7 ways to make your folio fantastic

27 March, 2013

I’ve just finished a round of marketing workshops in Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland.  During my time in Australia I also held a string of one on one consultations (God bless good cafes with excellent coffee), attended the Guns Agency award evening as a judge, and did the final edit of several print folios, one of which was filmed for an upcoming series. I hope to be able to share the footage when it runs, but in the meantime thought it might be useful to share some snippets from my workshop on folio building.

If your print folio needs revamping (and I’ll bet it probably does) here are some tips on getting it right:

1. Make sure it is single minded. What is your unique style or expertise? Are you a specialist in cars? Or location work? Or do you have a distinctive style which transcends various subjects? Gather together all your images which meet this criteria. Is it a reportage style book? is it clean, studio work? In Australia & NZ it pays to trade more on look than subject, as there will be more opportunities to shoot for different clients.

2. Know your target market. You can’t please everyone. So don’t try to! Who will you show your folio to? What brands/ agencies/ creatives? Think about who would appreciate your work and which brands it would resonate with. What ads are out there which you’d like to be shooting? Their ad and design agencies are probably a good place to start. Focus on them and the others will follow.

4. Start and finish on wow! factor. And have a nice strong group in the middle too. Make sure your viewers feel as good about your work at the end as they did at the beginning, and make sure that there is no confusion about what you do.

5. Make sure it flows. Use matching colour palette, compositional elements and storytelling to connect images to each other and keep the images flowing in a congruent manner.

6. Disconnect emotionally! It’s hard to detatch yourself from images you have shot with passion and enthusiasm. But just because it was a good experience for you doesn’t necessarily mean it translates into a good shot. Employ the expert eye of someone you trust (such as a folio consultant) to ensure your folio is smoking hot, and is sending the right message to its viewers. And choose someone who knows and understands your target market, and is not emotionally connected to the shots.

7. Let the images speak. The shots, once edited, should guide your choice of page format, layout, paper type and binding. Good design should enhance, not drown them.


Jono Rotman's folio was designed to have separate chapters
Max Shearburn’s folio was designed to have separate sections and used classy typography to do so.