“I worked for Harper’s Bazaar. They fired me. I recommend that you all get fired; it’s a great learning experience.”
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.
- Read the Terms and Conditions and FAQs page!
These are two very important documents and should not be overlooked. They will contain vital information about how the exhibition is run and what is expected from you as an exhibitor.
Is there a theme? This will enable you to select your images more easily
Please see our recent post on this:
3. Framing & printing
Presentation of your work is extremely important and the wrong frame or inferior printing can mean the difference between a sale and a non-sale. At one time, we would have recommended a well-known Scandinavian company for frames but recently we have found that they becoming too ubiquitous and break easily (however, if you want to use these frames then don’t let us stop you bear in mind that your frame must reflect the price of your work)
If you are on a tight budget, research on-line framing companies and you will find some very reasonable prices out there and they will also provide bespoke mounts. The same goes for printers, or foster a relationship with a local framer & printer and ask if they are offering any deals or discounts. You could also think about getting together with some other exhibitors to negotiate a group discount.
Visitors also like to see variety and there are other options to framing: acrylic, aluminium or canvas etc. and these are just as effective as frames and sometimes more cost effective to produce. Do you want to display your work another way? Get in touch with us as we are always happy to discuss alternatives.
4. Do you sign your mount?
The jury is still out on this one but at the end of the day, it’s all about personal preference. If you choose not to sign the mount, then at least sign the back of the frame (or stick a business card on the back) and the image – it’s all about the marketing and if the buyer decides to get your image reframed, then at least your details are on the image itself.
5. What’s your story?
Visitors and buyers love to know the story behind the image, so tell us as much as you can (within the word limit) about what inspired you to take the image and what your personal story is – why do you take photographs and tell us know if you’ve won any competitions.
Titles: tell us where and then the image was taken – try and choose relevant titles and avoid using ‘Untitled’ when possible.
Pricing your work is probably one of the hardest tasks to undertake. One of the rules of thumb is to sell for three times the cost of producing your work (print, frame etc). It is also imperative not to undersell yourself, to take into account who the target audience is and any costs that will be taken off your profit line (commission etc.).
7. Spread the word!
Tell everyone you know that you are taking part in the exhibition – you never know who might buy your work or another exhibitor’s work, so spread the love.
8. Enjoy and learn from the experience.
Yes, it sounds like a cliché but you will learn from every exhibition you take part in – we, as the organisers of Festival, are constantly learning and implementing changes. Learn from your fellow exhibitors: How to others present their work? How do they write about their images? How do others price their work?
There is always something to learn!
Here are my top tips for surviving redundancy, I have many more but here are some to think about
If it’s not too late, sign up for unemployment insurance. This will kick in after you have been made redundant but ensure that you read the Terms and Conditions properly before signing up and there are no onerous clauses that will prevent you from claiming (i.e. you have to lose your job on a Tuesday with a full moon etc.)
2. Get a Life (Coach)
When this was suggested to me, I was rather indignant – why would I need to pay someone to show me how to run my life?! But without a shadow of a doubt, this was the best thing I ever did. I would not be where I am today if I had not enlisted the help of a coach.
It really is about who you know. I attended as many networking events (the majority of them are free) as I could, I always worked on the premise that if I met one interesting person or learnt one new interesting thing/lead, then the event had been worth it. It’s also a good way to get yourself out of the house and away from the computer.
4. Get your CV rewritten
I had had the same format for about 15 years and it was a format that had worked for me but once I’d changed it, I noticed that I started to get more interest from prospective employers. I got a professional company to rewrite mine and they did a fantastic job.
5. Be nice to yourself!
They say that when you are made redundant, you will go through the same processes as grief and loss, so be nice to yourself and set up enjoyable things for you to do every week – let’s face it, you cannot apply for jobs all the time. Go to a museum, art gallery or treat yourself to a nice glass of champers!