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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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By Ron Cowie, photographer

I’ve attended AIPAD every spring for years and love every minute of it. There is no other place where I can see the entire history of photography under one roof in one afternoon besides AIPAD. Galleries of every stripe show up and showcase their strongest work to sell. That in itself is interesting because I get a snapshot of current market trends. I won’t say the collection is comprehensive but just about every base is covered by one gallery or another.

 AIPAD is the ice cream parlor in the belly of the “Photo World’s” beast. Something sweet for everyone.

It’s fun to make art and not think about money. However, if you plan to have any career in the arts that is based on the selling of said art, you had better see what people are willing to pay for work that is similar to what you are making. That’s right, if you attend AIPAD, you’re going to bump into some work that looks a lot like yours. This is a necessary dose of humility, which frees up some space for making better work. Knowing there is an audience for the work I create saves a lot of energy in the creative process.

I go to be inspired by the work of old masters and new “stars.”  I also get a better idea of which galleries are “right” for my images by seeing what they are showing in their booth. Websites don’t always accomplish this in the same way. It costs a lot more to ship actual photos to New York than it does to upload images to a website. That kind of commitment to an artist speaks volumes.

At AIPAD, I get to talk to people who are just as interested in photography (gallery owners, artists, fellow collectors, curators) as I am. At AIPAD, I get to I introduce myself to a gallery owner or artist, take his/her cards and get in touch later. Some call it speed dating; I call it a lovely way to meet people who share the same interests for the sake of meeting. It beats Facebook hands down.

After all is said and done about social networks and whatnot, making and collecting art comes down to old fashioned face to face relationships. I don’t go to AIPAD to have my suspicions and cynicism confirmed but to have them dispelled. It is nice to know there is a place at the “Photo Industry” table for just about anyone willing to do the work. Galleries play a very important part in promoting photography. The investment they make to participate at AIPAD is not a small one and should be respected.

Also, I like rubbing elbows with the big shots. I know, I’m shallow for thinking that way, but it’s true. It is reassuring to see people I admire hustling as hard (if not harder) than I do. You can’t leave the Park Avenue Armory without a profound respect for the work that is being done in order to get seen there. No one gets off easy in that regard.

Business woes aside, the main reason I go is just to be an audience member for my fellow photographers. I love being able to look at the photos and buy them. I collect photography because I need to be a good viewer in order to be a good photographer. I don’t have the time or budget to make every opening that I want to attend or collect every piece that inspires me. AIPAD allows me to cover a lot of bases in an afternoon or two. Even if I leave empty handed, I’m encouraged by what I see and the people I meet. That’s worth the price of the ticket alone.

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By Liz Ellenwood, PRC Volunteer

My work at the 2013 Krappy Kamera Exhibition at SoHo Photo Gallery.

The Krappy Kamera just celebrated its 15th year at the Soho Photo Gallery in New York City, and the theme is simple—you can only apply with photographs that were created using “equipment from the low end of the technological scale.”  That means toy cameras, Holgas, Dianas, etc., cameras that you can pick up at a garage sale or even make yourself. My image was created with a Holga that I have had for a few years now, and it has seen better days. There is black tape on the sides to protect my film from light leaks and apparently something inside it broke off so it can double as a maraca if I shake it. Did I mention it’s also a plastic camera (both body and lens)? Regardless of its musical talent and its durability (it won’t shatter if I drop it), it is SO much fun! As is the Krappy Kamera Exhibition.

I was actually made aware of the call for entry for the Krappy Kamera by Jesseca Ferguson when I was her workshop assistant for the PRC’s ”Pinhole Madness Workshop with Jesseca Ferguson.”  Ferguson primarily works with pinhole cameras, which you guessed it, are considered to be “Krappy Kameras.” Her work is anything but “krappy” it is eye catching and ethereal. So with her encouragement I decided to apply with my recent work made with my Holga. Needless to say I did a little happy dance when I received the acceptance email to the Krappy Kamera Exhibition. My selected image was Untitled 002, an in-camera multiple exposure that was then printed as an archival silver gelatin print.

I was thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful show juried by Christy Karpinski, the Founder and Editor of F-Stop Magazine. Karpinski selected 47 artists from 180 applications and pieced together a fantastic grouping of photographs, ranging in both subject matter and printing processes. I am honored to have been in this show with photographers from all over the United States and from other countries. I even knew one of the selected photographers from Boston, Suzanne Revy.

I was able to attend the opening night at Soho Photo Gallery. The gallery was even more beautiful in person: great lighting, terrific wall space, I could go on and on about the space but lets focus on the show. The exhibition celebrates the excitement of cameras that people have written off as “not good enough” because they are not at the top of the camera food chain. Looking around the room I felt proud to be a part of something so simple yet beautiful. We were taking away all of the fancy settings and digital capabilities and just having fun with photography. That was my favorite quality of the show, the lighthearted exploration of photography.

At the end of the opening, I was awarded the People’s Choice Award and won a GOLD Holga. I can’t wait to take this baby out for a spin!

Winning the People’s Choice Award and receiving the “Gold Holga.”




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