iPad as a Portfolio?

Confession time. This will probably come as no surprise, but I’m an Apple fan boy through and through. My wife thinks I am a bit obsessed but it is true. I love all things Apple and am starting to think I should buy stock in the company. In the last 18 months I’ve purchased several new computers and 3 iPhones. Yes 3. What can I say? I’m hard on gear, and our plumber has slippery hands. It was no surprise then when the iPad was released earlier this year I was immediately enamored. The technology is changing how media is consumed while opening new doors for photographers. It wasn’t until my latest round of portfolio reviews in California that I took the plunge and purchased an iPad.

As many of you may know, I recently invested a truck load of money into a new print portfolio that has been getting great response from creatives. So what then possessed me to add an iPad to the mix? Simple. The cost of updating my printed portfolio to show my latest work and images tailored to a specific project/client was simply too great. Now that I’ve used the iPad in numerous portfolio reviews I thought I would share some pros and cons based on my experiences and feedback from real-world, in-person meetings.

Pros:

  • Portability – nothing beats having a portfolio with you at all times for those chance encounters
  • Ease of updating/customizing presentations
  • Multiple “portfolio” apps available. I personally use (and highly recommend) FolioBook.
  • Ability to share motion/multimedia presentations through a medium less bulky than a laptop
  • Cutting edge technology and slick user interface keeps the photographer looking up-to-date
  • Great way to supplement a print portfolio with your latest work or show images tailored to a specific client
  • Option to show personal work in a personal setting. For me this meant creating a portfolio of portraits taken on a service trip to Honduras last February. I definitely didn’t show these to all clients but when it felt appropriate it was a great way to show more of my personality and the things that are important to me.
  • Cost is minimal when compared to the traditional custom print portfolio.

Cons:

  • In my mind an iPad will never come close to the wow factor of a custom built portfolio with high-quality prints. There is something to be said for the tactile feel of fine art paper and beautiful prints.
  • Surprisingly intimidating for many users. Some had never used one and were unsure how to navigate.
  • Liability for the viewer. Most art buyers I met enjoyed reviewing work this way, but commented they wouldn’t want someone to ship them an iPad for fear of theft, damage etc. I found this interesting since my printed portfolio cost 3 times that of the iPad, but understand their point given the universal appeal of an iPad.
  • Viewing size – a little small.
  • Finger prints – must clean after each use.
  • Cost is significant, if used in conjunction with a printed portfolio.
  • Since many photographers are starting to use iPads it will become increasing difficult to make presentations stand out and leave an impression during meetings. While it’s true a photographer’s work should be enough to garner attention, there are other factors to consider too, like branding and the overall experience.

All that said given my own experiences thus far I would not personally feel comfortable showing just an iPad at a formal “meet and greet”–especially for the high-end advertising and commercial work I am after. To me it simply doesn’t have the same “wow” factor as my printed book. However, I do believe the iPad is an excellent tool to supplement my custom print portfolio and share more recent work than what is in my printed book. It is also a great tool for sharing motion/multimedia and is great for those chance meetings.

For those looking for more opinions, check out A Photo Editor’s recent post on this very topic.

Thursday, October 21st, 2010 Miscellaneous, Photo Education

8 Comments to iPad as a Portfolio?

Michael Clark
October 21, 2010

Excellent post Mike and great info.

Don Dequasie
October 27, 2010

iPad’s are cool until everyone has one. This is the only uncool thing about iPhones, IMO (but I love my i4!). For the caliber of your work, a printed portfolio seems like it would hit harder. More professional. In a parallel universe, the MT that was showing a printed portfolio would be charging more than the MT showing an iPad. I continue to be stunned by your work.

Gage Thompson
November 2, 2010

Cool post man! I got a pretty good screen protector for my iPhone that cuts down on glare and fingerprints. I don’t know if you have ever really looked at it. But that might be nice if they make one for the pad. I think the iPad could be great for photographers starting out. The ability to swap photos and for how cheap it is in comparison. Plus there rad regardless haha.

Paul From Foliobook
December 5, 2010

Mike, we love the way you have used the branding feature of our app to create your portfolio. We’d love to use a screen shot of your iPad portfolio on a forthcoming part of our website showing how people are using it. Please get in touch if you are happy to let us do this.

Mark Guthrie
January 4, 2011

After looking through your site, which is great, I came across your blog and was particularly interested in your thoughts on the iPad. I have no doubt it is a great presentation tool but what concerns me is that a lot of people will be choosing to view your main website on the iPad without you being present and making a judgement upon what they see. I notice you are a livebooks user, like me, and with the iPad not supporting flash the sites look pretty poor. So I would definitely add that as a con to the list.

I would be interested to know your thoughts on how your site displays on the iPad and what your thoughts on your livebooks site are as a result.

Mark

Mike Tittel
January 4, 2011

@ Mark. I agree with your comments on viewing livebooks websites with the iPad–it’s far from ideal and leaves a lot to be desired. I think livebooks will eventually get their mobile sites to the same level as the parent sites and possible adopt newer technologies like HTML 5 when they become more widely accepted. For now though I am personally exploring other options for my “mobile” site.

Mark Guthrie
January 6, 2011

Thanks Mike. When you decide on a ‘mobile’ option it would be interesting to know what you decide to go with if you don’t mind sharing that info.

[...] Tittel, M. (2010, October 21). Mike Tittel Photography – iPad as a Portfolio? | The blog of Mike Tittel, a commercial, advertising and editorial photographer based in Salt Lake City, Utah. The blog of Mike Tittel, a commercial, advertising and editorial photographer based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Retrieved April 22, 2011, from http://www.miketittelblog.com/2010/10/21/ipad-as-a-portfolio/ [...]

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