Tips for the Portfolio Review
When April 13th rolls around, you will want to get plenty of rest, eat a big breakfast and maybe even take a shower. This is the day of the ONWARD portfolio reviews, your time to gain valuable feedback and make connections in the photo industry.
Before review day rolls around, there are many things you can do to make the most of your time with ONWARD’s professional portfolio reviewers. Proper preparation will provide you with the greatest return from your portfolio review sessions.
Here are some key insights we’ve gathered to help you prepare:
Selecting, Printing and Presenting Your Photographs
Select 15-20 photos – sizes should be manageable, from 11×14 to 20×24 – representing a complete body of work. Bring the prints in their final format so to ensure useful feedback on your best work. Bringing a semi-organized portfolio or un-edited photo will not give the reviewer a true impression of your work.
Presentation can vary, from prints on photo paper, to framed photos, to books – some people even use an iPad. Whatever you choose, your mode of presentation should be in its final format.
Safely Transporting Your Portfolio To the Review
The best option for transport is one that is easily manageable, protective, and quick to pack and unpack. Do remember that this is April in Philadelphia, so the chance of precipitation is high. But also keep in mind that your time with each reviewer is limited to 20 minutes. You should use most of that time for discussion, and use as little as possible for packing and unpacking.
The following are common print transportation and protection options:
Portfolio boxes are a quick and easy way to transport your prints safely. You can easily fit a number of prints into one box, where they’ll be safe from the elements.
Use paper to separate a stack of photos. This paper should be used in conjunction with a portfolio box or some other weather-proof method.
Protective Mylar Envelopes
Mylar envelopes add another layer of protection from the elements. As with interleaving paper, envelopes would require a larger container for transportation.
Researching and Preparing for the Review
ONWARD guarantees you will sit with at least one of your chosen reviewers. Prior to showing up, research all reviewers and plan to connect with a reviewer whose expertise or experience aligns with your own photographic pursuits. Meeting someone with experience in your areas of interest will not only provide you with career-centric feedback, but may also provide valuable connections.
What To Do During the Review
Think of this like a job interview. You want to make the most of your 20 minutes with the reviewer. Get the feedback you need by asking direct questions about the reviewer’s work and your aspirations. Something along the lines of, “Hey, I love the work you did for XXX. Do you think my work is ready for this publication?” or, “What do I need to do to make it in?”
This goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: being polite, attentive, and courteous while listening to your reviewer’s feedback and criticism will leave a good impression about you and your work. Also, taking notes allows you to remember all the feedback you receive during the review process and refer back to it at a later date.
Following Up After the Portfolio Review
Bring leave-behinds for the reviewers with your contact information and some sort of visual clue for them to remember you. Remember, each reviewer is going to gather a number of these throughout the day, so make it simple, memorable and easy to carry.
Sometimes you’ll find yourself running out of time with the reviewer. If it seems there is more to be said, ask the reviewer if it’s okay to set up time at a later date to talk further about your work.
Always follow up with a thank you. After all, they took the time to check out your work. The least you can do is thank them.