Your first impression is the one that will make or break you to a prospective client. You need to dazzle them, show your best work and give it in the right medium to best fit your brief. I’ve used a whole array of presentation options in the past, some worked and some didn’t. I’ll walk you through this to make sure you don’t fall into the same traps I did, which have potentially cost me work in the past.
What would my client like?
To be able to know what to show your client, you first need to think how they operate. Are they a digital only company? Do they have time to sit down and look at a book? Do they prefer the hands on approach or to look at work at a later point? Having all your options covered with a couple of the below-listed options is probably the best tactic, just to be sure you have a backup option if things go awry. Fail to prepare and all that. Take note of the business that your client is in – if they’re publications they’re going to enjoy a printed article rather than online, they want to know you have dabbled in the same medium as they do.
The first one, beyond anything, MUST be a comprehensive website. A fine tuned, simple to use, fast and efficiently cohesive website with your favourite work on needs to be there. After you’ve met with a client they will most likely want to go and revisit your work, share it around and send to other colleagues. You can include the link to your website everywhere, on social media, emails and business cards. Having a link to an unprofessional site with an obscure name like www.yourname.websitebuilder.org/fashion-photography won’t get you anywhere, clients will take one look and see you haven’t put in the effort to build a nice little site. Just a simple www.yourname.com will do – or a simple variant of that. Never link people to just an Instagram or Facebook page as your portfolio, this looks amateur and shows you haven’t put the work in.
Tablets and digital devices.
Taking the journey from just an online to a tactile and interactive presentation, this will give you something to discuss at face to face meetings. Have your own tablet and don’t assume your clients will have access to one. Come with either your website preloaded or a gallery folder with your strongest work. The secret to winning over clients is to give them complete control in looking at your work, whilst you talk about your positive points and convince them you’re an unstoppable creative. I have a folder with 20 of my best images, which takes about 2 minutes to look through. Whilst the client is looking at these I’ll recount my awards, publications and story behind my images. By the end of the gallery they have been informed enough to make a snap decision about my work and it’s generally good news. I opt for the iPad Mini 2 as it’s tiny, has a great resolution screen and the battery will last forever.
Finished printed book.
A printed book is a tricky one. It shows that you have a finished cohesive piece of work, which can be a huge benefit if your client is looking to publish a large piece or looking for someone who has got their style down to a T. Make sure that every image is as strong as the next, to make my book pictured above I spent three months looking at my pictures through the years and choosing just a handful of the best. The placement, blank spaces and gaps for writing are also essential for building a good photobook and it isn’t something that can be slapped together quickly. Clients who publish fine art books love my printed book, the same goes for agencies who want a particular theme. I’m so content and happy with my style that I was eager to print it to a bound book, this shows commitment and dedication to my style. Books can be quite pricy, ranging from £50-100 so do make sure that you are sure this would work for you.
Print box and sleeves.
This is my favourite way to show clients my work. You may scoff at the fact I spent £25 on a cardboard box, but when you’re securing £500+ day rates from clients, it’s small change. Portfolio boxes are incredibly sturdy and acid-free boxes which you can store your sleeved prints and miscellaneous material in. Much like a printed book, you can use this method to chat with your client whilst they review your work. I choose to generally put my printed book inside this large print box as well, just in case there are multiple people at the client meeting wanting to look at my work, but typically the sleeved prints will take prominence. I love this way of presenting work, as the clients can take out each picture and lay them out on the table, assessing the image continuity and style throughout. I’ve had all 20 images spread across a huge table before, and a crowd of clients wandering around and touching each picture to take a closer view. As each picture is individually wrapped in a photo sleeve (I print mine 8×10″, with a 1″ border on each side of the picture for space), people feel better about picking up the images without fear of damaging them. It is really a perfect way to get your images across in one go, I can’t fault it, even though I admit when my lecturers at University posed to me that I should buy an expensive cardboard box I laughed.
At the end of the day, the choice is up to you how to send your work to clients. I’d always try and arrange face to face meetings and use your charm to convince them to hire you, but this just might be a personal opinion. Sticking to just emails stands the risk of email threads getting lost, and the clients may feel that you’re not quite the confident creative they’re looking for.
See more of Jon’s posts on Breed here. Jon Sparkman is a fine art photographer from the UK using film cameras, interesting lighting and bright colours in his images. Follow him on Instagram @sparkman_uk and see more work at www.sparkman.co.uk.