portfolios

somehow i have been spending my whole life trying to put together my "portfolio"….it is almost a joke really because i still do not really have one…if someone asks to see my portfolio now, i just send them a book, but for 20 years or so i honestly did not have a real "portfolio"…just never could  figure out how to make a good one…or exactly what was supposed to be in one….

ironically, i review portfolios for others all the time…i have looked at  so many that i do know what the pitfalls are and what makes a strong portfolio that will move you forward….and what will "strike a chord" for editors, art directors and publishers….for sure , your portfolio should reflect your style and your professional expertise if you are looking for editorial work or fantasizing your first book.. ..

for sure you do not want to show how many different kinds of things you can do … you should present  a singular vision.. you do not want to show how "many" good pictures you have made or really cool trips you have taken…..30 works which  show "you" are what most reviewers what to see….unique artistic  vision  , heartfelt involvement,  or  powerful  documentation  are the things that separate the "nice portfolios" from the "great" ones….

i mentioned in an earlier post that i had been drafted by my Magnum colleagues to help initiate an educational program for Magnum starting now  with the Magnum Festival celebrating our 60th "barely surviving the whole time"  year….but we HAVE survived 60 yrs……and i must say, survived on principle….we have survived because  we have  such unique, difficult, talented, multi-cultural, brave, renegade,individualistic, stylistic, unrealistic, pessimistic, optimistic, organic, egotistic, crusading, naive, all-knowing, not one like the other, photographers in our midst….

here in new york on june 17 we will have our first portfolio review program, "First Impressions"…go to the Magnum link here and check out the specifics…..this is not a recruiting program at all, but a program designed to help some of you think about your personal "next step"….tap into the accumulated knowledge of larry towell, alec soth, jim goldberg, susan meiselas, trent parke, mark power and yours truly….we all might just learn something….   

52 Responses to “portfolios”


  • Portfolio review is great idea… and it’s nice there is oportunity like that for “us”.

    I hope Magnum will start some bigger educational program… because not everybody are abble to participate in portfolio review in June.

    I am still dreaming about some sponsored Magnum’s workshop for people from all over the world :-).. for people who don’t have thousends dolars to pay for it.

  • aga…

    that is exactly what i am working on….i am very well aware of this need…please be patient and we will try to make it happen for you…

    david

  • I made a remark about it that it would be exciting and scary.

    I mean hell, if Trent Park says your shots arent up to par….what can you really say?

    Still, this makes me wish I was in NY….and it makes me realize how far I am from any real center of things.

    Funny story. I was going to have mine reviewed at the Seoul International Photography Festval (ever heard of it? I bet not LOL). Judging by the number of people with SERIOUS equipment (50 year old housewives with 1D Mark II and L lenses, Leicas, etc, college students with pro equipment) walking around Seoul, I was ready to wait long. So I decided to go on a sunday, not the Saturday, hoping for shorter lines.. Well, I went. The lines were short. Infact so short there were no lines. The portfolio review was cancelled because nobody showed up on Saturday.

    It was then I realized that Im in no-man’s land, photographically speaking. After being angry for them cancelling it I wanted to cry. Now I look carefully at these people and that pro equipment is being used to take photos of flowers and girlfriends. I want to cry.

  • rafal…

    like i told aga, we are working on having something near you….and , at least, you will have me to take a good look at your work in august…i will be in seoul mid-august…

    so, between now and then….well, you know what to do…get busy!!!!

    david

  • Hey Dave ,Say G’Day to Parkey for me?

  • David… i am happy that you and other “Magnum people” are thinking about it.. i am sure you all know that for young people Magnum (especialy website) is a very important part of growing…
    When i started photography at the beggining of 2004, Magnum’s website was my firsth source with GOOD photography.. i remember i was watching Magnum’s photos everyday few hours a day (the archiwe was available for everybody that time)
    :-)

    Rafal… i think there is nothing to be affraid when you show portfolio… you do it to know more about your photography and improve it… complements will not teach you… only critique is good
    I am happy because i will have small portfolio review this weekend with very severe person :-)

  • Im not afraid…actually I welcome a conversation about photography…thats why I went to that review…just to talk to somebody about photos:)

    David,

    hah well I know what I have to do…I will try but now you are putting the pressure on:)

  • Well, i wish i was close to New York these days. Just close enough to breath this, you know? Young people full of energy, experienced guys willing to give a hand. That’s fine, really fine. In some way reminds me the ancient philosophic schools. Making knowledge flow. Hope this spreads soon for all over the world. Maybe then i’ll have a good reason to go back to Brasil. Cheers, David.

  • Don’t you think this lowers the bar for the magnum photographers and the agency: These photographers are not interested in seeing other peoples work; While they have there own vision and are completely satisfied with where they are in there place as pro-photographers. All of that you have been mentioning in your blog. (Your own distinct vision).

  • Hi David, hi all.
    I was so lucky to have my portfolio reviewed by the man David Alan Harvey one day in Verona, few years ago.
    I do agree with him: there’s not a single way – or the best one – to do it. It’s basically a mess, even worst because it’s your own work and you can’t be detached and objective. You tend to be too indulgent or too aggressive.
    That same day, David reviewed probably 15 or more portfolios. He’s very outspoken, as you can easily guess, but he really wants to be honest and helpful. That could mean he could be rude and supportive at the same time: and “supportive” means he can also tell you to forget photography. Why am I telling this? Because what you should expect from a portfolio review is a in-depth critique and it could and should be even rude and tough.
    Do not go there because you want to listen to a Magnum photographer who tells you how good you are. He won’t do that. You should get your portfolio reviewed because you need to improve your skills and you really want to get further.
    Last few things:
    1. You’re showing your point of view, not your pictures. That’s a big difference. Let’s say “You’re showing your point of view through your pictures”.
    2. Tell it in few pictures. David says 30 is fine, I think 15 is better. He’s able to tell a story in NG Magazine in max 20 pics, who are you to deserve more?
    3. Graphics and layout. Repeat it. Graphics tells a lot more about you than you may think. I bet editors pay a lot of attention to it. Good photos awfully displayed become suddenly ugly photos.
    These fantastic guys at Magnum are giving you their most precious gift: their time. Don’t waste it.
    David: thank you for this great site and thank you again because that day in Verona you listened to me and gave me good advices.
    Less is always more.

  • Timothy.. can you explain what you mean.. ? I don’t understand what you want to say.. that magnum photographers are ignoramus? or that people who want to have portfolio review dont care for their opinion (just want to show their works)?

  • As David Has stated in this Blog Photographers hang with photographers and word spreads fast amongst, as a high five for other photographers who to watch out for. The Magnum agency has been known for the best of the best, as we all know to obtain magnum membership one needs to be in the top of the top. Portfolio reviews as David stated in this post! He is not even sure what is in a good portfolio for that particular editor. Portfolio reviews have been around in US organizations for a while. If you go to a few you will realize they are somewhat helpful and somewhat hindrance in ones growth; all pertaining to that particular reviewer. Common reviewers at thease review sessions (Gallery owners and photo editors) are surfing the industry for industry trends and these photographers are not surfing – they are steadfast in there own vision. To help is great but this agency has been very exclusive for the most of its life and to be opening its doors now to a new breath of fresh air is a bit different, As Martino mentioned if you plan to go and let them tell you how good your portfolio is don’t go! but, my question still is; Is this not lowering the bar of the agency?

  • ok, now i understand more what you mean :-)

  • well timothy, you make an interesting point… but even though magnum photogs may each have his/her own ‘vision’, it doesn’t mean that they can’t spot another person’s vision, if it is strong, a mile away. these photographers are incredibly knowledgable and a review by any of them would benefit any emerging photographer i think. they aren’t looking for young photogs whom emulate them, rather they are looking to help young photogs get focused in their own vision, if that’s what they want. but i guess i don’t understand the ‘lowering the bar’ question.. i don’t see how it could. whatya think? gotta run..

  • Timothy: I don’t agree with you, sorry.
    I’ve met some of those photographers and there’s one thing they have in common: curiosity. How could they be so good if they were not driven by curiosity? Curiosity is the base of their work and they apply it to others’ works too. At the beginning I thought you should show them a work that could look like theirs, but I was totally wrong. They (I mean: the best photographers) are very humble people. Harvey is one of this kind, that’s for sure. They’re attracted by very different works from their own. They’re not interested in their own clones, simply because photography is communication, and what’s already been said isn’t interesting at all. The more you’re far from their point of view, the more they’ll find you interesting. At least if you can offer a point of view, and it ain’t always easy.

  • Martino makes an interesting point… graphics of your portfolio can make a difference. Unfortunately for me he’s right. I don’t really get presentation graphics so much. I saw David Griffin spend a lot of time talking to a photographer in our class about the presentation of his pictures.. sure he talked about the pictures, too… but I was surprised at the emphasis on the presentation and layout.. I just thought, great, one MORE hurdle to think about, as if taking great pictures isn’t hard enough.

    This makes me want to ask Harvey: what was your Magnum portfolio like? What did you present to them? Or were you courted?

  • Let’s see it like this: it isn’t said that a good photographer is a good graphic designer too. He’s not asked to be like that. But, as far as he’s got a vision, he can see a good graphic when he sees one. It’s easy to get a good layout when you’ve got a Phaidon graphic who works for you, but it’s quite different when you’re managing your own stuff. That day Harvey showed us some of his books (perfectly designed) and a kind of pamphlet or small book he got published on his work on Cuba (not graphically exciting, I must admit – but he found it very nice) and, last one, a portfolio he made by himself with one of those online services by Apple (the worst printed, but a decent book as well). What does it all mean? It means that a portfolio is made of pictures and of something more subtle, like how you show them. The graphic. But graphics cannot take over the subject: it must be a way to show it and nothing more. It must be neutral and silent in many ways, but it must be thought and designed. It’s the infrastructure: you could even not care about it, but it must exist.

  • I think finding your personal vision is a quest that will probably last a good portion of your life. It evolves and expands and matures. It’s a good thing that photographers aren’t “surfing the industry for the latest trends” because that’s not what finding your personal vision is about. The strength in art comes from the artist. It comes from knowing that the artist completely believes in the vision that they place before you. It’s okay to evolve. We’re always changing. But to ride the waves of the latest fad is superficial and never works long term.
    I’m just starting out. A poet, learning the language and writing a few rhymes. I’m nowhere near where I want to be as an artist. But I can feel myself evolving. And I can tell you that it has just as much to do with a John Steinbeck book and a Woody Guthrie song and a Wulf Barsch painting than it does an image from “Minutes to Midnight.”
    Mark J Davis
    http://www.markjdavisartist.com

  • glenn…

    i think parkey is coming over to my house to drink all of my stubbies…

    rafal…

    no my friend not pressure…just incentive for you …please relax, enjoy your life..love serendipity….find sensitivity….do not “work”, just do not stop making photographs….

    edgard….

    you have a really good attitude all way around….and you are poetic in the way you write….i hope this will manifest itself into equally poetic photographs…

    timothy..

    i was a little confused by your comment…magnum photographers always are very very interested in emerging photographers work..how do you think we have evolved and grown??? self-satisfaction would have led to a very early death…

    how could looking at emerging photographers work be “lowering the bar” of the agency?? it would be a mistake to think that magnum photographers are only interested in magnum photographers…i see many amazing photographers who should not even be professional photographers at all, but who really have a book to publish for example…a good book..they have something to say and i will try to help them say it…but, perhaps they do not have the personality to deal with the business…does this make them not worth seeing???

    and i can love gregory crewdson for example…brilliant… but he would not be appropriate for magnum…magnum is representative of photographers who “bear witness”…but there are many many other styles and types of photography that i (we) hold very high….

    two things:

    (1)in these reviews we might just be very helpful to someone…not necessarily to make them into a magnum photographer, but just help them to take their own personal “next step”…helping others always feels good and can elevate the business in general..this is our only goal or philosophy behind these reviews..

    (2) we might just see someone who does have potential in our agency which can only grow and survive with new talent..word of mouth works, but this might work too..why not find out??.this is what we have always done…the door has always always been open to those who can walk through it…

    lance…

    my portfolio for magnum as a nominee consisted of the little book “tell it like it is” that i did when i was 22…and new work on the spanish diaspora, mostly from oaxaca, mexico…i think i also had about 15 singles that were random pictures but put together as if they “belonged”..i wish i had kept that presentation together…i think it was about 40-50 pictures total…

    martino…

    so nice to hear from you!! i hope i was not “rude” to you in verona…great city!!…maybe the translation from italian to english makes “rude” correct…i do not know…but, i would not want to be perceived as rude to anyone….honest yes, rude no….

    if i was rude, as in my translation, i apologize!!!!

    mark…

    you are absolutely right, right and right!!!

    cheers, david

  • 40-50 shots?

    I think Ill show you about that many actually when you visit Seoul. Ive been printing off my better shots regularly so itll be easy to put together…the hard part being the selection process….Im very curious about your opinion, and I was really joking about the pressure. I feel none, Im just happy Ill be able to show the photos to someone like you

  • So Timothy,

    your opinion has been pretty much blown out of the water by none other than a Magnum photographer. care to offer more insights? I see no logic in any photographer locking himself up in his ivory tower…can you say stagantion? This goes especially so for an agency who as far as I know is still open to others to join. yes, you need to be at the very top but how does a portfolio review somehow lower the bar of Magnum as an agency? That just makes no sense.

    “These photographers are not interested in seeing other peoples work;”

    And you know this how? David, do you know ANYONE at Magnum or another agency who “isnt interested in other people’s work”????? Holy cow, I would think that what makes a photographer great is not technical skill but vision and PASSION for photography. And if Im passionate about photography that means I want to see as much work from others as possible.

    “While they have there own vision and are completely satisfied with where they are in there place as pro-photographers”

    David, can you say you are 100% completely satisfied with where you are as a photographer. Can anyone really say thay are? I mean geez, all it takes is to go look at, just to use an example, Martin Parr’s retrospective. The very obvious thing I got from it was how DIFFERENT his work was at the beginning and now, and the mind boggling difference in style and subject matter that he has gone through in his years as a photographer. This is not someone who ic “completely satisfied” with where he is or was. I am sure that in 10 years he will be on to somnething totally different. This is called growth. Self satisfaction leads to stagnation.

  • I am in the process of building portfolios. It is quite a job. I used to work in a creative commercial world. You can be objective on clients’ products but for your own, it becomes subjective. To have portfolio reviewed can get things that you don’t see in your own works.
    I wish I was in NY. You should come down under sometime.

  • I am in the process of building portfolios. It is quite a job. I used to work in a creative commercial world. You can be objective on clients’ products but for your own, it becomes subjective. To have portfolio reviewed can get things that you don’t see in your own works.
    I wish I was in NY. You should come down under sometime.

  • I am in the process of building portfolios. It is quite a job. I used to work in a creative commercial world. You can be objective on clients’ products but for your own, it becomes subjective. To have portfolio reviewed can get things that you don’t see in your own works.

    I wish I was in NY. You should come down under sometime.

  • I had my portfolio reviewed recently by Joachim Ladefoged from VII agency at their seminar in London, I was lucky because I won a small contest at myspace and it was the prize so it was free for me. was it something special? hard to say, we just talked about my photos, he said what he liked and what not, told me a few things about organizing stories. he liked my photos and was very supportive. hearing good things from a very good photographer helps your ego but not sure it can help to start your photography career, if your photos are ok then what you hear usually is that you are doing a good job and keep shooting and then show your work to editors etc. would I pay for a portfolio review? not sure
    anyway, I really like your blog David, you are very passionate about photography

  • I’ve been lucky enough to have my work looked at by a few of the Magnum photographers when I interned at Magnum. Every time one of them took the time to sit down with me, they were genuinely interested and happy in helping me and giving me advice. These guys have a wealth of knowledge of life in this business we call photography and I think anyone who has experience is always willing to share it to people who are genuinely interested and willing to learn.

    For the record, I think David’s portfolio review was the best one I had. (I’m not just saying this David because this is your blog!) I’d been shooting for a year or two and was starting to take photography more seriously. To cut a long story short, I put together what I thought were my best photos, and took them along to a workshop we did in Lisbon. David’s reputation preceded him so I was obviously nervous, but hoped I could impress him. However, David really didn’t like them very much. He was completely honest with me, picking up on a few positives but it was generally quite negative. I was gutted…I’d blown my chance to impress him. Anyway, I picked up my camera and shot like crazy for the next week, listening to every word David told me and the group. I was determined to prove to him, and I guess to myself most importantly, that I could shoot. My photos were the best I had ever taken and I left looking on the world and how I shot it completely differently.

    The portfolio review was a real slap in the face to get me to push myself even harder. Even though it was negative it pushed me on further than had David said they were nice photos, trying not to hurt my feelings.

    So, thanks David!

  • maciej..

    i do not think that a portfolio review will do anything other than get you to think perhaps a little differently about your work and your motives…no portfolio review can “solve all of your problems”…and if you totally have your “act together” you certainly do not need anything at all..

    interestingly, we at magnum give each other portfolio reviews all the time!! you should see koudelka going around getting his portfolio reviewed!!

    as far as paying for a review is concerned, you will find any of us giving free reviews all the time…the problem is only in getting us with the free time to do it…in this case, we got the cost down as much as we possibly could and only factored in renting the space and to pay the staff necessary to organize the whole thing and then be able to guarantee you a specific time with three different photographers…

    i remember way back when i was about 21 or so and trying to get someone to look at my work…i must have spent hundreds of dollars on bus tickets, train tickets, food, cheap hotels,gas, maybe even university tuition could be thrown in there just to get someone to take a look…hopefully, this is the least expensive thing you could do to find out some important information…

    sean…

    you are the perfect example…yes, yes…your original portfolio was not bad, it just was not good enough for what you told me you wanted to do…

    that is the key..i always ask the photographer what he or she wants to do with the work…

    and in lisbon, i remember, you shot around the festival that was going on and totally blew me away…really nice , loose, freestyle pictures..not at all like the portfolio you showed me at the beginning…i remember them now and that must have been five years ago…

    you were the perfect “student” anyway….you listen, and then you go do it…your newest work in china is first rate..up there at the top…i predict that you are just on the verge of something very special…you should be thinking book, book and book very soon….

    hope to see you soonest….

    david

  • my portfolio review was very good as well, Joachim gave me plenty of time and was genuinely interested in my photographs and my situation as a someone who tries to be a “full time” photographer, he gave me many advices. the thing is that I think I know what to do, the thing is to do it actually, give yourself a good kick in the a** and go and make those great stories.
    yes, a portfolio review can be a good kick, and it is flattering when you get good words from someone who you really respect. but in today’s world the Internet is a good place to have your work reviewed as well, there are many Internet photo communities, like Flickr, pbase or TrekEarth and when you post your photos there you see what people say about your work

  • David: you know what? When I was writing that “rude” I thought ‘Mmmmm: this can be misunderstood. Not sure it’s correct…’. I should listen to myself a little bit more, at least to my anglo-self. I meant “honest”. Noo, you’re not rude at all: you’re honest and outspoken, I really didn’t want to say anything bad about you. I’m sorry.

  • Maciej .. do you really think places like flickr and other photo comunities are good? I don’t think it’s good.. and i don’t think you can learn there something..

    I see many very bad pictures on flickr and good coments about them.. people are talking to much nice things to each other, and almost at all critique… for me is only place to storage pictures and give a links to my friends… sometimes to look at others pictures, but I don’t treat it as protfolio review…

  • Aga, you’re right! Flickr is probably the best online photo community, but it’s got nothing to do with good photography. Or rather: it’s big and huge as the whole world, thus you can find good and bad things in it. Usually comments on Flickr are a waste of time: I’ve never received a useful comment, only “Nice shot” and “Wow” and things like these. Are these useful comments? Nahh. You can find many good photogs there, and bad ones who got tons of comments and views. It’s hard to find a logic in it. Or, here you are the logic: naked women and landscape work perfectly in the Flickr world. I bet that, if DAH was on Flickr, he couldn’t get as much attention as a modest woman who does naked selfportraits. On Flickr, the most viewed photostreams are not often the best ones.

  • true, you don’t learn much on flickr, but at least you can see which of your photos are good – people leave comments on photos they like, so for example if you are not sure about a particular photo it is a good idea to send it to flickr. but there must be a group of people that follows your photos, if not you can send it to groups.

    the best place I know to learn about photography is http://www.TrekEarth.com, that’s the first community I joined in 2003 having no idea about photography. There is a quite nice group of knowledgable and passionate about photography people, that’s where I learned about composition, light and all that stuff. Simply by posting pictures, commenting other’s photos and getting comments about my photos. one thing you don’t learn there is how to make stories, how to structure them, it is a very “single photo oriented” community.

  • Maciej.. i can not agree with you.. i can not see which of my photos are good looking at comments from people on flickr… :-)
    I think as Martino wrote before – the best Flickr’s photo is with naked woman, sunset, sweet dog or baby ;-)

    I am sorry, but in this case internet is VERY VERY poor…
    also on lightstalkers people tell all the time too much compliments (i think they do it only to make people like them).. once somebody wanted critique and when i said what i don’t like, this person was offended on me ;-)

  • > the best Flickr’s photo is with naked
    >woman, sunset, sweet dog or baby ;-)

    yes, but if you post a photo (let’s say travel photos) and nobody comments it and it is viewed 10 times and then you post another one and it gets 20 comments and 200 views then it means something i guess.
    if you don’t like comments on flickr then just join TrekEarth, you will see, comments you get there (if you are an active member commenting photos) are completely different than those on flickr

  • Maciej.. i still say it means nothing :-)

    I don’t say i dont like comments on Flickr… it’s something diffrent.. i just don’t pay attention to comments on Flickr :-)
    and i am definately not going to join TrekEarth… because i am not interested in such things… i had some pics on Deviantart for short time, but now i think it’s loosing time.. i preffer to go out and shoot and than talk with good (experienced or talented begginers) photographers about my work than talk about my photos with some accidental people on internet who are interested in shooting flowers…
    I am very glad i met here for example Lance .. and i am always happy to get his comments.. but i don’t really care about flickr watchers who love sunsets and sweet babys with chocolate on the face.. i don’t say i don’t respect that people, but i am definately not interested what they think about my pics… and i think it’s not good thing to worry about their comments (especialy this positive comments)…

  • hey thanks aga! i feel the same.

    i’ve had mixed emotions about flickr.. i initially joined for easy storage/access to post my photos on other sites… but if i spend more than ten minutes browsing around, then i usually get that sick feeling like i’ve been watching a bad sitcom or something.. ten minutes of my life i can’t get back! (except for my friend’s pictures/snapshots.. i ALWAYS love those!)

    anyway, back to the portfolio review… one of the best things about a good portfolio review is not necessarily what someone else says about your work, but how your perspective changes in preparing for a review.. when i know i’m about to present to someone i respect, i start see things that i hadn’t seen before and tend to edit tighter.. it’s a great thing.

  • I agree with you Lance…
    but also it depends of the reason why you are showing portfolio..
    tomorrow i will show my portfolio to other photographer to learn more… so i will show more pictures – even some weak pictures.. to learn about my mistakes
    but when i show my porftolio to agency, i show only best images!

  • I agree that sites like flickr, photo.net and others don’t add value when you need an opinion about your work with some criteria… and could be interesting to find a way to use the internet to interchange opinions about portfolios… but internet is so free to get in, that is very easy to any site to get contaminated with empty commentaries…
    But, anyway, a portfolio discussed in internet would have the value that can be discussed by people with a large spectrum of cultural values… that seems interesting…

  • i just posted a comment under “ego” and realized that part of it relates to this discussion…check that out if you have time…

    essentially, i think you must always be the first judge of your work…getting other opinions can be helpful for “structural” purposes and for thinking about how you might work better…but you can never judge your own work by how it is “voted on” by others…

    that is my problem with photographers who over-analyze contests and then go try to do the same thing as the “first place” winner from the year before….as i have said before, you do have to “sail your own boat”

    a good portfolio review should help you to think about how you will spend your time, but not tell you how to “see” or turn you into something that you are not…

    when i look at a portfolio i analyze both the work and the person…..ok, this person, this personality, has these pictures and is telling me that he/she wants to do this…i then try to figure out a way for them to think about it perhaps differently than the way they are looking at it..either by shooting or by editing…..that is all i can do…

    perhaps, not incidentally, i see that editing is as much a part of a photographers presentation as the shooting style…but that, my friends, is another story…a very very important story…

  • Hi. My name is Francisco Niama. I am from Quito, Ecuador. I wrote you because i want to say thanks, because of you i am a journalist. And in the future: photojournalist. And all because of two national geographic. the one you work in Napoles and the other in Barcelona. Thanks again. I’ll be in touch.

  • And this page rules. It really teachs about photography and human relationships.

  • Sorry, again. You paste a picture of three mens, sitting and smiling. One of them reminds me to Fernando Meirelles, a movie director from brasil. He directed City of god and was nominated an acadamy award for best director. The other two i guess are writters or producers.

  • the picture was pasted on may 28, 2007.

  • Aga,

    I think you are being unfairly dismissive of what maciek is saying. You say you show your work to friends. Thats great. But I think you are very narrow on your definition of a friend. In these modern times friends dont have to be people who are physically near you. I too started out on Trek Earth, and among many friends there, there are professional photographers, people who organize contests and exhibitions, published photographers and lesser known but very talented ones. The critiques there average a paragraph and often run on for several. You really cant compare it with flickr where one word comments are the norm.

  • i agree. flickr isn’t the ideal situation. a lot of times, the opinions i get on photos aren’t the opinions i’m seeking. “cool photo” has never helped me grow.

    but there are great communities online like APhotoADay. it’s a listserv that’s basically built around fostering creativity and ideas in a peer-based environment. it’s also dedicated to the advancement of photojournalism.

    over the years i’ve used it for different reasons at different times. sometimes i don’t say a word and merely soak up the inspiration from others. sometimes, i’m in the midst of a project and i send photos to get an objective opinion. i’ve also used it to talk about what direction a story is going, and get feedback on things i may not be thinking about yet.

    to me it embodies the idea of community, and it wouldn’t be possible without the internet. somehow it makes the photo world, infinitely smaller. right now there are over 600 members, spanning pretty much every state in the union, and about a dozen countries abroad. it’s such a wide range of experience and talent — with pulitzer winners to high school students, and everyone in between.

    and ultimately, that’s what it’s all about. sharing. i think i’ve learned as much from the critiques on there and question that the younger photojournalists ask, as i do from getting to see the thought processes of some of the older pjs.

    http://www.aphotoaday.org/statement/

  • It’s been interesting reading this post ;))))))))….having having tried to write something yesterday at LS constructive and in support of Magnum’s review, i dont have much to offer here that has been tickled already….

    only an anecdote to offer younger (and older) photographers….each time i develop negs, it’s a personal crisis, and on going review, each time i print something, its another crisis (ok, its not that dramatic ;)) ), and this, to paraphrase eliot “forcing the moment to its crisis” as not diminished, not one moment, over time. in fact, i often think that age and time and “confidence” simply fertilizes those things, and hell, if fear and doubt isnt the most beautifully fucking fecund thing i know: as Milosz once wrote, its all about the wonder, the wonder of that which disappears and that excitement and sadness and uncertainty is what roots, fully, your work and your life to that which is unrootable….

    and this:

    my wife is in russia for a few weeks, so i show my son some pictures and i wait (like a young photographer standing in line at Magnum/VII review) nervous as shit to see what he thinks…and its always a revelation, and im not (not totally at least) kidding….his words and his review are often the most honest and most insightful and most, ummmmm, harsh….cause there aint no bullshitting him (something i do continually with myself)….

    if you fail at magnum, get yourself a child ;))), one who you can trust and one who doesnt give a shit about your photography but cares about you and well, doesnt mince words….

    after your own work, your own thoughts, i cannot think of anything more essential to a photographer (or any other walk of life) than someone to talk, openly and honestly and curiously, over the ends of the day, the ends of the work…

    a review aint about recruiting, but something more essential: continuing to harvest the bulbs you’ve spent your entire life seeding: your work and the work of your collegues….

    when will photographers understand that reviewing other work IS rewarding (exhausting too) because seeing new work and talking with photographers about their work also seeds your own life, for did we not all get into this racket (or any racket) through the dint and inspiration of another…..

    i hope all of you who attend enjoy and enrich yourselves, im sure it will be enriching: for reviewee and reviewer alike

    cheers
    bob

  • by the way, here’s the Milosz poem, maybe Aga (my son loves your huskies!) can submit the original….

    Encounter

    We were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn.
    A red wing rose in the darkness.

    And suddenly a hare ran across the road.
    One of us pointed to it with his hand.

    That was long ago. Today neither of them is alive,
    Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture.

    O my love, where are they, where are they going
    The flash of a hand, streak of movement, rustle of pebbles.
    I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.

    –Czeslaw Milosz

  • Rafał… i think you don’t understand what I mean… so i will try to explain…

    I agree with one thing with you – yes, i have narrow definition of friends :-)

    Flickr is for me a good place to storage pictures and show my pictures to MY friends (people who i know, sometimes also from internet, but with who i am writing mails, chatting on msn, meeting on David’s blog – Lance and Sandip for example ect.)…
    Most of my pictures (for example my new project) on flickr are only for “friends&family” or “private” (and you haven’t seen these pictures at all)… because i have it there from other reasons -not to show people and wait for nice comments but to try to put them in order (i like a lot slideshows on flickr, is so easy to change order)…many times i use flickr only to give a link to my boyfriend (photographer and my critic) instead of sending him pictures in mail…

    I don’t say, you and Maciek have to treat Flickr same as I do… i just think that comments from Flickr users don’t have a big value for me…
    As i said i had photos on DA (Deviatart) but everyday i was reading what an amazing and beautifull pictures i have (which is not true)… the most faved and commented picture was avarage (off course sweet small gypsy kids ;-))

    Bob Black :-) … i love huskys, too!!! all huskys, not only from my pics :-P

  • ps. Rafal.. maybe EarthTrek is different.. (i saw it few months ago and didn’t like… was looking same as DA or Flickr)… i am just not interested in such things.. :-)
    Maybe i will change my opinion some day… but i preffer to read David’s blog, lightstalkers, and go to shoot than sit more on computer and read people’s comments (i am already sitting too much next to the screen)

  • no matter if these sites are good or not… is not the same discuss ONE photo, than a complete portfolio anyway…
    I don’t see how the discussion of a single photo can contribute to a photographer to realize if his work is communicating what he is trying to communicate…

  • Carlos… you are right.. it’s the most important

  • helloooo… where are everybody? i am just after portfolio (i dont even think i can call my few pics portfolio)review .. and i am happy :-)
    All my pics are “shit” pics (i am sory to use not pretty word ;-)) .. so now i have to start to do good pictures with my all new knowledge :-)
    Hugs for everybody with…
    Aga with a rewolution in her head ;-)

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