How To: Virtual Portfolio Reviews

If physical distancing has done any good for the photography world it has been the vast widening of access to information as well as online portfolio reviews.

I’ve recognized an increase in opportunities for photographers to be seen by photo reps, at photo festivals and in online portfolio reviews organized by photography associations like APA and ASMP.

To name a few upcoming opportunities:

Palm Springs Photo Festival September 2020 (I will be reviewing at this event.)

ASMP September 2020 (I will be reviewing at this event.)

Art of Freelance August 2020

Last year I wrote a blog about How to Survive a Portfolio Review and much of my advice still applies to virtual or online reviews.

1. Do Your Research. Find out as much as you can about your reviewer and the company that they work for. This will help you to prepare your portfolio and great questions to ask during your review.

2. Prepare Your Portfolio. I recommend putting together a PDF of 25-50 of your best images. Another option is to use an online magazine building platform (Amy Scott recommends Yumpu) or create a landscape view gallery on your website. It’s good to have a backup link in case you have trouble sharing your screen, and it’s also something you can share in your follow up email after the review. 

3. Practice. Download Zoom or whatever platform you will be using ahead of time. Ask a friend or consultant to practice with you before your review so you can get comfortable with the screen share buttons and other features of the software or platform you will be reviewing on. 

4. Set Intentions. Know what you want to get out of your meeting. Set intentions for how you want to communicate, how you want to feel, what your goals are, what information you want to relay about yourself, and what information you hope to receive from your reviewer. Let your reviewer know specifically what kind of feedback you are interested in. 

5. Prepare Your Environment: Mind, Body and Office. Obviously, don’t show up in your PJs. Look your best. Clean up any background distractions that might show up in your video feed. You may want to put your phone on airplane mode, close browser windows and quit out of other applications on your computer to avoid straining your bandwidth or hearing unnecessary notifications. Drink water and take a few deep breaths or meditate before your review. 

6. Ask Questions. Introduce yourself, express gratitude for your reviewer’s time and prepare some thoughtful questions to ask during the review. Do not talk about yourself the whole time or explain every image. It’s ok to have moments of silence. This is a first date, not a sales call. You may also ask the reviewer for permission to record the meeting. 

Here are some good general questions to ask:

How often do you commission photography for your company?

How do you prefer to discover new photographers?

Based on my portfolio, do any obvious strengths or areas for improvement stand out to you?

Do any specific brands or magazines come to mind that you think would be a good fit for my photography style?

What is the best way for us to keep in touch?

Questions to avoid:

What do you think?/Do you like my work? (Too general)

Will you hire me?

Will you represent me?

Do you have kids?/Are you married?/single, etc. (Anything too personal)

You’ve got this! If you would like help preparing for an online review, shoot me an email. I’d love to support you in feeling confident and prepared before your meeting.

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