Frank Meo Weighs In on iPad vs Print Portfolio Presentation

May 1, 2013

By Frank Meo

© Sandro presents an article that first appeared on American Photography’s Pro Photo Daily newsletter

Can you really impress an important art buyer or other potential client by presenting your work on an iPad? Or should you try to knock ’em dead with big, gloriously made prints? New York City-based photo rep Frank Meo takes on those questions in today’s edition of his continuing series for Pro Photo Daily. Whether you choose to showcase your work on a tablet or a traditional book, there are several key elements of presentation and organization to keep in mind. Meo’s list of dos and don’ts will help you leave a lasting impression.

 The Portfolio Presentation: iPad or Prints?

It’s the hot topic of the day: Is it good enough to show art buyers your work on an iPad, or should you try to knock ’em dead with big, gloriously made prints? I get this query from photographers all the time, but frankly it’s not really the right question to be asking.

 The trend in portfolio presentation is certainly leaning toward tablets: I would say photographers are showing their work to potential clients on portable devices like the iPad about 70 percent of the time. Tablets are certainly convenient, compared to schlepping around big prints.

Either way, though, the key thing to remember is that at the end of the day you’ll be selected because of your body of work, not the size or type of your portfolio. Make your presentation neat and to the point. And don’t mix the message: Use either a book or an iPad, but don’t show up with both.

 Perhaps even more important than how you present the pictures is how you present yourself: When I’m reviewing work, I want to be engaged by the photographer: Be passionate about your work and let the reviewer know you love what you do!

 Here are some dos and don’ts, whether you’re going with an iPad or book:

Be a storyteller when presenting your work. Reviewers want to know about you, your inspirations, and your commitment to your work. Tell them the background of a particular set of images, about the hurdles you overcame to shoot off the side of a bridge or the characters you met shooting in a café in Brooklyn. Shed your skin and reveal your passion for the craft of photography.

 Allow the reviewer to “drive” the process. Always make sure to present the reviewer with your book or iPad and let her or him turn the pages or search for the work. Your job is to be prepared and to leave a positive impression via your work and demeanor.

 Make sure your tablet presentation is functional. The precious time you have with an art buyer is not the time to be fumbling around with buggy technology—or low batteries!

If you’re employing audio as part of the presentation, make sure that it is clear, and if you’re providing earplugs, make sure they are sterile.

 If you’re presenting a book, do not use plastic sheet covers. They make your photographs look terrible and they make you look old fashioned.

 Have your categories clearly defined. Make sure your presentation is clean and well organized so the reviewer can easily understand what he or she is looking at. Think of your presentation as a good book, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. The work should have a comfortable flow that the reviewer can appreciate and remain captivated by.

Present only your best work. You’ve heard it before: Less is more. Remember that.

 And remember this as well: Reviewers want to have a pleasant experience with you. Make sure you deliver. When you walk out of the presentation, you’ve succeeded if the reviewer remembers your name and the style in which you shoot. Whether you accomplish that with an iPad or a portfolio of prints doesn’t matter at all.

Frank Meo has represented photographers and photojournalists in securing commercial assignments for more than 25 years, working with clients including American Express Small Businesses, Acura Motor Sports, US Coast Guard Xerox, ESPN, Citi, and Nike. He is founder of, an online global search engine that connects photographers to art buyers, editors, and clients. Currently, represents more 100 photographers in 60 cities around the world.