- 2018 Biennial
- Portfolio Reviews
- Preparing for the Reviews
FotoFest 2018 Biennial
The International Meeting Place
Portfolio Reviews for Artists
Preparing for the Meeting Place
Artists who benefit the most from the Meeting Place are those who have at least one complete and cohesive body of work. Most of the artists who register for the Meeting Place are fine art photographers, documentary photographers doing independent essays, or artists using photography as a creative medium.
BEFORE THE PORTFOLIO REVIEW - SETTING YOUR OBJECTIVES
Be clear about what you want, but also be realistic with your goals.
Are you seeking technical advice, guidance, or information about clarity of content, print quality, editing, or sequencing?
Are you hoping to market a completed series or body of work?
Are you seeking representation for the work?
Do you wish to have an exhibition of a completed body of work at a gallery or other institution?
Are you looking to publish the work?
EDITING YOUR PORTFOLIO
Limit the number of photographs you are showing. No more than twenty prints.
Present a thematically unified or otherwise cohesive body of work. If you have more than one body of work to show, show your strongest work first. Most of the time, reviewers only have time to see one or two bodies of work.
Every image in your portfolio should be a strong image. Editing and sequencing your images is very important for how the reviewer will understand and experience your work.
Which is the first image I want the reviewer to see?
What do I want my sequence of images to “say”, and why?
What happens when two images are put together?
Does the meaning change if I change the sequence?
How do I maintain a strong sequence from beginning to end?
Ask yourself these questions when you are editing:
PRESENTING YOUR PORTFOLIO
It is very important to present your artwork in a professional manner.
Most reviewers believe that technique and process are important components of a successful work of art.
Bring original prints, not Xeroxes or laser copies.
Try to print images the same size and on the same kind of paper. This helps make your work more cohesive.
It is not necessary to mat your prints, but if you do, mats should be well cut and clean.
Do not show your work in plastic sleeves.
EASE IN HANDLING
Package your portfolio such that you can carry it, open it, show it, and put it away quickly. Simple clam shell portfolio boxes are recommended.
Do not bring 20 extra-large prints. Print your portfolio in medium size prints, and if you need to show exhibition size prints, bring 2-3 large prints in a tube.
Accept the fact that your work may show some “road wear” by the end of the event. You are here to show work to as many reviewers and peers as possible.
Protect your work, but not to the extent that it takes a lot of time to wrap/unwrap each print.
Keep in mind that reviewers are experienced in handling prints, and most do not like to use white gloves when they are looking at your work.
Design and produce a simple promotional piece or card with your contact information that you can give to reviewers to remind them of your work.
We suggest a postcard size card and/or calling card with an image of your work on one side and contact information on the other side. Include your email, mailing address, website, and phone number. Most reviewers will remember your images more easily than they will remember your name.
If you bring CDs for reviewers, they must have your name, contact information, and an image of your work on them.
Make sure to bring enough cards for reviewers, fellow artists, and for anyone you may meet at the Open Portfolio Night.
If you are promoting an exhibition, bring all pertinent information: number of images, sizes, matting and framing requirements, installation details, and photos of previous installations.
GET TO KNOW THE REVIEWERS AHEAD OF TIME
Do your homework. Read the professional biographies of the reviewers.
Go beyond their bios and do some online research. Look at the kind of artwork their institution or organization presents.
Choose reviewers who will respond best to your work and be most useful for your objectives.
PRACTICE YOUR PRESENTATION
Remember, you only have 20 minutes to introduce yourself and present your work.
DURING THE REVIEW
Be on time for your appointment.
Don’t make the mistake of talking the entire time. Keep in mind that many reviewers can look at your work while you are talking.
Be mindful of the time limit with each reviewer; you will want to have time within the session to receive feedback.
Ask a few good questions. Always avoid questions that can be answered with a simple “no”.
BE READY TO TAKE NOTES
Bring a notebook and pen or pencil.
Consider bringing a tape recorder, but always ask permission to record the reviewer.
You can also bring a sheet with thumbnails of all the images to mark which images reviewers responded to most strongly.
Whatever note taking or recording format works for you — do it. You want to take home as clear a memory of each discussion as possible.
THE LAST FEW MINUTES OF THE REVIEW
Ask the reviewer for their card.
Ask the reviewer if you can add their name to your email list.
If the reviewer requests more information, ask what format they prefer to receive — regular mail or email.
If you have other materials like CDs, booklets, exhibition catalogues, etc., ask the reviewer if they want it. Do not assume the reviewer wants to keep them.
Don’t burden a reviewer with a bulky packet or books to take home from the event. Offer to mail it to them at their office after the event.
Be mindful of the appointment after yours; do not overstay your time.
AFTER THE REVIEW
Write a thank you note or email to every reviewer you saw. Do not expect that reviewers will respond to you. If they don't respond, it does not mean they don't like your work.
If a reviewer asked for more materials, send them as soon as possible.
Keep in contact with the reviewers who request it.
Read your notes, and reflect on the advice you receive.
Consider this experience a chance to build relationships with professionals who respond positively to your work, and an opportunity to build a community of fellow artists.
© 2011 FotoFest, Inc.
Mary Virginia Swanson's “Portfolio Review Events: Important Deadlines Ahead! To Attend or not to Attend” at marketingphotos.wordpress.com was very helpful in the original development of these guidelines.