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.
- 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.
- 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.
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