Well last night I had my quarter ending critique at Portfolio Center, where I had 9 images and some of my drawings/paintings heavily scrutinized by professional photographers and illustrators. It’s a fairly nerve racking experience and to add to the drama, it was also my birthday.
Each session lasts for 20 minutes with interactive dialogue about each photo. The panelists may or may not know much about your assignment so we have to present each work as if they have no knowledge about why we are presenting it. I felt really good about my photography going into the panel but no so good about my other artwork. I’m no illustrator. I got the hint from one of the staff members running the critique panel schedule to present and talk about my photography first since I’m a photography major. So I ended up taking the entire 20 minutes on photos. Then when the staff member walked in and said “Time’s up”, that’s when I whipped out my artwork, showed it off really fast, and then thanked the panel for their time. The whole thing zipped by faster than I could have imagined and then I was done.
They seemed to enjoy my work and most of my concepts, but they did have a few quibbles with each picture. I agreed with most of their thoughts, but not all. One picture, my favorite from the bunch, they said was the best they had seen for that particular assignment. Thinking back on it now, I don’t really remember a bunch of what they said. But fortunately they make notes and once I go back for the second quarter I will get lots of written feedback from each panelist.
So now that it’s done what are my thoughts? I feel like I did good work. I feel like I fulfilled the goals of each assignment. I did not feel particularly challenged by the assignments and felt my workload was rather light. I’ve heard that the workload really picks up around the third quarter of school. I feel that I really gained some confidence in my ability to execute the shot. I felt that my instructors could have done the courses differently so that we could have learned more. That last sentence has a careful phrasing, because I’m not intending to criticize my instructors, I just feel that there were several times along the way that we could have gotten a lot more education under out belt if their approach were different. But also this school is really about giving the students a direction and it’s up to each student to figure out how fast and how far they want to go.
On another note, I spent lots of my time helping out other students with assignments and I even taught a digital work flow seminar for my fellow photography students. Many of the design students at the school need various photos for their projects so I was often called upon for that. For example, my roommate just asked me to shoot a product shot showcasing the labeling he created for a brand of vitamins. Another student had me shoot a series of shots of tubing that she was going to use on a series of book covers. I enjoy doing it because it’s very real world commercial work. I have to figure out what the client wants, then give them something that hopefully exceeds their expectations, usually with a very quick turnaround and an extremely limited budget.
So, overall, I feel like I learned a great deal about what it’s like to be a commercial photographer and I had an excellent quarter.
My first quarter portfolio is on my website at www.kendrickdisch.com/blog/photos/portfolio-center/. Comments welcome.