Fine Art Photography Daily

The 2014 Filter Photo Festival


©Tanner Young

Today, photographer Yvette Meltzer, shares her experience at the Filter Photo Festival which took place in Chicago in late September. Filter has grown leaps and bounds over the past few years, and 2015 Filter has some exciting new developments that will make it a year round presence in Chicago. You can mark your calendars for the 2015 festival and Portfolio Reviews which takes place September 24 – 27th, 2015. Hope to see you there! — Aline Smithson

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Carrie Mae Weems lecture ©Jeff Phillips

The 2015 Filter Photo Review by Yvette Meltzer

Although 3 months have passed since Filter Photo 2014 closed this year’s 6th annual festival in Chicago, relationships formed and information shared are still very much alive.

This year’s participants found the Festival centrally located in new quarters at the Knickerbocker hotel on North Michigan Avenue. Improvements offered by the new venue included spacious meeting rooms in which the workshops were held, a larger lounge in which attendees could gather, and 2 large rooms opposite of each other offering sufficient space to accommodate all of the talented photographers exhibiting their work on the portfolio walk.

This year’s 5-day festival opening night reception included a first ever Photo Book exhibition of 30 books juried by Gregory Harris, Assistant Curator of the DePaul Art Museum.

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Photo Book Juror’s Talk with Gregory Harris ©Jeff Phillips


Photo Book Exhibition ©Tanner Young


Photo Book Exhibition ©Tanner Young

The exhibition was followed by an artist lecture by photographer Eli Reed who addressed his work as a Magnum photographer, both past and present. These evening programs followed a full first day that held offerings of 5 workshops from which to choose (some were for a fee; others were offered at no cost.)

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Eli Reed Artist Lecture © Jeff Phillips


Eli Reed and Filter Photo Festival Director, Sarah Hadley ©Tanner Young

Before the keynote address,  Curator Karsten Lund, Curatorial Assistant at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gave a tour of Phantoms in the Dirt, an exhibition that presented “an array of physical remnants and enigmatic traces, ranging from cryptic objects to the marks of human activity in rugged landscapes.”


Karsten Lund’s walk through of Phantoms in the Dirt ©Jeff Phillips

Thursday night’s keynote address by Carrie Mae Weems was standing room only. Ms. Weems, a 2013 MacArthur fellow, spoke eloquently about social engagement and systems of representation and power in photography. Who speaks? Who has an opportunity to speak? Her talk was illustrated with her photographs and she closed with a 10-minute trailer of a recent video she made while living in Rome.

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Carrie Mae Weems lecture ©Jeff Phillips

followed by Carrie Mae Weems signing copies of her books…

weems signs her books

©Jeff Phillips

The Juror’s reception held at the David Weinberg Gallery on Friday evening featured the works of 27 photographers selected by Juror Gordon Stettinius, photographer, gallerist and publisher (Candela Gallery and Books), for the theme of This May Have Happened. Gordon announced his juror’s awards and spoke of having selected works that created a cohesive whole.


Gordon Stettinius juror’s talk at the This May Have Happened exhibition ©Tanner Young


Larry Chait with his image in the, This May Have Happened exhibition ©Yvette Meltzer


Susan Annable with her image in the This May Have Happened exhibition ©Yvette Meltzer

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Festival Director Sarah Hadley talks with Programming Director Erin Hoyt and Kate Hampel at the Juror’s Reception for This May Have Happened on Friday night ©Yvette Meltzer

Three days of Portfolio Reviews were held from Friday through Sunday.

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2014 Portfolio Revews ©Jeff Phillips

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2014 Portfolio Revews ©Jeff Phillips

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2014 Portfolio Revews ©Jeff Phillips

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2014 Portfolio Revews ©Jeff Phillips

Following the reviews was the evening Portfolio Walk where photographers shared their work with the public, fellow photographer, and with reviewers.

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Portfolio Walk © Jeff Phillips

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Photographers Grace Weston and Mel Keiser at the Portfolio Walk ©Yvette Meltzer

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Carrie McCarthy of Santa Fe Workshops visits with Christy Karpinski, Editor of F-Stop Magazine ©Yvette Meltzer

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Mary Virginia Swanson ©Jeff Phillips

Throughout the week the Filter Lounge was open from 9 – 5 PM allowing attendees to visit and compare and share their photography. In the lounge were opportunities to consult with Festival sponsors, to examine a variety of photo papers and to print on them at no cost and to even have one’s camera inspected and cleaned.

Filter Lounge-2755 copyYou never know who or what you will come across in the Filter Lounge!

Filter longue 1-2797And, of course, there was a free photo booth in which to play and to print one’s “selfies”

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Photo of Lauren Wilkins © Jeff Phillips

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Photo Booth Fun Photo @ Jeff Phillips

After hours, participants could be found gathered in the hotel’s downstairs lounge or restaurant. With attendance up this year, everyone agreed that the larger venue and its amenities better suited the festival and a decision has been made to return to the Knickerbocker in 2015. In fact, plans for the 7th annual Filter Photo Festival are already underway and you can mark your calendars now for September 24 -27, 2015.

The 7th annual Filter Photo Festival will return with workshops, portfolio reviews, lectures, panel discussions and more. Once again Filter will bring gallery owners, museum directors, curators, publishers, and other VIPs from across the country to meet with and educate the attendees…

But even before that Filter Photo will become a year round presence in Chicago by adding new permanent offices and a gallery space in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood at 1821 West Hubbard St. The center will open early in 2015 and will be a place for photographers to exhibit and see new work, listen to artist talks, take workshops and gather for informal events.

In fact, the inaugural exhibition for Filter Photo’s new gallery space at the Hubbard Streets Lofts is scheduled to run from February 6th – March 27th with an opening reception on February 6th. There is currently an open call for photographic work for Context 2015, with a submissions deadline of January 6, 2015. The juried exhibition, Context 2015 will be juried and curated by Michal Raz-Russo, Assistant Curator in the Department of Photography at the Art Institute of Chicago. All types of photographic and time-based work will be considered, including video and GIFs. A Juror’s choice award comes with a $500 cash prize and honorable mentions will be awarded.


Filter Photo Memberships were initiated this year, offering members a variety of opportunities through the year, including discounted fees for submitting their work for consideration for Context 15. See the Filter Photo Festival website for detailed information on both membership and on the call for photos.

Important Dates:

January 6th: Deadline for submissions (TOMMORROW!)
Mid-January: Entrants are notified of juror’s decision
January 31st: Accepted work must arrive at gallery
February 6th: Exhibition opens with a reception
March 27th: Exhibition closes

Another benefit for Filter Photo members is being extended via reduced price tickets for the special fundraising event scheduled for January 22, 2015. By purchasing your ticket for the event, you will be assisting in Filter’s mission of inspiring and uniting the photo community year-round. All proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit Filter Photo and the development and construction of the new gallery in West Town.


Untitled #46, from the series Ill Form & Void Full, 2014, Laura Letinsky

The evening will be divided into two parts: an intimate dinner with well-regarded Chicago photographer Laura Letinsky, followed by a cocktail reception and book signing of her new book, Laura Letinsky; III Form & Void Full. Included in her monograph are all 50 works from the series, as well as an interview with the artist conducted by the acclaimed novelist and cultural critic, Lynne Tillman.

Please join us on Thursday, January 22nd at The Boarding House, 720 North Wells Street, Chicago IL for either the 5:30 PM VIP Dinner that includes reception & book signing and/or for the 7:00 PM Cocktail reception & book signing. Filter Photo is a non-profit 501(c)(3) and a portion of your ticket price is tax-deductible.

Purchase tickets and pre-order books HERE Further information on either of these January events may be found at

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