I was still a student at the Fine Art Academy in Gdansk, when I heard about the Bratislava Portfolio Review for the first time. Back then, though, I had plenty of teachers and fellow students to discuss my photography with. I probably didn’t appreciate it then but now – a couple of years after graduating – I realized that I truly miss these critical discussions about my work. So this is when I reminded myself about the review. Only a couple of days later I got registered and booked my flight.
I wasn’t expecting much. Despite the positive rumours that I heard from here and there I didn’t want to go to Bratislava thinking that it’d be a grand beginning of my photographic career. I didn’t want to hear blandishments; instead, I really hoped for some critical feedback from individuals from different environments who saw my work for the first time. And this is exactly what I received: during the two intensive days I had an opportunity to show my portfolio to as many as ten reviewer and to over a dozen fellow participants. Their opinions differed greatly spanning from constructively critical to completely neutral to enthusiastically positive. I value the first group the most as these are the comments I remember. For how long? – we’ll see.
The overall atmosphere of the review was really pleasant, the time flew fast. It was surprising how homogeneous the portfolios of over 80 participants from across Europe seemed. They showed such a similar approach to photography. The event was lacking in outstanding individuals, not many of the participants had their own unique visual language. Most of them showed documentaries. Well, it may be the trend now. And as a couple of the reviewers noted, I’m not following it.
Anyway, I really liked the formula of portfolio review. I know I need feedback and discussion possibilities that such events entail. Next year I’ll have to decide whether to go back to Bratislava or to try my luck in Arles,Vienna, London or Stockholm.
This year the Bratislava Portfolio Review gathered over 80 participants and 35 reviewers. The winners of the best portfolio prize were: