Market Yourself

A custom photo book gives you a tool to show off a tailored collection of images in a package that makes an impact with a client.

By Jon Sienkiewicz –

Being a great photographer is no guarantee that you’ll be a successful one. Talent is important, there’s no doubt about that. But if you don’t find effective ways to let your talent be known, you’ll flounder. Today, it’s promote or perish. You must market yourself.

Potent marketing doesn’t require an Ivy League MBA, and it doesn’t have to cost more than one either. We deal in a visual media, and the most compelling way to strut our stuff is by showing images. That’s good news because that’s what we do best.

If you’ve considered presenting slideshows to potential clients on your notebook computer, doubtlessly you’ve already discovered the inherent difficulties. The show may look great, but it’s just not practical. First of all, you have to be there. It’s impossible for potential clients to peruse the show by themselves. And even if you’re making a live presentation, you have to find an available electrical outlet, boot your computer, place the notebook at just the right angle so that your audience can see it without shifting their heads back and forth, and deal with screensavers, desktop icons and all sorts of other things that simply get in the way.

The best way to showcase your work is by presenting your prospective customer with a bound photo book. They’re available from many sources, but here we’re working specifically with the books offered by Mpix, a division of Miller’s Professional Imaging. Miller’s was founded in 1939 and is the largest professional photography lab in the United States. Miller’s and Mpix have made their bones with demanding professionals because they deliver prints of outstanding quality. Their experienced technicians apply professional color-management standards that they have perfected over the course of several years. The prints are packaged the way you’d pack them yourself, and print orders are generally shipped within 24 hours.

Mpix offers two styles of photo books. To make a lasting impression at an affordable price, go with the hardcover book, which is available in standard 8.5×11 inches with either a vertical or horizontal orientation. Basic cost is $30 for 20 pages, but you can add up to 30 additional pages at the cost of 50¢ per page. Even if you max out at 50 pages, you’re still talking only $45, and that’s a very reasonable price for a bound book.

The books come with an attractive black or blue suede cover and are perfect bound. The paper is 100-pound text stock. Additionally, you can upgrade the paper to pearl or linen at no additional charge. Hardcover books can be customized with a foil stamp for a low additional charge.

For those situations where a smaller size is more appropriate, Mpix offers softcover photo books. These can be created as 16-page books in 7.75×10- or 8.5×8.5-inch formats and cost $25 and $20, respectively. Paper and cover are 100-pound text stock. As with their larger cousins, additional pages can be added at the same low cost of 50¢ per page.

Creating a photo book is a simple process. Download the proprietary software from Mpix. The interface is flexible and easy to use. Design the book exactly the way you want it, and the software will produce a PDF file, which is uploaded to Mpix for printing. Turnaround time is 24 hours.

There are three powerful ways that bound photo books will help you to land clients.

Nail The Niche

Let’s say you’re pitching a client who specializes in a particular field—a used classic car dealer, for example. For $30, you can place in his hands a photo book that contains 20 of your best automobile images. For a personalized touch, page one could be an exterior shot of the car dealership. The last page could be a signature shot of your studio. You can develop a full-blown showcase of the best examples of your work that pertain to your client’s special interest—and do it in 24 hours.

Diversify And Conquer

If your photographic accomplishments cover a wide range of subjects, put together a series of softcover books, one for each category. Make separate books for portraiture, landscape, product and whatever other types of work you pursue. Carry these with you when you make presentations, along with the primary pitchbook you created specifically for the potential client. You’ll always be prepared at client meetings, even if the sales presentation suddenly needs to change direction.

Personal Best

All photographers have their own collection of personal favorites. Some are the award winners you’ve produced along the way while others represent the most outstanding examples of your specialty, and some belong in the collection simply because you like them the most. Produce a hardcover collection of your personal best images; create softbound versions, too. Get them into the hands of art directors, advertising agency executives and editors. Sure, you could merely direct them to your Website, but nothing has the impact of a gorgeously produced and beautifully bound collection of photographs, especially if they’re yours. For more information, contact: Mpix,