A Post-Worthy Leave-Behind

I was impressed with all of the talent that I had the honor of reviewing at the Palm Springs Photo Festival earlier this month, but one leave-behind in particular made a big impression on me.

When NYC product photographer Lilia Cretcher arrived at my table for her review, the first thing that she did was lay down an envelope with my name on it. That told me right away that she had done her homework and valued the time that we would spend together. I liked her before I even opened her book.

While modest in its design, the thoughtfulness and uniqueness of this print piece left such an impression, I asked her if I could share it with you all.

Lilia chose a frosted but clear envelope to hold her promo and inside was also a personalized, hand-written note on heavy card stock with her logo.

AC: No one else that I saw in Palm Springs took the time to personalize their leave behinds so intentionally ahead of the reviews, it really stood out to me. Tell me a little bit about your thought process and what inspired you to create your leave behinds this way.

LC: The original concept for these promos was to be a mailer so a lot of the initial design and planning regarding their look was centered around the idea that they had to be visually appealing while also being able to withstand the New York USPS. This is where the idea for the pocket envelopes was born because I felt like they would be a sturdy outer barrier for the content within while still allowing the flexibility for me to design the layout of the items. From the beginning I knew I needed the envelope to house three main items: my business card, a traditional promo with an image, and some other unique item which I wanted to have some type of interactive element. 

We have a wonderful store called Paper Presentation, which sadly is going the way of most NY institutions and (if it hasn’t already) is closing its doors. It was really the impetus for the creation of the final product because I was able to spend time looking through shelves upon shelves of envelope styles and options and start to get a sense of what this thing was actually going to look and feel like. I don’t know that I would have been as successful if I wasn’t able to physically see and hold the items in my hand before determining the final products I would buy.

As far as what ended up being the final components that makeup the leave behind, it all just kind of came together naturally as I went through the process of designing it. 

The promo folded out to include carefully secured photo postcards, a clever return-addressed and stamped post card, and Lilia’s business card. I loved the idea of having a return postcard for feedback, it’s like an old-school version of tracking your email opens or click-throughs. The design made me think of a wedding invitation.

LC: I decided on the postcards because the actual physical dimensions made sense with this design, it gave me the ability to fully prepare the card in advance for maximum ease, was cost effective, and met the criteria of the initial goal I had which was to have some interactive element to them. And lastly, I knew I wanted to have a personal, hand written note included. This again allows for a level of flexibility and customization that I love because it allows me to add a little piece of myself (not just more work) to the design, while also acknowledging something specific about the individual I am giving it to. I think everyone expects to receive an email or note after a portfolio review thanking them for their time, but I don’t think people necessarily expect to receive one on the spot, and I feel like that’s a good way to stand apart from everyone else in the moment.

AC: How many of these have to given/sent out, and how many post cards have you received back?

LC: I have given out 40-50 so far and have received maybe 5-10 post cards back. I went into it knowing that would most likely be the case, but I liked the idea of “audience participation” regardless of if I actually received any return cards. The most common response has been kind words of encouragement which is always a treat to receive in the mail!

AC: Who designed them and where did you have them printed?

LC: I designed all of the components and the layout of the pocket envelope, as well as printed the postcards and the promos with my images. My business cards and the “Nice to meet you” notecards are printed by Moo. I used adhesive photo corners in the same color as the pocket envelope to create additional places within the envelope to hold materials (in this case my business card, and postcard).

AC: Any lessons learned from doing this? Or, how would you do them differently in the future?

LC: I am pretty happy with the design and flexibility that they allow for. Because I am the one adding the photo corners to hold the desired material I can change it up depending on my needs for each specific event. I think these work great for portfolio reviews. I would like to test them out as a mailer at some point as I originally intended, but it would have to be to a specific targeted group as I don’t think they make sense as a mass mailer.

Thanks to Lilia Cretcher for allowing me to share her promo and process. You can follow Lilia on Instagram @liliacretcherphoto.


Want some help brainstorming a killer promo or developing a marketing strategy to target your dream clients? Shoot me an email or click here to schedule a free 15-minute call. Let’s chat and find out if we’re a good fit.

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Get inspired, keep up with my pro-tips, and meet some of my favorite clients and artists: follow me on Instagram @amyvcooper.  

Palm Springs Photo Festival

Take me back! 🌴 

I had such an incredible time at the Palm Springs Photo Festival this month. I highly recommend it and will be doing my best to return in 2020! If you missed it, there were some great symposiums and evening presentations which were live-streamed that you can now watch on Facebook. This year’s festival included talks and classes by heavy-hitters such as Mona Kuhn and Nadav Kander.

I reviewed more than 20 photographers in three days and the work was incredible, the bar was definitely raised this year. I was especially moved by so many women and women of color photographers who attended. Here are just a few of my favorites:

Martine Séverin - fashion and lifestyle photographer, Chicago + Los Angeles


Originally from Haiti, Martine has lived all over the world and has a truly infectious and joyful personality. I enjoyed bumping in to her many times during the week. Martine is one to watch!

Lilli Waters - Fine Art photographer, Melbourne


Painterly, moody, stunning fine art, portraits and motion. Lilli came all the way from Australia to attend the festival and I am so glad she did!

Elizabeth Rudge - Kids, Lifestyle, & Fashion photographer, feminist badass, Seattle


Elizabeth, will you be my sister from another mister? It’s not such a far out idea as we both hail from Louisiana. So many high-fives and F$%&YESes in this review, I didn’t want her to leave. Also, NBD, she actually won reviewer’s pick for the entire festival, congrats!!

Gritchelle Fallesgon - Lifestyle & Portrait photographer, Portland


Gritchelle is an avid biker shooting gorgeous outdoor lifestyle photography and “Women Getting Rad.” Thank you for repeating that phrase ten times until I understood (and loved) it. Another one to watch!

Susan J. Chen - Conceptual Fashion, Photographer & Director - New York


Susan is a heavily awarded photographer with a stunning video reel. I have no doubt she will be an incredibly successful and well-known director in about five minutes. Speechless.

Alexis Hunley - Fashion & Music photographer, Los Angeles


If only we were all this talented two years into our self-taught careers. Alexis was IMO one of the most buzzed-about photographers of the festival. Raw talent. If I could take only one photographer home in my pocket from Palm Springs, it would be Alexis (and her pup, Luna.)

Samantha Wolov - Fashion & Beauty, San Francisco & NYC


Samantha’s book was the perfect blend of editorial and commercial beauty. She’s incredibly thoughtful, experimental, evolving, and a multi-PDN winner who identifies as a painter with a camera. I can’t wait for her next experiment.

Mark Peterman - Portraits (& beyond), Phoenix, AZ


No, I didn’t forget about the guys… Mark had one of the most beautifully printed books that I saw at the festival. His work is so lovely, quiet and modern, not unlike his self. I’m certain his gentle demeanor is what makes him such an incredible equine and portrait photographer.

Damien Andrews - Sports, Fitness, Portraits & Motion, Los Angeles


On the flip side, if you’re looking for some juicy energy on set, Damien is probably your guy.

Michele Thomas - Portrait photographer, Los Angeles


Michele had one of the most uniquely designed portfolios that I saw at the festival. You can get a hint of it from her website. She is a fantastic storyteller through her lens.

Lilia Cretcher - Still Life photographer, NYC


Last but certainly not least, I had such a blast meeting Lilia. We spent some of our time brainstorming fun promo ideas and she had, hands down, the most thoughtful leave-behind of the week. I’ll be sharing that in another blog.


Whew! If you made it this far, thank you for checking out these amazing photographers. It was such an incredible honor to review with so many talented artists in Palm Springs, I was on cloud nine.  

A couple more babes I would be remiss to exclude, I had the honor of editing portfolios for Tatiana Wills and Alicia Stepp ahead of the festival and I am so proud of the feedback that they received.

For anyone reading who felt like they didn’t get enough time, or wanted to review with me but was unable to grab a slot, please don’t hesitate to reach out or jump on my calendar for a free 15 minute review.

Palm Springs crew, please keep in touch, I’m Rooting For You!


Interested in hiring a business coach? Need someone to map out and hold you accountable for your goals this year? Shoot me an email or click here to schedule a free 15-minute call. Let’s chat and find out if we’re a good fit.

Never miss a blog or event, sign up for my newsletter here.

Get inspired, keep up with my pro-tips, and meet some of my favorite clients and artists: follow me on Instagram @amyvcooper.

How to Survive a Portfolio Review

I’ve had several clients reach out to me this month for advice on preparing for portfolio reviews. Here are a few tips:

1. Set an intention for how you want to feel during and after your review rather than setting a specific expectation or tangible outcome. I.E.I am going to make a great connection with this reviewer and will receive some valuable feedback that will help me with my business.” Rather than: ”This person is going to love my work and hire me for a job next week.”

2. Do your research. Find out as much as you can about the person or company who is reviewing your work. This will help you edit the work you choose to show and it will help you prepare great questions to ask.

3. Only show your best work. Make sure your book or tablet is clean and your pages are not dented or scratched. I like to see about 40-50 images in a portfolio. It’s ok to have more if the work is strong. If you have multiple genres of work, separate them unless you can create a solid flow in your style or by color. It’s great to bring commercial work as well as a separate portfolio of personal work if you have some.

3. Ask a lot of questions. Come prepared with questions for your reviewer based on their experience/industry. Here are some good general questions:

Based on my portfolio, what would you recommend I do more or less of?” 

“What brands/magazines/clients come to mind when you are looking at my work?” 

“What is the most important thing about working with a photographer/illustrator/stylist that you consider when hiring?

And I always like to ask where people prefer to find new talent, you might discover a new place to get listed or create a profile. Avoid general questions like, “What do you think about my work?” 

When I’m visiting ad agencies I like to ask people what their favorite project has been to work on or who their favorite client is and why.

5. Listen more than talking about yourself. Don’t launch in to a sales pitch, but also, don’t be a deer in the headlights. Again, ask lots of questions. Ask about their background/experience, be present, really listen with intention. Reviewers are not always interested in hearing the specifics or back story of each image you shot. Rather than filling in what might feel like awkward silence with details about your photos, allow the reviewer to flip through quietly, or start asking your prepared questions.

6. Be aware of your energy. I like to meditate before reviews or any kind of networking event. If your energy is a hot mess, you’re not likely to get a call back. Relax, imagine your reviewer is an old friend who only wants the best for you. (Read more about Networking for Introverts.)

7. Dress nice. This one should be obvious but, put some effort in to how you present yourself. You probably don’t need to wear a business suit, but also don’t be afraid to stand out a little bit. An interesting detail in how you present yourself might be how they remember you in the future and can also be a fun conversation starter.

I know it’s natural to be nervous going in to portfolio reviews, but try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Some people will love your work, some people won’t, opinions are mostly arbitrary and personal. Celebrate the positive feedback and have gratitude for the negative feedback, it may shed some valuable light on your path. 

Don’t forget to nurture those relationships after you leave. Sent thank you notes and keep in touch. It might take a few months or even a few years for a review to pay off. The ”rule of seven” is now the rule of 21.

Got a review coming up? Need help editing your portfolio or brainstorming some clever questions? Shoot me an email or get on my calendar for a free 15 minute call.

Hey, I’m rooting for you!

P.S.  I’m heading to Palm Springs next month to be a reviewer for the Palm Springs Photo Festival. Are you going? Let me know!


Interested in hiring a business coach? Need someone to map out and hold you accountable for your goals this year? Shoot me an email or click here to schedule a free 15-minute call. Let’s chat and find out if we’re a good fit.

Never miss a blog, sign up for my newsletter here.

Get inspired, keep up with my pro-tips, and meet some of my favorite clients and artists: follow me on Instagram @amyvcooper.

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