There are a ton of great things to witness at ONWARD’S Summit.
Yes, you know about the portfolio review, the panel discussions, the after party, portfolio sharing and, of course, ONWARD Compé. If you’re a new attendee, you may have your own perception of what this conference will be like. If you attended last year, your expectations are based on what you saw in 2012.
However, those are all your own expectations. Some things are best understand through the lens of others’ perception. After all, ONWARD Summit is a photography conference, and reading about photography can only take you so far.
Here is a small sample of what last year’s attendees saw at ONWARD:
“Art is the process of creating something from nothing.” – Greg Miller
As artists, we blaze an unknown path. Inspirations push us forward, providing the basis for our next great leap into the unknown. Creating knows no rules of right and wrong. Artists grow and learn by sharing their own unique creations with their peers.
ONWARD’s workshops are designed to place you in with the best in the business to collaborate and learn from each other’s experiences. This year, the ONWARD workshops follow the Summit‘s two themes–the visual story and the final print–which are both essential pieces to the overall photographic process.
Photographs capture a moment in time. The story of this moment is encapsulated in the image, and which allows it to exist in the past and the future. As photographers, we strive to convey emotion and narrative – be it through one image, or through a complete body of photographs.
Greg Miller is a master of telling these stories. Working mainly with a large format camera, Greg has made a career out of crafting narratives from images. His workshop will focus primarily on editing your photographs to create a story. When we asked Greg about his approach to editing down bodies of work, he equated it to songwriting: “[Editing] is like making an album. Each pictures plays a role and has a story.”
The medium of the photograph matters as much as the photograph’s subject matter. Printmaking is the final step of taking your raw image to its ultimate presentation. This final step provides another opportunity to tell your story visually. Just as smart design communicates details, the final print can support a photograph’s narrative.
For over 20 years, Kylie Wright has crafted beautiful images from raw photographic materials, including both film and digital files. Over the years she has worked with some of the world’s finest photographers: Joel Sternfeld, Stephen Shore, Richard Misrach, Robert Polidori, Andrew Moore, and of course Gregory Crewdson. For Kylie, “a print can make the narrative of a photograph all the more dramatic by focusing the attention of the viewer on certain key elements.”
Which Workshop is Right for You?
According to Greg, this workshop will focus on reconciling your perceptions of your work with the perception that an audience has. Because, after all, the story is ultimately in the eye of the beholder. This workshop will be as much about selecting the right photographs as it will be about gaining valuable insight from the group’s perception of your images.
Greg encourages photographers to bring lots of photographs and be willing to share their work. The workshop will collectively explore the awareness of your photographs and what it is you mean to convey. What you want to say and what people actually see can be two different things. This workshop will explore this relationship and give you the tools to reconcile the two.
According to Kylie, the inkjet printing workshop will give students the skills necessary to create fantastic final prints in both color and monochrome. From basic color management, to the methods of guiding the viewer’s eye to accentuate narrative, students will be sure to leave with a portfolio of high quality prints.
And, one last note from Kylie regarding printmaking:
“My last thoughts are that if you want to be taken seriously as a photographer, whatever the type of pictures you take, printmaking is important. You can certainly spend a lot of money and have a professional lab do the work for you, but wouldn’t it be fun and satisfying to do that yourself? Take the class, and you will be well on your way.”
When April 13th rolls around, you will want to get plenty of rest, eat a big breakfast and maybe even take a shower. This is the day of the ONWARD portfolio reviews, your time to gain valuable feedback and make connections in the photo industry.
Before review day rolls around, there are many things you can do to make the most of your time with ONWARD’s professional portfolio reviewers. Proper preparation will provide you with the greatest return from your portfolio review sessions.
Here are some key insights we’ve gathered to help you prepare:
Selecting, Printing and Presenting Your Photographs
Select 15-20 photos – sizes should be manageable, from 11×14 to 20×24 – representing a complete body of work. Bring the prints in their final format so to ensure useful feedback on your best work. Bringing a semi-organized portfolio or un-edited photo will not give the reviewer a true impression of your work.
Presentation can vary, from prints on photo paper, to framed photos, to books – some people even use an iPad. Whatever you choose, your mode of presentation should be in its final format.
Safely Transporting Your Portfolio To the Review
The best option for transport is one that is easily manageable, protective, and quick to pack and unpack. Do remember that this is April in Philadelphia, so the chance of precipitation is high. But also keep in mind that your time with each reviewer is limited to 20 minutes. You should use most of that time for discussion, and use as little as possible for packing and unpacking.
The following are common print transportation and protection options:
Portfolio boxes are a quick and easy way to transport your prints safely. You can easily fit a number of prints into one box, where they’ll be safe from the elements.
Use paper to separate a stack of photos. This paper should be used in conjunction with a portfolio box or some other weather-proof method.
Protective Mylar Envelopes
Mylar envelopes add another layer of protection from the elements. As with interleaving paper, envelopes would require a larger container for transportation.
Researching and Preparing for the Review
ONWARD guarantees you will sit with at least one of your chosen reviewers. Prior to showing up, research all reviewers and plan to connect with a reviewer whose expertise or experience aligns with your own photographic pursuits. Meeting someone with experience in your areas of interest will not only provide you with career-centric feedback, but may also provide valuable connections.
What To Do During the Review
Think of this like a job interview. You want to make the most of your 20 minutes with the reviewer. Get the feedback you need by asking direct questions about the reviewer’s work and your aspirations. Something along the lines of, “Hey, I love the work you did for XXX. Do you think my work is ready for this publication?” or, “What do I need to do to make it in?”
This goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: being polite, attentive, and courteous while listening to your reviewer’s feedback and criticism will leave a good impression about you and your work. Also, taking notes allows you to remember all the feedback you receive during the review process and refer back to it at a later date.
Following Up After the Portfolio Review
Bring leave-behinds for the reviewers with your contact information and some sort of visual clue for them to remember you. Remember, each reviewer is going to gather a number of these throughout the day, so make it simple, memorable and easy to carry.
Sometimes you’ll find yourself running out of time with the reviewer. If it seems there is more to be said, ask the reviewer if it’s okay to set up time at a later date to talk further about your work.
Always follow up with a thank you. After all, they took the time to check out your work. The least you can do is thank them.
This year ONWARD’s Portfolio Review features 15 professional photographers/editors/camera-folk who are ready and more than willing to review your work. ONWARD’s portfolio reviewers boast experience in variety of photographic disciplines. Our diverse set of reviewers provides you more opportunities to gain feedback applicable to your photographic style.
Participants in the review are able to choose their top 3 reviewers and we can guarantee you’ll get some one-on-one time with at least one of your three picks.
Why Attend a Portfolio Review?
For those who’ve never attended a portfolio review, this is a great opportunity to meet, network with and obtain feedback from influential people in the photography biz. For those who are already well versed in having their portfolio reviewed… this is an even greater opportunity to gain extra feedback and improve your photographic connections.
In short, this is a sweet deal! You’ll get the chance to bump elbows with professionals representing a variety of fields in photography. Not to mention, you’ll gain ever-valuable feedback from an unbiased group of experts.
The Nitty Gritty
ONWARD’s 2013 Portfolio Review is an optional addition to the Summit. As mentioned above, this is an exclusive opportunity to connect with experts in the photography field. Only 25 tickets are available, and we expect spaces to fill quickly.
Saturday April 13th, 2013
The Search Church
3rd Street – Northern Liberties
Stay tuned for more information about best practices for portfolio reviews!
The Portfolio Reviewers
Introducing: the photographic eyes who will be reviewing your portfolio. This fine collection of professionals represents a veritable cornucopia of photographic talent. Study each profile to make sure you find the right person to review your work.
Peter Barberie – Curator, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Peter Barberie participated in last year’s Summit as a portfolio reviewer and as a speaker for In Focus, examining the curation of Zoe Strauss: Ten Years at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Honore Brown – Former Photo Editor at the New Yorker
Honore Brown joins us for the first time as a Summit portfolio reviewer. She is a former photo editor of the New Yorker.
Hiroh Kikai during his presentation at ONWARD Summit ’12
Those of you who’ve been following ONWARD for a while might remember how it all began, five years ago. What started as a simple photography competition slowly grew to attract international participation, and last year we took the plunge, expanding ONWARD into a full-fledged photography festival that culminated in the Summit conference.
The medium of photography is ever-changing. New ways of thinking continue to put established practices to the test, inciting some concern about the future relevance of photography as a visual medium. Through our exploration of these topics, we seek to strengthen and expand photography’s place in the visual arts, providing a platform for artists to inspire one another and seek solutions to the questions that emerge as the medium progresses.
We hope you’ll join the discussion and be part of the solution at this year’s ONWARD Summit!