Discussing the Value of Online Portfolio Reviews
As we head towards the end of the first PHmuseum Online Portfolio Review Month, a few of our participants speak about their experiences and offer insights into some of the feedback they received from our group of industry professionals.
© Saskia Wesseling, from the series Time to Tame the Tigers? Line up for a bright future
The participating photographers we asked for their feedback include Saskia Wesseling from Hong Kong; Luiz Guilherme Todeschi from Brazil; Irina Unruh from Germany; Marcin Piekalkiewicz from Poland; and Sonja Stich from Spain. The majority of them booked an online session with one of the reviewers because they wanted to receive feedback on a specific project they are working on, or have (nearly) completed.
Irina tells us that since she is a self-taught, emerging photographer, it's important for her to get professional feedback on her work. She says that the review gave her new perspectives on her ongoing work and new ideas for future steps. Marcin, similarly, says he booked an online review out of interest in hearing the observations on his work from a diverse pool of industry leaders. “The more people with different backgrounds I talk to, the more I can actually learn about my own work”, he says. From the review he did with Lisa Barnard, he took away tips on how to make his ongoing projects more unpredictable.
© Marcin Piekalkiewicz. Golden thoughts. London, 2018
We all know that sharing your work with someone else - another professional eye - can help you see elements in your work that you are perhaps blind to. Luiz explains that his online portfolio review with Elisa von Randow was of great value, “she was fantastic and very humble in passing on the information that made me think about my work in a way that could help me. Alone, I would never have come to this understanding.”
For four out of the five photographers, it was the first online review they ever participated in. All of them tell us that the most significant advantage of an online portfolio review compared to a face-to-face meeting, is that it is possible at any time and at any stage of the photographic work. “What a luxury to book a session with a mentor at a convenient time”, Saskia shares with us. Additionally, Irina says; “I had come to a point in my work where I seriously needed feedback to get more clarity for it’s continuation. I did not want to wait long until I found a face-to-face opportunity. Also, there was not a lot of time investment for me because I could just stay where I work.” Participating in an online review is valuable because “you don’t have to spend money and time for traveling. You can reach anyone in the world” as Marcin says. One of the main benefits of doing a review online for Luiz is that “we can shorten distances and facilities.”
© Luiz Todeschi
The fact that these reviews are held online might lead some to think that it might be a cold and distant experience, especially if you’ve never done one and don’t know what it can be like. “At first, I was skeptical of whether an online review can be productive” Irina admits. But, as it turns out, for all our participants, it was actually a very productive and intimate experience.
“I loved that we had one hour to talk about my work without distractions of other people around us - the intimacy’ says Sonja. Luiz adds that one hour seemed short in the beginning but since the meeting was so well planned and prepared, everything that really needed to be talked about was addressed.
© Irina Unruh, from the series I am Jamilia - Kyrgyzstan in transition
In terms of efficiency, Irina also tells us that for her, the crucial advantage of an online review was that she and the reviewer had been in contact before the actual session and she had sent her work so that the reviewer already had a sense of what to delve into. “After a brief introduction to my work, we were able to discuss it very productively. The contact before and after the review has become very important to me.”
In the end, as Luiz shares, participating in an online review and choosing from a wide variety of experts offers an excellent opportunity to reach out to professionals and build a network. “In all productive exchanges we can always learn a lot by listening to the experiences and opinions of other people,” he explains. Ultimately, that’s what it is all about: continuously learning and growing as a professional and as an individual. Discussing your work in an online review can contribute to that.
© Sonja Stich, Béla underwater
Our Online Portfolio Review Month comes to a close on 30 April! Take advantage of this unique opportunity to connect with 22 experts. Book a session today at phmuseum.com/prm.
Thanks to the following photographers who shared their experience with us and helped us to write this article.
Saskia Wesseling is a Dutch photographer from Hong Kong. Her passion for photography started in her early years, being taught the principles of ISO, shutter-speed and aperture by her father. Throughout her life she has always found ways to tell stories; either through the medium of radio documentaries, by writing articles and by using photography. Her photos are used to tell stories in the South China Morning Post and National Geographic Traveller. Saskia puts a curious lens on unexposed stories to open a broader perspective so that her photography will enrich this world with contrasting colours and uncommon views on society.
Marcin Piekalkiewicz is a photographer born in Warsaw, Poland, currently based in Malta. He studied electrical engineering, socioeconomics, and Italian literature, but his genuine interest in people made him then switch to street photography. He defines it as an artistic opportunity to make ordinary moments meaningful by turning them into stories about societies and individuals. His individual documentary projects have been exhibited in various locations in Italy and received attention from ANSA (Italian Associated Press National Agency). His street photography portfolio has recently been featured by the Eyeshot Magazine.
Irina Unruh is a documentary photographer originally from Kyrgyzstan. During the years she worked as a teacher she often encountered interesting people with diverse stories. In 2015, she began to expand her big passion for photography, deciding to work only part time as a teacher and develop seriously in the field of documentary photography. Her work focuses on the situation of women in her native country and on her own historical origins (German immigrants from former Soviet countries). Her work has received numerous recognitions and was exhibited twice in Rome and in Brussels in April 2019. Her ongoing body of work is shortlisted for the KOLGA Tbilisi photo award, will be exhibited in Jakarta at the JIPFest 2019 and in Verona at the international photo festival Grenze arsenali fotografici.
Luiz Guilherme Todeschi is a Brazilian photographer, environmentalist and visual artist. He graduated from the Superior Course of Photography Technology of the Positivo University. At eight years old, when he joined a team of Boy Scouts in Curitiba-Pr (Frassati Group), he felt that contact with nature and the philosophy of Scouting would become the basis of his work and creative process during his life. This contact with nature has awakened the need for volunteer and humanitarian work. "I really want to see the people of our country and our Planet, as well as Mother Nature, being treated with respect." Simplicity, naturalness and spirituality have become the mark of his photography.
Sonja Stich is a German photographer living in Spain. After studying art history and design she worked as a graphic designer in Germany. In 2011 she and her family moved to Spain, where she started studying photography, which led her to start documenting her children and their unconventional life and friends. Recently, she started a new series about an alternative education project in Catalonia. Above all, her interest lies in capturing people connecting with each other and with their environment. Her photos have been published in Shots Magazine, Photography Monthly, Huffington Post and Click Magazine.
Talking About Education is a monthly feature where we reflect on current opportunities and practices to form and develop yourself as a photographer. To learn more about our live one-to-one educational program, please visit phmuseum.com/education