The Jennifer Shaw Mixtape
The name Jennifer Shaw has been on my radar for over a decade. She was an active member of the early toy camera community and when her project, Hurricane Story, was launched into the world, I was a fan for life. Hurricane Story is now a book, and it tells the tale of being pregnant and about to give birth when Hurricane Katrina ravaged her world. The narration is done with beautiful color toy camera images and the story is poignant and life affirming. Jennifer’s photographs capture the world around her, exploring themes of nature and family and reflect a commitment to her craft by producing beautiful black and white silver gelatin prints. But Jennifer Shaw, the photographer,educator, mother and wife, is only part of her story. She has spearheaded the PhotoNOLA portfolio reviews and much of what surrounds the PhotoNOLA festival with deft programming, insight, and enthusiasm, producing a spectacular event that only grows in stature each year. I had the great fortune to review last year, and exhibit in New Orleans (thanks to Jennifer), and I saw first hand her capable and nuturing approach to enriching and expanding the photographic journey of countless photographers.
The 8th Annual PhotoNOLA will take place December 12 – 15, 2013, with exhibitions on view throughout the month. They offer lectures, workshops, and a myriad of exhibitions, so that the reviews are enriched by learning, seeing, and connecting with all things photography.
PhotoNOLA was established and conceived during the formative stages of the New Orleans Photo Alliance (NOPA) in 2006. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Don Marshall of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation initiated a series of brainstorming sessions with different segments of the arts community, shaping groups and programs to spur cultural rebuilding. Under Marshall’s guidance, photographers created NOPA to serve the needs of the Gulf Coast photographic community. PhotoNOLA was created to highlight the photographic arts and to stimulate economic recovery in New Orleans.
The PhotoNOLA Portfolio Review began in 2007. It has quickly grown to attract a national gathering of accomplished photographers who convene to share work with esteemed curators, editors, publishers and gallery owners from throughout the U.S. and abroad. By fostering the exchange of art and ideas, it supports the work of emerging and established photographers. The PhotoNOLA Review Prize honors three outstanding portfolios each year. In addition, the Saturday night PhotoWALK serves to educate the general public by offering the opportunity to view portfolios and interact directly with participating photographers.
Broad ranging photography exhibitions are on view throughout the month of December, spotlighting diverse applications of the medium. A series of workshops, lectures and panel discussions further the educational goals of PhotoNOLA. Additionally, the annual PhotoGALA Benefit Party & Auction raises funds to support NOPA’s year round programming initiatives.
And now, it gives me great pleasure to celebrate this New Orleans treasure with The Jennifer Shaw Mixtape.
Tell us about your growing up and what brought you to photography.
I grew up moving back and forth between Milwaukee, Wisconsin and small town Delaware. I started sneaking snapshots on my parents’ cameras at a young age, so my dad bought me a 35mm Minolta when I was 12 and taught me how to use it. I took my first darkroom class at 15 – a summer session at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design- and pretty much spent the rest of high school skipping classes so I could print in a community darkroom at UWM. I went on to study at the Rhode Island School of Design, earning a BFA in photography in 1994.
What is your title and job description and tell us about a typical day?
I’m the director of PhotoNOLA, New Orleans’ annual photography festival, and also a photography instructor at the Louise S. McGehee School, as well as a fine art photographer. It’s not very glamorous, but the truth is that most of my days are spent hunched over a computer. I attend to email, wrangle jpegs, update website and social media, craft press releases, work with committee chairs and festival partners on events, the whole nine yards. I teach two or three mornings a week, and try to also carve out a little darkroom time for myself every now and then.
What are some of your proudest achievements?
I’m proud of being a founding officer of the New Orleans Photo Alliance and all we’ve done to grow the PhotoNOLA festival over the past eight years. It started as a pipedream; thinking New Orleans would be a good place for a photography festival, and has grown in a very grassroots, volunteer driven way into something really special. I’m thrilled by the amount of community support and participation we’ve garnered, and the solid partnerships we’ve built with New Orleans major museums. And I absolutely love seeing the positive outcomes we’ve helped to facilitate for photographers along the way.
What do you look for when attending a portfolio review?
I’ve never been a reviewer, so I’m going to answer this one from the photographer perspective. I look at who will be reviewing and try to determine if there are enough people who I feel might offer opportunities for my work to make the trip worthwhile. I look at how long the event lasts and how it is structured, considering whether there are additional social events and nearby exhibitions that will add value to the experience.
Any advice for photographers coming to a review event?
Think long term. I think many people come hoping for instant stardom when it should really be seen as a career investment and long-term relationship building process. Be open-minded. Reviewers have a wealth of experience and can offer significant feedback if you approach each meeting as a conversation, ready to learn, rather than a pitch with pre-conceived expectations of what that person should do for you. And it’s also worth keeping in mind that sometimes the life-changing conversations take place with the reviewers you least wanted to meet with.
What is something unexpected that we don’t know about you?
In junior high I won the title of Kent County Sewing Queen, from the Delaware 4-H.
And because this is a Mixtape, what is your favorite song, band, and do you dance?
One song? Eek! Lately I have been obsessed with the new Vampire Weekend album, Modern Vampires of the City. I bought it for this summer’s road trip and it’s been in constant rotation ever since. I also love The National, Sparklehorse, Wilco, Cat Power and Aimee Mann, in no particular order. I dance in the darkroom.
And now, Jennifer adds her own extended play to the Mixtape, hightlighting all the upcoming events at Photo NOLA!
First I would like to thank you, Aline, for being such a positive force in the photographic community and all of the wonderful exposure you offer photographers via LENSCRATCH. Your passion and generosity never cease to amaze me. And since the platform is mine, I’d love to talk about some of the exciting events and exhibitions we have lined up for PhotoNOLA 2013.
Education Day: Focus on Photo Books
December 12, 2013, 9am-4pm
Every year Mary Virginia Swanson leads our PhotoNOLA Education Day, a symposium packed with inspiring career information, scheduled the day before the portfolio reviews begin. This year we’ll be learning about the art and business of publishing photo books. In addition to Swannee’s morning lecture we will enjoy a presentation by Jane Fulton Alt and a panel discussion featuring four publishing industry professionals: Jane Brown, VP/ National Accounts Director of ARTBOOK | D.A.P.; Robert Morton, Book Agent, Robert Morton Books; Rob Shaeffer, Acquisitions Editor, Princeton Architectural Press; and Gordon Stettinius, Founder & Publisher, Candela Books.
Keynote Lecture: Deborah Luster
December 12, 2013, 6pm
We are honored to have Deborah Luster presenting our keynote lecture this year. Her haunting, provocative work explores violence and its consequences. Luster, who lives in New Orleans and Galway, Ireland, was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2013. She is best known for One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana, a series of Louisiana prison portraits, and Tooth for an Eye: A Chorography of Violence in Orleans Parish, which documents homicide sites in New Orleans. Both projects have been published as monographs by Twin Palms Publishers.
Richard Renaldi Workshop: Strangers in New Orleans
December 13 + 14, 2013
Richard Renaldi is teaching a two-day workshop designed for photographers wishing to hone their portrait making skills. The class will cover technical and conceptual aspects of street portraiture through a mix of portfolio sharing, location shooting, slide presentations and discussion. Renaldi will lead a shoot in New Orleans’ St. Roch neighborhood, teaching students to become more comfortable with approaching and photographing strangers.
Artistic Development Workshop with Sally Gall:
Professional Practice & Planning for Fine-Art Photographers
December 13 + 14, 2013
The two-day workshop with Sally Gall will offer twelve photographers an intense and intimate opportunity to refine and solidify their photographic goals, in terms of both personal expression and career concerns. The class will explore formal and technical issues, editing, career opportunities, exhibition venues, commercial applications, and other topics relevant to the work of each participant. Sally Gall is a New York based fine art and editorial photographer with a twenty-five year history of gallery and museum exhibitions.
December 13, 2013, 6-8pm
The PhotoWALK is a perennial favorite of mine because it offers such an amazing opportunity to see a wide range of work and to interact with the photographers, learning more about their projects and processes. Seventy participants in the PhotoNOLA Portfolio Review – who come in from all corners of the U.S. – will display their work for a two-hour portfolio walk. The event is free and open to the public, and will take place in the Ogden Museum’s exquisite Patrick F. Taylor Library. A preview of all the participating artists can be seen online at: photonola.org/photowalk
PhotoNOLA Museum Day
December 15, 2013
We have a great day of educational programming planned for Sunday, Dec 15, with a series of events at our partnering institutions. It begins with the Richard Renaldi lecture, on his Touching Strangers project, at The Historic New Orleans Collection. That is followed by a gallery talk, at 12:30pm, with POYi Director Rick Shaw at the Louisiana State Museum’s Old US Mint. At 2pm Richard McCabe, curator of photography at the Ogden Museum, will lead a walk through of The Mythology of Florida exhibition. Then from 3-5pm the Contemporary Arts Center welcomes PhotoNOLA visitors for a panel discussion with Russell Lord, William Greiner and Tammy Mercure, followed by a multi-artist book signing. All events are free and open to the public.
This year’s festival will feature more than sixty photography exhibitions citywide, a record! Most of the shows are on view through the month, with openings concentrated on the first and second Saturdays of December. A few highlights:
Contemporary Arts Center
Organized to celebrate the printed image in book form through photography and repurposed images, Unfolding Images is a functioning library and reading room, allowing visitors to review a juried selection of 28 photobooks.
CURRENTS 2013 was juried by Gordon Stettinius, of Candela Books + Gallery, and features works by fourteen New Orleans Photo Alliance members.
Generic Art Solutions
Jonathan Ferrara Gallery
Generic Art Solutions is a New Orleans-based art duo comprised of Matt Vis and Tony Campbell. They combine Classical, Romantic, and Baroque compositional elements with contemporary pictorial techniques, playing every character in their collaborative works.
POYi Visions of Excellence
Old US Mint – Louisiana State Museum
This exhibition features award-winning images from the 2013 Pictures of the Year International (POYi) Photojournalism Competition. POYi is a program of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism.
Photography at NOMA
New Orleans Museum of Art
Featuring works by Edward Weston, William Henry Fox Talbot, André Kertész, Robert Mapplethorpe, and many more, Photography at NOMA explores the Museum’s permanent photography collection through a selection of works from the early 1840s to the 1980s.
Gerry Yaum: Body Sellers
Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center
The subjects from Body Sellers: The Sex Workers Of Thailand were documented by Canadian photographer Gerry Yaum throughout Pattaya, Thailand over a five year period.
Brook Shaden: The In Between
Soren Christensen Gallery
Digitally manipulated images by Arizona based photographer Brooke Shaden
The Great Picture
Contemporary Arts Center
The world’s largest photograph, a history-making image three stories high by eleven stories wide, created by six photographic artists collectively known as The Legacy Project in a Southern California aircraft hangar.
Thank you, Jennifer, for all you do to promote photography and photographers!
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