Photographer Portfolio Review

Photographer Portfolio Review

What is a Photographer Portfolio Review?

A photographer's portfolio review is when it's critiqued or analyzed by someone working within the industry, sometimes another established photographer working that same realm. An established fashion photographer would be a great person to critique the portfolio of a budding photographer because they've been in the same steps, understand what it takes to get the recognition needed to book the jobs and create a fruitful career. 

A portfolio review means all aspects of the body of work are critiqued, from the order of images to which images should be removed and which should stay. A photograph portfolio review could also make notes on lighting, posing, and retouching. 

What is a Mini portfolio Session?

A mini portfolio review is exactly that, a shorter version of the real comprehensive review. Mini reviews are great for progress reports, something that lets you know if you're on the right track and gives insight on what to change before you've gone too far. While a full review is necessary for photographers ready to enter the market on a professional level, I would recommend a mini portfolio review for anyone wanting to get into photography and have about a year under their belt.

In this video, I rewarded one of my loyal followers "Alina Pavliv" with a min portfolio review. It was a random drawing from my private Facebook group where I have great interaction with everyone, and we encourage community within the photography world. Click here to join the private Facebook Group (Answer the 3 questions asked upon request). 

I review Alina's work, and found a couple of themes that needed attention right away. The themes are in the video (on this page) and after seeing the photographs, you will notice it also. Alina repeated the same "mistakes" over and over. However, this is a good thing! Keep reading to find out why it's a good thing.

The same photography mistake over and over is good?

This is crazy, right? The same photography mistakes are excellent because that means we have less to correct. In the case of Alina's photography, she had 2-3 repeative mistakes. Once she fixes them, her work soars across the board! 

Imagine how difficult it is to have 8-10 major mistakes in your work. That's a lot of personal development to work on, but a couple mistakes over and over mean that is a quick fix. 

What were a few of her critiques? 

  1. The claw, it's a result of the model being nervous. Alina will work on making sure the models are more at ease in the future and they don't play with their hair. Watch the video see "the claw"
  2. Where the hands stop, is usually where the eye goes. Make sure my eyes don't go to the genitals first.
  3. Fly away hairs. They are the devil.

Why are portfolio reviews a great thing?

Portfolio reviews aren't just a good thing, they are a necessity for the budding photographer. Imagine wanting to work as a professional commercial photographer and you have no idea which direction to take. How do you even market yourself or get a photography agent? How do you select the best images to represent your talent, which ones oversell you and which ones make the viewer (the one who hires you) pause? 

When photographers spend thousands on gear, having a checkpoint/review is a small investment to make the financial investment worthwhile. What images in your portfolio stand out more? What stands out on Instagram is NOT what stands out to the company looking to hire. What gets more likes on Instagram isn't going to get you the job. How can you best sell, negotiate, and defend your work? 

Having a photographer who walked the same path guide you, give advice and notes is invaluable! 

Can my friend just help me instead of hiring a pro?

Sure! Yes, your friend can help you if your friend is a professional photographer getting the type of jobs that you are seeking. If your friend is a reputable photographer working all the time, has years of experience and a name in the industry they work in, then yes!

However, for those that don't have that type of guidance, it's OK. You're actually in the 99% of people who don't have such access. I did not have anyone to help me, none! But after a decade of working with top names, I've been able to figure things out. Your goal should be to avoid that decade of struggle and carve out a smoother path for yourself.

There are many great portfolio review sites. Make sure the photographer that reviews your work is currently working, and working with the type of brands you want to have in your portfolio. Photography is a quickly changing industry and what worked 7 years ago is ancient today. Vet their work first! If you want to work in fashion, a landscape photographer reviewing your work won't be that much help. 

For that reason, I offer a reasonably priced review system via Skype. If you want to work with commercial brands like HP, VW, Target, Cosmetic companies, shoot book authors or major record artists then you should consider a session. You can click here to book.

When should you seek a portfolio review?

Ah, that question... You should get a mini portfolio review when you can feel a momentum building. You're starting to get a little more attention and people are asking for rates. You're not the first to get hired, you start losing jobs because you're the second choice. Those are signs of a person on the come-up, and it's a great time for a review. Then it's great to have a mini-review which will help you go from the second choice to first. 

A full portfolio review is for people looking to officially launch a business. They want to be a full-time wedding photographer, commercial photographer and want to make serious income. They've already been hired but not getting the big jobs out there. Both ladies are amazing, but this is for the Rita Ora wanting to be a Rihanna. You want the top jobs, the better pay, the attention and to enter a new realm.

How can I get more help if I am not yet ready for a portfolio review?

It's perfectly fine to be in this position. You should have a body of work to be critiqued and until then you should keep building on your photography skills. Here are 3-ways to do that!

  • Join my private FB group. It's my newest addition, a smaller crowd who have promised to not sell but just help the community grow. They ask for advice, give advice, and are always supportive. This is a free group, private and everyone is a photographer. Ask for advice, on anything photography-related! Talk! Make friends and connect. I'm also there and answering questions all the time. CLICK HERE TO JOIN and continue learning.
  • Join the Instagram community of How to Photograph. There are over 28K others there who love photography. It's a polite community who encourage each other, and I share daily tips and motivational advice. There's a lot happening in the stories and in the comments. Get involved there and turn on post notifications because Instagram is doing their best to ruin Instagram and run their algorithms. CLICK HERE TO JOIN the Instagram page of @HowtoPhotograph 
  • I have a newsletter that comes out a couple of times a month. You're the first to get the new Youtube videos, first to get jobs notifications from me or my friends looking to hire, and I have something amazing happening in there. I sometimes invite a photographer to shadow me on set and watch me work. It's an incredible way to gain insight, meet me, and see the work in progress. You can sign up for my newsletter at the bottom of the page or by CLICKING HERE.

Those are 3 great ways to develop your photography, connect with community members and gain insight to the photography community!

Personal Note: This is your voyage. You make decisions to help your career or decisions to make excuses. If you're looking to become a better photographer, I am here to support you even if your family/friends are not. I know the feeling, and I know it's a hard road. I did it, and I want you to be able to do it also! Be involved, reach out, join one or all of my communities and invest in yourself. This is your voyage, your life and you should never lose faith in your skills or talent.  And if you need some motivation, check out this post - Walid Azami

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