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Portfolio Reviews

Lesson 27 from: The Art and Business of Conceptual Portraiture

Jennifer Thoreson

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Lesson Info

27. Portfolio Reviews

Lesson Info

Portfolio Reviews

So portfolio reviews I mentioned when someone asked the question last segment I think have been the thing that have helped the thing that helped me the most because it's face to face meetings with people aunt I love submitting work online and it is very effective but meeting somebody face to face having some charisma with them getting to know them knowing a little bit about them you know that meeting someone face to face is more effective than on online contact so before leo reviews you sign up for instance like photo fasters I think you get twenty reviews for a certain amount of money you go to houston and stay in the hotel so it's an investment but oh my gosh it's worth it's worth the money so they'll send you a list of reviewers you get to kind of pick who you would want to review with so for instance my first time when I went with baptism I was mostly interested in galleries I wanted exhibitions I wanted to fill out that bit on my cv that was blank for hate what we talked about las...

t night so I listed I chose reviewers that we're all pretty much all gallerist ce so the next time I went I had medic and I was more interested then because people had been collected my work for a couple of years back just got shown a lot had expression history at that point I started targeted museums the next round because I want this work in museum collections, I want people to buy it for a museum collections that's kind of the next year, I think of kind of fine art career. The first is getting an exhibition history and getting published and then later, I mean, my goal now is to be collected a museum collections and things like that so you can decide what your goal is when you're going meet with people who really specifically fit that goal and you get a twenty minute meeting with them face to face, where you take your portfolio in print form, they look through it, sometimes you're going most for advice and you can take a work in progress if you want teo and say, you know, what do you think of this work we're going to do to improve this work kind of stuff, but my goal is to get work exhibited. So I went with a completely file, finished fully realized body of work and said, hey, do you want show this? Basically, do you want to sell this? Do you want to collect this portfolio? Reviewers you've got gallerist, you've got museum curator sze yu have publicist, you have publishers, you have, um what's the word I'm looking for um anyway, lots of different kinds of people that you would be meeting with and also it's not that you just meet with him for twenty minutes in a formal review you meet with them often, you know, between times it happened like with medic last time showed the work to a couple of portfolio reviews in the review session and they loved it so much that they told other people you have to see that girl's work so daring you know, breaks and stuff I had people coming up to me asking you to look at it that's pretty great, right? So you just never know what's gonna happen and in fact one of those was clutching, so you just never know these were the four, I think big ones and there's lots there's lots of love of the country but these are kind of the four big ones. So photo fest in houston again there's this every other year I think it's I don't remember the fee now it's five or six hundred bucks or something, but say about for it because it's worth the money photo lucid in portland photo lucida does critical mass. We talked about that for the book award but they also have a portfolio review and there's every year and I mean if you guys live in seattle's close right you could just drop down there photo enola and new orleans is a big one every year and review santa fe right near me so you can come visit hello? Okay, so what kind of work are they looking for? What kind of work or maybe do you want to take you know that's a big question it's a big question we talked a minute about you know are you taking a fully realized body of work that you want people to collect that's most people I think that the portfolio reviews or are you taking something that's in progress that you wanted by son? I think that's kind of the two major things people dio had reviews what is your purpose? Are you looking for shows? Are you looking for publications? Are you taking a book that you want a publisher for? Um you want museum collections. What are you looking for? Because then you can select reviewers based on that criteria be back in critique again or, you know, collections gallery stuff like that. Okay, my best advice to bring with you is one fully realized body of work fifteen or twenty images and this is usually your newest work the stuff that you want to get shown now so if I were going tomorrow I would take testament all twelve prints printed exhibition size even if they're big tables are big people bring thirty by forties I like to show them the size that they're actually going to be exhibition size because then they can see what they need to see. We talk about even framing and how they might be presented if they're really interested in them. Okay, what size matt what's the actual exhibition size going to be when it's framed? Because that's kind of stuff people want to know if they're going to put it in their space and galleries your small somewhere big, you know, so it helps to show also they can see the detail of the print in the size that you meant for it to be this actual scale, and they will ask you that they'll ask you is this exhibition size, and you will tell them why, yes, it's sixteen by twenty I tried several sizes, I decided I liked this size because it's it's intimate people walk up to it, they look at it closely, but you can still see what you need to see from a few feet back. And I did. I tried this it probably five sizes, so yeah, exhibition size, an exhibition quality, so don't take prints that are printed on cheap paper because people are gonna handle them, print some on the print paper that you're going to show them on if you're a beginner on not a framer. I don't know enough about framing and matting et cetera to know the size of the frame etcetera for sixteen by twenty uh would that be a problem or we're going to talk about that later way really are gonna talk about frank and matting actually here in a little bit but that's something you wouldn't want to know definitely would want to reduce your research and figure that out before you go that sort of details about the work certain things and I'll list that teo what you kind of need to know so you want to take unmarried prince the first time I went I don't know anything I was I was the new girl for sure and had a big stock of thick you know, eight ply men prince and people are like, who is that girl like seriously? I was embarrassed because I didn't I mean, I looked different everybody else but whatever it's okay? And I was the girl with no exhibition history and brand new and very, very clearly brand new but unmarried prince our best because the reviewer condemned just take your portfolio look at them, you might talk about it for a minute and they just flip it over like that then look and flip so it's not cumbersome also know that they're going to get touched people are going to put their hands on them and things like that and I've seen people bring prince in glass scenes and things don't do that it's I think it's somewhat offensive to people and you can't see the work through there so if you have invested a ton of money making the prince it's part of the investment of going to the review it's just what it is um oh yeah no sleeves and don't ask them to wear gloves just don't do that maybe if you have really precious like to gara types or something but if you've got digital prints yeah no okay um so what's gonna happen is you're gonna sit across one review and you sit down with you know, across and then I usually just in fact so this is a little clam shell case and this is what I recommend getting mind soft sided which is easy to carry and I can put this in my suitcase actually but if your prints are bigger that's not gonna happen uh and I just opened the case with the sixteen twenty I haven't you know, I'll just put the whole thing on the table like that and nearly turned the work toward them and then hands off and I'll just say I let you take a look and they'll go at their own pace rather than me you know, flipping also make sure you got an order and the most impactful print first and I always use you know that that signature image, the one that's on the front page of my website, all my materials that's the first print that's up in the deck, just in case they may have seen it before and often they have, which is pretty amazing. So there it is, and then I just let them drive. Um, as you start, the very first thing I do is kind of rattle off a verbal artist's statement. So, um, the name of the project is testament. I created this project over the course of about a year and a half to make the project. I rented a house in albuquerque and created sculpture, oh, installations for each room of the house. I photograph them with human models inside each room of the house and at the time, you know, they're flipping through. I'm talking maybe five minutes at the most telling, and then I would go into what the project means and why you know what, the burdens and the couple's relationships and things like that. And then I would just shut the mouse and there's a weird, awkward silence, and that encouraged them to they ask you questions and talk. I want to know what they have to say, I know what I have to say that I've seen people going to reviews that talk the whole time. And you never get anything back if you do that it's very tempting because you're nervous and you want to fill the debt space but don't do that because then you don't get any input from them and I want to know what questions they have. I want to see what there know what they're seeing in the work and you know, if they're asking me, okay, what editions? Eyes what's the pricing like, what size will they be? Exhibition size? I know I'm getting somewhere they're interested, so I got to give him a half second to get a word in, right? So, really, my best advice is to give him a five minute synopsis and then just shut your mouth and let them ask questions and answer their questions to the best of your ability. You're gonna want to know what the exhibition sizes you want to know what it's printed on a label to rattle that off it's, a pigment imprint on fiber rag, cancel fiber rag um, next size of the print, the addition of the prints that edition of ten the price is baba block so that you've got all that stuff prepared and ready to go the rest of the questions I ask you, maybe about how you made the work so they might at what are those you know, and I'll tell him and that's it it helps them get a little bit more curious about what you've done so yeah, just be prepared to kind of answer general questions, and then hopefully you'll spark an interesting conversation with him about something you've done in the work, the tech medic and flora. So this is a kind of a different totally different treatment. My black and white prints, or matt and small, you know, really small. This is exhibition side. So that's flora and again, I would just here you go here's the work. Um let them and turn it and look at it themselves. So here's some stuff from baptism and again, I can rattle off. This is the hot amiel bamboo paper it's a ten by ten addition of ten prices are it's scaled and started six hundred fifty dollars and fifteen hundred dollars to paying on the edition number done. Okay, so my golden is just not to talk too much it's, hard to do. But if you could do it, sometimes people will bring us so I might bring testament, has a full body work and then have these guys in my pocket here tucked away in case this is just not interesting to them, and maybe this would be so so I also have this older work we can look at if you'd like to you know, this is called medic and we go through this and I talk about that it was a book and this and this and that so it could be a backup plan if they're not interested in the first body of work, you might have something else you might also have with you a work in progress if they're not responding to the original if they go through it quickly and don't ask any questions, maybe we want to the next body of work. So I prepared a spoken artist statement two minutes to five minutes questions about the work that you have that you, you know it could be what do you see it in this, you know, would basically how's it make you feel sort of thing are how do you feel about that this size? Whatever your questions are, have those prepared and ready to ask bring a little notebook I don't recommend that you record people because it really gets on people's nerves sometimes think that you've got a tape recorder there, but a lot of people do it it's totally up to you. I just tend to write down highlights on my notebook of what people are saying one of my major questions is do you know of anyone who would be really interested in this type of work gallerist museum you know what, sue? Who do who do you suggest that I send this to that's a great question. You get a lot of great answers and followed up on those leads and good stuff has happened. Um, questions for the specific reviewer. So, depending on who they are and where they're from there from a museum, so tell me about your museum and how they acquire work. What would I need to do? What's the process? Do you think this is a collectible for a museum like you? I just go around and ask, are you interested in this work? You can ask in a humble way, but I would just say, what would a person need to do? You know what I need to do, teo, get into the acquisition process with your museum? Um, pricing in addition, information you need to know and then exhibition history, sometimes people are looking for work that has never been accepted. Exhibited before, they want new work, brand new work. And so that could be actually on your side. If if it's never been shown before, you'll say that's brand new hot off the press never been shown before, basically, or I can say with usman, this has been about twenty exhibitions, so you should totally do it, because clearly, a thousand you know, it just depends on kind of where you're at and what you're up to but don't be a shame that it's never been shown before that could be actually a plus for you selecting reviewers again what is your focus? Your galleries museum collectors curator is publishers, bloggers, consultants so again just focus your energy on who what you're trying to trying to accomplish so here's photo fest two thousand twelve just a sample of reviewers bio you khun read you click on their website here read all about what they are who they are, what they dio it tells you what their specialty is and kind of also in the second paragraph awesome awesomely what their interest is so they'll tell you I don't like constructed work kind of like stage work I want to see photojournalism well then I'm not gonna sign up for that person because I'm not gonna be interested at all okay? So that's really important that you re but their specialty is and then really important that you read what they want to see so you can tailor your few sessions to what people want to look at this is the sample review this was actually my schedule for two thousand twelve and so you can see it in some of them every twenty minutes so you finished reviewing your like you know, trying to get your act together and running to the next one that's okay but you can see I've got a bunch of I had met with a collector because I want to sell work right museums a thousand words contemporary photography magazine I met with s o that's a kind of an online magazines I'm also interested in getting published anyway it gives you an idea of kind of kind of people you can meet with and it's an international audience people come from all over the world to come to these things is pretty cool eso also at a portfolio review you're gonna wanna have something what we just call him I call it leaves behind to leave with reviewer when you're finished with that session. So when I say phonetic this is what I had here, like a trifled brochure it showed you know what? Take five six images or something from it it has my contact information on the back simple just mostly here's the images you saw remember me so that's what I usually give people and it's been very effective. I get these from white house custom color these were their greeting cards so they're inexpensive you only need if you're having twenty reviews I would bring like fifty or sixty of these guys for the reviewers the trifles because hopefully more people are gonna want them and then I usually haven't open studio open portfolio night at a portfolio review and for those I bring the single cards so the front has an image the back has the artist's statement on it and my contact information these are a lot cheaper so I might get two hundred or three hundred of these for the open portfolio tonight so I can pass on all of place um after portfolio reviews the most important thing that has to follow up with your viewers follow up I mean it really works I promise it does especially if they were interested and seemed kind of intrigued the first time I did baptism I had the cd covers made again with white house and they're not sponsoring gps just like the stuff image on the front that I had to see the inside that they could then look at the photographs now I would send if I went to another one probably a little um what you call it a usb drive thing which is a little easier than a cd but send them something with the images on it on and not only in the mail which I would do I would send again I would send another version of this that they already have and send it again so they remember it and then I have just a stationary with my no it's different sexed orson but with my logo on it and on the back I write we met and talked about these specific things eso they'll remember who the heck I am because I met with fifty people or something, right? So if there's something that was unique in your conversation what you wrote in your notebook write that in your note to them so they remember you and put your logo on the back so that's what I would send in the mail and then I would also send them an email with all the same stuff in it same letter and stuff and a pdf of the whole body of work with artists statement in it. Okay, so I do that with every reviewer that I met with and then some sometimes I'll send it to people I didn't meet with people I think would still be interested that were at the port. I didn't meet with you, but I think you might really like this work. Okay, okay, um you know what? Your timing on I'm sending these to wait I know a couple of weeks at the most, okay, I wouldn't wait any sent it all out, so you want to have all this stuff ready to go before you even go. So you're not having the order materials and stuff and waiting two months because they're not from if you put specific bits of your conversation they met remember two weeks later they're not gonna remember three months later so uh this is my part of a promotional material for testament is a little different but it has the image the image right on it and then my artist's statement in my artist bio so artist bio and then the statement on the back so they're nice right? And they're they're nice linen texture that people love and respond to so I mailed these out on and then a little note on stationary before I've ever even met with anybody this has nothing to do with portfolio reviews but what I've done is I've taken my reviewer list from past years and use that list and sent them all my new work so I've already sent everybody testament now that I met with when I showed medic so this stuff is good for years you can use it over and over and over again that reviewer list so they're hugely beneficial okay, so this is just some digital versions of what I'm kind of sending out there in my promotional card there's my stationery simple simple stuff and just as a quick note my business card is just mine it looks just like that pretty much a little bit bigger print but I printed on the paper that people can ride on so during portfolio reviews and stuff I could make notes on their just quick like testament maybe we talked about pricing or something and just give that along with this so they've got something wallet size that has something oh yeah they were interested in this that they could hold on to so that's, the business card there. That space on the back is a great thing to put a couple notes on their.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with RSVP


Bonus Materials with Purchase

Book Proposal Sample.pdf
Critical Mass - Digital Book.pdf
Curriculum Vitae Example.pdf
Keynote PDF Segment 1.pdf
Keynote PDF Segment 2.pdf
Keynote PDF Segment 3.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

"Thinking about art is not making art." In this inspiring and informative workshop, Jennifer helps you put thought into action - through meaningful self-reflection, exploration and by taking her through her own processes. Through exercises and examples, she explains how to pull out a thread of an idea and develop it into a conceptual project that is informed and invigorated by personal experience, preference, interests, and so much more. Her workshop not only feeds the creative soul, but offers earnest information on taking first steps toward publishing and showing fine-art. Jen so beautifully shares her talent and her love of teaching - I first "met" her on Creative Live and have had the joy of being mentored by her in-person as well. This workshop is a very close second to spending time with her one-on-one. Thank you, CL, for bringing her back!

kalei harmon

I love Jennifer, she's one of my cL favorites! She is such a soulful photographer and her art just resonates with me in so many ways. While she was creating her conceptual piece with the mother and child, my eyes welled up because it was such a profound experience to witness. I appreciate that she has a graduate degree in art and is able to refer to others in the field who are leading the way. She is so genuine and I'm grateful for her willingness to bare her soul to us through her art and process. I've learned so much by watching how she interacts with models and communicates efficiently and gently to get AMAZING poses. Definitely worth the buy if you're looking for inspiration from an artist who creates images which evoke emotion and communicate a message, not just trying to make "great photos." I can't wait to learn about the business side of it all!


I am so grateful for this class; it is just what I have been looking for to help me go beyond my "photographic potty training". By leading us through her own creative process, Jennifer Thoreson invites us to think about why we do what we do and to make our work more meaningful and authentic, creating our unique visual vocabulary. Moreover, she provides detailed info on submitting work to galleries and publications, contests, printing editions, preparing an exhibition and pricing. In her calm, unpretentious manner, Jennifer demystified art without trivializing it and I finally saw light at the end of a rather long tunnel.

Student Work