Participating in Portfolio Review Event: A Food Photographer’s Diary #2

Food Photographers Diary This is a guest post series by photographer Evi Abeler. If you would like to write for learn food photography, visit guest post page to learn more.

As I mentioned last week, we have started a new weekly series where a long time photographer, Evi Abeler, who has fallen in love with food photography recently, will share her journey to becoming a professional food photographer, her activities and what she learned in the week. Last week Evi shared with how she started food photography and explained how to start food photography.

Today, Evi shares her thoughts and experience of a portfolio review event by American Photographic Artists.

APA (American Photographic Artists) Portfolio Review

Yesterday morning I attended the APA portfolio review. Once a year the New York chapter invites photography professionals such as photo editors, agents, art buyers and consultants to review portfolios. Photographers pay a fee and can sign up for three reviewers of their choice.

APA portfolio review

During the event I got to meet one-on-one with Clare O’Dea (C20 Agency) Frank Meo (thephotocloser.com) and Erica Mellow (SapientNitro). Each session lasted for about 20 minutes, so it was quite important for me to plan what I wanted to get out of it. Especially since I get a bit nervous in these situations I always like to have a little cheat sheet. My main goal was for them to help me put together my next promotional piece: a set of postcards that will go out in an handmade parchment paper envelope to about 50 photo editors or art directors of food magazines and books.

Here is my cheat sheet:
1. practice presenting photographs
2. get feedback on images
3. pick favorite cards
4. get referrals to other art buyers, editors, etc.
5. Have fun!

Evi Abeler Photography portfolio cards
These are the cards I brought to the review

Here are the cards they picked:

Clare O’Dea’s picks

 

Frank Meo’s picks

 

Erica Mellow’s picks

What I learned:

All of my reviewers were real sweethearts and said that my work is ready to be send out into the world. (Yipee!) They focused on the cards, picked their favorites and made very useful suggestions. They said that 6 cards feel right for my promo pack and they all loved that my contact info was big and handwritten on the back of each card. As you can see all reviewers picked my herb/spice + writing shots. One reviewer encouraged me to include more of my non-food sill life images as well eg. stack of kitchen towels. Another good advice was to include a hand written note in the package letting the recipient know what I like about their publications, why I want to shoot for them and that I will follow up with an email and a call about a week later. (The call part feels rather scary to me. I will have to practice with my friends!) I am very happy that I went, it was a very positive atmosphere and I got some great connections, feedback and referrals out of it!

I had learned about these reviews during grad school. They are organized all over the world by different groups. Some are huge, like Photofest in Houston and some are small like this one sponsored by the New York chapter of APA. If you are considering to attend one or would like to find out more about them I would like to recommend reading Mary Virginia Swanson’s notes on reviews and Jörg M. Colberg on portfolio reviews. Mary Virginia also has a list of reviews at the end of her post.

 

Reviewer looking at my cards

Test Shoot with a Food Stylist

So much has been going on this week. While I was preparing for the review I happened to find out that a food stylist lives a few blocks from me. So far I have done all the styling myself, but since I am not a cook nor stylist I have reached my limits and need to start looking for a team. So, I contacted her to see if she would be interested in doing a test shoot with me…and yes she is! (yippee)

I will let you know how that went next week!

So long,
Evi

PS: Thanks for all the encouraging and helpful feedback!

Over to You

Have you attended a portfolio review event? How was experience? Share your tips and experience below. Would you like to attend an upcoming portfolio review event?

Diary photo by gato-gato-gato

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Comments

  1. Laurence Perfecto says:

    wonderful! good luck evi!

  2. randiemac says:

    This series is great and I totally waiting for the next installment!

  3. How very exciting, Evi!
    Congratulations and looking forward to hearing more good things from you!
    I would love to hear what you learn about food styling, that’s a challenge for me too!

  4. Thank you! I am really looking forward to the shoot with the food stylist. We settled on a summery salad scene with baguette, prosciutto, lemonade and lots of light. Can’t wait, can’t wait.

  5. Finding a food stylist to work with is exciting. Congratulations.

    Like you, I also had a fear of telephoning clients. I found it helpful to write down the purpose of the call and the specific questions I wanted to ask. Then I kept those notes in front of me and wrote down the answers as we talked. Using a speakerphone or a headset makes it easier. Something I always try to do is finish the conversation with some action item that allows me to get in contact with them again. That helps put me top of mind when it’s time to hand out the next assignment. Don’t be afraid to ask when they think that might be. Also, be prepared to accept a small assignment, but not free. Many art buyers use the small stuff to test out photographers for bigger assignments.

    • Have something to say, yes, but don’t say anything negative.
      Also, since you hinted at this, DON’T work for free. Not ever. Once you do that, clients get this weird expectation that they don’t ever have to pay you – you’re the one who works for free. It’s almost impossible to shed that reputation once you have it. And clients do talk among themselves just like photographers do.

      • Hi Les,
        that is very good advice. Especially the action item, maybe arranging for a meeting or sending a portfolio book…or just asking if there are any open assignments I could help with. The more I think about and the better prepared I feel the less intimidating it gets. I also want to make sure I have something to say about their work.

  6. Hi Evi, I work for a publishing company (in New Zealand!!!) I work as a designer and picture editor, I am trying to also get established as a food photographer and stylist. I have all the right connections, we publish Nz’s leading foodie mag, as well as other lifestyle titles that feature food. It should be easy for me huh!!! However they use very talented photographers and stylists who they have built relationships with and get great results everytime, so I’m still on the backfoot. The angle I decided to take is I approached one of the mags that use a lot of food stock images of seasonal vegetables/ fruit etc..and I asked whether they would be interested in looking at any of my stock images I have compiled over the last year, and they said Yes, so I’m hoping that this is my in road to getting some published. It’s not huge money, but its a way to build a portfolio of published work, which means so much more than just a portfolio of work. So my suggestion is to supply your generic images on disk, herbs/ fruits/ vege etc and personally deliver them to the magazine Art Director/ Picture editor for possible selection for publishing. If they like and use your work, it could lead to commissions. Good Luck, Ingrid x

  7. This series has been SO informative. I have felt so alone in the last year working on my photography. I am blown away at your process.

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