s a difference in presentation and form. The iPad is more like a lightbox than a computer screen.

    The next generation of photographers will most likely use the iPad as a main portfolio. It comes back to the day where people were complaining about the digital medium as a photography tool. With the current state of economics and the obvious saturation of visual imagery and visual artists, the industry will most likely have to endure many changes.

    To comment on a previous post: The iPad is quite the rage in NYC. That’s a very accurate statement. There are many iPad-only presentations happening in the Big Apple.

    Technology always wins. The ease of use, lower costs, quicker turnarounds will always – without exception – win. It’s not about what’s nicer. The 8X10 Polaroid was a great medium to use for visual imagery. Where is the 8X10 Polaroid today? Shooting film is nicer than shooting digital. What is the ratio of digital-only to film-only users these days? Technology has destroyed all of it. What makes anyone think it won’t destroy traditional print books?

    At this time the best option is to go with both. One never wants to become a victim of technology. Make it work for you. It’s another tool. And when the “time” comes, you’ll be prepared and in the moment, as opposed to being behind and in the past.

  21. I’ve been hearing a lot of portfolio reviewers complaining about the ipad. I think it’s great to have as backup to well made prints.

    For Instance: ”

    ArtBuyer, Client, ect: We were really looking for this kind of image”

    Photographer: *pulls out ipad* “Here it is!”