I’ve just finished the first day of reviews and I’m a bit overwhelmed. Four formal twenty-minute reviews. Three informal ones by official roving reviewers. Uncountable sharing of pictures with other photographers. A presentation at lunchtime that took precedence over lunch.
And that just got me to five o’clock.
The day finished with all 160 photographers showing work to each other and to anyone who happened to be at the Portland Art Museum. The PhotoLucida folks broke us into three groups and gave each group a table and an hour. The tables seemed well spread out before most of the people arrived, but there was soon a sea of viewers so thick that it was an effort to move.
The work was incredibly varied, and for the most part well executed. It was hard to believe that such variety could be achieved within the process of exposing photosensitive material to light. Photograms, cyanotypes, pinhole photographs, Holga pictures, tack-sharp 39-megapixel captures. From 100% concept to totally visual and everything in between. From palm-sized jewels to 40 by 60 canvas prints that had to be rolled up to carry them to the reviewing table. I had the middle time slot, and by the time it came for me to set up, I was into visual overload.
I wasn’t quick enough to get a table with good light, but because I was in less-desirable area, there was an empty table next to mine. The next photographer over and I split it, so I was able to put out both the Nighthawks series and the PhotoCalligraphy work. There seemed to be almost equal interest in each, which was a bit disconcerting since Nighthawks is a fully fleshed-out series with three years of work in it, and PhotoCalligraphy is the result of six months of failures followed by two months of successes, all while I was mainly working on something else. Ah, well. At least there was interest.
At the end of the hour I was hoarse. I’d passed out a lot of brochures, had a lot of conversations, and was unclear on how well what I was trying to do with Nighthawks was getting through. PhotoCalligraphy is easier: it’s eye candy, and you either like it or you don’t.
I’m afraid that, at least in my case, the people at the end of the alphabet got short shrift. I gave it another half-hour, and headed back to the hotel.
And the reviews? Taken collectively, at this point they make the Delphic Oracles look straightforward, although I am not lacking in strong opinions. I need to let it settle in and hear some more before I can make sense of it. I will get there. Stay tuned.
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