As the iPad has matured as a tool for photographers showing their images and videos in portfolio meetings, so have the portfolio apps. Where once there were hastily coded offerings short on features, we now have a thriving marketplace. For less than the price of a single pro-lab 8×10 for your print portfolio, you can have a powerful program at your fingertips that will allow you to present your work in any way that you wish.
Here’s a round-up of some of the best portfolio apps available, ranging in price from $3 to $17. Most offer support for common image and video file formats. Each app highlighted here will present your images beautifully. Where they differ is in how files are loaded and synced to the iPad, which file types they support, how extensively they can be customized around your personal style and the amount of support offered by the developer.
Slightly less-expensive than most of the other options here, Portfolio Pro for iPad is nonetheless a full-featured portfolio app.
Importing can be done from your iPad’s photo albums, Flickr or Dropbox. Portfolio Pro can also import directly from your Flickr Photostream and Flickr Sets and will even preserve your photos’ titles and descriptions. Using Dropbox, you can export and clone to multiple iPads. But unlike with some of the other apps, there is no automatic sync capability for Dropbox, so any changes to the master must be manually exported and imported to the other iPads. Portfolio Pro offers enough branding and design customization options to match your portfolio to your style, but not so many that it becomes complicated and confusing. Inserting your logo, choosing a start screen image, and changing color schemes are all quick and easy. One particularly useful feature is the app’s ability to easily hide galleries from view. You can have multiple portfolios for multiple purposes, and quickly choose which you want to show or hide. The developer has an active Twitter account, a Facebook page and a specific support-ticket area on their website.
Portfolio for iPad has been a strong contender in the arena of photo-portfolio apps for several years, and the app’s developers have regularly released updates.
Aimed at working photographers, Portfolio allows for a significant amount of customization, as far as presentation and branding is concerned. You can upload images from your iPad’s photo albums, iTunes, Dropbox, Box, a URL or via the Mac Loader app. Portfolio can handle any image, video, or PDF file that the iPad supports. The iPad app is divided into three main sections: the manager (for gallery creation and content importing/organizing), the appearance customizer (where the interface colors, themes and behaviors are edited), and the viewer (where all content playback and browsing is done). A backup feature allows you to create different configurations for your portfolio or clone the same configuration to multiple iPads. The developer has an extensive user guide on its website and a support email address.
The priciest of the apps listed here, Xtrafolio offers an extensive feature set. Importing is done via iTunes, Dropbox or the iPad’s photo library. All iPad-supported image, video and PDF files can be displayed. As part of the integration with Dropbox, you have the ability to make one iPad the “master” and then create multiple “slave” iPads that are clones. Any changes to the master portfolio will automatically populate on the slave iPads—a useful feature for bridal shows or busy portrait studios. Conveniently, Xtrafolio lets you create an unlimited number of folders and add unlimited images to each folder. It also supports nesting for folders within folders, giving you a significant number of organizational options and making it more practical to have a large portfolio.
Xtrafolio has a modern, stylish design that should serve any working pro well. Fonts, colors, layouts and backgrounds can all be adjusted. The customizable splash screen, logo, and text options help with branding. One particularly nice feature is the ability to have a watermark automatically added to your image if anyone wishes to email it from the app. The in-app help feature is not as thorough as it should be (and requires an Internet connection), but the developer has a more extensive user guide online, as well as Facebook, Twitter and email contact options.
While creating Foliobook, the app’s creators worked with professional commercial photographers to great effect—it’s easily one of the most popular portfolio apps. But perhaps more importantly, they seem to have done a good job of listening to their customers; since Foliobook’s initial release, they have pushed regular updates and added features.
Foliobook offers extensive customization and styling options; when an app lets you change the color of the control buttons, you know it’s serious about customization. Branding options also abound; you can use a still image or video as the splash screen and overlay your logo on top of it. In fact, setting up Foliobook is a bit like building a Web page. You can even link videos from menu items rather than just placing them in a gallery, a nice touch for wedding studios that offer both photo and video packages. But keep in mind that using video on Foliobook requires a plugin ($1.99 in-app purchase). Foliobook can access your photo library or import via Dropbox. It can also import via your PhotoShelter account, a unique feature among its peers.
It may have a steeper learning curve than many of the other apps, but Foliobook also has extensive support options. With a large user guide, a community discussion forum, a help-desk ticket system, Twitter, Facebook and email, you won’t be at a loss for assistance.
Many of the apps in this list are quite fancy, with as many integrations and customizations as one could need. But sometimes photographers just need a simple app to show off their work. Minimal Folio is that app.
When you first open the app, a quick tutorial guides you through the setup process and images are organized on a grid. You use columns to group related images, then move through that group with an up/ down swipe. Left/right swipes move you between columns and thus through your different groupings. You can copy from your camera albums, import from iTunes or sync to a Dropbox account. Minimal Folio can display iPad-supported images, videos and PDFs, and reordering images is as simple as a drag-and-drop. While there is no splash-screen branding, the app loads quickly and always takes you to the first image of your project, so it can pull double-duty as a title or branding slide. The in-app help feature is useful, and the developer has Facebook and email contact info available on their website.
Creator Juan Pablo Mazuera, a Colombian photographer, showcases his knack for design and app development in his portfolio app Padfolios. An avowed Apple fan, he was one of the first people in Colombia to get his hands on an iPad back in 2010. But as a photographer and designer, he was disappointed in the tools he had available to use his iPad as a digital portfolio, so he set about creating Padfolios.
Importing is done exclusively through the iPad’s photo library. Padfolio’s layout is not extensively customizable, but looks clean and professional without being excessively minimal. Backgrounds and text allow for branding and personalizing, and text and line colors are infinitely adjustable through the use of RGB sliders—a nice touch. It’s convenient that Padfolios saves your changes automatically, as it can be frustrating to be forced to click “save” after every adjustment. Padfolios is designed to showcase images only, which can be a drawback if you have videos to display. On the flipside, Padfolios is a universal app that will run on both the iPad and the iPhone/iPod Touch. The app’s help file is simple but covers all of the basics, and Mazuera has Twitter, Facebook and email contact options on his website for additional help.
Mediapad Pro’s strengths include its simplicity and the ability to handle multimedia files. Images, video, audio, HTML and more are supported, and the app may just have the simplest adjustment tools for a slideshow function. Photos are imported through iTunes or from your iPad’s photo library. A custom homepage banner, portfolio banners and custom backgrounds are also supported. Aside from that, only minor color and font theme changes are customizable. The app’s developers have a handy introduction video that quickly runs through the basics of using Mediapad Pro, but it’s hosted on YouTube and thus unavailable offline from within the app. Mediapad Pro is still a very handy budget option for those who want a basic portfolio app for different types of media, but caveat emptor—there doesn’t appear to be an active support site, or any contact info for the developers.