Friday, June 20, 2008

Let's Review

Great Faith. Great Doubt. Great Effort.

--Three qualities necessary for zen training, from The Wisdom of Zen Masters, by Irmgard Schloegl

About a month ago I signed up for Photolucida's NW Reviews. At the time it was sort of a whim. The registration was filling up quickly and I figured I would sign up just to reserve a space. I could always cancel later, but at least this held the door open.

I've been stewing over my decision ever since. Some days I am gung-ho and can't wait to show my work. Some days I'm sure it's a mistake. Whatever I decide, my summer has already taken on several added degrees of stress. In fact one of the reasons I haven't been posting much lately is that these reviews have dominated my photographic thoughts. I've had a hard time looking at photo books lately, and even making new photographs has been difficult (a rare experience) because I'm devoting so much mental energy to the reviews. I know this may sound pathetic. It's just a two day event and I shouldn't build it into a life crisis. I think the reason it's been so consuming is that NW Reviews raises all sorts of major questions about my photography, why I pursue it, what I want to get out of it, and ultimately who is it for?

Arguments in favor of doing NW Reviews:
--A national event comes right to my backyard
--Forces me to edit and think about how to present my work which is valuable no matter what happens
--Smaller, less expensive, and less consuming than other reviews
--No man is an Island. At some point I need outside feedback and this is a great chance to get my work out there
--Could meet some cool photographers and see some good work by others. Swaps?
--Curiosity to engage in a new experience
--Wife and kids will be out of town, so timing is perfect
--Could be my last chance to avoid permanent entrenchment outside the mainstream photo community

Arguments against:
--I'll need to spend all my spare time indoors preparing during the nicest season of the year
--Although cheaper than other reviews, $475 is still a lot of money for an uncertain payoff
--Why do I need affirmation from any outside source?
--The type of work I am fond of --small format street work printed in a darkroom-- is decidedly unpopular and will be dismissed out of hand by many reviewers. I have a pretty good inkling of how these reviews will go even before they start
--Opens me up to potential humiliation or (worse?) indifference
--I don't work on projects, yet the format of the reviews favors conceptual, execution-based projects
--What's so bad about permanent entrenchment?
--I still need to figure out how to make gallery grade color inkjet prints

I have a feeling that I've already decided, and that I made the decision a month ago.


J. Karanka said...

Still a bit pricey. I was surprised when I read that the ones in Arles are 10x20min sessions for 280euros. Not that many photographers, but editors, agencies, galleries, etc.

What's wrong about permanent entrenchment? Heh.

Mel Trittin said...

If you get a chance track down fellow reviewee Kevin Miyazaki, a friend, fellow blogger (he just posted on his editing process for the Review, fellow Wisconsinite, and all around good guy. He has had his work on the cover of Time, is represented by Redux, and is just as cautious as you about the personal work he is taking. Assuming you go, of course.

Anonymous said...

don't be so sure that these reviewers won't like your work, or that the reviews themselves favor conceptual projects--a well-presented, tight edit will reach all sorts of people in different ways, and speak well of you at the same time. Try to reach your audience, don't hide in the trench.