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maciekda 01-31-2007 05:01 PM

my portfolio for the VII contest
I have tried to make a portfolio for <a href="">the contest organized by VII agency at MySpace for their semminar participants</a>. they ask for a 20 picture portfolio. I couldn't make such tight selection, so I created 2 portfolios - one with pictures taken here in Wales, and the other one with pictures taken during my travels abroad - <a href="">the VII contest portfolio</a>
What do you think about my selection? what pictures should I add or remove? should I submit 1 portfolio only like they ask, or try my luck with 2?

battousai 01-31-2007 05:52 PM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
I would go for the abroad portfolio. I think it suits VII photography's style much better than the one from Wales.

Best regards


luisafonso 01-31-2007 06:03 PM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
I do like both portfolios but "Home" has probably some weaker choices while "Abroad" is far more consistent. I wouldn't change a single photo on the second selection. In the first I would consider as second choices: "Romance on St Mary street", probably "Sunday, 1 am" and "let's go there". Now I browsed your UK gallery and found no real replacers... If I really had to make it my vote would be "7 nights a week", "Honey, a new umbrella for you..." and "GORLILLA". Hope it helps... The best of luck, l.

maciekda 01-31-2007 06:04 PM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
but they will probaby see lots of Asian and African pictures, with scenes of war, crisis and human misery. that's why I thought that showing them someting completely different might draw their attention.
anyway, i'd like to show two different sides of me somehow, but submitting 40 pics instead of 20 is against the rules

luisafonso 01-31-2007 06:14 PM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
You may have a point here. Your Cardiff selection is very good, very consistent in the terms you presented it and - you already know it - quite ingenious work. It's fresh, creative and new. Be confident with your choices but try to eliminate any hint of second choices you might have. If you some photo is giving you doubts just quickly replaced for another one. I know that's a difficult job to do. I hope people here can help you. One advice though, don't break the rules of the contest and only submit 20 photos if that's what they're asking. It would be a pity to be banned because of this...

battousai 01-31-2007 06:24 PM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
You're right Maciej,

Maybe you could do it like this - give them 10 photos from abroad and 10 from Wales. This way you can present them with both aspects of your work. Don't post 40 photos - what if they will reject your portfolio because of this? It would be a pity to be banned just because such a trivial matter.

Best regards


Homerhomer 01-31-2007 06:30 PM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
but they will probaby see lots of Asian and African pictures, with scenes of war, crisis and human misery. that's why I thought that showing them someting completely different might draw their attention.
anyway, i'd like to show two different sides of me somehow, but submitting 40 pics instead of 20 is against the rules

I would agree, Asian and African pics can bee seen everywhere all the time, your Cardiff photos are more original and a I would say more fitting the agency like this.
Or go 10 and 10.

SamB 01-31-2007 10:34 PM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
Hello, Maciej--
i'm generally in agreement with what has already been said--probably keep it at one 20 picture portfolio, and mix the two portfolios that you've already picked out. i also thought that your abroad portfolio was a little bit more consistently of high quality, and think that maybe a 12 abroad/8 home split would work well.
Just my .02.

russte 01-31-2007 11:07 PM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
Hi Maciej,

Sadly, I only had time for the briefest review of the portfolios but, in reality, the judges may spend a similar amont of time on their first run through.

Both portfolios contain 10 stronger and 10 weaker images. For impact, I'd propose the first 10 from Abroad and the first 10 from Home (but substituting 'girls on phones' for 'and you listen' and 'mate the police is coming' for 'in the student union'). The problem is whether the two sets make one consistent portfolio. Perhaps the approaches are too different to allow a successful combination.

If you decide to stick with one rather than mix and match, I'd go for Home. Most of the images in Abroad are technically superior but Home takes a more original viewpoint.

I have to say I'd be delighted to be the photographer of either set. Good luck whatever your final choice.

Best wishes


Furachan 02-01-2007 03:11 AM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
Maciej, of the Asian selection I see you are still VERY attached to the garbadge dump pics in Phnom Penh, I'd just select two of the best and leave at that (just my 2 cents, ok?)
With Wales, again I feel this is perhaps your strongest work, and there'S a good selection. Make sure you don't have too much graphical duplication - more or less the same disposition of subjects, next to each other. Thismight mean rummaging around a bit more.
Otherwise this is POWERFUL stuff, we are with you, man 100%, as you know and all want you to succeed in a big way.

don_narayan 02-01-2007 03:34 PM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
some of my recommendations:
"Hungry Flies"
"Helping Hand" (maybe with a slight crop on the right to nick that fabric out, but don't cut the hand at all)
"back to life"
"Too much Sand"
"a village doctor"
"Romance on St. Mary"
"a lady climbing the fence"
"girls on phones"
"mate, the police are coming"

Well... I thought you would have more strong stuff but that's all I see. Where is your Pakistan work? Your Cardiff work is best, it is actually DIFFERENT!

Also, don't submit the photos with the titles, keep it simple and numbered in the sequence you want them to be seen... and think about that sequence, it's important.
Don't submit more just to submit more (unless there is a required amount, not just a maximum amount). 10 strong images is better that 20 good ones.

Good luck,

Luko 02-01-2007 04:12 PM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
I have I concur with Narayan's choice, which is very similar to mine, except maybe I would swap "helping hand" (which is probably too similar with "back to life") for another image in your portfolio.
On the Cardiff side, I also would swap "Romance on St Mary", which might not be probably sharp enough, for "baby don't cry", which proposes a different "distance" than the other ones, although it might not be as good.

Perhaps I'm wrong but it seems to me that agencies don't like very much motion or loose bokeh blurried images, hence I would first be a stickler to whichever shot that includes either, that's why I'd sack "Romance...". Also I'm afraid we could expect shots like "Romance" or "stinking toilets" from a 17 years old, not a 30 years old reporter (happy birthday, btw)... getting some fun is ok, not for everybody when you're looking for employment... it's a problem of who you're sending your picture to...

I'm also surprized with some of the images you selected.
On my part, I think you have much better photos than say Cardiff "Sunday 1AM" or Tamil Nadu's "Stripes and ladder".
Another thing that the "masked criticer" wrote in your Pbase gallery about redundancy is very true : most of your shots are redundant. I take that portfolios should show your ability on shooting different scenes, different views without loosing your own style and showing different aspects, for instance back to life and nap are very complimentary, in their situation, in their format... but most of the images you selected have a similar "distance" or feel (not that they are not good, but are on the same basis) in the end, it looks a bit redundant : look at "back to life", "helping hand " and "how are you", it's the same image, reduundant information. th enegative point is that you took three images to say one thing.

As a recommandation, I think you should try to vary your selection with different POVs.


don_narayan 02-01-2007 04:34 PM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
and consider who you are trying to show this to... these people aren't members on TE or photo enthusiasts that frequent Pbase... you need to show these people something different... your vision... what differentiates you from every other dreamers? So you have been to Pakistan and all over India... then show them something from these places they they wouldn't expect to see. That's how you can wow them.

greg 02-01-2007 05:15 PM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
1, 2 and 16, 17, 18, 19 don't fit with the others from Cardiff - I think you could whittle the remainder down to 10. I don't agree with Luko about 6 and 13 - you're documenting 17-yr olds... this is exactly how they are. 'Travels abroad' is too weak a theme - I think you'd be better to take 10 either from the Phnom Penh dump, or from Chennai.

good luck!

maciekda 02-01-2007 05:26 PM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
thanks Greg and others, lots of useful thoughts. it is so difficult to make a portfolio.
a quick question: should I show small series or jus 20 good single images? or maybe 2 large series - but i am not sure that I have a strong 10-pic series.

maciekda 02-01-2007 05:31 PM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
ok, i will make one portfolio with 20 pictures, I will include the ones you selected and see what else could be added. I will replace titles with names of places where photos were taken.
I don't have many great images in fact, nothing great from Pakistan, nothing great from Africa..

maciekda 02-01-2007 05:50 PM

Re: redundancy
true, some of the photos are redunant, I will replace them with something different. and I will replace 'the romance' with 'baby don't cry' I am not sure whether to include travel shots or some decisive moments from the streets...? maybe i will try to find sth completely different in my archives

Luko 02-01-2007 06:46 PM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
"you're documenting 17-yr olds... this is exactly how they are. "
Probably but you have to be realistic and first think who's paying.

The problem Greg, is that you'll never see such pictures published for many reasons ... hence if you can't make money out, they're worth nothing. Maturity and market realism is also something they'd expect from their photographers, I guess.

I wonder if photojournalist students have some tips to share about the editors unofficial or unwritten rules... Narayan, something to say about that?

"I think you'd be better to take 10 either from the Phnom Penh dump"
Talking about weak themes, this is typically for me the false strong theme.. every tourist now goes to the Phnom Penh dump to get the sense they are war photographers, then back into their AC car. I'll stop there because I've already written what I felt about it, in past critics.

I'm not sure at that stage that the agencies are looking for new themes, -they'll provide their assignees the bloodiest themes you can imagine- but rather for a way to photo any kind of theme. If this is, I reckon 10 photos on Phnom Penh dump would be very redundant... but again I could be wrong, this is where it should be interesting to have learning photojournalists share their experience.

greg 02-01-2007 08:49 PM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
Hi Luko,

I'm sure you're right about publication. Still, there must be something to be said for showing the agency what you think are good photographs before thinking about what to sell. The alternative's pretty depressing. If he has a couple in every submission they like but can't print, I don't think that's negative. That the focus was rotten is another matter!

As for the dump, it may be overdone, perhaps even somewhat shallow in the involvement (yet aren't many successful photos?), but at least it is a theme - that's all I meant, and Maciek has some pretty good ones in the dump genre. Could be any other theme. You can't present a portfolio of 'my travels abroad' - not unless you're interesting and famous enough to string them together with your own life. Otherwise you give that very same impression of comfy tourism, cushy hotels and AC cars...

many greetings,

don_narayan 02-01-2007 10:39 PM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
If you don't have a strong 10 image package, make it however long it needs to be in order to be strong... don't ever put in a weak image just to fill space. 20 singles is no good... you want to show that you can shoot a package, even if it is only 4 or 5 images in a package. But serious, think about sequencing, some photos back to back may hurt one another, others will compliment each other... and you might even think about transitions between picture packages... it all matters.

I'm not telling you that all this is the law... but it is stuff I have been learning, stuff I think is worth passing on to someone that has some drive and wants to make something for himself in this business.

Luko 02-01-2007 11:51 PM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
"As for the dump, it may be overdone, perhaps even somewhat shallow in the involvement (yet aren't many successful photos?), but at least it is a theme - that's all I meant, and Maciek has some pretty good ones in the dump genre. Could be any other theme. You can't present a portfolio of 'my travels abroad' - not unless you're interesting and famous enough to string them together with your own life. Otherwise you give that very same impression of comfy tourism, cushy hotels and AC cars..."
I don't think the trade off is either the PP dump OR comfy AC tourism (which is in fact... done in the same time). Maciek has plenty of fine themes he could develop on 4 or 5 pics... let's take for instance "last prep before the contest" "at the office" and "make up" and that's the start of a story, it lacks a grand scene, and a conclusion print but I think this is nicely set up.

The problem with the PP dump is that, move away the empathy and the initial "OMG!" factor, the photos look the same for most, some of them make great singles but they're redundant... looking into his portfolio I wonder how come he didn't select "cigarette after work" which is absolutely essential as a break in the story.

The other thing is that, adressing a photojournalist agency, if there should be ONE photo selected, i think that "friday prayers at new mosque" comes on top of the list.. this is the big painting which every film begins with. He has the stuff for a Pakistan serie, I believe.

Like Narayan reminded, the people at VII are no pbase or trekearth photographers, I don't think they give much credit to the way a finger comes in at two thirds of the pic... I believe they would like to "invest" into someone with an eye and a brain and who'll come back with images that PAY. If they see someone who takes great fun in shooting but there's no way to sell the images, try to guess what'll be their reaction... it's not Villa Medicis young photo artist prize there...

If we agree (what I like the most here is that Maciek IS NOT ALLOWED to say a word. YOU SIT DOWN AND KEEP QUITE MACIEK! ok?) on the fact that he has to propose limited series on a 4 or 5 photo set.
This will be 4 or 5 series on a 20 shots portfolio.
I guess he can select these themes with the number of images between brackets :
- Cardiff (5)
- Transvestite beauty contest in Chennai (4)
- Pakistan (4)
- Vuyiroli (4)
- PP Dump (5) I've now seen the whole, there is easily the material for a 5 to 10 images story, but I wonder i don't think the ones you selected can make a story altogether, therer are many interesting ones when combined.

maciekda 02-02-2007 12:14 AM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
thanks Luko! I will read all this several times carefully, there is some time left, so there is no rush, I want to make sure the selection is optimal. i guess I will be keeping this thread alive for some time ;)
and I appreciate all your help, other others' as well, thanks guys. It is a very interesting thread now and it may help other people in preparing their portfolios as well - it is not an easy thing at all!

and the prize of the contest is not joining the agency, but a portfolio review by James Nachtwey or one of his friends. would be cool

Luko 02-02-2007 12:44 AM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
"and the prize of the contest is not joining the agency, but a portfolio review by James Nachtwey or one of his friends. would be cool"

Just competing for the pleasure to have your portfolio reviewed by Nachtwey... Who's kidding who? ;D ...

jinju 02-02-2007 05:36 AM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
Maciek, your photos from Asia are really good. The thing is, this is a genre thats been done to death. So even if your photos are great, they will have to be absolutely brilliant to rise above the "Ive seen this before" reaction.

If I were you, I wouldnt submit any of them. Go with something different, unusual. And thats your cardiff stuff. 20 is a maximum. Put together anywhere from 10 to 20 shots from cardiff and submit that. Even if it isnt as visually impactful as your Dump stuff, I think it is better. Its original, different and you have enough material to put something together.

Which images? You have so many I wont even try. But Luko, Narayan and others have proposed stuff. I say drop all of their proposals into a gallery along with stuff you chose and then see how you can put it all together to fit under the 20 image requirement.

don_narayan 02-02-2007 03:28 PM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
Right, so you might not be changing the name from VII to VIII (even though there re 10 members), but if you can wow someone who knows just about everyone in the industry, you are going to advance yourself a lot.

Hmmm... if I had my pick of which VII member would looka t my work (or just to sit down in front of), I would pick Eugene Richards. This can be like those fantasy football things, but instead, fantasy portfolio review!

maciekda 03-13-2007 10:19 PM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
I have made a final cut on my portfolio for that contest, you can see it there: <a href=""></a>.
what are my chances? ;)
I will submit it on Friday. any suggestions are more than welcome. I still can add or remove sth.

zips 03-14-2007 08:19 AM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
I would remove the guy taking a piss. It does not offend me at all....I think it's funny.....but you never know when you might offend someone who takes themselves too seriously. It's a politically correct world out there.....and you can always bring it along and show it to someone once you sum up ther mood.

Besides, you have better phots of Wales anyway IMHO.

Good Luck.
Aloha, JB

don_narayan 03-14-2007 06:37 PM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
I would consider taking out the "Piss and Curry" shot... nothing to do with politically correctness... it's just not as strong as your other photos... and your portfolio is only as strong as your weakest photo.

I would also consider not labeling the photos with titles... it might be how it is done on TE, but not in the real world. And really think about the sequence of the photos. you have 2 photos in a row of kissing. Even though that picture package is only 4 images, you should try and give them some space.

This next comment goes for all 5 of your packages. The photos are all pretty diverse, although there is some content repetition. However, what is the same in all of the packages is the view and distance. All the photos, perhaps with the exception of one, aere medium photos... no real close ups and no photos that give the viewer a sense of place, no establishing shots that let the viewer know what the place looks like. Take the Social club for instance, I have no idea what the place looks like, outside or inside. This is something to keep in mind when you are doing projects.

maciekda 03-14-2007 09:01 PM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
thanks Narayan and John,
I have removed the piss photo and one of the kissing ones.
I have deleted titles as well - looks much better.
I know what you mean with the distance, but those establishing shots are usually not the strongest ones in the series, and if you select only 4 photos then they are simply out...
not sure if Vuyiroli is diverse enough.. and maybe I should include <a href="">this one</a> in St Mary street series...

thanks again guys, this all duscussion is very helpful and... educational!

zips 03-18-2007 09:15 AM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
No don't include that one. I like "Relaxing After The Match" myself.

Aloha, JB

maciekda 04-16-2007 12:08 AM

back from the seminar
ok, I just got back from the seminar, two days of living photgraphy. that was a very good lesson, I listened to presentations from all the members of the agency, listened to some very interesting discussions with editors of various important magazines. I guess a lot of the material will be available on the agencys website soon - there were some people recording the whole event, so you might see it later.

and somehow I won the <a href="">MYSPACE portfolio contest<a/>, hooray! and I found out about it the night before the portfolio review day, by pure chance, after coming back from the slideshow party. I almost missed it by not checking my emails! so it was well after midnight and at 9:30am the reviews were going to start... and I didn't prepare any prints, luckily I had my laptop with me with resized photos I put to my internet galleries. I got up early and after brekfast stared putting the portfolio together. I selected the 20 photos from the portfolio contest and extended it by additional 10 images. these were samples of 4 stories. then I made another selection of 12 pictures - these were single images, just to show some nice images. and then just in case I prepared a quick draft of the latest story that I was working on in India.
the porfolio review was in Frontline club. there were around 20 people who paid for the review and two winners of the contest, I din't see the other winner. Sarah told me that my portfolio was best, nice! I was scheduled at 11am, I had some time to polish the stuff. I was assigned to <a href="">Joachim Ladefoged</a> - I was really happy about that, he is the youngest photographer in the agency (or maybe Laureen is..) and I really thought he is the right person to see my work, that he could understand me, all I wanted is to get some directions about the future. and his presentation was one of the best ones - his work is very strong and varies a lot, he shots all kind of different things, amazing stuff, and his early work on <a href=" by Joachim Ladefoged&news_id=228">Albanians<a/> brought him to the agency, a really jaw dropping stuff. <a href="">check more of his work</a> clicking on his name in the menu on the left.
so at 11am I went upstairs, introduced myself, he congratulated me winning the contest, I told him that I had a very little time to put the portfolio together so the structure might be a bit loose sometimes. then I started showing him my photos and talking about them.
we talked for about 30 minutes, the response was very positive, I was really surprised. after seeing the stories and singles he asked me if I have more images to show, so I showed him the latest work from India. he liked it as well. at the end he said I should work as a photographer. BANG! I said I was trying without success, he asked what about newspapers? I said I send my portfolio and cv to at least 20... he didn't understand why. i don't understand either ;)
He said I have a very good composition skills, he was very surprised that I don't crop images - so you are a traditionalist, like me 15yrs ago he said. in fact I didn't hear much criticism, he told me what images he liskes or not and why not, gave me some suggestions about structuring stories. and about the future, he told me to work on stories in Cardiff, make them well, finishe my studies and then to show my work to agencies and magazines and get a job as a photographer, very easy! then at the end he said sth like: "I will see you around there". would be nice.
I was really scared before going to the review, after seeing images of the guys from VII I tought my photos were crap and all other people have better photos. but at the end it turned really well, you should have seen the smile on my face for the rest of the day.

sohrab 04-16-2007 01:10 AM

Re: back from the seminar
that's really good maciej
congratulations :)
work work work.. not getting a job at newspaper doesn't mean that you're not successful... till you don't don't get employed by a newspaper or a magazine or till you don't get into an agency, keep working on a personal project. i feel that it will really pay off after some time..
take care and best of luck :)

nerve 04-16-2007 12:54 PM

Re: back from the seminar
congratulations Maciekda, hope you'll get a job somewhere in a newspaper or agency soon.. cheers! :)

don_narayan 04-16-2007 04:39 PM

Re: back from the seminar
time to get start selling yourself, not with just a CD portfolio and a Pbase account. For magazines, you should think about all the magazine that you want to do an assignment for and then make some good promotional material, perhaps a small printed book of your portfolio or some nice postcards with a killer image on it and your contact info and start sending them out. Being a member of an agency doesn't mean work, a photographer that just waits for their agency to find them work is going to be pretty damn hungry... and there are a lot of photographers on all those agencies and there isn't that much work to go around.

congrats on winning that contest and getting a portfolio review, that's awesome.

russte 04-16-2007 11:47 PM

Re: back from the seminar
Hi Maciej, congratulations on your magnificent success. I'm sure those of us who followed the development of your portfolio are not so surprised. You have talent and, please forgive the term but it is important, BALLS. How many of us could have taken some of those Cardiff images? I'm certainly not brave enough. And, in the end, that's what gives you the chance of success as a professional. That and persistence. I agree totally with El Don - you need to get your images on the desk of anyone who might be interested in them. A bit like the first record deal in the music world. But once you've made that breakthrough, it's up to you. I wish you every success. Best wishes Stephen

bartekn 04-18-2007 05:56 PM

Re: back from the seminar
yes, you should see it ;-)

congrats! i was witness of that story (everything is true - haha!)

i now you will do that!

Furachan 04-20-2007 01:55 AM

Re: back from the seminar
Warmest, heartfelt congratulations Maciej. This is fantastic news man and richly deserved. I have been ging on and on about yur Cradiff pics for two years now so you can imagine how thrilled I am...;o) It is mindboggling to me that you are not a full-time shoter yet, you are so obviously made for the work. I guarantee you that this "win" will be a huge leg up the ladder.
Delighted for you my friend!

kinginexile 04-25-2007 07:57 PM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
Even ambitious about your photography, Maciej, you are a modest man, it's a great quality for a photographer, as he or she should always retreat behind the subject, as you so often do. Maybe the reason you, and evryone who sees your work are surprised you have not cracked up more into the profession is simply lack of confidence on your part.

Well....Maybe you should see a shrink, not a committee of top photographers to crack that nut (lack of confidence), ahahah....

As I wrote before, I believe you are way beyond satisfecits time (billions views on Pbase, NGO magazine covers, well-wishing backslapping from all of us). Your greatest asset is that, IMO, compared to anyone I have gotten to know here, you do approach photography as work, not just passion, and on a daily basis, contrarily to some.

And after all, you are doing evrything right by 99 or 98%. maybe do not worry about the 1% left, the one that would say on your front balck on white "professional photographer". There may be another 1% as well. That would be that your work being so ubiquitous on the net, and so free, you are giving yourself a bit too easily, warts and all, and I do not see any other photographers (with your talent, especially journalistic), doing that, lest they intend to ever be eternal beginners or also-rans.

Congratulations for more recognition of your photography. You are an inspiration to many of us.


PeterC 04-26-2007 06:40 PM

Re: my portfolio for the VII contest
Congratulations Macieij you more thatn deserve it. You have been on e of my favourite photographers here for a long time and your work in Cardiff has a special place for me as its the city i grew up in. Hope that this may be the break you need to try and make your passion your profession. Hope to meet up with you in Cardiff sometime in September as i'll be back in the UK. You are a real inspiration to all the TE members.


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