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April 24th, 2015

Ten Portfolio Review Tips for Pros

Posted by liveBooks

Guest blogger Manuela Marin Salcedo is a research and development team member and content developer at Momenta Workshops. Her expertise is in visual communications and social media. In addition to her work for Momenta, Manuela is working on long-term, independent multimedia projects. Her work has been featured at LookBetween 2014, Fototazo and Light Work. She was also chosen to participate in the 2014 New York Times Portfolio Review.

As creatives we tend to work in a vacuum. So how do we combat this? With community, collaboration, and connections. How do we get that in today’s modern world? By participating in portfolio reviews!

Portfolio review opportunities seem to be everywhere nowadays. You can get your work reviewed at places like The New York Times Annual Portfolio Review, FOTOfusion, Photoville, NPPA’s Northern Short Course, WPPI, PhotoPlus, and even at workshops such as ours, like The Project Series: Working with Nonprofits. Showing your work to others can be daunting. However it will hone your presentation skills, refine your vision, advance your craft, put your work in front of new people, and spark personal growth.

In an effort to help you better prepare for your next portfolio review, the team at Momenta has compiled a list of portfolio review tips to keep in mind.

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Chris Usher (far right) gives constructive feedback to student, Stephen Van Seters, during Project New Orleans 2015: Working with Nonprofits workshop, hosted by Momenta Workshops. Photo © Jaime Windon/Momenta Workshops 2015.

Research your reviewer

Before going into the review, you should have conducted some background research on your reviewer’s personal and photographic journey. Having an idea of their experience and body of work will help demonstrate your appreciation for their time and consideration for discussing your work with them. It will also help you ask better questions.

Always have a non-digital backup of some kind

Imagine this scenario: your computer freezes, and you are unable to access the image folder on your desktop. As you try to log into your website instead, you realize the hotel WiFi is not working. Quickly you pull out your iPad, and, as if things couldn’t get any worse, you realize you did not bring the right charger and your battery is at 10%. This example is a pretty terrible and unlucky sequence of events – yet it is also completely probable. Technology has been known to let us down, so don’t tempt the tech gods to strike down on your review. Bring a print backup if possible and be prepared for anything!

Include a variety in your images, but never put in anything you do not love

Think of your portfolio as a symphony and each image as a note. Now think about this: if you play the same note throughout the symphony, you are likely to lose the attention of your audience. The same goes for your body of work. If each image is a note, you should attempt to hit different ones. That said, if your portfolio is a symphony, remember that the notes should work together to create a cohesive whole.

Do not be afraid to put in a personal work section

Personal work, or work that has not been commissioned, is just that: personal. While commissioned work demonstrates your level of responsibility and ability to do client work, your personal projects may better demonstrate your vision and style.

Include title slides to help differentiate between singles and stories

As you are presenting your portfolio, it can be helpful to include simple title slides to signify the end of one project from the beginning of another. This can also aid the flow of your presentation and help avoid confusion. Furthermore, if you have a short amount of time, title slides can cut back on lengthy explanations on your part.

Do not be defensive or overly confident about your vision

At the beginning of the review, the reviewer may ask you to talk a bit about your journey and your work. In doing so, remember to take note of your tone. There is no need to be overly confident or to become defensive when being asked why you chose to shoot in a particular way. Being open to outside opinion and commentary about your work will inevitably help you grow as an image-maker.

Do not talk while the reviewer is talking, and don’t interrupt

As a follow up to the previous tip, remember your good table manners. One of the predominant reasons to sign up for a portfolio review is to get another professional’s take on your work. As such, your role is to listen actively, not to talk over the reviewer.

Take notes

Most reviewers will not mind if you take notes while they comment on your work. In fact, they will probably encourage it. Taking notes will help you remember what the reviewer said about certain images as well as give you a general feel for their take on your body of work. It is also a physical demonstration of your engagement and helps to show how much you value and appreciate the reviewer’s time and opinion. You may even consider recording the session as a voice memo on your smartphone.

Bring business cards or leave-behinds

This tip goes back to the notion of being prepared. By meeting the reviewer to show your work, you have already created an impression and, if you are lucky, established a connection. The next step will be to keep in touch. Having business cards or leave-behinds on hand will aid in this process and help make you memorable. At Momenta, we recommend our students look here for promotional ideas and inspiration.

Send a handwritten “thank you” note

No, this does not mean a “thank you” email. Taking the time to hand write a personal note to your reviewer shows how much you appreciate their effort to help your career grow. If your handwriting is terrible, you can always ask a friend or colleague to write it for you. No matter what, a little piece of mail is the perfect follow-up; it will keep you on the reviewer’s radar and put yourself above the rest with a classy gesture.

Momenta Workshops offers one-day, five-day, and two-week documentary, photo, and multimedia training workshops, including the popular Project Series: Working with Nonprofits held in collaboration with Leica Camera. By teaching storytellers to expand their technical and business skills, Momenta explores how to use the camera as a force of change. To learn more about Momenta Workshops, please visit www.momentaworkshops.com 

Photography workshops are one of the most important things to attend in order to continue your education as a professional photographer. The ability to gain new skills from the best and brightest in the field plus make invaluable contacts from all over the country (and the world!) is essential for the longevity of your own business.

There are literally thousands of photography workshops that happen around the world each year. How do you choose one that’s right for you? Read on, because we’ve compiled a list of traits to look for and tips to help you when deciding on a photography workshop to attend.

Figure Out WHAT You Want to Learn

With the plethora of choices out there, it is important to first decide what type of workshop you are looking to attend. Are you wanting to do something more hands-on, such as a photo-tour or expedition? Or do you want to learn more technical skills? An editing class to help with your digital workflow? Or maybe you want something more focused, such as learning how to shoot macro, or increasing the sharpness of your photos. Whatever you decide, when you figure out what skill you are most looking to acquire or perfect, that will automatically narrow down your choices of workshops.

Make a List

Once you’ve narrowed down your focus, make a list of what you want to learn and the things you want to leave the workshop knowing. While the internet is a powerful tool, once you begin your search for a workshop it can be very overwhelming. Having that hand-written list of what is most important to you will help keep you on track. Writing down your goals will also give you an idea of how much time you need to commit to a workshop or class. Workshops typically span one to three days on average, while a class will last over several weeks or months, with each session being a couple of hours long. If you find that your list is getting long quickly, maybe enrolling in a long-term class would give you maximum benefit.

Start Your Search

Once again, the internet is an extremely powerful tool. Use it to get you started, but don’t limit yourself to it, especially because not all classes or workshops are well indexed by search engines. Check around for local photography clubs who may be offering a class for non-members. Check out websites for community colleges and local trade schools. Utilize your network! Ask around for recommendations, especially if you know someone in your same field or specialization or if you simply admire their skill or style. Know who the top dogs are in your field and check out their personal website to see if they are teaching any workshops.

Dig Deeper

Once you’ve selected a handful of classes or workshops that are interesting to you, start digging deeper on the class and instructor. Getting a copy of the syllabus is a given (so you can see exactly what the class covers) but here are some other things to think about when making your final decision:

  • How many students are allowed in the class? – Some workshops are smaller and more intimate, with less than 25 people. These types will give you more one-on-one time with the instructor for feedback and critiques of your work. Larger classes will provide more opportunities for group work and can be a good way to network and bounce ideas off each other.
  • How long as the instructor been teaching? Not to say that the instructors who have been teaching the longest are always better, but it does give you a good indication that they love what they do, and more importantly, love teaching.
  • What do past students say about the class/instructor? – We use reviews and feedback each and every day to make decisions, from what restaurant we should go to for dinner, to which dentist we should make an appointment with. A photography workshop is certainly no different! Seek out feedback from past students. Many instructors will post reviews or quotes on their websites when they are promoting a workshop or class, making that information pretty readily accessible.
  • What are the financial costs? – While most (if not all) of these classes certainly won’t be free, there are definitely multiple factors to consider when trying to get the most cost-benefit out of a workshop. First off – what’s included in the cost? Don’t make assumptions, especially if you are taking an expedition. Are textbooks or other materials included? Meals? Cabs from the airport to the hotel? Equipment? What about a refund policy if your plans should change?
  • What is the class structure like? – Some workshops are more structured and stick to a textbook very closely, while others are fluid and more flexible, allowing students to work in their own topics of interest. Additionally, some classes are lecture and presentation heavy, while others will be more hands-on and give students lots of time to play around and practice skills and get feedback from the instructor. Figure out which type is most appealing to you.
  • What happens after the class is over? – Once the class or workshop is over, is there any follow-up from the instructor? Are you able to ask questions at a later point in time once the information has sunk in and you are able to practice the skills on your own? Choosing a class with an instructor who is open to continued communication will not only build your network but facilitate learning long after the class is completed.

Ultimately, all the research on a class or instructor can only take you so far. What’s really important is that you take the opportunity (finances allowing) to learn in multiple types of settings and from a variety of teachers so that you can best determine what type of structure is right for you.

Are there any other tips you’ve discovered from attending workshops? We’d love to hear about them!

Here are some additional resources for choosing a great workshop:

How to Choose a Photography Class or Workshop

Choosing a Photography Workshop or Tour

How to Choose a Photography Workshop

Momenta Workshops offers a variety of workshops from one-day business skills seminars, to personalized multimedia training, to their popular Project Series: Working with Nonprofits workshops in collaboration with Leica Camera. By helping storytellers expand their skills, Momenta explores how to harness that passion into social change. The workshops seek to train attendees to witness the world in a new way and use their camera as a force of change.

Jamie Rose is Founding Partner and Director of Workshops for Momenta, which specializes in photography, video, and multimedia workshops around the globe. Prior to the founding of Momenta, Jamie worked as an international photojournalist on five continents, won awards and grants for her documentary photography, and was contracted with some of the world’s largest media and nonprofit organizations, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Global Fund, and Doctors Without Borders, among others.

Q: Would you tell us about your upcoming workshops?

JR: The Momenta Workshops staff has wrapped up our 2014 year with our final workshop on business skills during the FotoDC festival, and our lineup for 2015 is going to be outstanding! If you are interested in nonprofit photography, we have two domestic workshops in 2015: Project New Orleans in April and Project San Francisco in September. Over the course of these five-day workshops, we assign each student to a different local nonprofit to create a photo or a multimedia piece about the organization’s mission. Project New Orleans fills up to capacity every year and is held in the most rollicking city in the US. This is the first year for our San Francisco workshop, and interest is very high for working with the city by the Bay. Additionally, if you want to get out of the country and work with international nonprofits next year, our two very special workshops overseas are Project Colombia and Project Sierra Leone. Each student will work with a deserving nonprofit and use their photography as a force of social change. Throughout the two-week workshop, students will have life-changing experiences, make powerful visual stories, and create connections with their subjects in foreign countries that will last for years to come. If you just want a quick boost of business skills, we recommend The Business of Nonprofit Photography one-day workshop series, where we explore the ins-and-outs of making money working for nonprofits. These workshops will take place at Leica stores in San Francisco and Los Angeles in 2015. Finally, Leica sponsors all of our nonprofit workshops, one of the best perks of our Project Workshop Series. Students may check out a Leica camera to work on their nonprofit photo story. And truly, nothing beats the Leica M system for documentary coverage. Our students create beautiful photo stories with Leicas every year during these workshops.

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Project Uganda student Whitney Curtis – www.whitneycurtis.com 

 

Q: Are your workshops geared more toward being creative or improving one’s technical skills? Or both?
JR: I’d say both, plus one extra. Yes, we focus on storytelling and the creative process. However, many of our students are looking for a deeper learning experience with Momenta than just shooting tips. Many established professionals come on our workshops strictly for the one-on-one feedback during their daily, one-hour editing sessions with an instructor. They seek an environment where they can network with like-minded peers and dive into concepts with editors to help them find a fresh outlook on their work.

However, Momenta’s model doesn’t just stop at the creative and technical. We also have a series of lectures on building business skills necessary to work with nonprofits and be sustainable in today’s competitive marketplace. We want students to learn to be successful in both their craft and their business.



 

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Bali: Island of the Gods student Jessica Koscielniak – www.jessicakoscielniak.com

 

Q: What differentiates your workshops from others?
JR: We keep our workshops small with a personal touch and limit our workshops to less than 10 a year. We don’t have a desire to be a huge company with tons of products. We focus on quality documentary training in real-world situations with an outstanding team of instructors. By keeping our workshops limited to 15 or fewer attendees and as many as five instructors on our longer workshops, we maintain an intimate learning experience. We focus on each student’s individual goals during daily 1-on-1 editing sessions, instead of herding everyone into group edits. We balance this with nightly sessions that include discussions, slideshows, and presentations that help to bolster inspiration in a group atmosphere. At orientation, we tell our students, “It is your workshop.” And we mean it. Students and staff work together to craft each person’s experience for the best outcome for their goals. Our alumni will back up that statement. We have a very tight group of past students (many of whom return for multiple workshops) and they have coined themselves the Momenta Family. That network extends far beyond the last day of the workshop, and many have remained friends, shooting buddies, and even have reunions around the world. We pride ourselves in fostering community.



 

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Project Colombia instructor Charlotte Kesl – www.charlottekeslphoto.com/charlotte-kesl-photography

Q: I’d love to get a little background on why you host workshops and what you hope others will get out of them?


JR: In my personal work with Momenta Creative and as a journalist, I realized the visual needs of nonprofits are not effectively met in many communities. Likewise, we found visual storytellers were hungry to learn about how to shoot for a nonprofit. When we founded Momenta, we chose to focus the majority of our lineup on nonprofit photography training workshops and the public response has proven to be inspiring.

 Nonprofits can communicate their mission and entice donors more easily with custom photographs and video. Furthermore, these organizations have budgets, and many are willing to pay for beautifully-crafted visuals. This is not a market often explored by photographers. Our goal with these workshops is to open the nonprofit world to photographers who may not have realized it existed before, teach them the business skills necessary to work with these organizations and empower them to make thoughtful work that sparks dialogue. We also work with our nonprofit partners to help them realize and value the power of strong visuals.



 

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 Project India student Dana Pugh – www.danapugh.com

 

Q: What are some of the unexpected benefits one might get from attending these workshops?


JR: Three things: Inspirational instructors who are excellent mentors and coaches, extended lectures on developing business skills and a supportive alumni network after the workshop ends. I could add that we have a gang load lot of fun too, but that’s a given!

 

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Project India student Chuck Cecil – www.cecilimages.com

Q: What are the most important things for the attendees to realize when they participate in a workshop, to help them get the most out of the experience?


JR: Whether it’s a Momenta workshop or another company’s workshop, an open mind and good attitude is the key to a great experience. We encourage every student to get ready to put in long hours and have a willing approach for creative exploration. One of our founders, Seth Butler, encourages students to “embrace mindfulness” while on the workshop and when shooting in the field. That mindfulness can create great leaps with their work. A Momenta workshop is going to be an intense, exciting experience because students are packing a hefty amount of learning into a short amount of time. However, the payoffs are incredibly rewarding. We remind students to stop, breathe and take a moment to truly soak in the experience and allow themselves to be enlightened by it.



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Project India student Robert Dodge – www.robertdodge.com

Q: Was attending workshops instrumental to help you become the photographer that you are now? If so, how did they do that?
JR: 

I still attend workshops! I wouldn’t be where I am today without a commitment to my education, and that isn’t just defined by college. When I was starting out, I took weekend workshops, attended the Northern Short Course every year, and went to specific skills building seminars. The workshops I have attended in the past helped me to grow my knowledge base, network with other photographers, and learn new skills to further my career. Whether you attend a Momenta Workshop or any other learning experience out there, I would encourage photographers to make continuing education a priority every year. It’s a big world, and there are great learning experiences to be had.  We’d welcome any of your readers to join us on one of ours!

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Project India student Frank Rohrig – www.frankrohrig.com

To learn more about Momenta’s workshops line up, please visit www.momentaworkshops.com.

Interested in learning about sports photography from one of Sports Illustrated’s top photographers? Join Peter Read Miller April 13-19 in Denver, Colorado, and get access to a variety of action packed sports from mountain biking and college football, to high school basketball, and amateur boxing during this weeklong workshop.

PRM

In addition to capturing the action on the field, a portion of the workshop will be spent on learning how to shape the light in both studio and on-location, arena lighting with strobes, and the set-up and use of remote cameras.

For maximum learning potential, participants of this workshop have the opportunity for their work to be personally reviewed and critiqued by Peter each day at one of Denver’s top commercial photography studios.

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What you will learn:

  • Techniques to capture action
  • How to use lighting and different angles for shooting various sports
  • The power of cropping & editing images to make them magazine cover-worthy
  • How to choose the best lenses for sports photography

What’s Included:

  • Canon and Dynalite gear loans
  • 6 days of instruction
  • Access to sporting events
  • Location & model fees
  • One on one portfolio review with Peter

Workshop fee: $1,995

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to gain a better understanding of how to turn good images into outstanding ones!


Learn more: www.peterreadmiller.com

April 4th, 2013

A Look Back at WPPI

Posted by liveBooks

After all the lead-up to WPPI in Las Vegas last month, it seems strange that it’s really over. But as I look into the rear view mirror, I see it getting smaller and smaller as we drive our brand forward toward new product launches and what will likely be a healthy wedding season.

This was my first WPPI and everything that I was told to expect turned out to be true. The crowds were massive, the energy was high, the sessions were informative, and Las Vegas was the perfect town (and the MGM Grand the perfect locale), to host the event.

Unlike Imaging USA in Atlanta last January, Pinhole Pro’s presence at WPPI was as an integrated brand beneath liveBooks, Inc. and alongside Fotomoto. For the most part those who were looking for us managed to find us just fine, and when they did they were pleased to note that all of the Pinhole Pro products they’d come to love were on display to touch and feel.

You Asked. We Delivered.

WPPI also marked the unveiling of our brand new Horizontal Panoramic album, which is now available in Pro Studio. Log on to check it out now. You can even save 25% off it and all other Pro Studio product through April 15th when you use promo code PROWPPI. Enjoy!

All-Star Speaker Lineup

We were fortunate enough to have a wonderful lineup of speakers at this year’s event, including Wedding Photographers Stacie Kirkwood, Barrie Fisher and Jared Platt, commercial photographers Michael Grecco and Mark Wallace, and liveBooks CEO Andy Patrick. Our own Patrick O’Connor walked attendees through all the great custom tips and tricks available to all of us in Pro Studio, and Fotomoto Product Manager Piam Kiarostami spoke about the benefits of Fotomoto. Speaking of which….

Fotomoto_ecommerce_website

Start Selling with Fotomoto

Trade shows are nothing if not an opportunity to sample and demo product, and one of our major points of discussion at WPPI was the integration of Fotomoto into liveBooks websites. It was great to see booth attendees’ faces continually light up as we showed them how they can sell photos through their liveBooks websites for free. Think of it as an extra source of revenue that you can set and forget.

For a sample of what I’m talking about, visit Jared Platt’s site and click the ADD TO CART button at the bottom of the screen. If you like what you see, and I think you will, I’d be remiss if I didn’t let you know that you can now save 50% off a Professional predesigned liveBooks website, which includes the integrated Fotomoto shopping cart option, by visiting liveBooks.com and entering promo code LBWPPI at checkout.

Our next major industry event will likely be the PhotoPlus Expo in New York in October, but we are looking into creating a trimmed down booth experience for smaller shows throughout the spring in summer. Please be sure to ‘Like’ us on Facebook and check our Events tab to stay abreast of our upcoming appearances.

Joe Franklin is the Director of Marketing at liveBooks and Pinhole Pro. When he’s not sending emails, optimizing landing pages and organizing events, he’s running the trails of the SF East Bay Regional Park district or shooting photos of whatever catches his eye.



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