5073A-19617 © kjm

On the second day of Photolucida Northwest, I overheard another photographer say, "I'm really sick of hearing myself talk about my work." At times, I felt the same way - I repeated the same description of my projects so many times - to reviewers, other photographers, and people attending the public portfolio walk. But that repetition helped me distill the story into a succinct nugget of information in a way I hadn't before. I think we photographers can spend so much time visualizing our projects - and the artist statements can sometimes take a back seat. We all need to be able to speak about our work intelligently, and I think this was an important step for me.

It was also exciting and liberating to talk about my artwork and not my editorial work. Unfortunately, I usually feel the need to validate myself when it comes to my magazine work, to talk about clients I've shot for, etc. Boring. So to have people judge my project photographs without that baggage was really terrific, and I feel really proud of my personal work, to a degree that I don't think the editorial work can compete with.

This being my first review, I asked friends for advice, and read carefully the Photolucida "how to" pdf and parts of Mary Virginia Swanson's book in preparation. All were spot on. I brought 16x20 prints of the Camp Home work and 8x10 prints from the Fast Food series, and most often, there was time to show people both. Merch-wise, I had with me a few iPhoto books, a bunch of the 38 booklets (minus the print) and postcards representing both projects. I loved being able to give a viewer one of these things, and people seemed pleased to have something to take away.

Twenty minutes goes really fast. I've never speed dated, but I think I now know what it's like. Some of the reviews were more engaging than others, but in general, I think the work was well-received. People were honestly interested in the ideas behind the Camp Home series. And there were a few really great meetings - two of which will hopefully lead to work being shown (cross fingers here).

Even though they were keeping all the boats afloat, the Photolucida folks were easygoing and kind. It was fun to finally meet Shawn Records and to have nice conversations with Laura Moya, Laura Valenti, Bryan Wolf, and Christopher Rauschenberg. And I had inspiring conversations with the photographer/reviewers Geoffrey Hiller and Raymond Meeks - both of whom I think make work with unique conviction, in completely different ways.

And how fun is it to just be surrounded by a bunch of photographers? The 'portfolio walk' was a nice way to see work of all shapes and sizes by the other photographers. A few I had the pleasure to meet: Stephen Chalmers, Chris Dunker, Alex Emmons, William Gardner, Wendy Given, Harrison Higgs, Mark Jaremko, Nate Larson, Tara McDermott, Motoya Nakamura, Alexis Pike, Mike Rebholz, Daniel Schmeichler, Sika Stanton, Lori Triburgo.


Lane said...

Thanks for writing about this. I'm currently trying to decide if I should just sign up for Photolucida or try my luck getting accepted to Santa Fe. More and more I'm thinking Photolucida would be a great experience, especially for my first review.

LP/w Design Studios said...

You're so right. I've found that there's a huge gap between commissioned work (such as your editorial work) and personal work. The commissioned work needs no real explanation. Selling it really doesn't either. An art director needs a style or a way of seeing, they like what the way you see things and they hire you. For the personal work, you're providing the reason for creating this body of work. The ability to articulate that reason (in a timely manner) is an imperative.