#518 – Prints, Portfolios and a Body of work

Although the photography establishment as well as many amateur photographers looks on projects as the ultimate output for a photographer, I’ve focused more on accumulating a body of work. I can see the attraction of a project from a publishing and exhibition perspective as well as in academia, however I’ve tended to forge my own path in photography and have basically just photographed what I like, when I like, around the loose theme of the industrial landscape.

Needless to say, this body of work is now quite big. There are 74 galleries on theviewfromthenorth.org and I’ve been on or around my 1000 photo limit for several years which means I have to cull older or less popular photographs when I want to add something new! And that is just the good or half decent stuff – I have thousands more on my hard drives!

But until recently my prints were all over the place, and I didn’t have a proper portfolio. Now, I’m very fond of the printed image – not just in book format but also the inkjet or darkroom print. Since I invested in a high quality printer (and learning how to use it) a few years ago I’ve printed hundreds of A3 and A4 prints. The A4’s are quite handy to store and transport around in small portfolio books which slip nicely into a shoulder bag. But the A3’s were literally all over the place – in exhibition frames, in boxes, bags, loose in the cupboard, etc.

Salvation was at hand for this expensive, scattered pile of prints though. Once I’d put them into one big pile I could have a proper sort out. I then bought a few items from Hobbycraft – a clamshell storage box, and two A3 portfolio files with acid free plastic sleeves (not affiliate links).

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The Seawhite Archival Box is a cloth bound, 50mm thick box that stores, well I don’t know how many prints, but probably around 100 I’d imagine as I’ve not yet filled mine.

It’s £16 and feels like excellent value as it’s sturdy and well made. As it’s an archival box rather than a portfolio, it’s not likely to be moved around much (it gets heavy when filled with prints) so is likely to last for many years, as are the prints due to the box being acid-free. Whether the prints are worth keeping a long time is another story!

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To store what I nominally call a portfolio of photographs, I’ve been prevaricating on buying a Hartnack portfolio for some time, but have decided to dip my toe in the water with a cheaper option for the interim to see how I get on.

This West Design A3 Course Book was bought from Hobbycraft. This is the middle size book in their range as it’s also available in A2 and A4. It comes with 20 removable acid-free sleeves.

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The mills portfolio – I’ve got another one for my industrial landscape portfolio

I’ve since added a lot more sleeves as I’ve printed more photographs out, and they they are advertised as being able to hold 50 (mine currently contains 49). I’m sure they could accommodate a few more, but it would start getting heavy and may put undue strain on the retaining mechanism. This is plastic and feels robust enough but we’ll have to wait and see how well they cope.

Longer term I will buy a Hartnack portfolio that I will populate with select prints for special occasions and store the bulk of the individual prints in the West Design portfolios.

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Locked in place

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Unclipped for removing the sleeves

A few notes on printing – I decided to print out a few images that were not currently on paper for the portfolio. My paper of choice is the fabulous Fotospeed Platinum Baryta – not cheap, but very, very good, and I’ve used it for the past 10 years or so. I also decided to title the prints (but not sign). This is so that I can use the prints in exhibitions and not have to go to the time, cost and hassle of printing them all out again. Also, labelling prints in exhibitions is a pain in the arse unless the gallery have a fixed format and mandate it.

In keeping with the archival theme, I used a pigment ink pen – a Uni Pin Fine Line 0.5mm. I’ve not signed them, partly due to my signature being awful, but also because it seems slightly unnecessary for a portfolio. However, I might yet do this for my next exhibition!

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