Portfolio Review Tips

 
Esther Bubley is best known for her work with the Office of War Information (OWI). She travelled around the country photographing the transition from the Great Depression to World War II, focusing primarily on women and their changing roles. Later in her career she expanded into commercial and fine art photography.  ©  Esther Bubley archive

Esther Bubley is best known for her work with the Office of War Information (OWI). She travelled around the country photographing the transition from the Great Depression to World War II, focusing primarily on women and their changing roles. Later in her career she expanded into commercial and fine art photography.

© Esther Bubley archive

Getting the Most Out of Your Review

  • This is not a presentation, but rather a conversation. Relax, introduce yourself.
  • Be honest about your goals, expectations, challenges, and questions.
  • Research your reviewers prior to the review to optimize your exchange.
  • Give your reviewer time and space to view your images and share her thoughts.
  • Be ready with your questions about reviewer comments and the business of photography.

Active Listening

  • Take notes.
  • Consider recording the conversation - sometimes in the moment you don’t process every detail - Ask first!
  • Listen for consistent feedback from person to person.
  • Ask for your reviewer to be more specific if you don’t understand her comments.

All feedback is a learning experience

  • Take this newfound knowledge and explore.
  • Remember that each reviewer is coming from a different visual experience, not one size fits all, and that will apply to your feedback.

What to include in your edit:

Photographs:

  • Bring a selection of both stories and single images – to help the reviewer understand your style, the subjects you address and visual narratives you employ.
  • Be prepared to discuss your intent behind any given image or story — why do you care?
  • Bring one or two stories that are works in progress. This is an opportunity to ask questions about the direction of your projects.
  • Show your best work. Not just the images that took the most work to create.
  • Have extra selections available for a deeper view of significant projects.

Pick the best format to view your images on, while also considering mobility of the portfolio. 

Digital:

  • Have a clear, smudge-free screen.
  • Make sure images can be seen without access to the internet.
  • Make sure you are fully charged! Access to an outlet is not guaranteed

Prints:

  • Consider the right size prints for each project
  • Make sure you are comfortable transporting the prints throughout the day.
  • Protect your prints—be professional in your presentation. (But please don't ask reviewers to use gloves.)

Book:

  • Make sure it is in good shape and well protected
  • Take the time to thoughtfully design and refine the book. This is an investment!
  • Consider printing one image as a “leave behind” card. 

Video:

Be prepared to show no more than 8-10 minutes of video— One or two short stories and one reel is a good balance. Leave room for discussion.

No matter how you show your work, make sure it is fully prepared and ready to go. Time is precious and you don’t want to waste time loading a program, preparing a video, or fishing through bags to find your portfolio.