Guest Post: Elin Spring
Most of you know of the blog written by Elin Spring. Hers is quickly becoming one of the most important blogs to follow as she seems to get to see everything, interview everyone and have her finger on the pulse of contemporary photography in our area. In fact her efforts to show us what is up are so impressive she is being recognized in a week or so at the annual Focus Awards at the Griffin Museum of Photography with an award.
Her blog is called: "What Will You Remember?" and you can find it here. Elin asked me if I could review a show for her a month ago and I was happy to do so as I was going to see Brian Kaplan's exhibition titled "Not Your Vacation"at the Danforth Museum anyway. In fact, I was honored to be asked. It is here. In turn I asked if she would write for this blog. She agreed and went right to a topic that caused caused quite a stir when I wrote about it: Portfolio Reviews.
The following post, written by Elin, tackles the issue of portfolio reviews and poses a possible answer. Interesting stuff:
A New Kind of Review?
Ahhh, portfolio reviews! Those highly variable, high stakes markets in which photographers offer their wares, hoping to win gallery, museum and media attention. In the current system, this is the way photographers and art outlets find one another and, in many respects, it works. But sometimes not. What if you’re newly out of school or have just switched into a career in photography or just don’t have a complete, organized body of work to bring to a review, but you still crave feedback and direction?
When Neal Rantoul stated, “Photo teachers are massively underutilized as portfolio reviewers” in his summertime blog post (here), he put his finger on a rather gaping hole in the current review system and started an avalanche of discourse on Facebook. I’d like to take it up again because there appears to be a constructive solution. What if photographers were offered access to educators with the training and qualifications to help them prepare complete, professional projects before hitting the marketplace? What if there was a different kind of interactive evaluation, one I’ll call the “Creative Review”?
Paula Tognarelli, Executive Director and Curator of the Griffin Museum of Photography in Massachusetts, embraces the idea of extending the Griffin’s educational role and is in a perfect position to help develop another useful and effective system of portfolio reviews. I recently talked with Paula and Neal, in an effort to see where efforts might be joined to provide a new option to photographers that would better serve their careers. We came up with some ideas and invite your feedback.
1. In addition to the traditional New England Portfolio Review (NEPR) event held each spring, a separate “Creative Review” event could be held in the fall.
2. Similar to last year’s NEPR, educational programming could take place in a morning session and individual “creative review” sessions could be conducted in the afternoon.
3. Professional photography educators would be recruited to evaluate reviewees’ works-in-progress and help guide their creative development.
4. Possibly, 2-3 reviewers could meet with each photographer simultaneously for a longer period of time (e.g. 30-40 minutes), rather than sequential, individual 20 minute reviews.
5. Perhaps other professionals, such as printers and writers, could be present to advise on printing techniques and artist statements.
Now it’s your turn! If you think you would utilize a “Creative Review” please speak up.
We’d like to know:
1. Would you like a separate event for Creative Reviews”?
2. Would you prefer single, short reviews or multiple reviewers in a longer session?
3. Would you like the advice of other professionals in your Creative Review?
We anticipate that the cost to photographers for “Creative Reviews” would not differ from current Portfolio Reviews. If there is support for this idea in the photographic community, we will pursue it!
Facebook would seem to be the place to air your views.
Thank you to Elin, and to Paula at the Griffin, for being willing to get the ball rolling.