Mimi Mollica, founder of Offspring Photo Meet and a photographer in his own right, talks to us about the portfolio reviews, giving advice to photographers looking to get involved.
PW: For anyone not familiar, could you explain a bit about Offspring Photo Meet and how it came about?
Offspring Photo Meet it’s a yearly photo-event comprising of portfolio reviews, talks, panels, workshops, a Best Portfolio Award and most of all a great chance to hang out, discover and connect with photography!
We started in early 2015 with the simple ambition to create a one-off event with friends and colleagues celebrating photography over two days of photo-fun time. The sudden buzz around the event was a very encouraging sign and everyone who attended the event in March 2015 couldn’t wait for a second and a third and fourth event and so here we are at our 5th edition!
PW: When would you recommend photographers start to think about attending portfolio reviews?
It’s never too late to show your work around and you can start attending portfolio reviews as early as after college, or whenever you have a consistent body of work which you’d like to circulate.
Presenting your portfolio to experts of the industry allows you to get a feel of how people respond to your work, it opens up career opportunities and it’s the perfect context to receive honest and constructive feedback on your photographs. It’s important to know who you are going to present your work to and it’s paramount to have a clear idea of what you would like to get out of this experience.
PW: How do you suggest photographers choose reviewers?
My first and foremost tip is to research the people you intend to speak to. It’s essential to know who they are, who they work for, what their interests and field of expertise are, if they commission photographers and what’s made them somehow relevant in the photography world. By acquiring this information before you make your choice, you will be able to identify the photo experts who best fit your purpose. It’s also good to see a variety of people. Buyers, commissioners, curators, and editors have different perspectives on photography and can offer you a multitude of precious insights about your work and how the industry works.
PW: Do you have any advice on getting the most out of a photography portfolio review?
Be open, honest and prepared to start a dialogue instead of entering a one-way conversation, which is never constructive for either of the people involved.
Be clear about your goals, show confidence and modesty and do not describe the photographs, only introduce them with concise and pertinent words, so you can let the reviewer feel free to absorb your work. Present only the work you wish to share and have something else ready to show, in case the discussion requires you to pull a rabbit out of the hat. Sometimes I’m intrigued by a project and beg the photographer for more images! This is where the excitement begins, when you sparkle an interest and the reviewer is responsive to your work, a real dialogue begins and you both come out winners!
PW: In your experience, do you think reviewers have a preference to seeing digital or printed works?
I think it really depends on the kind of work you present in a portfolio review. There isn’t a fixed set of rules and different reviewers might prefer different formats. The decision should be made based on the nature of your work and your purpose of intent. Ask yourself if you are showing your work for a pitch or if you are seeking to get some advice? Are you presenting a narrative or single images? Is your work commercial or editorial/personal? These questions will help a photographer to make the right choice, the one pertinent to the context of a portfolio review.
When fellow photographers share their on-going project with me and seek my opinion, I like to be able to shuffle around small prints in order to visualise and ponder on different sequences.
PW: What are the biggest mistakes photographers make during reviews?
Speaking too much would probably be interpreted as a sign of insecurity and if that is a genuine aspect of oneself, there is nothing wrong in showing your real nature, but this could become a problem if you are trying to hide some evident shortcomings…
I would also advise photographers to arrive at a portfolio review prepared with a printed or digital portfolio that is clear, flows seamlessly and that truly represents what you are about, otherwise there isn’t any point in investing your time and money into it. Usually, as a starting point, I would advise to opt for quality rather than quantity.
PW: What is the best piece of advice you could give review attendees?
Did I not give a few already? Anyhow, my advice is to think about a portfolio review as an open dialogue where you have the chance to present who you are and what you do, in the context of a relaxed one-to-one discussion.
If I am allowed to drop a couple of wisdom bombs (laughing here) I would say that it’s vital to think that you are potentially representing an opportunity for the reviewer and not the other way round. If you repeat this in your mind as a mantra everything will adjust accordingly, you will be clear about your intentions and will efficiently offer a concise presentation to get your message across. Another piece of advice if to describe your methodology, your artistic approach and process. Giving this insight about your work is what makes the difference between presenting a wonderful work and presenting a wonderful work that a reviewer wants to be involved in.
PW: What are the benefits of having your portfolio reviewed?
Get out of your comfort zone, show your work around, be ready to receive critiques and praise, listen to others’ perspectives, be open to build new relationships, give a boost to your career, test the ground for new ideas, get talked about, introduce yourself to new environments, explore new avenues and engage with your industry. This is why it’s necessary to show your work around and this is what portfolio reviews are about.
PW: What are the perks of attending a Offspring Photo Meet portfolio review?
The Offspring Photo Meet is not just simply a portfolio review, but it’s the best photo-time you can have in London. I like to refer to our event as a portfolio review on steroids! We celebrate photography and offer a platform where talent can be displayed and enjoyed by a culturally vibrant crowd of photographers, editors, curators, collectors, producers, art buyers and more.
This year we’ll feature a stellar line-up of more than 45 photo experts ranging from a wide spectrum of different photography arenas. Magazines, galleries, curators, creative directors and producers, editors and consultants will represent the top of British and international photo industry. Our cultural programming will bring excellence in photography before the eyes and ears of many photography lovers. David Campany will talk about his unique approach, looking at his exhibitions, books and collaborations. George Georgiou will grace us with the very first public presentation of his newest work on American Parades. Monica Alcazar-Duarte, nominated for this year Discovery Award in Arles and previously a winner of our Best Portfolio Award will enter in a duet/presentation for our Beer O’Clock Talk with Louis Quail and his upcoming Big Brother book to be published with Dewi Lewis Publishing in the next month or so. We will also present fresh bloods in photography with two very talented artists, the young documentarist Giulia Mangione and the vibrant creations of Em Cole.
In a nutshell, we like to be together with photography and experience two joyful days of fun. So far we have always exceeded our expectations, so we look forward to another edition of positive vibes!
To book your place at Offspring Photo Meet, click here.
For more interviews from our Ideas Series, click here.