Hi All! I wanted to share my experience attending a photography portfolio review for the first time this last week in New York. A lot of people have been asking me about it and how it went so I wanted to share that with you here! I'm so glad you're interested, please feel free to reach out and ask me any follow up questions here
Every so often I interview photographers who I admire and want to be like and during one of my interviews this woman told me about Fotoworks and that it helped her start getting bigger jobs based off the connections she made. This was about 3 years ago that she told me this and when I got an email from them this year I recognized a lot of the reviewers and thought 'Why not.'
Fotoworks has 3 different kinds of review sessions, one in Los Angeles, New York, and another called BLVD Reviews which is mainly creative directors and they go to more cities aside from NYC and LA. They have a variety of packages all at different price points I chose to talk with 12 reviewers which was $1199. My travel from Burbank to New York was $509.00 round trip and I gave myself a budget of $50/day and was there for 5 days. I was lucky enough to stay with a family friend so I didn't have to pay for a place to stay. The whole trip cost me about $2000. I was told by someone I met there that since going to the reviews he's earned his money back from the jobs he's gotten, so that was promising.
I mainly chose reviewers that were in the fashion industry, but they have reviewers who do lifestyle, sports, advertising, photojournalism, food photography and more that you can speak with. I'd say for me 12 reviewers was perfect because there weren't a ton of people from the fashion world and any more than 12 and I might be talking with people where my work didn't align with them. I was able to squeeze in a few more reviewers while I was there though. Reviewers who had empty slots were up for grabs every day and you didn't have to pay extra which was awesome.
The week before the event they sent out the reviewers and I got to pick my top 12, and I, for the most part, got all the people I wanted to see which I was worried about. Once I got my list I looked up each reviewer and started writing down specific questions I wanted to ask each of them. Some generic questions I asked were:
"What do you look for in the photographers you hire?"
"Do you think I'm ready to shoot for you? And if not what needs improvement?'
"What are things you've done in your career that have helped you stand out?"
I would also try and ask one specific question to that reviewer, mostly revolving around something that I saw they worked on and wanted to know more about.
That being said you only have about 15 min with each person and that time usually goes very quickly. I was more interested in hearing what they had to say about my work than asking my questions and a lot of the times the conversations flowed very easily, but for those that weren't as smooth I was glad I had some stocked up questions prepared, anything to keep them talking either about themselves and/or my work and stay interested in me.
There is a lot of downtime in between meetings so you just hang out with a bunch of other photographers and look at their books and talk photography which was so fun. It's much more relaxing than I pictured it was going to be which was great and the man running everything there was super nice and did his best to get you into meetings that maybe you weren't originally able to get into. They had food and drinks, Sony, Fuji, and Hasselblad all had tables set up where you could talk with reps and play with cameras as well.
My prep work:
I put together a book using Blurb and it came out really nice. I hired a graphic designer to make a flyer for me to hand out to all the people I spoke with. I read that you should leave something other than a business card and if you can make it creative all the better. I saw a lot of other really nicely done books. Some people had really big books and others, like me, were smaller. I had about 20 pages double-sided, I wanted a nice balance of looking through my photos and time to talk, which I felt like I got so I don't know if I'd go much over 20 pages next time either.
My last piece of advice is to ask to record your meetings. For the most part, everyone was totally fine with it, I did get some questions like 'why' but once I explained that I didn't want to forget any of their feedback people were fine with it. I'm so glad I did do it because usually information goes in and out of my head pretty quickly and I didn't have to worry about that. Also be sure to ask for their cards to stay in contact and send a follow up email afterwards. If they don't have cards ask if you can still get their emails and write them down in your phone.
Ok I don't want to make this crazy long so if I missed something or you have a question please let me know!
Thanks for reading!