Portfolio reviews may be used as a showcase to prospective clients, and as appraisals that offer photographers an invaluable mechanism to receive feedback on their work. They can also form a critical step for photographers who are looking to monetise their work through art or digital enterprises.
One of the first steps a photographer needs to acknowledge however, is whether they are ready to showcase their work for evaluation – be it by peers, partners or clients. After all, it is in our nature to create a lasting impression from our first encounters, so you want to be sure your work is a representation of your true abilities. At the same time, you also need to be prepared to discuss your work and create a strong bond with the other person.
It goes without saying that you should put in the necessary preparation. But what exactly does this mean? For starters, research and understand your prospective client or partner. This will be easier with larger clients than individuals, albeit LinkedIn can help on that front. With companies you should be able to understand their brand and values, ideally relating these back to your work and ethos.
In either case, be it an individual or company, gauge what type of photographer they might normally associate with for their respective projects. This might allow you to pick up an understanding of the style and creative vision that they prefer. You can leverage this to highlight specific pieces of work that align accordingly – that said, don’t abandon the true direction of your work and imitate something you’re not. This ‘fit’ is important because it’s one of the prominent factors that will allow the other party to establish whether you might be working together towards a common goal.
A collaborative relationship is also necessary for both parties to achieve great results. You should show a deal of empathy and understanding of where the other party is wanting to head. In this respect, if it’s an area you’re truly interested in, express and display your passion.
When it comes to displaying your work, ensure you are organised, relevant and succinct. Don’t overburden the other party by trying to draw their attention to everything. Instead, keep your portfolio focused on key aspects of your work that are relevant – not only relevant to the other party’s vision, but photos that are relevant between themselves and provide a sensible timeline to encapsulate a story. Remember, you don’t want to give the impression this is all about you – so go easy on the number of photos or projects you cover.
It won’t be the overriding factor but it never hurts to pay attention to presentation. You want to show that you care about what you do and pride yourself on your work – so look smart and present your work in a professional manner. Tablets may be trendy, but lighting conditions don’t always do your work justice. Use them as a supporting feature to a well-kept folio.
As part of the process, make sure you take the good with the bad. If there is constructive criticism being offered, particularly as part of an evaluation, don’t turn defensive. Ask inquisitive questions to understand where the other person is coming from and express appreciation for their opinion. If you find merit in their opinion, incorporate said feedback into your work or next portfolio review. Ultimately, thank them for their time and leave them a little something to remember and find you.