Are you ready for your close-up? Unfortunately, when it comes to portfolio reviews, way too many photographers aren’t. It would probably be a good idea for all the companies, festivals, and organizations that offer portfolio reviews to create a checklist or a guide to help photographers prepare for their sessions. If you’re participating the portfolio reviews this week, here are some my insights.
Know your audience
You need to do some research on the person you’ve signed up to review your work. If you’re sitting with an art buyer, you should know a little about his or her ad agency and clients. (Almost every ad agency’s website lists its clients and in many cases showcases the work it’s done for these companies.) Be able to “talk shop” with your reviewer about how your work could possibly be a fit for those clients. Be proactive in every way: Suggest ideas and create opportunities. Suggest shooting for their pro bono accounts or teaming on an appropriate new business pitch.
If you’re sitting with a magazine editor, it’s the same thing: Know the content of the publication before you sit down, and suggest a story idea that is a perfect fit for that magazine.
If you’re meeting with a photo representative, know who else they rep, and who those other photographers shoot for. Come to the session able to explain why you’d be a good fit for her or his agency and how your contacts can help everyone’s business. Remember, it’s all about making money and creating terrific images. Your entire presentation must be about how your style of work will create revenue.
Presentation: Keep in simple
Here’s your challenge: Each reviewer will probably review 10 to 15 portfolios. How do you plan to stand out?
Plan ahead with your presentation. It should be a clear, concise, and intriguing, with a powerful collection of work. Don’t show everything! Less for sure is more. If at the end of the session any reviewer remembers your work, then consider that a major success.
Make sure your book, or iPad, is clean, functional, and targeted. Reviewers want to see and feel your style. Don’t leave them guessing. Better they leave not liking your style then not knowing it! .
In a way, portfolio reviews are like speed dating: What you want is a second date. So do what you need to do to succeed. Photographers prep for shoots, and they should do the same for a portfolio reviews.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Frank Meo has represented photographers and photojournalists in securing commercial assignments for more than 25 years, working with clients including American Express Small Businesses, Acura Motor Sports, US Coast Guard Xerox, ESPN, Citi, and Nike. He is founder of thephotocloser.com, an online global search engine that connects photographers to art buyers, editors, and clients. Currently, thephotocloser.com represents more 100 photographers in 60 cities around the world.