Joerg Offers Portfolio Reviews

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Joerg Colberg of Conscientious is offering very inexpensive portfolio reviews (here). I actually can’t believe how cheap they are ($75) and I’d grab one before the price goes up. Who wouldn’t want a review from someone who’s spent the last 5 years cataloging the finest photography on the planet? Hell, I’d throw 75 bucks down a well if I thought it would make me a better photographer.

There Are 23 Comments On This Article.

  1. Mr. Reality

    In what way is Joerg Colberg qualified to critique photographers’ work? Sure, he’s had a blog for a few years. Sure, he looks at a lot of photography. But are these really qualifications? No, they are not.

    Asking Colberg for a portfolio review is like asking Patrick Dempsey (the actor who plays Dr. McDreamy on TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy”) to perform a tonsilectomy. He only plays a doctor on TV.

    Having a blog does not mean much at all. People need to remember that. Joerg is just a guy who likes photography. And that’s great. But it doesn’t qualify him to give portfolio reviews.

    It’s all too easy to start a blog and make a post every few days, saying “I quite like the work of (insert name here).” Young photographers would be better off showing their work to art academics, curators, gallerists, and successful photographers. Or even (gasp) The Photo Editor.

  2. He’s qualified in the same way that talented successful photographers can be unqualified because they have no clue how they got there. I look at it in the same way I look at unsuccessful football players who then coach teams to the superbowl.

  3. I am going to have to disagree – academics, curators, gallerists don’t necessarily have all the answers or all the qualifications either. The review process is so subjective and can be as harmful as it is helpful depending on both parties involved.

    Joerg is more then a guy with a blog who likes photography he is an open encyclopedia on the fine art photography scene over the last five years, his knowledge and insight may prove invaluable to some. I think he is probably exposed to more work on a daily basis then any of the above.

    Its not like he is trying to rip people off and cash in either. Okay I realise I might sound biased, I know the guy, I like him, he is very honest, forthright, opinionated and he’s German so if nothing he will be thorough and put the time in whether you are happy with the end result !

    As I said in my own post his services are not for everyone, neither are the Leslie Burns-Dell’Acquas of this world, all depends on the individual and your own needs.

    We are all looking for help and its good to have options. Remember I believe Rob like myself has limited experience of the fine art world just as Joerg has of the editorial and commercial world so therefore a review with Joerg is of no use to someone like me but I see that he could be a help to some of my peers.

    I have been to many live portfolio reviews and they are often a total crapshoot. Real luck of the draw stuff with no guarantees. 20 minutes per reviewer in a packed room. The match up is not always ideal. No point me sitting across from a gallerist with my editorial book, its a waste of both our times. It has happened on many occasions as these mass events do try and make a good matches but it doesn’t always work out in the final shuffle.

    Anyways I wish him luck and if it doesn’t work out I am sure he will be the first to admit. We all got to start somewhere.

  4. Mr. Reality

    MY RESPONSES TO JACKANORY IN ALL CAPS:

    “I am going to have to disagree – academics, curators, gallerists don’t necessarily have all the answers or all the qualifications either.”
    THEY HAVE MUCH, MUCH MORE ANSWERS THAN A BLOGGER.

    “The review process is so subjective and can be as harmful as it is helpful depending on both parties involved.”
    A GREAT POINT.

    “Joerg is more then a guy with a blog who likes photography he is an open encyclopedia on the fine art photography scene over the last five years, his knowledge and insight may prove invaluable to some.”
    READ SOME OF JOERG’S EARLY POSTS. LOOK AT THE WORK HE WAS RECOMMENDING. A LOT OF JUST ISN’T THAT GOOD.

    WHO CARES IF HE’S BEEN DOING THIS FOR FIVE YEARS? IT’S STILL JUST A BLOG. THERE ARE PLENTY OF PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO HAVE BEEN LOOKING AT PHOTOGRAPHY FOR TWENTY YEARS.

    “I think he is probably exposed to more work on a daily basis then any of the above.”
    JOERG’S BLOG IS A PART-TIME PURSUIT. HE SAYS THIS ALL THE TIME HIMSELF. WHAT ABOUT THE GALLERISTS, PHOTO EDITORS, ETC. THAT WORK AT THIS FULL-TIME, AND HAVE BEEN DOING SO FOR MUCH LONGER?

    “he’s German so if nothing he will be thorough and put the time in whether you are happy with the end result !”
    EVEN JOERG DOESN’T LIKE GERMAN STEREOTYPES.

    “We are all looking for help and its good to have options.”
    I’M JUST SAYING THERE ARE MUCH BETTER OPTIONS OUT THERE.

    “I have been to many live portfolio reviews and they are often a total crapshoot.”
    THAT IS COMPLETELY TRUE. WHICH IS WHY PHOTOGRAPHERS SHOULD GO TO SOMEONE WITH A MORE PROVEN RECORD, AND NOT JUST A BLOG MADE UP OF “HEY, I LIKE THIS” ENTRIES.

  5. two words: Jen Bekman.
    Anyone who knows Joerg know their relationship.

    I would gladly submit to the critique, but alas, my portfolio is all but devoid of empty rooms/parking lots/offices and moping hipsters staring at the ground in a greenish half light!

  6. Mr. Reality

    THREE WORDS:
    HEY HOT SHOT

    The biggest pay-to-play and pay-to-be-seen scam around.

    So Joerg co-curated a show. The artists in that show were no great discovery. It wasn’t particularly insightful.

    MY POINT OF ALL OF THIS:
    JOERG SHOULD STICK TO BLOGGING.

  7. At least I made one great point.

    Sure I don’t like all the work Joerg is mentioning far from it. He digs a certain aesthetic and it has taken him like anyone time to get into their stride.

    I thought bloggers were the new intelligenzia anyways ! just joking but I know people have used being mentioned on Joergs site as leverage with galleries.

    But at the same time I cannot help but wonder when the respected gallerist and blogger James Danziger says this about blogger and photographer ‘The Sartorialist’

    “but I felt that here was the first real fine art photographer of the digital age”

    And hes got a proven track record !

  8. JM surely you havent forgotten about the dirty kids holding dead animals in the trailer park ! We all have that shot now don’t we, we all owe Joerg for that one.

  9. Well, I still think $75 is a bargain and I don’t think at that rate he’s preying on photographers just trying to make a little cash doing what he loves to do. I’m sure there’s plenty of professionals that would take your $75 and blow a massive column of smoke up yer ass.

  10. Why pay to be eruditely told ‘your photos suck’? Surely self-(dis)respecting perfectionists know that already. And if they don’t, they clearly aren’t trying hard enough so suck anyway.

    This advice is worth the price paid, of course.

  11. While I’m not as harsh as Mr. Reality, and, full disclosure, I have had my work featured on Joerg’s Blog a few times, I just don’t see what a professional photographer would have to gain by PAYING a scientist to give his advice on someone’s professional portfolio. I mean, everyone within the JC/JB community knows the aesthtic Joerg favors (right Jack? ;-) and I’m sure dude must get SERIOULSY innondated with requests to look at work now that he has blown up. If he wants to charge to be on the blog, that’s his perogative, but charging for an opinion from someone who is a GATHERER of work is a bit silly.
    I would pay APE to look at my work because he’s in the biz and would have a PROFESSIONAL opinion that has been honed from experience in photo-sphere, but a scientist, not so much.

  12. Well yes, anyone can have a blog and it’s no guarantee that you know anything – but nor is being an academic or a curator or gallerist any kind of qualification in itself. Some of the most foolish people I have ever met have called themselves those things. But by their fruits you shall know them: Joerg Colberg repeatedly bangs the zeitgeist on the button and it’s likely that his blog doesn’t just reflect the trends of art photography but shapes them.

    He has a feeling for the current art photo aesthetic that goes beyond knowledge (I have knowledge, but I just don’t really get what other people see in a lot of it) and he knows his photo history, he knows about the galleries, his opinion is respected by many taste makers and he likes photography enough to look at it and write about it every day.

    It is true there is a bias to the things he likes, the ’empty rooms/parking lots/offices and moping hipsters staring at the ground in a greenish half light’ (though it’s not quite fair to dismiss him like this as he also encompasses Peter van Agtmael and Milton Rogovin, Bill Brandt and Robert Capa) and it is true that I am regularly uninterested in his pick of the week. But it is disingenous to dismiss him as just a guy who likes photography or just a scientist.

  13. I’d rather have my work reviewed by a working editor, art buyer, photographer or rep that I respect. With respect to Mr. Colberg, I don’t see or read anything on his website(including his own photography) which motivates me to want to know what he might think of my work, however learned or insightful he might be. If someone aspires to success in the fine art world perhaps it might be worthwhile to them as that seems to be where Mr. Colberg’s expertise, such as it is, lies. Most creative people suffer from insecurity and uncertainty at some point and there is never a shortage of people willing to take their money to help them find their way or build their careers. Sometimes they can be quite helpful. Sometimes not.

  14. i love the way you guys work on the concept of circular intra-internet ! get some audiences, get some friends with audiences, frequently link and promote the same friends’ blogs (your promoters), pretend to be a huge name in the photo industry and… voila ! This may sound like criticism, but no ! I love your “distributed tactics” ! nice !

  15. Mr. Reality

    The truth is, Conscientious is nothing special. It’s just been around for a while. It’s so easy to gather, gather, gather and post, post, post.

    This does not amount to “banging the zeitgeist on the button,” unless by that you mean blogging aimlessly and endlessly about the latest mediocre photography site you’ve discovered.

    I will say that Joerg’s interview series is something, at least for those of us who care to read the interviews instead of just looking at the photographs.

    But beyond that, Conscientious is nothing more than a one-man link dump.

  16. As a professional consultant, I have to say that $75 for a portfolio review is, in our business, a lowball price. It makes me feel much the same as photographers do about microstock.

    Of course, though, I realize that he can do whatever he wants and price however he chooses–I have no control over him and how he runs his business. There will always be those who will do whatever someone else does, for less, and I choose not to get my knickers in a twist over it. It’s the same advice I give to photographers who panic over microstock and lowballers they know.

    Now, having said all that, I am doing mini-consultations as a part of ASMP’s SB2 for $75, but I want to make it clear that this rate is for event participants only and we (ASMP & I) negotiated that special rate for this situation exclusively. I am also doing longer format consultations AFTER SB2 in each location, but those meetings are at my usual prices…considerably higher than $75. :-)

  17. As someone who has been doing the portfolio review circuit as it were the past couple of years and a strong believer in it, I see the only real value in a review is in getting direct, immediate help in your career. Yes, of course it is hard to pull off and not as frequent as we would all like, but me and friends of mine have gotten into major shows, collections, etc right there at the review table, on the spot.

    So in my opinion, the REAL value of a review is 1)does this person really have the POWER to actually DO something with my work? and 2)are they actually actively either seeking new work, or at least open to working with someone new? In both cases, u will often see an assistant curator from a big institution just out of school who couldnt do a thing for you even if they wanted, or, the other end, a senior person from “too big” a place that doesnt “do” emerging artists. In either case, its a waste of time.

    If you really need “advice” or feedback on your work, then you, and it, is obviously not ready. There’s a lot of cheaper and easier ways to get your work ready. The real value of a review is to get your work in front of a curator, gallerist, editor etc who you cant normally get to see. Period. In this sense, while I always value an educated opinion, as a professional, I dont need or want “good feedback” anymore. I want someone who runs a gallery, museum etc and can help my career. In this sense, I must confess I am a tad suspicious of the photo bloggers, as I really dont know what they can really offer most people. A lot of people co-curate shows, a lot of people can give you a link somewhere. But I notice all too often at the reviews nowadays they have “filler” reviewers who really cant do much for your career at all, be it some tiny online zine, some small non-profit space, etc. And these people turn up again and again at the reviews, they’ve almost made a career of being a reviewer, LOL. (Note: if u ever see in their bio a proud mention of their great experience as a reviewer, run screaming, LOL, I love to see folks pad their bios with how many reviews a year they do).

    Now I must admit I dont know enough about Jorg to say where he fits in here, but until proven otherwise, I dont know. Lets just say there’s a lot more reviewers that dont and/or cant help us shooters than there are those that can and do. One of the best reviews I ever did, the reviewer opened with: this is what I do… now tell me what you hope I can do to help you in your career. Now this is a true reviewer in my opinion: someone with the power to do something, the openness to work with new people, and the willingness to proactively help the reviewee if they think the work is ready. Its not a coincidence I think that on the Reviewer Profiles Questionaire for Photolucida, one of the multiple choice answers was: I’m here for the free trip and donuts! And yes, some reviewers actually went with that answer.