12 Tips to Prepare for a Portfolio Review

Sat 01st Jan, 2022

Posted by APA New York in Professional, Student

Welcome to fall and the start of the Portfolio Review season. APA|NY is starting it off with a great chance to sit down with top creatives to get insights as to how to improve your portfolio. We've put together a list with the following 12 tips to prepare you to get the best out of your Portfolio Review:

  1. Keep it short & sweet. With a portfolio, quantity counts for nothing.  If the viewer wants to see more, they'll look for it. Keep it to no more than 20 images.
  2. Start strong. End strong. Start out with a bang. With your last image, you want to reinforce everything that has come before and end with the impression of excellence. With the last piece, your goal is to leave a mark. 
  3. Purge your weakest work. Your portfolio is defined by your best work, but it might be dismissed for the worst. You should constantly strive to improve your portfolio, not by adding, but by replacing weaker images with stronger ones.
  4. Know your brand. Once you have the final pieces selected, make sure they’re cohesive, that they form your “brand.” You don’t want your portfolio to look like it’s a group of many peoples’ work.
  5. Keep the design of the portfolio simple. Choose a background for your work that visually recedes. White for a printed book. Black or white backgrounds for a digital book. Keep to to one or 2 images per page for the most impact.
  6. Make sure the pieces flow nicely from one to the next. Look at the colors, subject matter and story flow of a project for example and that they work well together.
  7. Non-client work is OK. What you include doesn’t always have to be paid client projects. Reviewers look for passion projects to see what you are truly interested in and the story behind the initiative.
  8. It’s not just about the photographs. It’s also about you. Reviewers are looking closely at how you carry yourself, how engaged you are, articulate, calm, etc.
  9. Talk less. Do not jabber away explaining each of your images, unless you are asked. The work must speak for itself.
  10. Be guided by the comments. A reviewer’s comments are in context of the specific needs of the type of projects they do. Use this opportunity to get honest feedback, ask for it!
  11. Do not expect an assignment. Your review is often the first date of a possibly long relationship.
  12. Leave something behind. Have a well-designed leave behind. One or two of your strongest images. If you are not a designer, get help from art director/graphic designer friends.

Put these tips to the test. Click here to sign up for our upcoming Portfolio Review today.



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