ASMP — American Society of Media Photographers

My First Time: Tough Lessons from a Portfolio Review

By July 22, 2019 Strictly Business Blog

An image by the author, from her series “Laws of Silence.” This image is currently up at The Griffin Museum of Photography in the Founder’s Gallery. McClure first met Paula Tognarelli, the Griffin’s director, at a portfolio review in 2013. They kept in touch, which led to McClure both showing work at the Griffin, and also teaching a workshop there.


Cross-posted from

[by Jennifer McClure]

My first portfolio review event was Fotofest in Houston in 2012. I’m still not sure what possessed me to sign up for one of the oldest and most prestigious reviews in the business. Until then, I’d had one solo show at a coffee shop on the Lower East Side, and I’d been included in one group show. My work had never been published.

My goal in going to Fotofest was to get my work on a wall. I thought that’s what fine-art photographers were supposed to do. I wasn’t aware yet of the power and reach of the online photo world, which offers emerging artists opportunities to share their work with viewers even if they are not yet exhibiting in galleries, museums or other institutions. I requested reviewers representing commercial and non-profit galleries, and I did very little research beyond reading the bios sent out by festival organizers. I put all my focus on one of my projects, a self-portrait series about relationships that was set in hotel rooms. I made around 20 prints and a personalized Do Not Disturb door hanger with a photo and my contact info. I booked a boutique hotel down the street from the event, because I thought I might do one more shoot for my project. I knew no one and I had no idea what to expect when the reviews began the next morning.

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