The 10-Step Portfolio Review for Photographers
No one else can critique your photos in a way that is as valuable as if you critique yourself. If you understand that your opinion is worth more than all others combined, you will find a stronger sense of self in the middle of your exploration for a style. Your style must come from within. It must be inspired by how you see the world. And while others might be able to tell you their opinions on exposure and framing, that comes second to how you view your own art.
The first step in critiquing your own self is to respect yourself. How often do you really and truly respect who you are as and artist and person? How often do you SHOW yourself that respect? There are endless ways to show yourself respect and as an artist, some common ones might include shooting what you love, being confident in your ideas, and allowing yourself to share the with others. Confidence is key to so many things. Never walk into a portfolio review without first having an opinion of your own. I have seen too many people ask for portfolio reviews and then make all of the changes that someone else recommended without thinking twice about their own opinion.
This is why the art of self-critique is so incredibly important. Know what you love. Understand who you are. Tell the stories you want to tell. And then, if you desire an outside opinion, ask…but only if you have questions in mind that you’d like answered.
We can all grow and be inspired. It can be very beneficial to get others advice. I do so on a regular basis. Every time I release a picture I do so after I have consulted with those I trust most around me. I ask my husband. I email my friend and model Olivia – why? Because she has an art history degree. She has perspective. She is brilliant. Do I always take their advice? No. Actually, the answer is rarely. I rarely take the advice of others, but I always listen. I am very keen to understand the point of view of others, and if I can see the point they are making, only then might I make a change.
I rely on the opinions of others for technical reasons more than anything else. I wouldn’t have a portfolio if I listened to all of the people who say that I should change my work because they don’t get it. And that is my fear with receiving a portfolio critique – too many people rely on the opinion of others without properly forming an opinion of their own.
1. Choose which images are your favorites and which are your least favorite.
a. In doing this, you can begin to critique your portfolio in the most obvious way: by what you simply like and don’t like! Most people will be able to, in about 5 minutes or less, identify which images of theirs they personally are more connected to versus those that they enjoy less.
b. By doing this, the artist can begin to identify the things about those images that he or she likes and does not like. For the favorite image, write down all of the reasons why it is your favorite. For the least favorite, write down all of the reasons why you are not connected to it.
c. By doing this, you have a good start to a list of things that identify where you want to go in your photography. You know how you want to move forward and also what did not work for you in the past.
d. Once you understand what you believe to be your strong and weak points, it will be easier to dive into the rest of your portfolio.
Download the rest of the portfolio review checklist below.
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