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.
* 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 minutes) 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.
* 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.
* 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 images? Between 20-30 for a 20 minute review.
* 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.
* Make sure you are really honest about your level of experience so help can be appropriate to your skill set.
* Take notes and make sure you have a business card to leave behind
Thanks to Zoe Whishaw for her pearls of wisdom. The London Photo Festival will be holding Portfolio Reviews during the Festival on Saturday, 24th May – details on how to book will be announced on their website soon.