FotoFest 2016 "Changing Circumstances"

FotoFest, the biennial celebration of photography in Houston, chose Changing Circumstances: Looking at the Future of the Planet as the 2016 theme. Photography can be a tool to both examine a moment in time and to affect changes in human behavior and governmental policy. I saw that many artists were chronicling lifeforms on the planet today, noting both the abundance of life, but also dwindling species. Other photographers documented the footprint of man with images such as that of a ghostly, abandoned smelter or a massive solar power project that looks like a scene from a sci-fi movie set on another planet. Yet others boldly revealed the industrial effects on bodies of water or the polar ice caps.

The turnout from the public was strong. Perhaps it was the educational aspect of the theme, or the close connection that viewers have for wildlife and the natural world, but FotoFest should be commended for the choosing a theme that is relevant to the quality of life on our planet and also richly explored by some of the most talented photographers in the world.

Opening night at the exhibitions at FotoFest headquarters

Opening night at the exhibitions at FotoFest headquarters

A great turnout for opening night at Silver Street Studios

A great turnout for opening night at Silver Street Studios

Joel Sartore's photos were exhibited at Spring Street Studios

Joel Sartore's photos were exhibited at Spring Street Studios

Keith Carter gives an artist talk during the opening at Catherine Couturier Gallery   

Keith Carter gives an artist talk during the opening at Catherine Couturier Gallery

 

Edward Burtynskys photos were exhibited at the Silos at Sawyer Yards

Edward Burtynskys photos were exhibited at the Silos at Sawyer Yards

My Work in FotoFest 2016 Shows

I have work in two group exhibitions that are Participating Spaces in FotoFest 2016. My group of fine art photographers, Pixels & Silver, has a show named Group Dynamics at Aker Gallery. The show juror was Clint Wilhour, curator of the Galveston Arts Center. 

The other exhibition, Eyes on a Changing Texas, features the work of Texas members of the American Society of Media Photographers, the premier trade organization of the world's most respected photographers. The show is up in the lobby of 1600 Smith, which is a skyscraper in downtown Houston. The show jurors were Leslie Baldwin, Amy George, and Sarah Sudhoff. 

The ASMP show is quite an endeavor as the Houston chapter volunteers organize, install, and take down the show. The marble walls of the lobby create quite a challenge for hanging framed prints; the surface of the walls must be preserved, and yet fasteners used must be strong enough to keep prints safely up for five weeks. The 3M Command line of hanging fasteners has proven to be a reliable solution for the ASMP show.

Pixels + Silver opening at Aker Gallery

Pixels + Silver opening at Aker Gallery

Pixels + Silver opening at Aker Gallery

Pixels + Silver opening at Aker Gallery

ASMP Texas opening at 1600 Smith

ASMP Texas opening at 1600 Smith

ASMP Texas opening at 1600 Smith

ASMP Texas opening at 1600 Smith

A Dedicated Group of Fine Art Photographers

I'm very lucky. As I continue to step into the world of fine art photography, I am privileged to be a member of group in Houston that meets every month to exchange ideas, share resources, and critique work in progress. The group, Pixels + Silver, includes photographers shooting everything from large format to plastic cameras, and using both digital and analog methods to create prints. We meet in the different studios, workspaces, and homes of members. This critique was held in my studio recently.

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Pixels + Silver group critique

Pixels + Silver group critique

Reviewing Portfolios

I was asked to be a guest reviewer for the Houston Photographic Society, which holds regular portfolio review sessions for its members. The bulk of the membership does not work professionally as commercial photographers or fine artists, so I really wasn't sure what I would see in their work or what quality level their presentations would be. 

I was very pleasantly surprised. The members whose work that I saw had put a lot of effort into their editing and presentation. They had come with artist statements, matted prints, and did not have too many prints to review in the time segments. 

It's also nice to feel appreciated - I liked the presentation of their certificate to me in the 4x5 film holder! 

My fellow reviewers at the Houston Photographic Society portfolio review night

My fellow reviewers at the Houston Photographic Society portfolio review night

My fellow reviewers at the Houston Photographic Society portfolio review night

My fellow reviewers at the Houston Photographic Society portfolio review night

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The Meeting Place at FotoFest

For those who have yet to experience it, the Meeting Place during the FotoFest biennial is where photographers sign up to be reviewed by publishers, gallerists, and collectors. The sessions last four days, and each attendee signs up for time blocks with their preferred reviewers. I didn't get every one of my choices, but I did get most of them. After each review was over, I quickly tried to summarize and write down the comments I received before moving on to the next time block. It's a somewhat exhausting experience; I felt a bit "stripped down" after many of the reviewer sessions, but the experience is invaluable - especially since this great opportunity is right in my back yard!

The tables where the photographers' work is critiqued during their time slot with a reviewer

The tables where the photographers' work is critiqued during their time slot with a reviewer

In between turns with the reviewers, photographers often share their work with other attendees in the waiting area. This is a good way to connect with other artists, many of which travel to Houston from around the globe to attend the Meeting Place.

In between turns with the reviewers, photographers often share their work with other attendees in the waiting area. This is a good way to connect with other artists, many of which travel to Houston from around the globe to attend the Meeting Place.

The stars align to put two guys named Rocky in the same session    

The stars align to put two guys named Rocky in the same session