APA/NY held a daylong workshop last week called “Fools Rush In” (it was on April 1st), which included portfolio reviews and a panel discussion on “The Bright Future” of photography.
In the morning, our photo editor/portfolio consultant Sean Stone reviewed portfolios alongside creatives from Martha Stewart Living, McCann Erickson, and Marge Casey, among many other industry consultants and players.
The portfolio reviews were setup like “speed-dating,” with each reviewer spending 15 minutes giving their input on a photographer’s book. This went on for three hours. Sean said it was exciting and exhausting at the same time, because he was held strictly to the 15 minute timeframe, and sometimes he had more that he wanted to say! He also told me that he talked so fast that he could barely catch his breath. However, it was a good way to strip his opinions down to the essential.
In a few instances, Sean felt that photographers were protective of their work and weren’t open to critique (and he’s always cordial in his approach). He recommends that any photographer attending a portfolio review should try to stay open to input. Of course, they should take each reviewer’s opinion with a grain of salt, too, and ultimately balance the feedback with what creative direction they’d like to go in. However, if 20 professionals tell you to remove an image, or drop a series because it’s not as strong or unique, you may want to weight that more heavily. Overall, he tried to convey that it’s always better to show consistency in one or two styles than try to be all things to all art buyers.
After the reviews, Sean spoke on the panel discussion on “The Bright Future” of photography, led by consultant Karen D’Silva. The talk was really about what photographers can do to help themselves in a bad economy (which generally applies to a good economy, too!), and the industry trends that may enhance their opportunities. To paraphrase D’Silva: 2008/2009 were tough years for many photographers, and now it’s time for them to get in control of their own bright future.
A few things that stood out to Sean from the panel discussion:
New Media / iPad
Sean’s suggestions to the audience revolved mainly around the “basics”: photographers should keep their portfolios and websites well-edited, consistent, and targeted. Same with their websites and branding in general. He maintains that good images always trump the flashy container that holds them. And a solid presentation of your work should happen no matter what the economic climate.