R.J. Kern, who began his career in 2012 as a wedding photographer, will published his first monograph this spring featuring his exquisite pastoral portraits of sheep and goats. It is one of several personal projects he’s been working on for the past few years. As he worked on those projects, Kern was connecting with other emerging artists for peer critiques and to learn as much as he could about the art photography business. He made some connections as a user group leader for Pictage, the now-defunct online photo storage platform. He also met peers and mentors at industry conferences and portfolio reviews.
“One of my favorite things about portfolio reviews is expanding your peer group, and looking at each other’s work until 1:30 in the morning, critiquing and sequencing and editing, and sharing ideas,” Kern says. He got ideas and advice about everything from building a website and finding a publisher to landing a gallery, structuring limited editions and pricing his work. “These are things that are vital to artists’ careers that they don’t teach you in art school,” he says.
His own toughest challenge was figuring out how to write a good artist’s statement and talk about his work. His peers served as a sounding board, “and helped to fine-tune the message,” he says.
For more about how he transitioned from wedding photography to fine art, see “Career Change: R.J. Kern Moves from Weddings to Fine Art.”
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