Starting a Printed Portfolio

The goal of building up a printed portfolio was one of the reasons for me buying a printer. So soon after getting the printer I started to put some thoughts and research into how to present that portfolio. A bound book would provide great look and feel, but I ruled it out because I’d like to be able to amend and change the portfolio over time. The next best thing is a screw post albums. It is quite easy to extend, provide a similar handling than a book and there are great-looking albums available, though they are not cheap.

The two ingredients you need are the screw post album itself, and the content paper. The content paper needs to be punched and scored before it is put into the album. Although plastic sleeves would be technically an option to store the content, I’d like to allow the viewer of my portfolio books an unhindered look at the prints, and also let them touch and feel the fine art paper that my work will be printed on.

In this post I wanted to share my research on what screw post albums and papers are available for creating a self-printed portfolio book.

Portfolio Albums

Let’s start with the albums itself. There are a few companies that produce screw post albums for high-end art portfolios or presentations. Some of them can provide you with bespoke albums, created to your size specification and with your choice of cover material. Here are the ones I found, in no particular order:

  • Heiner Hauck (Link, Germany): a German company, offering a wide range of screw post albums and portfolio boxes. The books can be wrapped in your choice of felt, linen or leather, or you could even provide them with your own material. They offer many different sizes and also accept orders for custom sizes. I was in touch with them, they were very helpful and also provided me with material samples for free. Depending on size and material prices range from € 185 to € 500. Heiner Hauck can also score and punching any content paper that you provide them with.
  • KEEPSAKES (Link, Germany): another German company, offering screw post albums made from leather. They also can supply you with a hole punch so you can punch and score your own paper. With € 180 to € 400 their prices are in the same range as those of Heiner Hauck. The choice of material they have is limited in comparison, but still varied enough that you’ll most likely find something you like. Also the available sizes are comparably limited. They can provide you with material samples, but charge a fee for it.
  • Hartnack & Co (Link, UK): a British company, offering screw post albums made from different types of fabric and leather. They offer a few standard sizes, but can also provide custom sizes based on your specifications. Custom imprints are available.  Simple albums start at £ 90, leather albums from £ 175 and go up to £ 300 for large albums with custom imprints.
  • Booksmart Studio (Link, US): offers a complete portfolio system, with books of different sizes/materials (custom sizes possible) and ready-made paper from Canson, Hahnemühle and other manufacturers. Custom imprints are available. Prices are available only on request.
  • Pina Zangaro (Link, US): if you are looking for an unusual, non-traditional portfolio book, this may be the right place. Their screwpost binders come in cover materials like wood or aluminium, but also more traditional book cloth or leather. Sizes are standard, custom imprints are available. They also offer fitting prepunched and prescored inkjet paper, with the paper coming from Moab. Compared to the companies above, their prices are relatively low, starting from $ 60 and going to $ 150, depending on size and custom imprint.
  • Case Envy (Link, US): similar to Pina Zangaro, Case Envy offers modern, non-traditional binders and portfolios from different materials like acrylic or paper resin. Sizes are standard (unfortunately no square format available), imprints and other customization options are available. Prices are available only on request.
  • Hahnemühle (Link, Germany): a paper manufacturing company with a long tradition, Hahnemühle offers now also screw post albums with fitting content paper. The choice of albums is limited: they come only in black leather (with an optional red stitch) and in three sizes (A4 landscape, A3 landscape and 12”x12”). Prices range from € 72 for the black A4 version and go up to € 150 for black with red stitches in A3. The availability of prepunched and prescored paper is certainly an advantage, see further below in this article for more information.
  • Moab (Link, US): another paper manufacturer, Moab also offers simple screwpost portfolios, with an acrylic cover and available in one portrait and two landscape sizes. They do not offer prepunched and prescored paper but instead include hinge strips, with which Moab (or other) paper of standard sizes can be outfitted and put into the portfolios. Prices for the portfolios range from $ 77 to $ 120, with a set of hinges already included.

Content Paper

Regarding content paper, the choice is much more limited. As mentioned before, plastic sleeves were not an option for me, and I also did not want to get into cutting, punching and scoring my own paper. During my research I found the following options:

  • Hahnemühle (Link, Germany): for their own albums, Hahnemühle offers prepunched and prescored paper in A4, A3 and 12”x12”. They have two one-sided glossy options (Photo Rag Pearl and Photo Rag Satin) and two double-sided matte options (Photo Rag Duo and Photo Rag Book & Album, differentiated only by the paper weight).
  • Booksmart Studio (Link, US): for their portfolio books, Booksmart Studio offers a wide range of content paper from Canson Infinity, Epson, Hahnemühle, Inkpress, Innova and Museo.
  • Pina Zangaro/Moab (Link, US): Pina Zangaro offers prepunched and prescored paper in the same sizes as they offer their portfolio books. The paper is the double-sided matte Lasal Photo Matte 235. 
  • Heiner Hauck (Link, Germany): Heiner Hauck can cut, punch and score any type of Hahnemühle paper according to your specifications (size, punch layout). Probably they’d want you to also get an album from them, but not sure if it is mandatory. I asked them for a quote and based on A3+ paper, they’d charge € 14,50 for cutting, punching and scoring on top of the price of the paper.

Conclusion

After researching the different options, I decided on an album from Heiner Hauck for my first portfolio, paired with ready-made Photo Rag Duo album paper from Hahnemühle. I wanted to have a classic book/album feeling with a leather cover. The Hahnemühle albums would have been a great option as well, except that I did not like the black leather and wanted a custom imprint on the cover. For size I choose the 12”x12” paper. I planned to mix landscape and portrait photos with only one photo per page, and with the square format you get the most space for both formats.

By now I have already received the album from Heiner Hauck and am preparing the first prints. I am looking forward to share my experiences on that with you here in this blog.

Before ending this post, I’d like to share a few more inspiring articles on preparing a printed portfolio:

All the best, Robert