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PORTFOLIO BUILDING Q + A


I often get questions from photographers about creating portfolios. There are a lot of misperceptions about it, so I thought it would be fun to host a Q + A. Folks sent in their questions and I recorded my answers. In the first installment, I cover some of the most common questions: are portfolios a collection of "greatest hits" or a group of images on a theme? What if you have a solid theme but the images don't look like they relate to each other? How many images go in a typical portfolio? Is a portfolio for print or the web? Do you need a portfolio to apply to a competition or exhibition? The first chat will give you a good foundation in the basics. 

If you'd like to learn more about creating a photography portfolio while working with your own images and ideas, my Visionary Portfolio e-course is a great next step. I offer it a couple times a year. In the course, we do a deep dive into all things portfolio related. We talk about identifying meaningful personal themes and making images that feel visually unified. We also talk about competitions, exhibitions, printing and framing, websites, and all the other important details. It's a rich, interactive class that includes a lot of personal feedback and guidance. The class is appropriate for photographers who are building their first portfolios and for more experienced photographers who need help refining their vision and practice. 

Ok - let's dive into part one the Q + A. I hope this is a helpful resource for you! 
 


In the second installment, I talk mostly about portfolio presentation. I got a lot of questions about showing portfolios at portfolio review events, so I go over print sizing, paper choices, and other helpful details. As someone who has run portfolio review events and served many times as a reviewer, I've really seen it all when it comes to portfolio presentation. In this talk, I share what I think are the best practices. I also talk about writing a strong artist statement to compliment your portfolio. 

One important note - if you don't feel ready for a portfolio review yet, that's absolutely okay! They are not a necessary part of the creative journey. They're just a helpful networking opportunity for more advanced photographers who want to get their work out there. If you're not at that point yet, it's fantastic to put all your energy toward making images you love. When it comes right down to it, that's the most important thing.
 

 

ATTENDING A PORTFOLIO REVIEW EVENT

In the audio, I list a few of the top portfolio review organizations in the U.S., but I also want to mention that many smaller organizations offer more accessible portfolio reviews for newer artists. If one of the big reviews doesn't feel right for you just yet, check out a smaller review. Nonprofit photography centers and schools often host mini reviews and those are a great place to start. Take a look at the schools near you to find one. If you're interested in researching top-tier portfolio reviews, here's a helpful list. Some are juried, some are first-come, first-served, some are lightly vetted. Check the registration/entry details for each event.
 

POPULAR U.S. PORTFOLIO REVIEW EVENTS

Atlanta Celebrates Photography (Atlanta, GA)
Filter Photo Festival (Chicago, IL)
Houston FotoFest (Houston, TX)
Medium Festival of Photography (San Diego, CA)
New York Portfolio Review (NYC)
Palm Springs Photo Festival (Palm Springs, CA)
Photo Alliance (San Francisco, CA)
Photolucida (Portland, OR)
PhotoNOLA (New Orleans, LA)
Review Santa Fe (Santa Fe, NM)
Society for Photographic Education (various locations)

 

POPULAR INTERNATIONAL EVENTS

Arles Photo Folio Review (Arles, France)
Ballarat International Foto Biennale (Ballarat, Australia)
Contact Photo Festival (Toronto, Canada)
Format Festival (Derby, UK)
MIA Photo Fair (Milan, Italy)
LensCulture (Amsterdam, Netherlands)