Why Every Serious (And Not So Serious) Photographer Should Have A Photo Book

Being a photographer means sharing your work with the world. And what better way than with a hard copy of your photography. I was always asked how my work could be viewed during conferences, parties, even at family gatherings. And although I have an online portfolio, it wasn"t ’t always guaranteed that those who asked would find the time or even remember visiting my site. But a photo book that was always conveniently stored in my bag for those who asked – and even those who didn’t ask – ensured that I created an awareness about my love for photography, and more importantly, my ability as a photographer.

For when the conversation dies down during a gathering with relatives, a dinner party with family, or a meet-up with friends at the cafe, I have found that taking out my photo books is such an ice-breaker and conversation starter. People generally love looking at photographs and whole conversations have started with describing where each photograph was taken, or the story behind them, or the techniques I used to achieve a certain look. Photographs often spark memories from those viewing them which also creates unique conversations.

It also gets the word out that you are a talented photographer. It opens up opportunities you wouldn’t have necessarily achieved on your own. It’s a form of networking because people know people who know people who might be interested in taking your photography to the next level. “I know someone who works at a magazine who will love your photos,” a friend would say. “I know someone who has been looking for a photographer for her new website,” a relative would recall. After seeing your work, people will remember you if they meet the right people, and if they are good friends, they will even introduce you to them.

During job interviews where examples of your work are needed, photo books are also an impressive way to show your potential boss not only your skills but how organized and serious you are about showcasing your work in such a format. Not only do you get to see their expression as they flip through the pages, but questions can arise and explanations can be given– dialogue one can’t have with people viewing an online portfolio.

But photo books don’t have to be about professional photographs, creating awareness, networking, and portfolios. It’s also a fantastic way to store your memories in a book that looks like it’ll hit the bookstores next week. Often people ask me if a book publisher has created my books. I laugh and tell them, yes and no, and point them to blurb.com. All I had to do was download their free software, choose a ready-made layout according to the theme of my book (you could make a cookbook for example, and you’ll find a recipe template all ready for you), choose the size of my book and how many pages I wanted. The hard part is choosing which photographs to include.

And you don’t have to own a professional camera to create a photo book, or even a point and shoot camera. People have been using their Instagram photos to create mini photo books, which they’ve taken from their mobile phones. Owners of point and shoot cameras have created photo books commemorating the first year since the birth of their first-born child, or their summer vacations, each book labeled by year and prettily stored on their bookshelf. The advantages of creating a photo book rather than a scrapbook are that children (or relatives who really have their eye on a photograph) can’t take out the photos! Time and time again I have seen missing photos from so many albums that my relatives or friends happen to share. Even in these cases, putting them in your bag to show to your friends at work or while having coffee at the cafe, or with your family when they come round, is a beautiful way to share your memories.

One of the most convenient things about creating a photo book is the cost. Choosing the quality of the paper; whether the photo book is a hardcover, has a dust jacket; or is just softcover; selecting the quality of the end sheets; and how many pages you want are all factors which decide the cost of the photo book on blurb.com and presumably other photo book sites.

To go into detail, my large 30x30cm hardcover square book from blurb.com, (photographs #6 and#7), has 50 pages of the Premium Paper, luster finish and cost 48 Sterling Pounds. My standard hardcover landscape book (photographs #1-#5), with the ProLine Pearl Photo Paper, has 40 pages and cost 33 Sterling Pounds. This all excludes the shipping fees.

So for the serious (and not so serious) photographer, photo books aren’t just an affordable and convenient way to showcase one’s work, it’s also a timeless tradition and a perfect way to share your precious memories with friends and family.

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