This is a quick assessment following up on my recent article about preparing for a Portfolio Review, which I had the pleasure (and angst) to be sitting on both sides of the review table. I just returned from the LACP 2019 Exposure Weekend in Marina del Rey in which I was a portfolio reviewer and a participant on a discussion panel. But I also had my personal work that I wanted others to review as well.
The photograph above is during the Portfolio Walk in which all of the individual portfolios are formally laid out on tables for anyone to walk by and view. Usually the Portfolio Walk event is scheduled for the first night of the weekend after first individual reviews have been completed earlier in the day. For the Portfolio Walk, similar to the individual reviews, you want to show the larger exhibition prints in a formal setting, which in my case are 13″ x 16″ photographs on a 17″ x 22″ sheet that are housed in a museum display case.
I also brought a mini portfolio for those brief on-the-fly moments when there is neither space or time to bring out the large formal portfolio. In my case I had a group of 7″ x 9″ photographs printed on 8-1/2″ x 11″ sheets that were “work” or “evaluation” prints that suited an informal setting (e.g. potentially messy). These smaller prints were on the same paper as the larger prints and printed with the same care, but not numbered or intended for purchase or exhibition. As such there was not the same formality in needing to touch only the print edges as you would the larger exhibition photographs that might be sold. Since the prints were smaller, these are also easier to handle. Since these work prints were usually quickly evaluated I could provide more photographs in the mini portfolio than were in the larger formal portfolio.
Last, since I know that during portfolios review sessions we as reviewers will be provided some five minutes breaks, which was an ideal time to have this mini portfolio evaluated. First step of course was asking after introductions if they had an interest. Then during a later break, I would provide them with the mini portfolio and allow them a quick assessment. If there was an interest, we would then arrange another time to look at the formal portfolio case and photographs.
Having the mini portfolio is an ideal item to have when catching a curator in between events, such as returning early from lunch before the formal reviews start again. Always remember to ask if they have a moment and have an interest, because they may have something that they were planning to accomplish on their return. They won’t have much time and all you want to do is quickly acquaint them with your work, which they will very quickly realize if they have an interest after looking at the first two or three images. You don’t want to be fumbling with a big portfolio case, trying to find a place to lay it open and then gingerly handle your large exhibition prints. It’s a process that needs to be fast, quick & easy without any fuss.
Having a second much smaller mini portfolio did turn out to be very effective for me. Even a curator did a quick look of my mini portfolio project while we were in the parking lot preparing to leave for dinner. Other reviewers recognized that these are work prints, and that this was an informal review of which in-depth feedback was not being required as they might for a formal portfolio review. Thus the atmosphere during these mini portfolio reviews was very casual and relaxed which appeared to work well for both of us.
The mini portfolio reviews did result in one call-back at the end of the day by a curator to look at the photographs again much carefully for a longer period as well as an interesting discussion about the project with another curator the following morning. Similar to networking; not asking for an exhibition but just to get this project on their radar for something that might come down the road. For a curator that could mean two or three years or it could be next year when an artists project is delayed and they need a replacement project to quickly fill the void.
Thus I can recommend bringing an additional mini portfolio to a portfolio review event. For just those casual in-between moments that just might pay off.
Memory Pods, LACP Portfolio walk, Exposure Weekend, September 2019 photo by Christine Riedell