How to Prepare for Portfolio Reviews

WOODSTOCK PORTFOLIO REVIEWS FAQ

There is no official protocol for Woodstock Portfolio Reviews, but several things we can recommend for portfolio reviews in general:

1] Most reviewers prefer to see prints. The 11×14 – 16×20″ range is best, for portability and to best utilize table space for viewing. If your native prints are smaller than 11×14″, then use the native size. Larger than 11×14 is acceptable, but can be unwieldy. A portfolio box with loose prints is always preferable over a portfolio book with prints behind plastic sleeves.

2] Single-image [“one-off”] portfolios are not recommended, unless that is your standard way of working. If you work serially or project based, then show one or two bodies of work, three maximum. Show about 20-25 images, the best that you have, starting with the strongest work at the top of the pile inside your portfolio box. You want to show consistency and depth of vision. The goal is to show the reviewer who you are as an artist in under 20 minutes.

3] If you cannot create a print portfolio, or if your work is meant to be displayed digitally and not in print form, then create a digital portfolio, in the form of a folder of files or a .pdf or ppt. Don’t just show them your website. You must bring your own display device, and we recommend a laptop or large tablet [do not use your cell phone]. The images should be displayed simply, without text unless it’s part of the piece, and as large and sharp on your device as possible. Also, make sure your device is fully charged at the start of each review; there may not be outlets close enough to every table.

4] Be prepared with a goal for your review, and let your reviewer know just what you would like to get out of the review session right at the start. It can be in the form of a question or two, but be specific because your time is usually quite limited. Also, start showing your images right away, while giving them your elevator speech* and review goals.

5] *Write and memorize your ‘elevator speech.’ One or two sentences that you can use to quickly introduce yourself and your work to your reviewers, and any other potential connections you may meet along the way – but it has to be short enough to say between floors on an elevator, and should be accompanied by your business card. “My name is Johnny Appleseed. I am a photographer and my work depicts the forgotten histories of apple farming in NY State. I create tintypes of legacy varietals of apple trees using a large format camera. Here is my card.”

6] Bring give-aways to leave with each reviewer. A post card, leaflet, or pocket-sized packet with one or two images of the work you are showing them, and your website and contact information on it. The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. This is often how reviewers remember your work, and they can contact you later if they are interested in working with you, or share your info with others they think might be interested in it. A business card with one of your images on it will suffice, but a post card is better.

7] Follow up: Send your reviewer[s] a handwritten thank you note or email. Be sure to include an example of something you talked about during your review, and how you might be implementing their suggestions into your practice. Do not expect a reply: Keep in mind that the reviewer’s responsibility toward you is completed at the end of the review itself. They will contact you if they are interested in your work.

FAQ compiled by CPW Program Manager Jan Nagle. Photographs by David Cunningham.

Looking for more resources? Check out the video “Mary Virginia Swanson: How to get the most out of a portfolio review,” courtesy of PDN.

 

The 2017 Woodstock Portfolio Reviews take place May 20-21. Please join us. We want to see your work!
Center for Photography at Woodstock –  where great photography is made, discovered and encouraged.