Mary Virginia Swanson shares her thoughts about entering competitions and attending portfolio reviews. Here is what she said on her blog:

My enthusiasm for your investing in portfolio review events grows as I become increasingly frustrated and in fact pessimistic about the value of entering many exhibition and/or publication competitions. The reproduction rights often demanded from the winners, and more often now from those who simply apply, are unnecessary and unfair. The physical space and the circumstances at the actual judging of the work can vary, possibly occurring within a physically environment that may not lend itself to optimum viewing of your work, or judges working remotely without a dialogue, or so few examples of your work presented that we can barely get to know your work. (My most interesting judging experiences of late have been being part of a team judging the 2008 Photography Annual for Communication Arts Magazine for three days straight, and reviewing entries for Critical Mass in the solitude of airplanes, with weeks to consider and re-consider the submission (ten images each). I also feel strongly that in this time of economic challenges, conducting research, making new work and meeting with industry professionals and your peers is the best use of your time, offering a rich dialogue from which to grow, rather than pursuing galleries for representation or collections towards print purchases in this economic climate.

Source: Upcoming Portfolio Events of note, including Fotofest 2010 Registration details

I met with a local gallery director last weekend and the face to face meeting gave me an opportunity to have a dialogue with her. We were able to connect while viewing the images together and she was able to relate to a personal experience based on a photograph that was in my portfolio. It was truly a valuable experience. Like Ms. Swanson, she highly recommends The Meeting Place at Fotofest in Texas.