Wednesday, April 23, 2008

some pictures off the card in my camera. some words written about thirty hours ago.

Though I won't have internet to post this until I get home, I actually type from the airport in Athens, at the tail end of a twelve hour layover. I took advantage of arriving early enough to catch the Metro in to see the Acropolis at dusk, but was too nervous (and cheap) to do anything but walk around for an hour and then take the train right back to the airport. Now, I just need to stay awake for the next hour until the plane boards. The rest of the night was spent with coffee and listening to this song over and over.


I guess the details were kind of vague, but due to unexpected events, our reviewer for Blue Sky was unable to make it to Thessaloniki, Greece to review portfolios at their Photo Bienniale. I got a call last weekend asking if there was any chance that I could fill in at the last minute? You know I'm always glad to help.

A few lessons learned:

• Exchange money at the airport, before you head into town after the banks are closed.
• Bring a healthy supply of Tylenol pm. Two pills and a beer helps with the adjustment.
• Travel with a sandwich. In fact, I've still got a sandwich in my bag that I bought about 16 hours ago. I think it's still alright. I wonder if I can save it until I get home.

• My understanding of the history of photography is woefully Ameri-centric. It's really pathetic. But the connections were great. I mean, I met with a really good b&w street photographer who was doing work similar to Nathan Lyons, around the same time, but had never heard of Lyons.
• I am no street photographer. Maybe with some balls and practice, but I lack the courage and reflexes to really pull it off. I did spend a little time shooting from the hip on my one day off. note the bad focus:

• Of course, there are other lessons learned, about the business side of things- the painful necessity of self-promotion, but honestly, it's all stuff I've heard/read/said before (you know, Mary Virginia Swanson's got loads of great advice). But in case you haven't:

• Know your audience. Before you show work to anyone (at least if you're paying for it), know where their interests lie. Don't waste your time showing work to someone from a gallery/magazine/publisher that won't have any interest in your work. If you're honestly just looking for feedback, that's fine, but you're probably not going to get a very positive response if you're showing black & white art-school conceptual nudescapes to an editor from an agency that represents photojournalism.

• If you're not going to label the cd, at least write your name on it. And make sure it works.

• Don't give the reviewers anything more than a cd, or maybe a postcard. Baggage is an issue. I brought everything that works back with me, but I've heard stories.

• Installation views make a big difference.

• I don't know that it's necessary to bring lots of big prints, but at least make sure that the prints you bring don't have chemical stains and scratches on them.

• Meeting people in person actually works. I came away with at least three or four projects I'll bring to the exhibition committee. Actually, I've been on both sides of the table, a few times now. I've reviewed for Blue Sky at Photolucida a couple times now, and have shown work at Photolucida, Santa Fe, and SPE. Of course, it's ultimately about the work, but if the work's good and you meet the right person who recognizes that it's good, then time will make something happen. But don't come in expecting to find solutions for work that you're unsure of. If you meet 5 different reviewers, four will have differing opinions and the fifth will find something else in a picture to talk about (location/weather/politics) to fill the awkward silence because your work is so far out of their range of interest.

Photolucida normally does our reviews every two years, but we've got something smaller and more regional in the works for this summer. Get on the mailing list if you're interested in finding out. In the past these things have filled up really quickly.


Liz said...

But did you find a Hostess Cherry Pie to make your trip complete? ;)

shawn said...

liz, my last night in greece, i left the hotel about midnight and went for a walk and at one point, saw a kiosk with a small hand pie for sale. i didn't jump on the opportunity, but i thought of you.

Justin said...

Per usual, great post. Thanks.