Judging PDN’s Self Promo Contest

Dec 11, 2009
Photographer News

Danielle Courier just posted an interview with me for the companion website to her upcoming book (coming in February) on portfolio design. Her book’s titled No Plastic Sleeves: The Complete Portfolio Guide for Photographers and Designers.

She was interested to know my thoughts on what makes photography  portfolios and promotions stand out, as I had just judged PDN’s 2009 Self Promo Contest.



My encapsulation of her questions:

  • What distinguishes the very best photographer’s promotions from the rest?
  • What was most difficult and rewarding about judging the awards?
  • How important is it to have a printed portfolio?
  • Any advice to emerging artists?

You can see my answers on her site, but my overarching theme was that photographers should only show their best work, they shouldn’t try to promote twenty different types of specialties (because most can excel at 2 or 3, max – and that’s fine), and they should be open to feedback from clients, peers and consultants.

Danielle asked the same questions of another PDN Self Promo judge, Robin Milgrim, who is art director with R&R Partners and who’s worked on the Las Vegas Tourism, “What Happens here Stays Here” account.

I enjoyed that her responses had a strong point of view, and this one stood out to me. When asked about the importance of print portfolios, Robin replied:

Make it as good as you can. No excuses. If you don’t love it, don’t put it in your book. If you don’t have enough solid work, make more. Learn to edit yourself. Remember who your audience is. Consider what would appeal to them. Take them for a ride. Entertain. It’s a word often forgotten at the convergence of art and commerce.

The rest of the website seems to showcase a nice selection of design and photography portfolios and promos, so I recommend a peek.

-Neil Binkley

Tags: awards blog danielle courier judging pdn pdn self promo contest photographer photography awards portfolios self-promotion