a couple weeks ago, i had the awesome opportunity to attend the photoNOLA review in new orleans. it all started quite a few months ago when i went to register for photoNOLA, only to find out that the review was full. each year, they limit the number of participating photographers to 65. bummed that i missed the opportunity, i put my name on the waiting list. a few weeks later, i received an email informing me that if i was still interested, they had an opening. it took me a couple of hours to clear the dates with my husband and then i quickly emailed photoNOLA to let them know i was delighted to attend, registered, paid and -- i was officially set to attend my first portfolio review. from that moment on... i stressed. i worried. i was anxious. i was nervous. i was super excited. and the preparation began.
on my to-do list: fine-tune artist statement (for the 1000th time) fine-tune bio & CV determine which portfolio images to bring (approx. 20) print the best quality 16x20 prints possible (which ended up being 17x22 prints) order clamshell portfolio box determine what i wanted to leave behind with reviewers design & order leave behinds design & order business cards establish editioning & pricing (i hadn't sold prints yet) review & rank reviewers (not every reviewer is a good fit) learn as much as i could about attending a portfolio review determine what i wanted to verbally share with reviewers regarding my work practice my spiel
some things i thought about during the preparation process: what do i want to say with my work? what is my goal for this work? what size would i want to exhibit this work? how do i want to sequence my photographs? which photograph will be the first? the last?
and this was only the beginning.
portfolio box, prints, leave behinds, business cards and a few other miscellaneous items in hand, i left on november 28th for my 10-hour drive to new-orleans. i had enrolled in aline smithson's creating the fine art portfolio workshop , which was the best thing ever. her lecture was extremely informative and preparatory and the workshop concluded with an optional portfolio review. without a second thought, i opted in. i was so nervous, i was shaking and wanted to throw up, but presenting to aline gave me push that i could do this and it got those initial extreme nerves out of the way. aline also gave me lots of things to think about over the next couple days, prior to my photoNOLA reviews.
my eight reviews were held over two days (saturday and sunday). i also won a lottery, which allowed me a ninth review. i ended up with four reviews on saturday and five on sunday. each review was 20-minutes long.
siting in the room, waiting to be told it's time to line up (to then enter the review room), i was pretty darn nervous. actually, i was really nervous. my first reviewer was jason landry, from panopticon gallery, and he made me feel very much at ease. he opened our conversation with,
why are you here? what do you want to get out of this review? i want to know about you; i don't want to just hear your artist statement.
i shared with him that i dream of one day having gallery representation and a solo show. he commented that that's quite ambitious. i replied, why shouldn't i dream big? seven years ago, when i bought my first camera, i never imagined i'd be attending a portfolio review -- and here i am.
once i got through that first review, i remember thinking, I CAN DO THIS!! all my reviews went really well. that doesn't mean every review was completely positive; plenty of my reviewers offered suggestions and constructive criticism. and plenty of the feedback i received was contradictory of what i had heard from another reviewer. one reviewer's favorite was another reviewer's least favorite. one reviewer encouraged me to pursue my more abstract work. another thought the more abstract photograph didn't fit. i wrote down as many notes that i could remember and i will continue to digest their feedback and thoughts.
saturday night was the photoNOLA walk, where all the participating photographers displayed their work, for anyone who was interested, to see. again, i was nervous. again, everything went really well. i was blown away to have a couple reviewers, who were not reviewing my work during the formal reviews, stop and peruse my entire portfolio.
sunday, after the reviews, i had the opportunity to visit a gallery for fine art,which has the most diverse and awesome collection of photographs i've ever seen, and meet keith carter, whose work i have long admired.
in conclusion, this was an absolutely amazing, surreal experience -- one full of inspiration, meeting new friends, networking, sharing, dreaming and so much more. i HIGHLY recommend attending a portfolio review, to anyone that has a cohesive body of work and feels ready. what is ready? well, each person is different and only you can decide. something to keep in mind -- participating in a review is a large financial and time commitment (much more than i had originally anticipated). for me, it was really important that the first impression i was presenting was a great one.
i am beyond grateful for the friendships that i made (some who i have LONG admired), while at photoNOLA. i met so many kind, supportive, wonderful people that i would have not otherwise had the opportunity to meet. and i learned so much through this process, not only about my work and the industry, but also about myself.
and my biggest news of all... I WON PHOTONOLA REVIEW'S FIRST PRIZE!!!
i'm blown away. i feel like i'm living in a dream world. and i am so incredibly grateful to all those who have encouraged, supported, helped and believed in me -- and simply been my friend. from the bottom of my heart, i thank you!! work hard and dream big, my friends. DREAM REALLY BIG!
if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comment section. i am more than happy to answer / offer my thoughts, in a subsequent blog post.
screenshot of some of the photographs that i brought to photoNOLA...