Amy Miller’s Update from Day 1 of Houston’s @FotoFest_Intl

I saw some very interesting work on my first day of the Fotofest Meeting Place Portfolio Reviews in Houston. I had the pleasure of meeting 14 photographers - all of whom had very different work and were in different places of development with that work. Some were showing work-in-progress, and others had finished "gallery-ready" bodies of work. A portfolio review is the perfect place to discuss concept development, get feedback on work-in-progress, or strategize your next steps for getting finished work out into the world. My tip of the day: it is important for photographers to fully understand where they are in this process, and not to mistake work-in-progress for a finished body of work. Having a clear understanding of where you stand will help you ask the right questions and plan the appropriate next step. Jumping the gun, and putting your unfinished work out into the world as finished and "gallery-ready" could possibly hurt your career. Be patient! You want to be known for excellent work; nothing less will do. I'd like to highlight a few photographers that I met today. Their work is vastly different from one another, and illustrates the beautiful diversity of this medium. This morning I met Felisa Prieto. We looked at her latest body of work - a work in progress (she even has it labeled as such on her website). Recognizing that the work was new, Felisa was asking for feedback on her concept and the work's strengths and weaknesses. Based on Felisa's strong eye for formal relationships, pattern, line and color, the diptych format works well for her. Two of my favorites are included here.

The inspiration for this work is her exploration of a deeply personal experience - but the resulting photographs say something else entirely. It is often hard for a photographer to realize that this transformation occurs, but it does, in differing degrees - inevitably. What comes in as stimulus gets filtered or even reinterpreted by the photographer and output as a photograph. Understanding how this applies to your own work is an essential step in a photographer's growth. Felisa has a good grasp of this concept and is off to a good start in the development of this project.

Right before our lunch break I met with Joanne Miller. Joanne has a body of work that is she has been working on for 18 years - her life's work. These small, simple photographs of animals (mostly birds) are printed as traditional gelatin silver prints. The sensibility is resonant with the work of Masao Yamamoto or Michael Kenna...but the work is different enough and comes from a different place (figuratively and literally). The series grows and changes, but it is a finished body of work - well-edited and ready for exhibition.

One last photographer that I'd like to mention briefly is Jonathan Blaustein. Many of you may know Jonathan's photographic series "The Value of a Dollar" in which he photographed a dollar's worth of different food items. The work has been blogged about all over the world, discussed on NPR's Marketplace and exhibited in many galleries. Jonathan and I had a great time visualizing even more ways to get his work seen and to find new audiences for this project which is still powerful and relevant. When visiting his website, do not miss his writings on photography and interviews with greats of the photo-world.

I'm looking forward to day two of my 2012 Houston Fotofest experience, and will share some discoveries with you once again.

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