Today was nowhere near as grueling as yesterday, but there was a lot to do. It started with three reviews back to back. The first one was with a pair of gallery owners with whom I had corresponded about five years ago. I kind of vaguely remembered them, and I showed them the brochure for the earlier work we had been talking about, and they remembered it. The conversation about my new work had a completely different feel than yesterday’s reviews. Not much input on the work, but more questions like: “Do you edition the images? How big do you like to make the prints? How much do you charge?” I took this as a good sign. As we parted, they said that they were interested in Nighthawks, but that PhotoCalligraphy wasn’t right for their gallery. The frank evaluation of PhotoCalligraphy made me feel that the interest in Nighthawks could really mean something. We’ll see.
The next review was with a dealer who plainly wasn’t interested in handling the work. However, it wasn’t a waste of time. Quite the contrary; he liked some images in the series and not others, and he told me what made him connect with the ones he liked. He liked strong, simple graphics, and something going on with the people that allowed an emotional connection. He didn’t like the complicated, disorienting images that ring my bell. He didn’t like the images where the people were just examples of some group, like tourists. He went through the images and told me which ones engaged him. They were ones that I really liked as well, and I could see why they succeeded. I still liked the complex, layered images, but could see that I liked them for a different reason. When we were done, I could see a way of looking at the series that had escaped me. There was a subset of the images that somehow belonged together. I had previously considered the next step in the evolution of the series to take it to more exotic locales, like Tokyo and Hong Kong. This guy showed me that there was a way to move on by emphasizing one or two aspects of what was already there. He weighed in on PhotoCalligraphy: a winner. While he was dropping these insights on me, he kept up a non-threatening, maybe-it’s-just-me attitude that cloaked the astuteness of what he was saying. He reminded me of Peter Falk on Columbo, but with a southern accent. An incredibly valuable experience.
The last review of the hour was with a magazine publisher and well-known photojournalist. The surprise was that he was based in Carmel. I came 800 miles to meet someone that I could have run into at the bank. The world works in mysterious ways, and I’m glad that we got together. He, too, had some insights into the work that were useful. By the way, he liked the layered images.
After a review, I like to sit down and take notes on what I’ve heard. With three reviews in a row, that wasn’t possible. I did my best, but I still couldn’t remember all the images that each reviewer had singled out.
There was supposed to be a lecture at 12:30. I came by. The appointed hour came and went. I asked someone about the lecture. He said it had been given earlier. The change had probably been posted somewhere, but I never saw it. That’s one more reason to stay in the hotel where the reviews happen. For those interested in taking that advice, but sure to act quickly. I tried to make hotel reservations five days after registration for the conference opened, and I couldn’t get in.
My last review of the day was set for three. I lined up with the other photographers. On the hour the staff sent us in. A crowd of photographers swarmed around me as I looked for the right table. I was looking for a reviewer whose name started with O. I found the M’s. I found the P’s. Oops, where are the O’s? I cast a wider and wider net, still coming up empty. Finally I sought out a staffer and explained my dilemma. She couldn’t find the table either. Some more scurrying around found the reviewer’s placard, in a pile on a table. The staffer set up the placard on an empty table and told me to sit down. She said she’d send the reviewer over when she showed up. Five minutes into the twenty-minute review, I took my seat.
Then I had an enlightening experience of differential time sense. When you’re in a twenty-minute review, it seems to go by in a few heartbeats. When you’re waiting for your reviewer to show, you can think four complete thoughts, look at your watch, and find only fifteen seconds has passed. Finally, at twelve minutes and thirty seconds into the twenty-minute review, I spied someone on the floor who was looking for a table. It had to be my reviewer
It turned out alright after all. There wasn’t much of a connection, and so we had enough time.
Afterwards, I headed down to the break room for two informal reviews. In addition, I got to hang around while other photographers’ work was being reviewed. That turns out to be exceedingly valuable. In addition, I goet to see some great work. There was one group of panoramic photographs by an absolute master of stitchery that was fantastic.