Portfolio Reviews


Sunday May 8 and Monday, May 9, 2016
The Gladstone Hotel - 1214 Queen St W
$200+HST for 4 reviews

International curators, directors, publishers, and photo editors are brought together during CONTACT to review work by emerging artists, with a focus on documentary, photojournalism, narrative or photo-based art practices. This is an important event for those with projects at an advanced stage of development who are seeking opportunities for publishing and exhibiting nationally or internationally—as well as looking for guidance on conceptual approaches or career development advice. This year, CONTACT will present a series of related public programs that focus on the photobook, alternative methods to storytelling, and the relationship between photo editor and photographer.

*Please note that due to limited space, all submissions will go through a selection process to ensure that a high caliber of work is presented in this program.

Supported in part by Ontario Arts Council, Vistek, Toronto Image Works and Steam Whistle Brewery.

The Portfolio Reviews Award

Established in 2010, the award offers one artist a solo exhibition at the CONTACT Gallery, a $2500 credit at Toronto Image Works, and a professional 17 inch Epson printer from Vistek. The recipient is chosen by a jury of international professionals in the field of photography, and the award recognizes outstanding work presented at the reviews.

The program was created to support and advance the careers of talented emerging photographers.

CONTACT gratefully acknowledges the Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Image Works and Vistek for supporting this award.


Annette Booth
Director of Exhibition Management, Aperture Foundation, New York

Laurence Cornet
Photo Critic, Eye of Photography, Paris

Moe Doiron
Photo Editor, The Globe and Mail, Toronto

Eva Eicker
Assistant Curator, The Photographer’s Gallery, London

Caroline Hunter
Photo Editor, Guardian Weekend Magazine, London

Michael Itkoff
Co-founder, Daylight Books, Hillsborough

Rafael Katigbak
Senior Editor/Producer, VICE, Toronto

Stephen Mayes
Executive Director, Tim Hetherington Trust, Long Island City

Benjamin Petit
Program Manager, #Dysturb, Paris

Madelena Rehorek
Director, Ruffian Gallery, Melbourne

Tara Smith
Program Director, CONTACT, Toronto

Ian Sternthal
Publisher, Sternthal Publishing, Montreal

Donald Weber
Photographer, Amsterdam

Nicole Werbeck
Online Editor, National Geographic, Washington

Full bios can be viewed when registering.

Submission Details

Registration for the 2016 program is now open. Please create an account at register.scotiabankcontactphoto.com. When submitting online you will be asked to upload the following:

1. A CV/artist statement (PDF format only)

2. Five (5) images (1200 wide, 72dpi, jpeg only) with your name and captions in the file name.

Once you have been notified of your acceptance you will be able to complete the registration process.

3. Create a selection of your preferred reviewers. Please note you can login in anytime to make changes to your profile and selection until April 25, 5pm, after which time we will do the lottery. There may be updates made to the reviewer list, so be sure to check back to confirm your final selection.

4. Indicate your participation in the Forum* and whether you would like to be considered for the Portfolio Review Exhibition Award, a solo exhibition in the CONTACT Gallery scheduled for January 2017.

5. Payment will be due only once we have notified you of your acceptance. Payment can be made through PayPal on the registration site, or at our office either by cheque or cash. All payments are non-refundable.

*For those interested in being considered for the award, we request you participate in the Forum on Monday May 9, to ensure the jury will have ample time to review all portfolios.

You will receive four reviews during the two-day event, with the opportunity to add reviews only if space permits. The process of placing you with preferred reviewers is through a lottery system; therefore, we cannot guarantee that you will receive all of your top choices.

In the event that reviewers are unable to attend due to unforeseen circumstances, we will make the appropriate adjustments to ensure that all participants receive their proper number of reviews.

After the lottery is complete we will email your review schedule. We try to be as prompt as possible after the deadline, so please be patient! However if you have questions you are welcome to contact us anytime.


The Portfolio Reviews are an opportunity to make important contacts and receive valuable feedback on your work. Take the time to research which reviewers will be interested in viewing your work.  Be prepared to talk about your work coherently and have questions prepared for the reviewers to optimize your time with them.

We are accepting submissions from artists and photographers with a focus on photojournalism, documentary, or photo-based art projects. Participants are advised that this year's reviewers would be least likely to be interested in still life, traditional nudes, or fashion photography.

We especially encourage those that have published or exhibited work within the last two years and/or have formal education in art and/or photography from a post-secondary institution to apply.

Limit the number of images in your portfolio and focus on one series you wish to show. Present your work in a format that is easy to view. Examples include book, portfolio box, loose-leaf folder or laptop screen.

It is a good idea to prepare contact details (business card, postcard, or printout) to give to reviewers and other artists and photographers you meet.

Coming from out of town? The Gladstone Hotel is pleased to offer Portfolio Reviews registrants a special rate, just inform the hotel you are a registrant when booking your room. If you have any questions about your travels to Toronto and other ways to participate in the festival please see our website or call our office - we will be happy to assist you.


Do I have to be a professional photographer to participate in the Portfolio Reviews?
No. The portfolio reviews are for anyone who is serious about photography. It is not a requirement to be a professional who earns income from their practice, or to have studied visual art. Participants go through a selection process to ensure a high calibre of work is presented in the program.

How should I decide which images to submit?
We suggest focusing on only one or two bodies of work, rather than a group of disparate images, to ensure you are showing your strongest work and to allow reviewers to gain a deeper understanding of your project. The work that you submit for the jury process does not have to be the same work you want to present to reviewers during the event.

What will happen on the portfolio review days?
The reviews will take place over two days at the Gladstone Hotel. You will receive a schedule indicating what times you will meet with reviewers. Each session is 20 minutes long. There will be an area for participants to wait and quietly prepare for reviews, as well as a secure storage room for your portfolio materials that you can make use of.

Before your first review, you will have to sign in. You can come and go during the day, but you should be at the Gladstone at least 15 minutes in advance of your review. If you are late, you forfeit your time slot.

Will I be able to choose the reviewers that I meet with?
When you register, you will be asked to indicate which reviewers you are most interested in meeting. We use a computer-generated lottery to create the schedule, which gives all participants a fair and equal opportunity to meet with their preferred reviewers. We cannot guarantee you will meet all your preferred reviewers, but due to the number of available slots, most people will see their top selections.

When will I get my schedule for the Portfolio Reviews?
Schedules will be sent out as soon as they are ready, around a week before the event. It is a good idea to allow yourself plenty of time to dedicate to the portfolio reviews, and not make too many other commitments on that weekend.

How can I know which reviewers I should meet with?
Each reviewer has a distinct set of experiences that inform their opinions, as well as different roles that they play in their relationship to photography and photographers, such as curating, publishing, or magazine work.

We encourage participants to take the time to research which reviewers will be interested in viewing their work, or which reviewers' opinions they are most interested in.

How should I present my work to the reviewers?
There is no particular rule for how to present your work. The review rooms will be set up with 6-ft-long tables on which to lay out your work, so with that mind, you can use whichever format would most benefit your work. Participants have used a range of formats, from traditional portfolio boxes with mounted or unmounted prints, to self-published books, to laptop or tablet computer presentations. It depends on what works for you and for your project. In general, loose prints (11x14" is a nice, manageable size) in a protective case or box, is an effective, professional way to display your work.

You may also wish to bring your business cards, a postcard or flyer to leave with reviewers, and a notebook to take notes on your conversations.

How should I prepare for the Portfolio Review days?
Think about your goals for the portfolio reviews—whether it is a specific question you want addressed, or a diversity of opinions on work in progress, or a connection you want to make. Having specific questions relevant to your reviewers’ area of expertise is a good idea.

If you've never done a portfolio review before, you may want to practice with a friend, to help you get comfortable presenting your work in a focused and concise way. This can help you to devote more of the session to receiving feedback, making the most of your time with the reviewers.

I’m only available on one of the two days. Can I still participate? 
If you have scheduling conflicts, you can still participate; however, we may not be able to accommodate your reviewer choices. If this is the case, please let us know as soon as possible. You will still receive the same number of review sessions, but they might not be with your top choices.

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