How to Prepare for a Portfolio Review

This year I made the decision to invest in promoting my work as much as I could. One of the things that I have done thus far is to send e-promos and mail promos to advertising agencies and potential prospects. However, it was very hard to monitor the success of those actions.

For the first time in my career, I also decided to invest in portfolio reviews. A portfolio review is a way to share my work with experts in the field and to receive professional feedback. This has offered me an amazing opportunity to book time with people which I could not meet in any other way. Participating in a portfolio review is not cheap, so I was sure to have everything in place to make the investment worth my time and money. Here are some suggestions for you if you decide to participate in a portfolio review.

STEP 1: Edit your portfolio

Throughout the years, you will get many good shots that will make you feel proud and confident. However, you can’t show everything in just 20 minutes, so it’s very important that you show your BEST work. However, this is very hard to do. You get attached to your photos because you know how hard it was to capture certain ones or you remember how much it cost you to produce specific shots. Although hard work was spent on many shots, not all images are the best.

I sent 500 photos to my photo editor to choose the best 60.

I sent 500 photos to my photo editor to choose the best 60.

Upon choosing to do a portfolio review, I decided to hire a photo editor to help me choose the best work out of a selection of 500 photos. My editor made a selection of 60 images to be put on display. You may find that too many may be overwhelming for the viewer, so it’s important that the final selection represents your work and vision as a photographer, and shows what you want to be hired for. Giving them a glimpse into your work will be sure to give them the essence of what you represent and what your work is all about.

STEP 2: Sequence your work

By choosing the best photos out of your entire work isn’t enough. Now, you have to sequence the images. That’s why it’s great to work with a photo editor, that will organize the photos in a way that creates rhythm for the viewer as well as help you on the design of the pages (portrait, landscape, full bleed, half page… etc.)

My photo editor sent me this sequence for me to provide feedback.

STEP 3: Printed or Online portfolio?

A printed or online portfolio is also a great way to showcase your work. Both will show your talents, but you may prefer one method over the other. An iPad portfolio is one way to go for a clean, digital look; however, many professionals still like the traditional printed portfolios. Tablets, such as the iPad, can give you more options in navigating through any photos of the same subject matter, and if you are a more digital-type of person, this may be what you prefer. They also show your most recent work if you don’t have it in a hardcover. You may also prefer to use both!
I decided to do a lay flat book to showcase my images better.

I decided to do a lay flat book to showcase my images better.

For example, in my case, I decided to do a book. Before I had prints in a case, I found that it was a bit cumbersome to handle big prints and the flow would be slower and more clumsy. This time, I invested in a proper hardcover book, printed by Adorama Pix. It is a commitment because if you create new work, you are stuck with this book, so that’s why it is important to bring an iPad along with you to show your newest work. An iPad is also ideal if the reviewer wants to see more of a certain series or projects. Important note: make sure your iPad is clear of fingerprints and bring with you lens solution to clean the screen after each reviewer!


STEP 4: Research your Reviewers

You may not be completely aware of who you will be meeting with, but you may have a general idea of the purpose and intent. Knowing the experiences of the reviewers, the type of gig you have in mind, and whether you can fit the mold of what they are looking for can help. Take a look at some of the images that have caught their eye in the projects they have hired for and, if you can, fish around to see the way they actually review the portfolios, as well as the questions they may ask. Ask around and you may find a lot of information that may prepare you for a very worthy experience.

STEP 5: Accept all Feedback

Listen to what the reviewers have to say about your work, and if it is not precisely what you want to hear, accept it and use any critical feedback for the future. Take notes and take their advice, and use it all to move forward. Everyone knows that less than stellar feedback will only make for a better photographer; use any type of suggestions as a way to enhance what you love doing.

STEP 6: The leave-behind

A “leave-behind” is an object that you actually give to your reviewer at the end of your meeting. Be sure to have enough “leave-behinds” for each event. A postcard with various images on it, a business card with an image and, of course, your website, or a greeting card with a few photos will help your reviewer remember you and your work.

Not only is a portfolio review a great way to land that ideal project, but it can also be an ideal way for you to receive educated advice from many different perspectives. Even if you are not in the market for a specific job, meeting various professionals in the industry is an ideal way of networking. Planting the seeds for future opportunities is important, and a portfolio review can help you accomplish this goal. Taking any suggestions or critical feedback will be a true blessing towards your future work and will give you what you need to reach out, apply different techniques, and take some risks, all while sticking to your original style that makes your photos special and unique to you!

Questions about this post? Do you need more custom tips? Shot me an email at hello (at)