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Books_From Photographer to Gallery Artist

In Part I of Portfolio Review Events for Fine Art Photographers, I talked about how portfolio review events work and why galleries recommend them. In Part II, I will talk about how to prepare for the portfolio reviews and will recommend specific portfolio review events that are worth checking out.

How to prepare for portfolio review events:

  1. Make sure you have a strong portfolio. You will want to select your best images centered around a common theme or other unifying concept. Generally, you will want to have 10 to 20 original, medium-sized prints (from 11 x 17 to 16 x 24 inches). Give some thought to the sequence in which you will present your images. There should be a logical flow from one image to the next. Additionally, consider how you will show your body of work. Many reviewers prefer clamshell portfolio boxes. Be sure to review the specific instructions on the website of the event organizer to make sure your portfolio meets their requirements.
  2. Be clear on your goals for the portfolio reviews. What do you hope to achieve at the portfolio review event? You will only have around 20 minutes with each reviewer, so you want to make the best use of your time. If you mainly want technical advice about your work, be prepared with a few specific questions about your areas of concern. If you want an exhibition with a gallery or museum, be prepared to ask them if they think you are ready to show. If they say no, ask for suggestions on how you can get ready. If you want to find gallery representation, publish your work, or achieve some other objective, prepare a few good questions related to your goal. Just be sure you allow time for reviewers to look at your work and give you their feedback, in addition to answering your questions.
  3. Do your research. Once you are clear on your objectives, you can decide which reviewers to request for your portfolio reviews. For instance, if you want technical advice, you may want established artists and galleries for reviewers. If you want an exhibition, you may want galleries and museums for reviewers. If you want to publish your work, you may want publishers. Read the bios and check out the websites of the reviewers, so you can find the best match for your work. While your primary research should be on the reviewers with whom you will be meeting, be sure to check out other reviewers as well. You never know when you might bump into someone at the photo festival who may end up exhibiting, publishing, or selling your work.
  4. Make your plan. To increase your confidence and help you make a great first impression, put together a simple plan of what you will take and what you will do. In addition to your portfolio, you may want to take business cards or postcards with an image from your portfolio and your contact information. That way, you can ask each reviewer for their card and leave them one of yours. You may also want to take a pen and paper to take notes or even a voice recorder or app (but ask the reviewers if they mind if you record the review). Rehearse your portfolio presentation until you feel comfortable talking about your work. Finally, make a note of what you will do after the review, such as sending thank you notes to the reviewers you meet.

Now that you know why portfolio review events are important, and how to prepare for them, let’s discuss a few portfolio review events that you may wish to check out.

Popular photo festivals that include portfolio review events:

Filter Photo Festival in Chicago, Illinois
FotoFest in Houston, Texas
Palm Springs Photo Festival in Palm Springs, California
Photolucida in Portland, Oregon
PhotoNOLA Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana
PDN PhotoPlus Expo in New York, New York
Review Santa Fe in Santa Fe, New Mexico

You can find additional portfolio review events in the United States and around the world at Lenscratch (look under the Resources > Portfolio Reviews tab).

Attending portfolio review events is one of the marketing strategies that galleries recommend to emerging fine art photographers. If you would like to learn about other marketing strategies, I invite you to check out From Photographer to Gallery Artist on Amazon.

Kara Lane is the author of, From Photographer to Gallery Artist: The Complete Guide to Finding Gallery Representation for Your Fine Art Photography. © 2015. You can find more information about her books on www.karalane.com.
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