354MC Professional Photographic Portfolio – Lecture 1

On Tuesday 10th March 2015, I attended the first day of lectures dedicated to my final module at Coventry University, which was the 354MC Professional Photographic Portfolio module. As our lecturer Caroline Molloy mainly runs this module, we started the day off with an introductory section taken by her where she told us general information regarding the modules requirements (including submission information, intended learning outcomes, and deadlines). Once this brief section was complete, we were then introduced to our guest lecturer and mentor Rebecca McClelland that will be working with us throughout the module. After listening to a talk by Rebecca regarding her exit strategies after university and any general pieces of advice she could provide us, we were then split into two groups where we discussed our personal exit strategies with one of the two tutors (I was in the group run by Caroline Molloy). Once this discussion had concluded, to finish off the day, our two groups then took part in a Portfolio Workshop run by Rebecca. All of the notes that I took from these can be found below:


Introduction to 354MC Professional Photographic Portfolio:

  • Single module – 10 credit module
  • This is about how you prepare your exit from university
  • There are 4 mandatory classes
  • There is one optional feedback session prior to the deadline

Useful Information and Resources:


  • A recent CV (to be handed in via turnitin)
  • Produce a portfolio (if digital, to be handed in via turnitin, if physical, to be handed in to the ET Reception)
    • In a relevant form to support your exit strategy
  • A 1000 word reflective essay (to be handed in via turnitin)
    • What you have done
    • What have you learnt
    • How is that going to help you after university
    • Should reflect the development you have done over the module – essay will be a distillation of your blog (you don’t need to hand in a Blogbooker of your blog)

Intended Learning Outcomes:

  • Demonstrate advanced research skills, creating a viable and relevant location for their work within the market practice.
    • This will be evidenced through your 1000 word reflective essay
  • Independently plan, organise and manage their own professional practice.
    • Again, this will also be evidenced through your 1000 word reflective essay
  • Resolve and finish the presentation of their work to a professional standard.
    • This will be evidenced through the professionalism of both your CV and portfolio


  • Between 28th April and 12th May 2015
  • All turnitin submissions need to be handed in by 23:55 on 12th May 2015 (this includes your reflective essay and your CV)
  • All physical submissions need to be handed in to the ET Reception by 16:00 on 12th May 2015 (this includes any physical portfolios and a coversheet)


Talk with Rebecca McClelland:

  • Started off as a Graduate from a photography foundation in Bristol
  • She has been a photo editor for 16 years
    • A photo editor is someone who sits between the photographer and the magazine
    • She facilitates the photography that goes in to be printed for the magazine
  • Exit strategy
    • Her career path has always been very non-linear – she didn’t stay in one place, doing one thing
    • However, her career catapulted forward when she was given a work experience opportunity in Magnum Photos in London
    • During these work experience opportunities, she was also building up her personal network that would later lead her onto her career path
    • When she finished her work experience with Magnum Photos, she was given a small lump sum and was told to go and “be a photographer”
    • With this money she therefore decided to go to Mongolia to photograph Reindeer Herders through the help and assistance of the Save the Children charity – which provided her with the access to these particular individuals as long as she supplied them with some of her photographs from the trip
    • When she returned to the UK, she then got a job as an assistant Photo Director at The Sunday Times Magazine
    • After working here for 7 years she then decided that she needed a new challenge so she went to work for Wallpaper magazine, which allowed her to commission a wider scope of photographers in different photographic genres
    • From there, she then went on to work for NewStatement magazine which deals with more political photography
    • Alongside all of this, she also works with the Ian Parry Scholarship
  • Ian Parry Scholarship
    • http://www.ianparry.org
    • Free scholarship for university graduates around the world
    • It’s open to graduates under the age of 24
    • To enter, you simply need to send them 12 photos from your Final Major Project as well as a small synopsis of a story that you would love to photograph for your dream commission

Suggested Companies to look into:

  • Media Storm
    • http://mediastorm.com
    • MediaStorm is an award-winning film production and interactive design studio whose work gives voice and meaning to the most pressing issues of our time.
    • MediaStorm has led a paradigm shift in digital storytelling.
  • British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies (BAPLA)
    • http://www.bapla.org.uk/en/pages/what-we-do.html
    • The British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies, or BAPLA, is the trade association for picture libraries in the UK
    • Members include the major news, stock and production agencies as well as sole traders and cultural heritage institutions
    • A substantial percentage of images seen every day in print and digital media is supplied by BAPLA members
  • Cargo Collective
    • http://cargocollective.com
    • Cargo is a personal publishing platform aimed at creating accessible tools and a networked context to enhance the exposure of talented individuals on the Internet

Discussions within the Q&A Session:

  • She is very interested in work experience and still works for free on numerous occasions
    • In regards to what you charge, it completely depends on the job you’re working on and you should consider how interesting it is, and how beneficial it’ll be for you (in terms of providing work for your portfolio or the skills you will gain, etc.)
    • However, when looking at how to come up with what you charge, you need to look in to how much it is going to cost you (in terms of travel, equipment hire, etc.) and then charge more depending on how you value your practice
      • But you should tell them how much the expenses will cost you and how much you have charged for your practice so that you can negotiate with the client providing you with a little bit of “wriggle room”
  • In relation to your CV, you should always take time on it an never hurry over the section regarding your hobbies or your interest
    • You should put something that will generate a conversation as these are the sections that will grab your employers attention and interest


Personal Exit Strategy Discussion (with Caroline Molloy):

In this session, when it got to my turn to enlighten Caroline with my exit strategy, I suggested that I had two possible future career paths that I was considering – one that was photography related and the other that was not photography related. I then proceeded to ask her whether, for this module, I should focus my work on the more photography related career path. Below you will be able to see her responses and suggestions during this session (along with any of my answers and questions that can be found in italics):

  • You should do what’s best for you
    • If you’re more passionate about one than the other then you should use this module as an opportunity to help you to achieve it
    • It doesn’t matter if it is not photography related – we’re here to support you
    • You can also often tell if an individual is faking their actual exit strategy so stick with what you want to do
  • With this being said, what do you want to do?
    • I am very interested in the idea of becoming a wedding planner
    • (Caroline then mentioned that she actually knows a wedding planner that she could put me in contact with in order to enhance my personal network)
  • So, as you want to be a wedding planner, what’s your exit strategy?
    • I have started looking at different job application for a number of bridal boutiques and stores as I am also very interested in this side of the “wedding” industry
    • I have also talked to a number of people on my course (including Katherine Michelle and Ella Parkinson) where I have arranged to assist in their photography during different weddings in order to enhance the “wedding” aspect on my CV
    • Once I have made a bit of money (hopefully through working in bridal boutiques) I am also planning on enrolling myself and investing in a wedding planning course
    • (After sharing my plan, Caroline suggested that it seems like I have a very good plan and that I just need to try and network as much as possible – which is where her possible contact could come in)
  • I also suggested that I will obviously also be doing freelance photography in my spare time but that I just want to take a break from photography after studying it for three years
    • As soon as I said this, I then realized that I didn’t know what to include within my Portfolio for this module, especially if I am focusing on Wedding Planning
    • Caroline then suggested that I would still have a portfolio that reflects what I have done over the past three years – even if this isn’t wedding related

General Notes:

  • After we had gone round and individually shared our personal exit strategies, Caroline then suggested a number of different things that applied to all of us. These can be found below (along with any personal notes that I added in italics):
    • You should have a long-term plan but allow it to change
    • You should all keep an eye on the Job Shop link I put on Moodle (http://dataware.the-aop.org/jobshop.aspx) as it lists lots of different photographic opportunities including internships and assistants) – This would be a good place for me to look for jobs relating to assisting different wedding photographers

What to Take Away from this Discussion (Personal Thoughts):

  • After this discussion, I then thought that it would be a good idea to write down different things that I have learnt or taken away from the session that I could possibly include within my 1000 word reflective essay. These can be found below:
    • That I should do what I want to do and not feel pressured by anyone – it is your life
    • It just helps to have a plan in place that you can try and stick to


Portfolio Workshop:

  • You should never throw your work/portfolios away because you can use them to see how much you have developed as a photographer
  • There are three options for a portfolio:
    • A portfolio box (or oyster box)
      • These are mainly used for a collection or series of work
      • They are the type of portfolio that you would present to a Gallery for review
      • Within this box you would usually have:
        • An artists statement at the front
        • Followed by your collection of images
        • A list of the titles of work at the back
        • And you can include some of your business cards
    • An editorial book
      • This can include a wide range of photographic styles including landscapes, still-lives, fashion, etc. (i.e. it should show your diversity as a practitioner)
      • These are the types of portfolio that you will show photo editors and clients
      • A good idea for an editorial book is the use of a “Side Spine” as this means that your images will not be cut in half through the use a of a regular “Middle Spine”
      • In this type of portfolio, you should experiment with mixing up the margins, layout/positioning, orientation and colour of your images
        • This means that the portfolio won’t be too repetitive whilst also creating a “surprising” portfolio that still holds a nice pace
        • Pace is usually created through varying page layouts and margins – also, softer images tend to have a larger margin, whereas harder images don’t tend to have margins (landscape photographs also usually “bleed” over a double page
    • And a more creative option (such as a leaflet, newspaper, or small book)
  • You should consider many things when creating your portfolio
    • It needs to be uniform
    • It should include new and updated pieces of work
    • It is suggested that a graduate student should include approximately 30 prints within their portfolio
    • Text should NOT be included next to/with the photographs (instead, titles should/could be listed at the back of the portfolio, along with you CV and Business Card)
    • You should group project together – you do not need titles for the projects as it should be relatively clear through the similar aesthetics seen within the photographs
    • You should include photographs that provide evidence of different (lighting) techniques
      • Using an example of lighting, show that you have worked with both studio and natural light
    • You should consider a really large edit
      • What is meant by this is start with a large number of photographs
      • Then lay them out on the floor and subtract images depending on their weakness
      • Then, once the final images are selected, you can start thinking about the pace and rhythm of the portfolio
    • You should also enter your portfolios into different competitions
    • You should change your portfolio depending on the client that is looking at it (much like your CV)
    • You should also consider making a PDF of the physical portfolio you have created
      • This will allow you to send it off to different clients/competitions
      • Also, if it is being used in a publication (for example, a magazine) make sure that the PDF design mimics the publication that you’re sending it to – for example, with two column text layouts and captions under the photos, etc.
  • The portfolio that you choose needs to work with the work you want to present
    • You need to show respect to your portfolios
    • Keep them clean
  • Silver Print is a company that sells different portfolio types, including the box and editorial book discussed above (http://shop.silverprint.co.uk/Portfolio/catalogue/559/)
    • You want your portfolio to look professional but go for imitations of effects rather than the real thing (such as leather)
    • Remember, this is an investment so it’s worth spending a little bit more money
  • When writing your CV you shoud speak in the third person (for example, “Holly Constantine is a…”)
  • However, when writing an artist statement, your should speak in the first person (for example, “I made this work because…”)
    • It should also be a maximum of 500 word and should provide context to your piece of work
  • You should also start practicing talking about your work
    • Use phrases like “I am”, “My work” as this will allow you to enhance your confidence when presenting the context of your work
    • Practice in a mirror!
  • Our 1000 word reflective essay needs to justify the reasons behind some of the choice we made regarding our portfolio