May 16th, 2013

Photolucida: Portfolio Reviews From the Photographer’s Side of the Table

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© Eliza Lamb, from her series “Hopewell.”

By Eliza Lamb

As a photographer I find that portfolio reviews are the perfect combination of exhaustion and exhilaration, community and competition, motivation and humility. After I returned from a whirlwind four days in Portland, Oregon at Photolucida I was still coming off the high of it all. I found myself trying to integrate the connections I’d made and the feedback I’d gotten with the life I knew and the assumptions I held before I left. Sorting through piles of leave behinds, business cards, signed books and pages full of notes, I was struck by feelings of accomplishment and uneasiness, and by my downright good fortune for being able to be a part of such an amazing community.

The process of creating visual art can be very isolating and often involves years of self-reflection, pondering and personal expense, punctuated by both excitement and doubt. It can feel antisocial as we create our images and crawl back into our studios or sit in front of our computer screens for hours upon hours of editing, processing and contemplating. Having trained for years as an actress and receiving instant gratification, I find it can be near maddening putting your work out there to radio silence. But portfolio reviews are a way for photographers to join together to gain feedback, camaraderie and opportunities, to gather despite their home locations or educational training and present their work to the community as equals with common passions, goals and frustrations. (more…)

April 26th, 2013

Alec Soth on Wandering, Storytelling and Robert Adams vs. Weegee

Last week at the Portland Art Museum as part of the 2013 Photolucida festivities, Alec Soth gave a lecture titled “From Here to There: Searching for Narrative in Photography.” The talk could have been titled “Searching for Narrative in Photography Lectures,” because Soth mostly allowed the audience to lead the way with questions, which he responded to with the aid of a number of prepared slideshows. The evening was free-form, entertaining and a bit wandering, which made sense given that Soth emphasized that wandering and taking pictures without a set goal in mind has produced some of his most important bodies of work. But more on that later.

Soth started on a down note, sharing a quote from Robert Frank—“There are too many images, too many cameras now. We’re all being watched. It gets sillier and sillier. As if all action is meaningful. Nothing is really all that special. It’s just life. If all moments are recorded, then nothing is beautiful and maybe photography isn’t an art any more. Maybe it never was.” He also showed a photograph of an installation by Erik Kessels: a pile of prints made from all of the images uploaded to Flickr in a 24-hour period.

Soth described the perspectives offered by the Frank quote and Kessels’ installation as “bleak.” But, he said, the “way out of this [bleak situation for photographers] is storytelling.” (more…)

June 1st, 2012

Registration for Photolucida’s Critical Mass Competition Now Open

© Jennifer B. Hudson, the winner of the 2011 Critical Mass book award.

Registration opened today for the annual Critical Mass juried competition organized by Portland, Oregon photography non-profit Photolucida.

The competition boasts a group of 200-plus jurors from all corners of the photography industry, including curators, photo editors, publishers and gallerists from around the world. Winners receive a “book award,” which results in the publication of a monograph, and two entrants will receive solo shows at either Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, or the Center for Fine Art Photography in Colorado. The top 50 portfolios entered in the competition are featured on the Critical Mass site and in an exhibition that will be curated by W.M. Hunt.

For more info on fees, prizes and jurors, and to register visit the Photolucida site.

November 2nd, 2011

2011 Critical Mass Top 50 Announced

The 2011 Critical Mass Top 50 were announced last night by Photolucida, the organization that runs the competition. Each year hundreds of photographers submit their work for judging to a panel of 200 photo industry professionals. (51 photographers are included in this year’s Top 50 due to a tie in voting.)

Photographers in the Top 50 are eligible for several prizes, including a book award that supports one photographer’s book publication; a solo show at Blue Sky gallery in Portland, Oregon; or one of five scholarships for international photographers.

Images by the Critical Mass Top 50 photographers will also be included in a traveling exhibition that will tour the West Coast in Spring 2012. Starting in February 2012 the exhibition will be at Photo Center NW in Seattle, then in April at Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, and concluding in May at RayKo Photo Center in San Francisco.

Check out the work of the 2011 Critical Mass Top 50 here.

Read a list of this year’s jurors here. (PDN creative director Darren Ching, PDN senior editor Conor Risch and Jill Waterman, editor of PDNEdu were among this year’s jurors.)