Call For Submissions – Portfolio Review

Someone once asked, on a photography forum, how to get out of a rut when you’re shooting the same stuff all the time. There were a lot of responses, but the one I really liked came from Aaron Leitz, who said, “Get another photographer to open a big can of Whoop-Ass on your portfolio.”

Aaron, that is right on.

It’s easy to get your ego stroked. Your friends will always tell you that you’re the most awesomest photographer ever. That’s their job. What’s harder is getting really honest, even brutal feedback from someone who has no relationship with you. Who doesn’t care if your feelings get hurt. Who will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.

I get a lot of requests for portfolio reviews, and it’s difficult at best to accommodate them. A good portfolio ass-kicking takes a fair amount of effort/time on the part of the reviewer, and so I usually end up punting on those emails. Or I skim quickly through the person’s website and get back to them eventually with something fairly useless, like “Nice images!” or “Fix your verts!”

But, I do actually spend a lot of time cruising through photographers’ websites, and I really enjoy talking about photos, so….I’m going to steal a page from Zack Arias and give the online video portfolio review thing a try. As far as I can tell, no one is doing this for Interiors/Architectural photography, and certainly not for Real Estate photography as a sub-genre.

If you’re not familiar with this, it’s simple: You send me a link to your website. I take the time to actually pore over the images, and then I record a screen-capture video of the tour, along with my thoughts, clicking through and yakking about the whole thing. The result gets posted here, for all to see. It’ll be pretty in-depth, and you can expect me to tell it like I see it, meaning that not all the feedback will be positive. But it will be real. I’ll talk about why your best stuff is working for me, and why your not-so-good stuff isn’t (and we all have images in our portfolios that we shouldn’t.) I’m absolutely not gonna just shred anyone gratuitously, either. (“You’re a bad photographer. Yuck!”)

Basically, it’s what you’d get if you were to travel to Oakland, buy me a couple of beers at Cato’s, and spend a half-hour or so going through your website together. And, you’ll be helping a lot of other photographers to view their own portfolios a little more objectively.

We don’t want your clients to be Googling you and inadvertently finding me saying negative things about your work, so we will NOT be linking to your site, and we won’t be putting your name in (virtual) print. But everyone who watches the video will be looking at your site on-screen with me, so you won’t exactly be anonymous to the readers of this blog, either.

Send me an email if you’d like to be a Guinea Pig for this project, which I hope will take off and be a valuable resource.

10 responses to “Call For Submissions – Portfolio Review

  1. So neat that you’re doing this!

  2. Really great Scott!

    I’m in the procrastinating process of re-branding and getting a new website going. My work has changed and improved from the images on my current site.
    Your critiques will be great.
    When I get off my ass, I’ll send you mine.

    -Thanks for giving back.

  3. Would it be considered jumping in line if I volunteered? My site isn’t perfect, but at least you can see the pictures.


  4. Scott, I sent you an email volunteering as a guinea pig. I’m nervously waiting the public flogging review.


  5. Would a newb, with only his first shoot under his belt qualify as a volunteer?

    • Tony, if you have on online portfolio you’re showing people, that’s all you need. Shoot me an email with a link and a little info about yourself.

  6. Scott,

    Just found your site. This is excellent material. Thank you. On a not so subtle push from a legit professional photographer friend, I’m building my website now, and have officially offered services for hire. I’ll be following this very closely.

    I am not yet of the caliber of the others above, so my work is much easier to nitpick. I’ve only been shooting for a year now, and only just started correcting verticals and perspective a month ago! Until then, I was also only shooting available light and had to five stop HDR everything. Lights are my current big leap forward.