Portfolio reviews are a great way to get face-to-face feedback on your work and to ask specific questions to an objective professional that relate to your photographic practice.
By having a dialogue about your work and taking on feedback you should gain greater clarity about your creative direction. Here are some tips that should help you make the most of your opportunity:
- Be prepared for constructive criticism.
- Time passes very quickly during a review, so make sure you are clear on your objectives – why you want to attend a review and what you want to get out of it - and that they are reasonable given the short time (often only 20 mins) that is available to you. Have a couple of specific questions ready to ask.
- Give a very short summary of your vision and practice as a photographer so the reviewer can understand your aspirations as a photographer. Make sure you are really honest about your level of experience so help can be appropriate to your level of skill.
- Often sessions offer a range of reviewers with different backgrounds and specialties. Research the background of the reviewers so that you can be sure you get the right match between yourself and the reviewer. There is no point in spending time with a gallery curator if you are looking to find pure commercial work.
- Really listen to the feedback you are being given as you are there to gain valuable insights and help. Try not to be defensive as it lessens the opportunity for the reviewer to pass on pearls of wisdom.
- If you are serious about your aspirations as a professional photographer present a portfolio rather than an iPad so that the great quality printing and effort it has taken to create can be appreciated. This is particularly important if you a fine art photographer as the quality of the object is as important as the image itself.
- Ensure the portfolio itself is practical to use and flick through. If the reviewer has to fiddle around trying to pick up prints it wastes time and distracts from the job at hand.
- How many pictures? Between 20-30 for a 20 minute review.
- Take notes and make sure you have a business card to leave behind.
Remember that any reviewer will do their utmost to give you objective feedback but will necessarily be bringing a level of subjectivity to the discussion, albeit within a professional context. With this in mind it can be valuable to get a range of viewpoints and opinions on your work from those in the industry, all of which will help to give you a stronger impression of your work and practice.
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