Focal Point: Turning Booklets into Photography Portfolios

Focal Point: Turning Booklets into Photography Portfolios

Realizing your full visual expression deserves a presentation worthy of the subject. Whether your photography focuses on products, places or people, a customized booklet displays all of it with a professional look and a personal feel. Custom booklet printing makes it possible to create photography portfolios that show your skills and share your story, while growing your business and building client connections.

A photography portfolio with a perfect binding open to an image of a woman smiling in a car.

100# Coated Matte White Cover, 100# Coated Matte White Text Interior, Soft Touch Coating on Cover, 8 x8″ with Perfect Bound Binding

A hand turning the page of a custom portfolio booklet printed with black and white imagery.

©Roy Son

Medium of Choice

Printing your own booklets lets you showcase your work with design options that best suit your aesthetic. With a wider expanse than brochures and binding options, booklets put the composition completely in your hands. From cover and text paper stock to size and finish, Perfect Bound and Saddle Stitch Booklets bring your images into sharp focus.


It’s for this very reason Roy Son, owner and photographer of Roy Son Photography, chose a Perfect Bound Booklet to send to advertising agencies and publications. “[I wanted] to share the past year’s work but also put an effort into presenting the work in an approachable yet beautifully-made book,” he said.

Finding that balance can be a challenge, but it’s one you can accept undaunted with design features that fit your needs. Online printing with Smartpress gives you quality print with a wide assortment of stocks like coated and uncoated, felt weave, linen, even 100% recycled. Not to mention gloss, matte and smooth options that give you a ton of flexibility. The result? A finished product with no retouching needed.


Along with designer Mandy Ebert, Son’s seen just how important those details are. “I get so much feedback about the quality of the cover and the pages and how [my booklet] makes for a beautiful addition to peoples’ photo book collections,” he said.

Custom photography booklets laid out in three rows with various images of people.


A custom photography book with a black and white image on the front of a person with a mohawk and glasses.

100# Text Coated Matte White Throughout, 6 x 9″ with Saddle Stitch Binding

Tailoring Tools

For his project, Steve West, owner and designer of Steve West Photo, knew a saddle stitched book was the way to promote his work. “It feels like an old school zine from when I was in school in the mid-90s,” he said. “What I’ve found is people love to look at pictures in print instead of swiping on a phone or tablet.”


To get that “old school” feel like West, or whatever feel you like, Smartpress booklets offer UV coatings and Soft Touch laminate for the cover. With Ultra Gloss UV, your photos get exceptional depth and maximum color saturation, while Flat Matte UV lends a rich, finished appearance to the paper without a glossy shine.


And Soft Touch creates a matte appearance with an unmistakable suede-like feel. Each coating adds a protective layer to your photography portfolios, preserving the quality of your photos and providing a premium finish.




Four photography booklets printed with a saddle stitch binding standing in a row.


Perhaps the customization that deserves the most exposure is size. Both Perfect Bound and Saddle Stitch Booklets offer standard sizes for convenience and custom ones so you can get creative (since your photography isn’t one-size-fits-all.)


A taller book is great for portraits, while lifestyle, environmental and travel photography lends itself to a wider template to better depict landscapes and suit your orientation. (Hint: Saddle Stitch Booklets work well with landscape photography because they open flat, ensuring image crossover is uninterrupted.)


The number of pages in your book is an important factor, too – Perfect Bound Booklets work especially well for higher page counts and can be up to 2” thick. Perfect for that coffee table.

A photography portfolio laying open to images of a girl in a car, people laying on a bed and a man laying on the floor.

©Roy Son

A custom photography portfolio laying open to a person laying over another person's lap with an orange background.

©Steve Weset Photo

Image is Everything

But all these online printing services wouldn’t matter if the color of your images isn’t stunning. Whether you’re turning a picture-taking hobby into a side hustle or running a professional studio, your photos need to be worth a thousand words and then some. Color is key.


For Son, where his images landed on the shade spectrum was crucial. “I get lots of feedback about the quality of the images in the book – something that was of utmost importance for me,” he said. “The images on print look beautiful, with colors that are true and quality that can be noticed.”

Our presses ensure your work speaks volumes with a wider gamut of colors than other online printers. This top-of-the-line technological capability provides you with high-quality print and fuller color than a typical digital press. It retains the detail and subtle variations in your shadows and highlights, so your exposure is depicted as intended in your shot.


In other words, we create photo finishes for all your photo ops. Take it from West, with his most recent piece: “My work has always been on the darker side, as far as lighting, but I’ve been getting more vibrant and this booklet really shows it,” he said. “I love how the colors pop, as well as how smooth the color gradients came out.”

A photography portfolio with a saddle stitch binding laying open with a red cover and deer and beer on the front.

A photography booklet standing open with skateboarding images inside.

120# Coated Matte White Cover, 100# Cover Interior pages, soft touch coating on cover, 8 x 8″ saddle stitch with square back binding

Candid Connections

When designed well, photography portfolios can act as coffee table books, gifts for friends and family, employment applications, and most of all, marketing tools. Whether you’re promoting yourself or your business, prospective clients need to see your work first-hand. Getting creative with the presentation and the delivery can mean the difference between “Thanks, we’ll consider it” and “Let’s set up a meeting.”


Advertising director and photographer Will Strawser brings his square back Saddle Stitch Booklets designed by Alex Szpakowski with him. “When I go to meetings and portfolio reviews with new and potential clients, I usually also bring a few of these booklets with me to leave behind for them,” he said. “They are certainly more memorable than a standard business card, and because of that, I would say that it probably has led to more business growth.”

West also flips the script on networking by pairing his booklets with business cards for potential clients. “I keep a few in my backpack in an envelope with a business card to give to people when I meet them,” he said. “I love that I can share my photography in a unique way and like to think it’ll get more attention than a business card alone.”


Ideally suited for shorter formats, Saddle Stitch Booklets even offer a metallic stock option for a truly unforgettable finish that leaves that critical lasting impression. Along with Perfect Bound Booklets, they can be shrink-wrapped for individual retail sale or gifting. With marketing services like that, Smartpress helps you see the big picture.

A stack of direct mail booklets with a saddle stitch binding and a black and white design.

Direct Shot

An essential element of that big picture? Direct Mail. If you’d rather send your work to potential customers than carry it, our Direct Mail services do it quickly and easily. Not only can Smartpress address and send your Saddle Stitch Booklets to your existing client list, we can even pull a list and send your booklets to potential new clients in your area or industry.

Two direct mail booklets with a black and white design and Those Who Tell Stories underlined on the front.

A marketing portfolio with images of a man standing in a barbershop and a sidewalk sign with Organic haircuts.

80# Uncoated Smooth White throughout, 8.5 x 11″ with saddle stitch binding and direct mail services



Adam Ryan Morris, photographer and owner of Morris Creative LLC, knows the value of a Direct Mail campaign. Jen Kuhn designed a booklet for him “to share with existing and prospective clients some of my favorite work from the previous six months.”


“When I’m sending out a marketing mailer, I love to write personalized messages to the clients I’ve worked with – or want to work with,” he said. “But sometimes it’s all about the work. And in those cases, Smartpress’ Direct Mail services are always such an asset.”

Provoking Print

Smartpress’ punctuality made Son’s partnership a positive one. “From sending over paper samples to sending the final shipment of books, I was super impressed with the overall experience Smartpress provided,” he said.


West agrees, seeing future collaborations to come. “The quality has been what impressed me on both booklets I’ve done,” he said. “I’m so happy with this latest one, I don’t have to worry about who’ll be doing my next promo pieces.”

From small businesses and design agencies to freelancers and independent designers, Smartpress walks you through every step of the process so your photography goes from clicking the shutter to clicking with people.


Morris knows this to be true. “The customer service is hands-down the best out there. And not just among printing houses,” he said. “It’s in the top tier of anything I’ve experienced online or in-person. Smartpress has clearly thought of things from the customer’s perspective, and it shows.”


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