Portfolio Reviews: The Value of Face-to-Face Meetings

This insightful piece comes by way of The Lab at Agency Access, and was written by Ali Feldon.  For the original post, go here.

As Reps, our job is to facilitate and nurture relationships with our Photographers, with Art Producers, and also between Photographers and Art Producers.  To build trust, understanding and a sense of working together toward a common goal, nothing beats face-to-face communication.  In-person meetings are vital to combatting the impersonality of today’s tech-driven market.  From a Rep’s perspective, portfolio reviews create the perfect environment to present our Photographers’ work while also building relationships with Art Producers and Creatives.

Portfolios are the tools we use to represent our Photographers.  In many ways, it is the physical culmination of our business relationship.  We spend a lot of time building portfolios, a process through which we learn about what inspires the Photographer and how he/she sees the work.  The order and flow of images is equally as important as understanding the story behind each image.  Having a solid grasp of how each image came to life is vital to representing the artist’s work to Art Producers and Creatives.

As far as portfolio reviews go, they are always rewarding on both professional and personal levels.  For one thing, I get to finally meet the Art Producers with whom I’ve only emailed or spoken with on the phone.  It’s also very informative to see the way the photographers’ work is received by the APs and Creatives, whose eye we keep in mind while arranging the portfolios.  These meetings are collaborations out of which comes a better understanding of the work APs and Creatives want and need.

I wondered what Art Producers consider to be the value of these meetings, so I reached out to several to find out their thoughts—and their responses couldn’t have fit better into the context of this article, even if I’d written them myself!

(in alphabetical order)

From Erica Mellow, Art Producer at Publicis 

“I love Portfolio reviews mostly because in this day in age I have found I might have worked with a rep for a few years and NEVER met face to face.  How sad is that?  I think human interaction is important.  It personalizes the experience when you look through a portfolio and are able to hear about the adventures and purpose of the project as the portfolio unfolds, things that you wouldn’t know that if you’d just looked at the portfolio online.  That interaction solidifies that photographer’s work in my head and helps me when my creatives come looking for candidates for projects.”

From Julie Rosenoff, Managing Art Producer at HAVAS Worldwide

“I think the value of a portfolio review from the agency perspective is for the Content Producers to share and expose the Creatives to the latest work of ‘up and coming’ and established artists.  In one hour or less, in the comfort and convenience of their own offices, the Creatives can feast their eyes on a beautiful selection of images and film and hopefully inspire the work they are doing.  Then the hope would be that when they sell an idea, they will refer back to some of the great talent they’ve been exposed to – and consider hiring one of those artists to execute the creative vision.”

From Noah Wilker, Managing Art Producer at DigitasLBi

“I get inundated by emails and flyers from photographers every day, and it’s impossible to give anything its deserved attention. In a portfolio review, we get to sit down with people and interact. It’s not just looking at pictures, but hearing their story, their approach – and attaching both to the body of work. It leaves much more of an impression and understanding of how someone may or may not be a good fit for a particular assignment. And you can’t beat meeting new talent in person, and making those new connections – that’s half of what makes a good producer.”

In an increasingly tech-driven business world, the value of face-to-face meetings has become even more profound.  Success in business is about building relationships, and meaningful relationships require personal connections.  In our industry, there is a need for personal interaction at a depth that simply can’t be reached with an email blast.  We do business with people, not computers.  Face-to-face meetings spark ideas and fuel collaboration.  And after all, isn’t that what makes us human?

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