One of the most frustrating things about photography gear is that sometimes there are SO many options available to you, it makes it challenging to find exactly what you want. It’s why so many photographers I know (yours truly included) have so many different camera bags, and lenses, and tripods, and filters on and on. We’ll all searching for “the one” that will do everything we want.

Every once in a while, you find it.
Just like I’ve been searching for the perfect iPad portfolio App. There’s a bunch out there, but none of them did all the things I wanted one to do. Some did most of what I wanted, and some did some of what I wanted (and believe me, I tried them all), but I have finally found it. Best of all, it’s only $12.99. I’m not sure I have anything photography related that only costs $12.99.

It’s called FolioBook Photo Portfolio (by Architek, Limited).
While I was on vacation last week, I read another photographer raving about it (I wish I could remember who it was, because I’d like to give him/her credit), and the weird thing is, after I read it, I thought to myself, “Don’t I already have that App?” I did. I just had an older version. Now it’s at 3.0 and the free update addressed some of the things that I felt were missing. I was one happy camper.

Here’s why I love it
(1) First, it lets you create a custom splash screen and layout (that’s mine above — I went with a clean simple look, but it’s very customizable, and you can create separate splash screens for horizontal or vertical layouts). You can import logos and/or background images, and this splash screen is what you see when you launch the App, so it lets you just hand it to somebody and they’re ready to roll. Also, you can lock it down so they can’t accidentally make any edits or mess up the presentation.

(2) You can have as many galleries as you want (well, as many as you have space on screen for anyway), with up to 200 images per gallery.

(3) You can import images already on your iPad, or directly from Dropbox (which is what I used, since I prepped all my images on my laptop. Also, you can upload up to 200 images at once.

By the way, if you have an iPad 3 with the Retina Display, you’re definitely going to want to use higher resolution images (like 2038 x 1053 pixels). When you use the higher resolution like that, the images really look incredible. Otherwise, they look a little soft (not the fault of the App, it’s a screen resolution thing).

(4) You can drag and drop to arrange your photos in the order you want in a thumbnail view (as seen above).

(5) It’s got a great slideshow with different transitions, and it can play background music behind your slideshow, and it’s very simple to configure and use (that’s the pop-down controls shown above).

(6) You can email any photo in your port right from the App itself, so if someone wants a comp, or you want to share an image for any reason, you can do it right there.

(7) I think if any one thing put me over the top, it is the amount of customization you can do. You can really get things just the way you want them (I didn’t realize quite how much you can do until I watched their online video demos, which I strongly suggest, because if not you’ll go hunting for stuff you know it can do, but you’re not sure how). By the way, any time you’re looking in a gallery, you can have a row of thumbnails appear (as seen above) by just swiping down from the top of the screen.

What would I change?
If there is one thing I would change, it’s pretty minor, but it just feels weird. Once you’re looking at a gallery, to return to your main screen (your splash screen with links to your other galleries), you have to do a pinch gesture to shrink the image that’s on screen down to 1/2 its size, the the main screen appears. I’ve been using this App a lot, and I just can’t get used to that. It seems like there’s got to be a better way than pinching, but I’m not quite sure what that might be (tapping once in the corner? Swiping up instead of left/right? I dunno, but pinching just really doesn’t feel right.

The Bottomline
Outside of that one thing I would change, I’m amazed at what it can do for just $12.99. It’s clean, flexible, easy to use, and I love the “client” mode where you can just have them tap the app icon and it’s in presentation mode — ready to go. This is the iPad portfolio App I’ve been waiting for. Thank you Architek, Limited. This is one search I can now stop. Ahhh, now if they only made a laptop bag. ;-)

Here’s the link to it on the App store (or of course you can just go to the App store on your iPad).