New to the Portfolio Review World?

New to the world of Portfolio Reviews? Do you find yourself wondering if you are ready to attend one? Are they really worth the cost of attending? Here are our thoughts!

Everyone pays attention to the cost to attend a Portfolio Reviews event. It is expensive to attend, and it is expensive to produce. The organizer, the participating photographers, and the reviewers all put a lot of time and energy into creating a successful event and a worthwhile experience – it is a huge commitment for all those involved. The “value” of attending a Reviews event is highly subjective and only you can decide whether participating in one makes sense for you. You should know when you are at the point in your career where you are ready to show your work in this context. In essence, it is a fee-for-service situation and like any good consumer, you should do research before committing.

How does one calculate the hard cost of a Reviews event? Take the registration fee and divide it by the number of Reviews appointments one receives to come up with a cost-per-appointment. You can do some comparative shopping this way. Of course, one must also consider the cost of travel and lodging connected to attending the event.

Factors to keep in mind when thinking about attending any Portfolio Reviews event:

What does the Reviewer list look like – what industry professionals are choosing to give their time and expertise to the event? What is the location of the Reviews – both city and venue? Is there a Portfolio Walk produced for the general public? Is there a space outside the actual Reviewing room for photographers to spend time informally with each other? Does the organization have effective programming developed to provide an accurate selection process for choosing Reviewers? Is there additional programming produced for participants – lectures, panel discussions? Does the Reviews event take place during a Photography Festival with exhibits, talks, social events, etc.?

Check to see if various organizers track and list any success stories that happen after the event is over. This reflects the level of opportunities that happen post-event. And, they are always fun to read!

Reviews events continue to proliferate yearly on a national and international basis. Some are juried, some are “screened”, some run lotteries, some are first-come-first-serve. Some offer scholarships, most don’t. Reviews events are are run by non-profits, for-profits, and professional membership organizations. Some focus on fine-art imagery, some on the editorial/commercial realm, some have a documentary or photojournalism bent. Some have versions of Reviews specifically for students, and are more about advice and feedback than professional opportunities.

Photolucida is pleased to be in the ranks of many renowned Reviews events nationally such as FotoFest, Center’s Review Santa Fe, and PhotoNOLA. Other reputable organizations that run Reviews sessions include Atlanta Celebrates Photography and the Society for Photographic Education. The New York Times has a version in New York City, as well as the Palm Springs Photo Festival. Internationally, LensCulture puts on a fabulous Reviews event in Paris. LensScratch put together a thoughtful comprehensive calendar of international Reviews events, and there is similar information on The Curator Ship blog.

If you are new to the Reviews event scene, perhaps start out at a one or two-day Reviews event to acclimate yourself to the process, then graduate to a longer one when you feel ready. Perhaps volunteer at an event to get an idea about what goes on behind the scenes, which will help you determine if it is a direction you want to take.

One factor that comes with attending a Portfolio Reviews event might not have a dollar value that is easy to assign: the chance to meet and network with one’s fellow photographers in person. Friendships are forged, networks are strengthened, and work is shared. The social aspect of spending an intense stretch of time with one’s contemporaries talking photography day and night is either the icing or the cake part of the event!