This week at the PhotoPlus Expo show at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City, a great number of photographers will be showing up for portfolio reviews organized by the Palm Springs Photo Festival. This is the chance for talented fine-art photographers, documentary photographers, and others to show off their work to some of the most important people in the industry, from photo editors, ad agency creatives to gallery owners and agents. New York-based photo rep Frank Meo says he’s seen too many photographers fail when it should be their chance to shine. “I find it frustrating that many photographers come to these reviews ill prepared to succeed,” says Meo, who offers insights on how to succeed during your review.
Getting the Most From Portfolio Reviews
By Frank Meo
Are you ready for your close-up? Unfortunately, when it comes to portfolio reviews, way too many photographers aren’t. It would probably be a good idea for all the companies, festivals, and organizations that offer portfolio reviews to create a checklist or a guide to help photographers prepare for their sessions. If you’re participating in the portfolio reviews this week, here are some my insights.
Know your audience
You need to do some research on the person you’ve signed up to review your work. If you’re sitting with an art buyer, you should know a little about his or her ad agency and clients. (Almost every ad agency’s website lists its clients and in many cases showcases the work it’s done for these companies.) Be able to “talk shop” with your reviewer about how your work could possibly be a fit for those clients. Be proactive in every way: Suggest ideas and create opportunities. Suggest shooting for their pro bono accounts or teaming on an appropriate new business pitch.
If you’re sitting with a magazine editor, it’s the same thing: Know the content of the publication before you sit down, and suggest a story idea that is a perfect fit for that magazine.
If you’re meeting with a photographer’s representative, know who else they rep, and who those other photographers shoot for. Come to the session able to explain why you’d be a good fit for her or his agency and how your contacts can help everyone’s business. Remember, it’s all about making money and creating terrific images. Your entire presentation must be about how your style of work will create revenue.
Presentation: Keep it simple
Here’s your challenge: Each reviewer will probably review 6 to 15 portfolios. How do you plan to stand out?
Plan ahead with your presentation. It should be a clear, concise, and intriguing, with a powerful collection of work. Don’t show everything! Less is more for sure. If at the end of the session any reviewer remembers your work, then consider that a major success.
Make sure your book, or iPad, is clean, functional, and targeted. Reviewers want to see and feel your style. Don’t leave them guessing. Better they leave not liking your style then not knowing it! .
In a way, portfolio reviews are like speed dating: What you want is a second date. So do what you need to do to succeed. Photographers prep for shoots, and they should do the same for a portfolio reviews.
Originally published on David Schonauer’s PROPHOTO blog