At the midpoint of the Filter Photography Festival

I’ve taken a couple of weeks off from “the career” to focus on my photography…this week a series of short workshops, seminars and presentations by Filter Photography Festival and next week an intensive workshop with National Geographic photographer, Sam Abell, in Santa Fe.

Dogs at dawn. Workers and waiting at dawn. Havana Cuba.
Dawn in Havana Cuba.  Dogs, workers and waiting.  

At the mid-point of Filter’s 4 days, here are the things sticking in my head:

1) Filter is about ART.  Photography as ART.  It’s eye-opening to see the constructed projects that may begin with photos (the artists’ or someone elses’) but certainly doesn’t end with the photograph.  For some, there’s washing out bits with bleach, or putting the photo onto plastic and warping it, or cutting precise little holes in exact spots to add meaning.  It’s also photography with WORDS.  The metaphors explained.  Artist Statements to bring the viewer along…how did the idea happen?  what’s the process?  what does it mean?  what to see?   what thoughts should ride along with the photo when you view it?

2) The PRINTs.  LARGE prints.  On RICH papers like bamboo, kozo or deckled rag.  Portfolios brought in boxes and displayed on tables.  Eric Joseph from Freestyle pointed out that when we were in the darkroom years ago, “the paper mattered.”  It was an important decision in the darkroom.  We had our favorites for their warmth or texture, or cool smoothness….Ilford, Oriental…  But somehow with digital printing, paper was forgotten.  He was at Filter to remind us, to show us…to let us feel and see the differences…(and yeah, to sell us papers).  It worked.  I’m convinced.

3) Kelli Connell’s 23 questions for portraiture.  A technique to question yourself…quickly and periodically…to see themes and threads through which you view the world, and photograph from.  Wow.  More on this later.

4) Debbie Fleming Caffery’s sweet and sassy southern voice.  I can hear it still.  Her workshop was to be on sustaining long term projects, but instead turned out to be more of a portfolio review.  I showed up with glossy and puny Walgreens prints expecting to use them only to give an idea of my work…my project that needs sustaining…and articulation.  I felt like I was a day late and a dollar short.  Regardless, I learned a lot from listening to the dialogue of the others…the Artists.  For example, making selections to tie themes or colors or moods together.  The self-published books, and again the papers and the printing processes.  The possible sources for more knowledge, more photos, more words (or videos) to add to projects.  And the outlets…ideas for my big question of “What do I DO with the projects?”

The overwhelming response…that I’m hearing across Filter Photo Festival:  GET YOUR WORK OUT THERE.  Enter contests, print large and show in festival portfolio reviews, be active in social media, blog, and JUST DO IT.  Make your own exhibits.  Be tenacious.  Make connections.  And keep on shooting…keep on creating.

Heading out for Day 3.  But first, a dawn walk with Charlie on this gorgeous Fall morning.  Let the day begin.




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