In a sense, photo folders are a bit like greeting cards. People buy greeting cards because they’re an easy and convenient way to give impact to a personal message. Simply handing someone a plain note reading “happy birthday” wouldn’t elicit the same reaction as a colorful and artistic card with a similar message.
Similarly, photo folders allow photography clients to display and present their personal images with finesse and added meaning. They’re often used for special events such as business gatherings, award ceremonies or other celebrations, giving recipients a lasting reminder of the experience. Additionally, they can be used to package samples and proofs for prospective clients in a way that displays your company’s branding (without covering up the photo itself).
The key to an effective photo folder is a strong design that effectively accentuates your client’s photo while showing off your brand in a positive light. Keep the following tips in mind when designing a memorable folder for your photography.
Tailoring folders to your clients
When designing folders specifically made to display photographs that a client has ordered, make sure that the design meets their needs—and encourages repeat business.
- Try creating different photo folder designs for different categories of clients based on their unique situation. For example, a standard wedding design could be used for any wedding photographs, but you wouldn’t use the same folder for a family portrait. Your “design library” might include folders for graduations, holidays, award ceremonies, or any other event you’re likely to receive orders for.
- Keep your designs relatively simple; don’t overload them with busy text or clip art. You should also avoid making them boring; each design will need to appeal to a wide range of clients, but that doesn’t mean they need to look excessively bland and broad. Try to find an elegant balance between impact and tastefulness.
- You may occasionally wish to invest in a completely custom design to cater to large-ticket clients. You typically have to order photo folders in large quantities, so it’s not worth creating a custom design for every client. However, if you can guarantee enough photo orders to make use of an entire batch of folders, it’s an extra detail that will help you retain business and keep your high-paying clients happy. An example would be creating a custom folder design for a sports league. Since each team in the league would provide multiple orders, it would be well worth the investment. The clients ordering sports team photos would also appreciate the extra level of detail, such as the year, the league name, a list of the teams and so on.
- Photo folders for samples and proofs are much more straightforward; the front cover design can consist simply of your company name and logo if you wish. This allows your client to quickly and easily identify where the proof came from. You may want to add additional elements such as a slogan or a collage of your photographic work to underscore your company’s value.
- Add contact information to your folder to make it easier for clients to get in touch if they want more work done. This information usually works best on the back cover where it’s easily accessible (but won’t be a major distraction).
Printing photos directly on a folder
Your branded folder design may feature photography, especially if you’re providing people with a pre-purchase sample of your work. The cover of your “proof” folder, for example, might include a visual collage of work you’ve done for past clients.
Keep in mind, however, that printing photography onto a folder requires special considerations. Depending on the type of photo, certain imprint options will produce more effective results.
- Print full color photographs using CMYK 4-color process printing. This is the only imprint method available that will allow you to accurately reproduce color photography.
- Select PMS spot printing for any monotone or black-and-white photographs. PMS ink creates a richer image with deeper contrast than 4-color process. PMS spot printing can only use one ink color at a time, but it doesn’t always have to be black—your black-and-white photos can easily be printed in any color of PMS ink.
- For best results, choose white stock for any designs that feature color photography. 4-color process is designed for white stock and when the ink is mixed to form colors, any white is created from the color of the stock. This means color photos look distorted on colored stock. PMS ink is premixed so it won’t be altered by the color of the stock; however, the stock color will still be used in place of white, allowing you to create different artistic effects.
- Choose UV coating to make the color in your photographs appear bright and dazzling. UV offers minimal protection, but what it lacks in defense, it makes up for in design.
Special options to make your photo folder pop
Photo folders can give their contents a bit of flair and drama, but only if they stand out in some way. Take advantage of special features and printing options that can help make your folder unique and distinctive.
- Select custom die cut options to redesign the shape of the folder itself. Custom die cutting can be used to create a window on the front cover of the folder that displays the photo inside. It can also be used to alter the design of the frame that actually holds the photograph, giving it a distinctive shape for a stronger impression.
- Apply a layer of metallic foil stamping to give your folder a sophisticated look and to make your branded design elements stand out. Metallic foil goes great with colored stock (especially dark stock) and it’s a simple way to get a high-end look without a huge investment.
- Use embossing to add a textural component to your design. Embossed designs are imprinted directly into the stock to create an impression or depression in the stock. Design elements can be enhanced with embossing, or embossing can be used on its own to create a minimalist, elegant design for special events like weddings and anniversaries.
Creating emotional resonance through texture
The texture of the items we touch creates a powerful sense memory, so it’s often recommended that print marketing materials include some sort of textural element. But working with photographs presents a unique dilemma: people typically avoid touching photographs because it leaves fingerprints. A photo folder can provide much needed texture to create that sense memory, creating a positive association with your brand.
- Select strong and distinctive stocks for a stronger tactile effect. Heavier stocks feel more high-quality and professional than lightweight stocks. Textured stocks create an interesting feel that encourages people to handle the folder.
- Utilize special options like die cutting, embossing and foil stamping to add special textural elements to your folder design. The raised embossed sections and smooth foil stamping add textural variety to your folder, while die cutting changes the actual shape of your folder and the way it feels in your hands.
- Add aqueous coating to your folder to provide a textural sensation. Aqueous coating will provide protection for your folder and comes in different varieties including smooth matte, slick gloss, velvety soft-touch and suede-like satin.
Even if clients choose to frame their photos instead of displaying them in folders, they’ll appreciate the extra attention to detail. Ultimately, custom photo folders are a great way to show clients that you go above and beyond with your photo services and to establish an identity as a brand that cares.
Article by CompanyFolders.com
CompanyFolders.com is the ultimate folder boutique offering both Portrait and Landscape Photo Folders for graphic designers and photographers alike. Follow them on Google Plus for their latest promotions.