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How To Make A PDF Photography Portfolio For Free With Google Drive / Docs

I've been a little quiet on the Podcast front over the last couple of weeks because I've been working to finish a project that's been on my mind for the last few months - my own PDF photography portfolios.

I love it when you can download PDF's of a photographers work - it gives you a clean, simple way to look at their images that can be viewed on almost any device. They're easier to look at than slide shows, websites or blogs, and can even be emailed across the internet.

Check out Rankins porfolio, Fred Aurebach's and Michael Greco's. These are collections of great photos that you can download for free and enjoy the images, or if you're a commisioning editor contact the photographer and offer them some work.

Portfolios can be as focussed or as general as you want. To attract work you may find that showing collections of similar photographs will appeal to art-directors and buyers, whereas you might want to also create more general portfolios. The first two I have made are loose collections of what I think are my best photos from two time periods, 2007-09 and 2009-12

Note that I describe my portfolios as "what I think are my best photos". You may disagree, and it could be argued that the photographer who took the photos is the worst person to choose which should be included. Too many memories and lingering emotions, too much invested time in photographs that perhaps should be left out from the selection can mean that you should consider asking another person to choose the images for your portfolio, or at least get someone else's opinion on your choices.

 A .PDF photography portfolio doesn't have the impact of a printed one, but it is a lot cheaper to produce and can be shared with thousands of people across the world, so why not dive in and have a go? Let's have a look at how you can make a pdf photography portfolio, easily and for free.

Choosing your photos. This is without doubt the hardest bit. It'll help if you've got some sort of order to your images, and if you begin to do this regularly it won't be such a Herculean task, but don't rush this bit. I upload a lot of photos to Flickr, and I keep the best ones in a seperate set, so I just worked my way through them picking my favourites, starting from my first uploads, then swapping to a new portfolio when I got a dSLR. 

To keep the size of your portfolio reasonable, download or edit your images so that are roughly 1024 pixels wide and 688 high for landscape orientated shots or  427 wide by 640 high for portrait style photos. I'm lucky in that I can store my files on the same server that holds my podcasts (libsyn), but if you're planning on emailing your portfolio to people you'll probably want to limit it to around 20 photos to stop the file from getting too big. You can also alter the quality you save the .jpg's at - but I'd stick to high or maximum, you don't want compression artefacts spoiling the look of your best photographs.

Creating the PDF File. This used to be the difficult bit, but now you can easily create PDF's for free with Google Docs, or Drive as it's now known. If you've already got a Gmail account look for the "Drive" part of the black bar at the top of the screen when you're in GoogleMail. If you're new to the whole Google experience, go to Google Drive and sign up. It's free and you won't regret it, Google offers a whole host of free services, including mail and drive, and I use them on a daily basis.

When you're in Google Drive, click on the "Create" button and choose "Document":

Once the new document is open, change the name by clicking on the "Untitled" description near the top of the screen, then click on "File" then "Page Setup" and change the orientation to landscape and the paper size to A4.

Google Drive / Docs is a great little word-processor, but it's no Microsoft Word, so we've got to work within it's limits, which means using tables to help format our portfolio. You may want to add a brief introduction and contact details to the front of your portfolio, and you can do this easily by adding a simple 2 cell table.

Click on "Table", "Insert Table", choose a two square horizontal table and add your text. To add photos simply click and drag your photos from a folder on your pc, to the task bar, onto chrome and into the document, or use the "Insert", "Image" option.

 You can format the text within each cell, alter the alignment, font and size. You can add hyperlinks, but be aware that most PDF viewers will turn that feature off:

Once you've set up the text and images within the table, right click inside the table and select the table properties and change the border colour to white.

Adding the photos to your PDF portfolio. This is relatively simple. With landscape orientated photographs, simply click and drag them into the document, use the "Insert", "Image" option, or just click the picture icon. You may have to alter the alignment, and put some extra returns above the photo to centralise it on the page. Below the photo you may also have to "Insert" "Page Break" to flick to the next page.

 Photos that have the portrait orientation are a little different. You could try adding them in the way above, but I've found it easier to first insert a two cell table, then add the photos to either side. I just enjoy having the photos to one side or doubled up rather than in the middle. Again, when your images are in place change the table borders to white.

Now just keep repeating until you've added all of your photos.

Creating the PDF. Ah, the final step. Just click "File", "Download As" "PDF Document" simples, eh? You'll have a lovely fresh PDF Photography portfolio on your pc in a couple of minutes. Open it up in your favorite reader, maybe Acrobat or Foxit Reader, and check the portfolio for mistakes.

Common problems are photos not centralised (add a couple of returns) or phantom blank pages that occur when a rogue page break causes some havoc. To get rid of the page breaks, find the offending part of the document (which won't have a blank page in the Docs / Drive version) then delete a few of the lines above the next photo, then add some more returns in and this should solve the issue.

Sharing Your Portfolio. If it's small enough you can email it to people or add it to the local file storage on your blog and website so you can advertise it with a link. My initial portfolios are a bit too large, so I'm storing them on the same server where I keep my podcasts, with a link on this site.

If your PDF Portfolio is too big to email, all is not lost. Simply upload it back up as a PDF to Google Drive / Docs (the small red icon next to create) then you can share it with others (right-click, share) and they can download it from your Google Drive without having to email it, very handy with large files.

Now It's Up To You. Hopefully I've shown how easy it is to create a simple but effective PDF photography portfolio using Google Drive / Docs, for free. Get your best photos together and have a go, I found the process a great way of seeing how I've changed photographically, an inkling of my style, and it has inspired me to keep going and to try and take better images.

Thanks, Rob.

Please check out my Portfolio 1(15mb) and Portfolio 2 (34mb).

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Reader Comments (4)

What DPI for your file size 72?

March 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterShoun Hill

Thats right.

January 11, 2015 | Registered CommenterRob_Nunn

I have just used the tips thanks do much for the advice

June 7, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjohn

I have just used the tips thanks do much for the advice i would love to send it to you just to get some advice and get your judgement please.

June 7, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjohn trueman

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