By Sean Stone
Last October, I presented the work of photographer Jason Wallis to more than a dozen art buyers and photo editors at NYCFotoWorks. This past Friday—just to mix things up—I came back as a reviewer. As interest in the event has grown, the space has expanded and is now housed in several bays of Canoe Studios in Chelsea.
After catching up with photographers Zack Arias and Harold Daniels over coffee, I settled in for a three hour session of “portfolio speed dating.” The meetings run 15 minutes, which may sound like a reasonably long chat, but if you’ve been to a portfolio review before, you know just how fast the time goes. Before I knew it, I had already met with a dozen photographers and was done for the day (or so I thought).
One major advantage of being a reviewer instead of a reviewee, other than the fact that I get to stay at one table, is the reviewers get free food. While I sat and enjoyed my free lunch—feeling like some kind of New York big shot—the organizers informed me that several reviewers were not able to make it and asked if I could stay for another three hour block. I happily obliged, and helped myself to another piece of sandwich to which I now felt entitled.
Sean enjoys reviewing a book. Photo by Harold Daniels/Atlanta
During the reviews I met some incredibly talented photographers from all over the world, shooting just about every kind of work you can imagine. The day gave me a great opportunity to get a sense of the state of portfolios at large, and to share my thoughts on the matter. I was surprised that of two dozen portfolios that came across my desk, only two were in iPad form. Apparently, analogue is still cool after all! Also somewhat surprising—despite the recent revolt against them—plastic sleeves were still very much the norm. Several photographers apologized for using them or told me they had plans to upgrade soon. Obviously a double sided print is a beautiful thing, but as I always say, go with what works! Your book is only going to get called in so often, so don’t sweat the fine points of presentation, just show your best work as it fits your marketing goals and the client’s needs. However, one problem that I did see again and again was a lack of contact information in the portfolio—often not even a name! Always have your contact details as your front page. Why miss an opportunity to repeat your name?
After this session, I was done for real, as was everyone else at the event. I gathered up all the WM photographers that could join me and we headed a block over to The Frying Pan, a bar and restaurant that doubles as a boat. Zack Arias, Clark Vandergrift, Robb Scharetg, Carmelo Donato, Jeremy Charles, Leon Saperstein, Kevin Steele and Christian Brecheis all came and visited for a while. As soon as we were on board, the skies opened up, and everyone scrambled to find a dry place for books and cameras. After a few minutes of intense rain and queasy rocking, the sun came out, and we all enjoyed the sight of a rainbow over Manhattan.
A boatload of Wonderful Machine photographers. Left to right: Leon Saperstein, Christian Brecheis, Zack Arias, Clark Vandergrift, Jeremy Charles, Carmelo Donato, Robb Scharetg
See you in the Fall NYCFotoWorks!