Getting Started

Working with Dweller By The Stream Bindery

Written primarily for Commercial Photographers but applicable to others (words in light blue are in defined in the glossary)

My background in Graphic Designer and  Printing Technology and my experience as a Designer & Production Manager in the Advertising field gives me the unique ability to guide you through the process of creating your portfolios, promotional and collateral materials. Whether you work with me directly on design conception or with another design firm ( I have no ego about this) it is best to involve me early on in the process for brainstorming and discussion of  “what ‘s possible?”  The design firms I collaborate with have learned to give me a ring during concept development. They run ideas by me and make sure they can be executed. Sometimes I make mini proto-prototypes to explore unusual and innovative design ideas.

I’m a detail person. Back in my ad agency days I was nick named Millimeter Eyeball. In addition to overseeing all aspects of  production at the agency, I was responsible for going to all of the press checks at the printer. I have an eye for color and can’t help but see the minutia. These traits will work in your favor. I catch mistakes and notice inconsistencies early on before you get too deep in the process. I’ve even been known to catch typos, amazing since I am an abdominal speller. I’m a fresh set of eyes and I will pay attention to all aspects of your job not just the binding part.

Note: The process outlined below is a Chicken/Egg thing. Perhaps I shouldn’t number  this section but bullets don’t really convey the process either. So here we go, just note we may do things in a different order depending upon the nature of your job.

Design Conception can come first or somewhere later in the process after format, size and interior paper choices have been made.  As I’ve said, “It’s a Chicken/Egg thing.”

1. Evaluate your images to determine whether your  portfolio should be horizontal or vertical. Vertical formats allow you to do large vertical images as well as large horizontal Cross-Over Spreads. While horizontal formats allow for large horizontals on every page or smaller vertical images with white space.

2. Read my dissertation on Grain Direction under Pages, please! I can’t tell you how important this is. If you are able to run the grain of the paper head to tail (parallel to spine) the pages will flow beautifully as you turn them and not be springy. The portfolio will lie open and be more flat and not close on you. As one client put it ” I don’t want people to have to use their elbows to keep the book open”. We want viewers to concentrate on your work.  Therefore we do all we can do to create an enjoyable viewing experience not one fraught with challenges. Printing with the grain of the paper goes a long way in achieving this objective. If the grain is run incorrectly it can also lead to cracking at the forege of French-folded Leaves and at the scores near the binding. I have developed techniques to mitigate these problems, but they are compromises.

3. Determine the interior leave size (a leave is a single sheet of paper which can count as 2 pages if it is printed on the front and back or folded as with French-folded Leaves. It will count as one page if printed on one side only). Since everything I make is custom the size of your portfolio is theoretically based on your desire, but in reality may be limited by paper and printer size constraints.

4. At this juncture I can build your master computer file templates or assist you in constructing them yourself. (see Pages: Computer File Set Up & Cross-Over Spreads)

5.  Make test prints. I’m sure you will be doing this to see how your images look on different paper stocks and to set up color profiles and calibrate your system. ACTION: send me a few printed rejects on your choice paper for me to test score and fold and to check the accuracy of your computer files. Please don’t forge ahead printing lots of pages, it is better to trouble shoot now before too much time and money have been invested.

6. Make ONE prototype.

7. Make modifications if necessary. Major changes may require a second prototype. This is rare. 98% of the time the prototype is usable and it gets whisked off to the rep and I never see it again.

8. GET ROCK’N! We go into production.

Check List

Type of Portfolio/Album
Post-Style 3 Part  (Front Cover, Back Cover & Spine)
Post-Style 3 Part/Hidden Post Flap
Post-Style Internal Post Mechanism (fixed internal Dimension)

Pocket for leave behinds
Numbering System
Rep ID Labels
Tear Sheet pages
Photographer &/or Rep Contact Info Pages

Clam-Shell Box
Half -Clam Box
Fall-Back Box
Fall-Back Box with Ridges
Messenger Bags


Hand Bookbinding, Design & Project Coordination

Brooke Merrill Tinney

768 Bostock Mt. Road, Boiceville, NY 12412

Telephone & Facsimile: 845.657.8700




© Dweller By The Stream Inc.


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