Fine Art Photography Daily

Paris, Portfolios, and Photography


My Second Favorite View, Aline Smithson

As you are reading this post, I will be sipping a latte and or a glass of wine (depending on the time) somewhere in Paris, steeling my nerves for the Lensculture/FotoFest Paris Reviews that take place starting tomorrow and run the three days prior to the opening of Paris Photo, the largest photography festival in the world. Once the reviews are over , I will spend the rest of the week drunk on all things  photography and who know what else!  I will be reporting back on the stress, excitement, and the learning curve of the reviews, and then on the experience of attending Paris Photo , so that  Lenscratch readers will have a ringside seat to the roller coaster of ride of Paris when it celebrates all things photographic.seine2

In the meantime, back at the LENSCRATCH ranch, over the next two weeks, Grant Gill and Sarah Stankey will be featuring a dozen portfolios that have been sumbittted to Lenscratch in the past months. Our 12 day offerings are only the tip of the iceberg, but we are thrilled to share the work of so many terrific image makers. We will also sprinkle in a Mixtape here and there. Needless to say, I am thankful to Grant and Sarah for their efforts while I’m in Paris.
paris roomFor now, I thought I’d share my getting-ready-for-portofio-reviews experience, as it takes on a whole new meaning when schelpping work halfway around the world to meet with reviewers who have undoubtedly have a very different sensibility. I could be wrong, but my instincts say that Europe is drawn more to conceptual work, to ideas, and work that pushes against the traditional.

No matter how early you start the process of printing and preparing, it’s never early enough. I printed up to the last day (I’m bringing way more than I should, but meeting with my gallerists and want to show them several projects), struggling to get two new series to print the way I needed them to. Adding to the mounting costs of the review itself, the airfare, the apartment rental, photographic paper and inks were the purchase of new clamshell boxes, getting a magcloud printed and the creation and printing of new “leave-behinds”. And then there is the most critical part of preparing for a review, thinking about how I am going to articulate the work.

Along with all the physical efforts of getting ready for a review, perhaps the most difficult are the emotional side benefits of doubting yourself, doubting your work, and daily asking yourself : “Why the hell am I doing this?  Why would I offer my work up on a platter to be dissected by the subjective photo world?” I am always telling my students to have low expectations.  What I have found, as a veteran of many reviews on both sides of the table, is that all you can hope for is to make new connections and get your work on someone’s radar.  And that’s exactly what I am hoping for.


I am a big believer in the portfolio review process…it forces you to get your work in shape, think about it’s presentation and where it best fits into the photo landscape.  Reviews are about communication, not just with reviewers, but with fellow photographers, and with the organization that is producing the reviews.  As photographers, we are truly lucky to have this system to get our work in front of curators, editors, publisher, gallerists, Directors, and collectors.  No other art form offers such an amazing opportunity for exposure.  But I have also found that it’s the exposure to the photographer sitting next to you that is equally important.  I wrote on this subject last year, in the post, Love The One You’re With.

So I need to get back to my beverage and biting my nails and trying to memorize this phrase: Bonjour! Je suis un photographe d’art et je veux vraiment vraiment que vous aimez et achetez mes photos!

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