An Anonymous Art Producer Shared Her Views on Portfolio Review Events

Portfolio Review events such as NYCFotoworks, At Edge Face to Face and Photo Plus Portfolio Review brought to you by the Palm Springs Photo Festival are right around the corner.  It is an exciting time for photographers who want to show off some new work, meet new contacts or connect with old friends.  We are a big fan of these events and think that any opportunity to make a connection and share your work is positive.

Last year, we started a blog series where we asked Art Producers their opinions on the event.  It proved helpful for photographers who may be on the fence about attending and for those just interested in how art producers perceive the event and what makes it successful for them.

In light of the new season starting, we thought we would share our latest post from an anonymous art producer in NYC.

It is so hard to find the time to attend events like this, why do you make it a priority to do so?
I really like meeting new talent and talking with photographers about their work face to face.  I can see what their personality is and I can ask questions about their process, flexibility, etc.  It’s also a really nice way to see other Art Buyers and photo reps.  I’ve definitely met reps and art buyers at Fotoworks in previous years who are now friends.

Besides having exposure to new work, how does your company benefit from your attending?
It allows me to talk to photographers about the type of work my company does, who the clients are, etc.  The photographers can also see if they’re a good fit for us

You are given only 15-20 minutes with each photographer – is that enough time?  Why or why not?                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, it’s a little like speed dating, but it’s definitely enough time to see at least one book and have a conversation.   If I’m interested in the work and want to see more, I keep the promos on hand so I can remember to go onto the site later.

What was the thing you found most surprising about the photographers you met at these events? 
There were a lot of Danes!  I met so many people who flew in from other countries to try and break into the New York market.

Since you have a captive audience, what things do you share with the photographers or advice do you give them?                                                                                                                                                                  I would say, be honest about what you want to get out of it.  There is such a large range of photographers who participate.  There are those who are just starting out and want to hear about the edit of their book and how they can change it to be considered for jobs.  There are others who are well established photographers who just want some face time.

What advice would you give to established photographers who are “on the fence” about attending a networking event?
To be honest, I’m not sure it’s worth it for established photographers who have a presence in NY already.  It’s expensive and it’s probably more worth their while to put that money towards promos or testing.  I would, however, suggest it for photographers who are trying to break into the scene and meet reps and art buyers.

9 thoughts on “An Anonymous Art Producer Shared Her Views on Portfolio Review Events

  1. great points. I teach photo students at Art Center, and as you all know they carry heavy student debt. Portfolio shows that are fee based are hard on them financially. What do you suggest for students and new grads? The ones that I do know that have attended Palm Springs photo and paid for portfolio reviews have mixed reviews.

    • HI! I agree they are indeed pricey for students. I am wondering too if there are any events for just students? That would indeed be a great thing. If not, maybe just knocking on doors,which is not as efficient but still works. Thanks for commenting!

      • i have them apply to the new york times annual free portfolio reviews, and the last one at the Annenberg Space for photography. Plus I get in art buyers, photo editors and photo reps to come to my class to speak about portfolios, proper etiquette, social media, direct mail, eblasts (no on that). The ones that have the drive follow up with the speakers and a few have gotten internships.

  2. I have done the NYC fotoworks several times, I find it much more cost efficient than going to New York and making a few appointments per day. If I decide to make my rounds around New York, my rep or myself can make a couple appointments per day, and many times the art buyer needs to cancel. So with the cost of going out there, the fotoworks event is the most cost efficient way to meet a large amount of people. I think its just a matter of perspective.

  3. Pingback: Portfolio Events May Not Be Worth It | A Photo Editor

  4. Hi Heather,

    As always, good to read your POV.

    Given that I’ve attended all but two (one spring/one fall) NYC fotoworks events since they began having them . . . four (5?) years ago, I can say unequivocally that attending is worth every penny. And, given that I’ve run into Hunter at the LA events, and seen him, Chris Crisman and Richard Schultz at the past few NYC events, it seems your own talent sees the value in attending too.

    Now, I think it’s pretty important for potential attendees to bear a few caveats in mind:

    – show good work, that’s pertinent and that YOU feel strongly about.
    – if you’re a ‘returning attendee’ – show new work. this should be obvious.
    – don’t go expecting to land a job. if you do, grand. but, this business is ALL about relationships. and things take time.

    on a ‘cost efficacy scale’, it’s hard to overstate the value. I see (usually) at least 40 people over the course of the event. when you divide the ‘cost per interaction’ by the number of people you meet, plus the ancillary contacts you make V. the cost to just get in/meet with people (never a sure thing) and actually have face time . . . yeah, worth it.



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