The last couple of weeks leading up to the NYCfotoworks portfolio review were exciting and brutal at the same time. There’s something to be said for having a goal that pushes you to the limit. Not only did I need to launch this new blog but I also had to design a new portfolio site, choose images to include, create a flow of pictures through the portfolio and then make 11x14 prints for the physical portfolio. To top it off, I had planned two large-scale “dinner party” shoots to round out my portfolio which kept getting pushed back into the final week.

Working on an earlier deadline for printing, I had a cookbook printed with recipes, which have and will appear on this site, as well as my photographs of the food. The cookbook was my promotional piece to be left with each of the reviewers. I felt that this would make more of an impact than a postcard or foldout.

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The prints were the critical part. I had two days in New York before the review started to finish the rest. Unfortunately, my newly designed portfolio site was not coded in time so I modified my existing site to match the new look. I also had an iPad version of the portfolio using the Folio app.

Everything was set by Tuesday morning as I headed to the studio for my first review. I had six the first day and my first two were Photo Reps specializing in food photographers and food stylists. I wanted to get some feedback based on the overall market and not specific needs so I felt reps were the best source for this kind of feedback. The reviews started out very positive and remained that way for the most part.

The rest of the reviews were a mix of Photo Editors for magazines and Art Buyers for advertising agencies. I was warned that I would get many different opinions (and I did) but to look for the similarities. The feedback was very valuable and the contacts made were even more valuable.

Each review lasted 15 minutes, which went by in the blink of an eye. It was a business version of speed-dating. Every 15 minutes a new set of photographers would enter the room, find the numbered table and, as aggressively as they dared, nudge out the previous photograph because now their clock was ticking. It was a little chaotic at times.

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Before I even left for New York I was ready to declare the whole thing a success. The amount of work I was able to generate in such a short time was inspiring. Working hard for this end goal got me motivated and in a fantastic head space. After the review, I’m happy to say that it was an absolute success. Overall, my work was very well received and a few reviewers were very interested. I also know some of the characteristics of my stronger images and the things I need to work on to improve others.

As I had hoped, the cookbook was a very popular ‘gift’ to leave with the reviewers. All of my reviewers were women who were curious about some of the food they saw in my portfolio. It was a nice segue when they commented on how delicious something looked. I just pulled out the cookbook and let them know the recipe was inside.

Early on, I gave one reviewer the book towards the beginning of the review and she spent most of the time looking at it instead of my portfolio. I made a mental note to wait until the end of the review to hand out the book from then on. But, either way, it was a good sign that she was so engaged with the book.

The review was a great start. Now I have to continue by cultivating these new contacts and establishing more. I feel really good about the whole experience and am ready to get out and market myself.

In closing, I’d like to share a video I made to show my print portfolio: