Saturday, March 22, 2008

Fotofest Meeting Place: Day 2-4

The intense days of mini meetings with well known curators from New York, Texas, California, etc as well as several international galleries has finished up. Well for me anyway. There is one more week of portfolio reviews taking place in conjunction with Fotofest. I honestly had my reservations regarding attending such a costly event however when I ran in to Mary Virginia Swanson at an opening last summer at Jen Beckman's gallery she convinced me it was worth while. Although I did not have the opportunity to meet with MVS (hint hint) although I selected her everyday, I have to agree the days of prep work and sometimes exhausting and nerve racking meetings seem, at this point, to have been a good investment. I had the opportunity meet with a handful of people who seemed to be really interested in my work–either my Repository series or my Sorority Rush series. Overall, I received constructive feedback on how to improve both bodies of work and ways to continue them. I find its always difficult to put yourself out there not knowing what you will get in return, if anything. So for four days myself along with about 100 other people got the nerve to lay our cards down, meet with directors and/or curators we have only dreamed of meeting, all in the hopes that one might be interested enough to represent us, put us in a group show, publish a book of our work or show us around to other possibly interested curators, reps, magazines or book publishers.

I found everyone was looking for something different and I think in the end no matter what level you were at, how finished your body of work was most people found someone their work connected with. I myself was looking for possible gallery representation, inclusion in a group or solo show and interest in publishing one or both projects. In addition, I felt that both projects could be continued and should be. I discussed the strengths and weakness of each body of work and where to go from here. Often, as those of you who have attended reviews know, often the advice can and does contradict what the previous reviewer suggested. I think, based upon all the advice, you have to find the path or next step which seems best suited for you at this moment in time.

In between the meetings and over the course of four days, I was able to receive and give peer reviews and see some amazing photography. What is most striking to me is I signed up for the third section of portfolio reviews. There had been two before mine and one after. The level of work I was seeing and most of which I recognized from recent publications, contests and exhibitions was phenomenal. It appeared that some of the most talented emerging photographers were all gathered in Houston. I ran across photographer Kaylynn Deveney whose images I had seen through the 2005 critical mass top 50 contest. It was a real pleasure to see her prints and also purchase her book titled The Day to Day Life of Albert Hastings. Kent Rogowski, another photographer I had the pleasure of meeting, also recently published a book titled Bears. Both books can be purchased online. I am planning to order Kent's book, maybe he'll sign it for me??? Other photographers I met were Rona Chang, Geoffrey Hutchinson who I knew from New York and his business Print Space as well as Jessica Kaufman and Anne Arden McDonald. On Wednesday night there was an open portfolio viewing where the general public could come view our work and speak with us. After 6 hours of reviews earlier in the day it was the last thing most of us wanted to participate in however the experience was so worthwhile. How often do you have the opportunity to meet the artist or photographer in such a casual setting and how often do we as artists and photographers get to interact with a group of people who might not be the typical crowd at our openings.

Some of these same photographers, including myself, have been selected to attend this years Santa Fe Review happening in June. Unlike the meeting place, the Santa Fe Review is upon portfolio selection only. A panel selects a small group of photographers to attend a two day review. I hope to reedit and include some of the suggestions from the meeting place before heading out to Santa Fe to do it all over again.