Portfolio Review at Hallmark Institute of Photography is a very serious, much anticipated event. All the students are put into groups and each group is assigned a two day block for review. We don’t know when exactly our review will take place other than it will be sometime within those two days. The stage is covered in all black and the curtains are kept closed. Staff goes onstage with the work of a student and puts it up as you see below. Then the curtains are opened and that is when you find out if it is your turn. My work went up very last at the end of day 2. It seemed like it took forever!!
The judges then walk over to our work and look at it very closely. They are looking at the details, expressions, file quality and print quality.
They get very close to the prints and scrutinize every detail! They then return to their seats where they enter their score. An average of all the scores is taken and that number determines whether our portfolio is accepted or has to go to re-review. We are then called up onstage where we are told what our fate will be. Mine was accepted!!
It is hard to give you a clear idea of what portfolio review is like without telling you about the judges who critiqued my work. So here is a bit about each of them:
Ken Whitmire is seated on the far left. He started his portrait business 53 years ago and today he has one of the most successful portrait businesses in the country. He specializes in amazing wall portraits which you can view here.
Greg Heisler is seated to my left. He was actually an artist in residence this year at Hallmark so I had the privilege of having him as an instructor. He is one of the most amazing portrait photographers in the world. You can see some of his amazing portraits on his website. Greg has photographed over 70 TIME covers as well as done work for LIFE, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and the New York Times. He has taken portraits of numerous presidents and celebrities including both the Bushs, Bill Clinton, Bruce Springstein, Angelina Jolie, Hugh Grant, Tim Burton and he recently did a shoot with Derek Jeter for a Sports Illustrated cover.
Brian Lanker is sitting to my right. Feel free to take a look at his work. Brian started his career as a photojournalist. He won a pulitzer prize when he was in his early 20s! He has received numerous awards as well as published a few books.
Last but not least, Grant Peterson is seated to the far right. I could not locate Grant’s website to be able to show you his work. He is a commercial photographer, meaning he does still life, food, etc. and does a lot of work in the advertising industry. To me he had the most helpful and practical advice. He was very good at recognizing what peoples strengths were and pointing out stuff about us that we didn’t even know. He said that I work very will with the natural landscape and the more that I try to use that in my work, the more successful my work will be. I was glad to hear that because I love to be outside!
They project our pictures very large on the big screen so that everyone in the audience can see what they are talking about and enjoy, or not so much, looking at our work.
The critique goes on for about 45 minutes to an hour. I learned so many amazing things in that hour. Their advice is invaluable and I’m sure I will never again in my life have 4 incredible talented photographers telling me how I can improve my work in this type of atmosphere.
These photographs were their favorite. They said that my style and vision were very clear and they can tell what I was meant to do. Greg told me I should forget about getting lights and just build myself a greenhouse or conservatory to work in. I love the idea and am thinking about how I can make that possible.
I hope you all enjoyed walking through my portfolio review! I would love to hear your comments.
Thank you to my amazing instructor Tony Downer for taking these photos!