By Kati Blair Kotrc, Ed.M.
Director of Education, Communications, and Development
VSA Massachusetts

Inclusion is an imperative for the health of all cultural organizations. Not only do the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal and state regulations legally mandate including people with disabilities, it also makes good business sense. 11% of the population in Massachusetts are people with disabilities, 13% are over 65 and experiencing the loss of vision, hearing and mobility associated with aging. Add to that the family and friends that they travel with and you have a sizable potential audience. Furthermore, whatever is done to address the particular needs of an individual or group typically improves the experience for everyone. Who hasn’t rolled a suitcase over a curb cut intended to provide access to the sidewalk for someone using a wheelchair? Similarly, once a large print guide is created it often becomes more popular than the standard print version because everyone can use it easily. Any organization that isn’t deliberately designing for access and inclusion is likely coming up short.

By providing audio descriptions of visual information, organizations create access points for visitors who are blind or have low vision, but can also deepen the engagement of sighted visitors. See for yourself by listening to or reading the descriptions of Gordon Sasaki’s NY Portraits featuring New York artists, musicians, writers, dancers and actors with disabilities.

Diana – Actor/Model. Audio description text: This close up is a head and shoulders shot of an attractive woman, appearing to be in her 30’s. Her dark full hair, looking slightly wind blown, hangs to her bare shoulders. She pulls up her right eyebrow with the middle finger of her right hand. Her left arm, which appears to have been amputated just below the elbow, reaches up to frame the left side of her face. The end of this arm, skin folded in to form a vertical crease, pulls up the eyebrow above her left eye. Her lips, with a light tone and shine to them, are parted to reveal the tips of her upper teeth, and curl up at each end. Her jaw lines descend gracefully to her small round chin. The photo is cropped just below her neck with no indication of clothing. Out of focus patterned curtains form the background.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments No Comments »

By Danielle Ashley Burke, PRC Workshop Assistant

Sequencing and editing a portfolio is one of the most important, daunting, and occasionally confusing things a photographer can do. From novice to professional everyone must make portfolio selections at some point, which is one reason it is great to get first hand information from a professional who has been doing so for decades. For me, signing up to be the workshop assistant for Ernesto Bazan’s Sequencing and Editing Workshop through the PRC could not have come at a better time. I had just graduated from photography school and was eager to get a fresh set of eyes on my work.

(c) Danielle Ashley Burke

The nine of us in the course were told ahead of time to bring 30 images to be critiqued (whether it be 30 from one series, or 30 images we considered to be our best work). Ernesto was able to give each person a great amount of time going over each and every image. He promised to be critical but constructive in order to help us improve and he definitely delivered.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments 1 Comment »

By Phillip Jones

It’s impossible to live in a large city and not, at least to some degree, fall under its spell.  For some of us this fascination goes further and we find ourselves tramping down uncharted avenues searching for the city’s hidden secrets. Photographers, in particular, feel this tug.  Urban landscapes become the prime subject of their visual explorations.  In fact, the way we’ve come to perceive certain cities has been shaped by the artistic vision of the photographers that document them.  Paris has its Atgets, New York its Abbotts, Tokyo its Moriyamas, and so on. The cities keep growing and evolving, however, and each new generation of photographers naturally observe their surroundings with fresh eyes that replenish our understanding of the here and now.

Last night the PRC held its Urban Landscape Night here in the photogenic city of Boston as part of its ongoing Nights at the PRC program.  We looked at the portfolios of five urban photographers whose experience ranged from recent graduate to seasoned professional, but all of whom were dedicated and competent artists. Glenn Ruga, the PRC’s executive director, and I kicked off the evening with introductions, some observations about the urban landscape in general, and then we dove right into the presentations.  Each photographer had 20 minutes to present 20 images.  Three chose to lay their prints out on tables and two projected their work digitally.  I was asked to give the “official” feedback although the audience wasn’t shy about contributing input of their own.

(c) Randall Armor

Our first presenter was Randall Armor, who is a successful professional photographer, having shot commercial and editorial assignments for Lotus, Fidelity, Boston Magazine, and many others.  He is currently the director of the photography program for Boston University’s Center for Digital Imaging Arts.  This level of technical achievement and sophistication was evident in his many-faceted presentation.  His work had several subcategories including black-and-white street photography, nocturnal time-lapse photographs of moving trains, and complex incidental compositions utilizing signage, windows and reflections.  It was as if he’d curated a group show of urban photography but just happened to have taken all of the shots himself.  The work featured some real gems, and it’s a pleasure to see this skilled pro take a break from commercial assignments in order to follow his own paths of artistic inquiry, each of which seems rich with potential.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments No Comments »

When I was younger I frequently found myself peering down the unlit staircase that led to the basement in my childhood home. My dad had set up his own darkroom down there, and the smell of chemicals emerging from the depths of this off-limits world always caught my attention. In the following years my dad sold or gave away most of his darkroom equipment, unfortunately, and it wasn’t until my junior year of college that my interest in photography was born.

What sparked this sudden interest, well, I still can’t say for sure. I grew up playing sports but have always had an artistic side; maybe photography was just the means by which my creative self could be revealed. I graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a double major in Environmental Policy and Economics, but since I took my first picture three years ago, photography has grown on me every single day. As I try to figure out what I want to do with my post-grad life over the next few months, I at least know that I want photography to be a part of it. This summer at the PRC I am greatly looking forward to learning more about the photography industry and get a better understanding about how things work behind the scenes.

While I enjoy shooting in digital format – and in the past few months, film as well – one of the ongoing bodies of work for which I have an affinity is more of an alternative process. I had an old Canon Rebel converted to cut visible light and capture only infrared (IR) light. I am captivated by how immensely different landscapes become in the absence of visible light. Almost all vegetation reflects IR, so during sunny days plant life is rendered a soft, dreamy white. Additionally, similar surfaces typically reflect IR light equally, causing normal variations in color to appear almost uniform.

My interest in infrared photography is just as much physiological as it is aesthetic. Despite the natural wonders that the human brain in capable of, it is only trained to be able to see things a certain way. Light enters through our eyes upside-down and a series of impulses from the brain flips the image and defines color and shape, creating what we know as “sight.” While we are not technically capable of seeing infrared light, I feel like photographing in IR gives a new meaning to the term “vision.” It allows us to see the unseen and unlock a hidden dimension that we previously perceived to be pure imagination. For me, infrared photography represents a fresh way of looking at the world, and it is something that I am continually looking to explore further.

Comments No Comments »

Marketing Conversations for Photographers

Issue #5: Building Relationships with Art Collectors

By Cindy A Stephens

It’s a wonderful feeling to know that as an artist your work has touched someone and that they have purchased a print to have in their home or collection. In fact, many collectors purchase work not because they believe it will appreciate in value but because they love it. (See: Collectors Buy Art Because They Love It  by Kathryn Tully).

If you are represented by a gallery you may not know who purchased your print and will leave it up to the gallery to market future work to these same collectors (See: How to Find and Work with Galleries). For others, interacting directly with buyers is a fulfilling and enjoyable part of their artistic process.

Ask yourself, do you want to interact with your customers, personally? Some artists opt for gallery representation while other artists opt for greater engagement with customers and sell work directly to buyers. Beware that galleries might view it as a conflict of interest to do both

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments 2 Comments »

Friday and Saturday, June 7-8, marked the third annual New England Portfolio Reviews (“NEPR”). Organized by the Griffin Museum of Photography and the Photographic Resource Center, this two-day event brought together photographers with experts from the New England photography community for portfolio reviews. With a broad spectrum of reviewers from which to choose—educators, printers, gallerists, publishers, and curators—artists had the opportunity to get valuable feedback from a variety of perspectives. In response to feedback from last year’s NEPR, the Griffin Museum and PRC sponsored a “Preflight Panel” this year (May 14). Attendees learned about how to prepare for portfolio reviews and what to anticipate. Panelists included Eunice Hurd, Director of the Robert Klein Gallery, educator Neal Rantoul, the Griffin Museum’s Executive Director Paula Tognarelli, and myself.

Saturday morning portfolio reviews
(Photo courtesy of Randall Armor)

NEPR distinguishes itself as the only regional portfolio review event. For artists it offers the unique opportunity to receive constructive feedback on projects in a collegial and supportive environment. It also provides further exposure–getting work out there that hasn’t been seen or discussed before. For reviewers, like myself, NEPR is a way to see new work and meet new artists. It’s also how I stay informed about trends in photography. I love many aspects of being a Curator, but portfolio reviews are “gravy” because they offer me the opportunity to support artists and see new work. A review is a dialogue, and, as a reviewer, I try to facilitate the creative process by listening, asking questions, and helping an artist clarify his/her artistic vision and direction. I try to make the act of courage that inspires an artist to place new work in front of a curator, worthwhile.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments 2 Comments »

By Mike Murowchick, PRC Workshop Assistant

When first I signed up for Lisa Kessler’s “Vision & Voice” Master Class at the Photographic Resource Center in February and agreed to serve as the Workshop Assistant, I had a feeling it would mark a significant stop on my journey as a young photographer. I had never taken a critique-based photo class before, and I was thrilled to have the chance to learn from Lisa and begin to find my “voice.” Three short months later, I can say with certainty that this class has exceeded all of my expectations and has been the most meaningful experience I have had as a photographer.

Classmates view and discuss the work of David Mattox during the final project presentations. Photo by Lisa Kessler.

 

The workshop was comprised of ten students, each coming from various photography backgrounds. Some of us had been shooting for decades, while others, including myself, had only been shooting for a few years. Despite this, each of us brought a unique perspective to the class, and we were all able to rely on each other week-in and week-out for invaluable advice on how to improve our work. The class ran from 6-9 pm, but every week we all felt like we could have stayed at the PRC all night burning the midnight oil while looking at each other’s work!

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments No Comments »

Zach Hoffman, Associate Curator/PRC Spring 2013 Intern

Unconventional Inventions: Innovative, Unusual, and Alternative Approaches to Photography, previously on display at Endicott College’s Carol Grillo Gallery in the Walter J Manninen Center for the Arts as a Photographic Resource Center satellite exhibit, showcases artists working outside the mainstream who integrate creativity with ingenuity to push the boundaries of the photographic medium. After almost four months of dedication and hard work as the Associate Curator, I am pleased to share with you the struggles and successes I encountered as I worked to make this “unconventional” exhibition a reality.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments 1 Comment »

Marketing Conversations for Photographers

Issue #4: How to Find and Work with a Gallery

By Cindy A Stephens

Do you want to be represented by a gallery?  Many of the graduating students from the Montserrat College of Art that I met during their portfolio review had answered that question for themselves with a resounding YES.

There are many advantages to working with a gallery.  Galleries have established relationships with individual collectors, museums, and other buyers so when a gallery agrees to take on an artist they also agree to promote that artist to these important audiences. Fine art photographer, Annu Palakunnathu Matthew tells me ““Some artists are looking for a brand name gallery which can definitely help with their career but I would be cautious if that is always the best match.”

So the real question becomes: how do you find the right gallery for your career?  The gallery landscape is more diverse than a decade ago:  there are artist-run cooperative galleries (e.g., Galatea), online galleries (e.g., Saatchi Online) and traditional brick-and-mortar galleries (e.g., Howard Yezerski Gallery), making it a challenge to find the best match between artist and gallerist.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments 2 Comments »

by Barbara Ayotte

Benedict Fernandez

Benedict Fernandez at his Almanac Gallery in Hoboken, NJ. Photograph by Elliott Ruga

On a recent sunny Sunday afternoon this spring, PRC Executive Director Glenn Ruga, his brother Elliott, and I visited the Almanac Gallery on Garden Street in Hoboken, NJ, owned by Benedict “Ben” Fernandez and his wife, Siiri.  Originally Ben’s parents’ home, the small gallery feels more like a museum, marking significant milestones in documentary photography. Ben is most known for his “protest” photography, particularly his famous and intimate portraits of Martin Luther King, Jr. (A portfolio of this work will be sold at the upcoming PRC event “Treasures from the PRC Vault” on May 7.)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Photograph by Benedict Fernandez

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Photograph by Benedict Fernandez. One of 12 images included in Countdown to Eternity portfolio.

Ben was seated on a couch in a small, sparse room dominated by a wall of posters marking the first photography expos at Arles that Ben helped to organize, the ICP lectures of The Concerned Photographer series featuring the icons of twentieth century photography including Cornell Capa and Ben, and posters of rallies with Martin Luther King, Jr.  Photos of Ben with Lisette Model, Richard Avedon, Susan Meiselas and Capa dotted the other walls, near shelves of boxed prints and portfolios.

Minutes after we walked in, Siiri was ready to reminisce about the amazing influence and breadth of Ben’s career, of which Ben prefers to call “photo-anthropology” as opposed to photojournalism. Siiri started by taking out his famous Martin Luther King, Jr. portfolio “Countdown to Eternity,” commissioned by Kodak. The exhibition based on this portfolio has been shown in 18 cities and is still traveling. We didn’t know that there was also a second portfolio, commissioned by Leica. Only five copies of the Leica version were created and are valued at $25,000. The Kodak version sold at the George Eastman House Auction for between $5.000 and 7,000. (Ben and Siiri could not remember the exact price.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments 3 Comments »