My impressions of my first portfolio review
Well, I know this has nothing to do with analog photography but I hope I'm sharing an interesting experience nevertheless.
A few months ago I took the time to participate in a portfolio review organized by a large authority here in Greece (names are irrelevant - won't mention any). Curators from all around Europe were invited some of them big names in the art world. Anyway, for a fee anyone could participate - there was no discrimination between amateurs/pros.
I've been in several portfolio reviews in my local camera club with invited reviewers in the past but not in such a big event and not with such big names.
A photographer was scheduled to meet with eight reviewers (at his choice from a number of 17 available) at a 20 min session with each.
I noticed lots of young people, much younger than me (i'm 42), most of them with prints, the odd blurb book, and a couple of them carrying around their Macs. Some trendy guy even prepared a slideshow with music and gave the reviewers big white trendy headphones to watch it. Quite an entertaining view and I'm sorry I didn't have my camera with me .
Personally I wasn't hoping for a sell or a gallery show or anything like that, just to show my work to knowledgable people and get a decent opinion. I understand that it's good practice to let the reviewer know your intentions beforehand and so I decided to let them know I was interested in a gallery show.
The weeks before the show I consulted everyone I could find and read every advice on portfolio reviews. I prepared two portfolios with 15 inkjet "art" prints each, of my most representative work, in a size of 20x30cm.
Waiting between the meetings I took the opportunity to network and view the work of other photographers. About 120 people took part in the three day process. Everyone I had the opportunity to meet was shooting and printing digitally. I don't know if there were any film shooters but I didn't meet any.
Being a long time high school teacher and dealing with lots of different characters every day, I believe I have learned to judge people's thoughts by their body language. So I intented to use this knowledge to read their real thoughts behind the courtesy.
On the first day of the review it was obvious that the 20 minutes were hardly enough for the full presentation of both my portfolios. I tried to be as concise and to the point as possible. After the third review the words were coming out of my mouth literaly by themselves
Anyway, I got the full range of reactions from the reviewers from "bored" to "interested" and "I've seen it before". I got some favorable comments on both my works and several of the reviewers asked for updates on my work. Of course I exchanged business cards with everyone. The "likeness" factor is very relevant and the reactions were as expected.
On the second day, a certain reviewer gave me a very bad impression because he was "phishing" fotographers for his organization's November festival. He even tried to "play" me (by showing fake admiration for my work - with his very broken english) that they (his organization) pay quite an amount of Euros for the exhibitors that will be selected for the festival's art shows. Of course I have to pay a fee to be in the selection process :rolleyes:
On the third day I had two sessions scheduled and I noticed that both the reviewers were sort of "prepared" for my work. I mean that while all the previous reviewers showed signs of surprise for the more "progressive" of my portfolio, those two already formed an opinion even before I showed them the prints and the installation proposition! I think the opinions circulate quite fast in the art world.
Apart from that little dark spot on the second day with the "phisher" the overall experience was very informative and enlightening but I got the impression that no curator was seriously looking for something. I noticed that a couple of works got awwws but no cookie. Others got exhibition promises but till now haven't heard anything happening.
For my purposes (opinions) I think it was a satisfying experience but I'm reluctant to repeat the process next time as I don't quite see a point.
So, what was your experience with a portfolio review? Did anything good come out of it?
Last edited by thanos; 07-13-2010 at 04:45 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I recently received some feedback from an on-line portfolio review. An interesting experience and I have to appreciate the time and effort put in by the reviewers. Since this was done on-line, I wasn't present and able to make a bit of a corrective statement about my approach and intention. I work pretty well entirely in B&W (all 20 images were in B&W); one commenter said, very kindly and gently, that I should consider studying colour theory and should explore shooting colour digital in RAW. A bit of a mis-communication somewhere, I reckon.
I get quite a lot of spam from various sites for online reviews but I trash them exactly for that same reason.
Originally Posted by Mike Té
Hi, Thanos. This was actually a portfolio review carried out by a well-known gallery in the region. Artists who presented portfolios with potential were invited to the gallery for a review in person. Overall, they did a lot of work and I'm sure that, past the first hurdle, the process remained very high quality.
Originally Posted by thanos
Mike, this is different. I meant the spam from various online review sites.
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