SAAL Digital very kindly invited me to test one of their portfolio/photobooks recently, and given I was already looking to create one of these anyway, naturally I accepted. For some time now I've given thought to having a print portfolio, as although everything these days seems to be done digitally, there is something extra, an intangible quality if you like, to having the print there in front of you, rather than browsing on a web page which at times can seem a bit soulless. My idea is to be able to present this to potential clients/galleries for future work or commissions, to compliment the work I present on my website and other social media streams.
Firstly I'll address the process - the creation of my portfolio book was straightforward and simple. Coming from a Graphic Design background, the SAAL software with which you use to create the design of the final product is both easy an intuitive. It reminded me of a primitive version of Adobe InDesign, so I was right at home with using the software. I liked the idea of having greater control over the end product rather than having to rely on a somewhat questionable template design which other print companies tend to favour. Having worked previously in desktop publishing this method really was an enjoyable experience. Within the design templates you're pretty much unlimited in terms of the style you wish to create, and after creating 4 or 5 different templates at different sizes I was able to settle on an A4 size 26 page book which was ample space to display my best work. The only slight downside if I had any quibble was the font (to me anyway) appeared on screen slightly lighter than the finished print, and if I could have designed the book again I'd have opted for a lighter text, but that could have simply have been user error more than anything else.
You're able to choose from several different sizes and finishes depending on your needs, I opted for a matte black textured cover with the insides on a gloss finish. I went this way as a lot of my images tend to have a lot of contrast, and on receiving the final book I was very impressed with the quality and colour accuracy in comparison with what I see on my own screen. The cover was also very impressive and really gave a look of quality and finished the product off nicely. The textured covers come at a higher cost however they give the book a sturdy feel which I would definitely recommend.
Delivery was quick and efficient, my book was delivered to me within a few days of the final artwork being sent over, considering this was being sent from abroad this was also particularly pleasing. All in all I'd highly recommend SAAL Digital, their service was first class and I couldn't fault the final product whatsoever.