Q&A about my Portfolio Prep class at Photoshop World

Written by Daniel Gregory

April 7, 2016

precongraphicI have had some people ask me for some more details about my Photoshop World 2016 pre-con. I thought I would answer a few of the questions that have come up.

What is a Pre-con?
For those of you who do not know about Photoshop World pre-cons, they are extending classes that happen on the day before the conference begins. This year the pre-con sessions are on July 18.

Most sessions at the conference are about an hour, but a pre-con can go much longer. The longer sessions give you a chance to dive deep into a topic. My session is from 12:00pm–5:00pm

What is your session about?
My pre-con session is Hands-On Portfolio Prep. In a nutshell, it is about learning how to read, understand and talk about your photographs in a more meaningful way and how to assemble a group of images into a cohesive project or portfolio.

So are you saying that the images from the family vacation could be a portfolio?
Yep. For the sake of this pre-con, I am using projects and protfolios interchangably. If your goal is to pull together the best photos of the family vacation and put them in a book, online, calendar or any other creative idea you have, you are making a portfolio. After all, you want to showcase the best of the family vacation and not all of the vacation photos.

Can sitting watching someone edit and sequence work help me and my project or portfolio?
Yes, but in this class, it is hands on. That is why we called it hand on verse sit and watch protfolio prep. (Yes, that is my attempt at humor.)

We are going to work on a real project and portfolios. Your projects and portfolios. Everyone who attends the session will get a chance to talk about their work and have an editing and sequencing session. What could be more helpful than working on your project/portfolio?

So this isn’t just pretending and faking class assignments?
There is nothing hypothetical here. You are going to roll-up your sleeves and get your hands dirty with your work and the work of your peers.

I have lots of pictures, can you help me make sense of it?
If you have ever had a hard time pulling together a collection of images and wanted them to tell a story or cohesively fit together then, this class can help. Having a great portfolio/project is about more than just a collection of great images. They need to build and strengthen each other. Images need to play off each other. They need to be ordered, so they are more than the sum of their parts. This class is setup to provide you practical, real-world experience to get you moving quickly down the path.

You keep talking about projects and portfolios interchangeably. Are you saying that this process is the same for both?
Yes.

So a portfolio to take a client or show on my website is the same as making a book?
Yes. Sort of. The overall process is the same, and the skills are the same. We will talk about the differences in the class.

Do we have jump into the deep end of the pool with all this portfolio creation?
Not the deep end, but will won’t be in the shallow end either. To get you ready, we will spend a little time focused on understanding the process of critiquing photographs. So much time is spent looking at photos, but do we really know what it takes to make a great photograph. We start off looking at the language used to read and understand a photograph. We focus on building some foundational blocks so that when you look at a photograph, you can focus on the content, mention, intention before judging the photograph. Once we have the foundation, we are ready to build your portfolio.

So my portfolio isn’t just the photographs that I like?
Nope. We need to understand photographs, their context and relationship to other photographs when we work on portfolios and project.

What about photographs that have a lot of likes, hearts, and social media love? Are those for my portfolio?
Maybe, but if they are it is not because of ANYTHING SOCIAL MEDIA related.

There is a big difference between initially liking a photograph and understanding a photograph. It is too easy to dismiss an image as being good or not good without actually understanding the image. One of our goals will be to fix that initial gut reaction and help you peel back that onion so you can understand why you react to photographs the way that you do. These techniques and concepts will also help you better understand your work. What is your work really about? What are you trying to accomplish in your photography? Is it a mini-therapy session? You bet it is.

Will you be drinking lots of coffee to keep energized?
Yes. I might even have to switch to decaf when things get crazy.

You mentioned editing and sequencing. What is that, and are we doing that too?
Editing is about selecting the right images for your project or portfolio (notice I didn’t say best images). Sequencing is about getting them in the right order. The marjority of this class is spent editing, sequencing and applying what we have talked about to your work and your peer’s work. The class has a limited enrollment so that we can review everyone’s work. Yep, you read that correctly. We are going to do editing and sequencing work for everyone who attends.

Wow, so we are going to be looking at and talking about a lot of photographs?
Yes we will. We will apply the language and concepts we talk about in the first hour or so and applying them the right way to the work we are reviewing. There are tons of ways to edit and sequence, and you will see and put those various concepts and techniques into practice. We will look at how to group work, split work, pace, and share the work. As the day goes on, you will be critiquing, editing and sequencing. You will learn how to share your insights and how to provide real meaningful feedback.

Will my editing and sequencing be done when I leave? Will my portfolio be ready to show?
Honestly, I can’t answer that right now. Some of you might be just starting out, and others might be really far down the road. The one thing that I can promise is that you will know more about your work and have a better idea of what you are doing by the end of the day.

Do I need to bring anything?
Yes. You need to bring a notebook, pencil or pen and about 30–50 images from a project or portfolio you are creating. These can be small 4×6 prints from Costco, CVS, etc. You don’t want to bring final versions of your prints since we will be touching, moving and writing on them.

Also, it never hurts to bring a camera. Oh, and since it is Vegas in July bring some sunscreen.

Can I bring just digital files?
Nope, you have to have prints. This process is best done with physical images. We will talk about this more in class.

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