Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Op-Ed by Emily Shur

I read Emily Shur's post, My Review of My Review, on Review Santa Fe which she posted on her blog My Four Eyed Fantasy. I thought it was well written and definitely came close to many thoughts I've had about reviews. Thank you Emily for letting me share this with our readers.

©Emily Shur

My Review of My Review

I have so many thoughts about Review Santa Fe, and I am going to attempt to organize them right now. Also, I am a fan of a good list. So, here I go.:

Thought #1: I think the most important thing I learned this past weekend is that I need to figure out whether or not I want to parlay my personal work into another facet of my career, or if the pictures should remain what they are - a quiet escape from my career. Being at the review made me realize that the art world (or review world) is as much of a social climbing, game playing world as the commercial photography sphere, and now is the time in which I need to decide if I want to do that all over again...and this time with work that is way more personal than my portraiture.

Thought #2: Ultimately, a photo review is a culmination of opinions given to you by a respected group of people in the photo industry. We, as photographers, need to understand that in the end, we have to be happy with the work we are making and stand by it. The reason I say this is because I, along with other photographers I spoke with, got complete opposite feedback in many reviews. One friend of mine had one reviewer tell her that her palette was dated, and she should more carefully consider the time of day that she was photographing. She had another review that same day where she was told her palette was beautiful, and the time of day in which she was choosing to take pictures was perfect.

Thought #3: Believe it or not, being in Santa Fe made me appreciate my day job. I started spending more time and energy on my personal work as a response to being frustrated with commercial photography. I felt as though I wasn't progressing, which is probably the worst feeling I can think of for someone doing what we do. At the review, I felt out of place for the first time in a long time which made me realize that I am part of a photographic community already, and although at times my community is slightly superficial (and there are some annoying people within the community), I am very lucky to do what I do for a living, and I love the people and crews I work with here in LA. I am proud to be a photographer and make a living doing something I love.

Thought #4: The actual event of Review Santa Fe is a very well oiled and organized machine. I felt a bit as though I was at college orientation all over again, but hey...college was fun, and some of my best friends still to this day are people I met in college. I met some really lovely and fun people at the review, not to mention some really good photographers. I was impressed with the variety of ages and nationalities in the "Review Santa Fe 100" and also the work. A few small critiques of the event would probably include the horrible internet connection in the hotel, the horrible coffee in the hotel, and possibly the location of the hotel since it was not downtown and a far walk from anything town-like. One big compliment on the event would likely be the fact that at no time did it feel chaotic, and to me, this is a big plus considering how many photographers and reviewers were together in one place.

Thought #5: Was it worth it? This is the question I have been asked the most by friends and family, all of whom knowing how much time, energy, and money I invested into my potential experience at Review Santa Fe. I suppose the answer would be yes, it was worth it, although I'm not going to lie and say it wouldn't feel more worth it if something tangible came out of my time there. Although, only time will tell if that (a show, gallery representation, or maybe a published book) will in fact happen. Going into the review, I was misleading myself by thinking that just getting in was the big obstacle to overcome (and I had done it!). Getting in was merely a small first step onto a long road, and that realization deflated me for a minute on my first day of reviews. In the end, I left feeling encouraged and not discouraged, and now it's up to me to decide how far I want to walk down the road.

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