Thursday, June 14, 2012
I’ve been to photo festivals all over the place in the past few years, and they all have different value. Some are mostly portfolio reviews, some add exhibits and talks to their roster, and some, like the one in New York seem to have no value at all. So what makes a successful festival, and more importantly, should you go?
Having just returned from Boston and the FlashForward festival, I think I can answer that. Just four hours away by train, the FlashForward festival offers great value to photographers. Not only is there interesting work exhibited (juried selections geared towards emerging photographers in the US, Canada and the UK), but a fantastic line-up of speakers and panels.
I should say here that I was invited to be an emcee for the festival, and was taken wonderful care of by both the Magenta Foundation who produces the festival, and the fantastic hotel that hosts the festival (the Fairmont Battery Wharf).
I may have been the emcee for various speakers, but I was also excited to hear from John Knight of the iPad photojournalism magazine, ONCE, Tina Ahrens, the founder of crowdfunding site Emphas.is, Alan Taylor who produces The Atlantic photography blog, In Focus, Alan Murabayashi of PhotoShelter, and Maurus Fraser of Winkreative, just to name a few.
These festivals are a chance to see and be seen. FlashForward offers a stunning line-up where you not only learn about possible venues for your work, but you get to ask questions, meet and begin relationships with important photo world people. And that’s what it’s about—cultivating relationships to get information and a chance to make a personal connection with someone who might further your career.
So the question remains: Why weren’t there more photographers from New York at this festival? If you weren’t going to LOOK3, why didn’t you go to Boston? If your own city doesn’t have anything worthwhile to attend, why not hop the train and hear some fantastic speakers, see interesting work, and hang out with other photographers?
It’s important to put a lot of effort into growing and sustaining a career, and smart photographers will take any opportunity they can to learn, to pick up tips, to meet others and to ask questions of those in the know. FlashForward was a great opportunity to do all those things. For those of us who love photography it was a wonderful four days.
I will be blogging more about the talks and panels I attended at FlashForward, and since they were streamed, as soon as I know they’ve been archived on the Magenta Foundation site, I’ll post about that.