If you are a photographer like me or someone aspiring to be one, eventually you will need to have a portfolio.  I won’t get into how I started the process of creating or putting my work into my portfolio, instead I will focus on what to do once you have a body of work and the portfolio review.

My Portfolios

Before I get into the portfolio review, I’ll talk a little about preparing for it.  At some point I decided it was time to get my work in front of creatives, the kind of creatives that might hire me or suggest to hire me to take pictures for a gig.  Over the years, I have had four or five different portfolios.  I’ll admit, some of the earlier ones were total crap, plus I wasn’t ready to show my work.  My photography was all over the place and I was focused too much on buying expensive lenses instead of spending the money on a quality portfolio.  This is all part of the learning process, I have definitely put in my time.  I wish I could say that I started shooting hot models for crazy dollars, but that is far from the truth.  I have been doing this for fourteen years!!!  Anyway…  Before I get into the reviews, I just wanted to share some of my hard goods.  I know, it’s hard to grasp hard goods meaning paper, leather, ink, metal, etc.  Another topic I won’t get into is why do I need a printed portfolio when I have a website.  There’s a thousand other blogs/sites where you can look that up and they will tell you the same thing I will.  There I go rambling on again.  OK, here we go…

Matt D'Annunzio Portfolio


These were done by Scott Mullenberg.  Scott is a rad dude, I haven’t met him in person, I think he lives over in Maine.  He is really cool over the phone, and is the best at what he does.

Here’s the inside

Inside Matt D'Annunzio's portfolio

Inside Matt D’Annunzio’s portfolio

I chose to do all the printing myself.  I’m sure there are companies that do a great job, Stuart can probably point you in the right  direction.  I chose to do it myself so that I would have complete control over the process.  I’m super picky and I can’t imagine how many times I might have to send things back to be redone again and again, and how long it would take all said and done.

Business cards and leave behinds

I also have gone through several versions of leave behinds and business cards, none of which I will brag about.  Again, this is all a learning process.  Once you have a solid body of work, spend the money to have things done right.  My good friend Steve is a graphic designer, he did my logo and business cards.  It’s good to have something cool, professional looking and unique, but some photographers get so caught up in creating overly unique designs.  They spend tons of money and put a lot of attention on it.  I personally like spending more time taking pictures and creating cool unique images instead designing a business card/swiss army/thumb drive/keychain/bottle opener/mustache waxer.  You get the idea…

Here’s two of six of my leave behinds

my leave behinds

Front of my leave behinds

photographer leave behinds

Centerfold of leave behinds


photographer business cards

My business cards

The portfolio review – LA Fotoworks

Alright, now that I’m done showing off my stationary, I’ll get into the portfolio review.  Every meeting is different and you will have to figure them out for yourself.  What I really want to discuss here is my first experience with the “speed dating” style of portfolio reviews.  Back in early April I took a trip down to LA to attend my first Fotoworks.  If you are not familiar, it’s basically an event that you pay $600 – thousands of dollars to meet with potential clients.  The number of meetings you book will determine how much money you spend.  This was my first time doing this, so I only booked about five meetings.  Plus, I researched who their reviewers were, and there were only a handful that matched the type of photography I specialize in.  I focus more on athletic, fitness and outdoor lifestyle.  Most of their reviewers work for ad agencies that focus on celebrity, Hollywood movie type clients.  So that is something to take note of, RESEARCH THE REVIEWERS.  So I figure out who I want to meet with and I get my meetings all set up and fly to LA.

Here’s how the first day went…

Awful!!  But wait it gets better.  So I am driving around downtown LA (the sketchy part) looking for a place to park when I get a text saying that my first meeting has rescheduled.  I have to admit, I was a little relieved.  Parking was getting difficult and I was getting stressed.  So, finally I get up to the loft space where things were taking place.  I have never seen so many photographers in one place, it was frantic.  My second meeting was coming up, so I got situated and figured out which table my reviewer was at.  I won’t name names, but this person was awful!!  I won’t get into detail in case they read this.  So here I am, first day.  I flew all the way in from Portland, spent about 600 bucks to attend this thing, my first meeting no showed and second meeting was a bust.

Day two…

Once again, I arrive and I start getting texts about meetings rescheduling and canceling.  So, I chat with one of the Fotoworks dudes, I think his name was Josh?  Anyway, I start to explain my situation to him and he was awesome.  Super helpful and starts crediting me all these extra meetings.  So here’s another useful note, BRING YOUR LAPTOP!  While waiting for meetings I am researching other reviewers to replace the ones that canceled.  First meeting of day two was great!  Such a relief!  Honestly from then on all of my reviewers were great.  Things are a little crazy though, you literally have 20 minutes with each reviewer and they sometimes are back-to-back.  Be prepared!  I met with a few potential reps, a few art directors from ad agencies and a couple photo editors from West Coast based magazines.  Everyone had great constructive things to say about my work.  They talked about potential work and what in my book could fit with some of their upcoming projects.  I literally went from the bottom of the barrel on day one, to sky high on day two.


Almost immediately after the event I was contacted by a photo editor which gave me an editorial assignment.  I am also still in contact with an art director that could potentially manifest some commercial work.  All and all, this was a great experience and I will be going again, probably in New York.

Please feel free to comment below if you have any questions about my process with preparing for reviews or about my experience with Fotoworks.

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