Matt and I were flattered to be invited to review student portfolios at NESOP this week. We both LOVE reviewing work, and found that doing this together was a really fun experience - we left the reviews feeling refreshed and newly inspired to pursue opportunities to facilitate photographer education and help others develop their own artistic vision.
Although the purpose of the portfolio review day was for students to meet with studios about internship opportunities, Matt and I settled into a cozy artistic critique approach that probably probed a little deeper into the work than some of the students expected.
One photographer presented a delightful series of 2x3 inch images of the "lived in" landscape: yards, houses, fields and highways... the imagery was essentially found, but it was artfully composed in the camera frame. At first glance (due to the tiny size, perhaps) my reaction was to call these images "intimate"... but when I spent more time with them I realized that a more appropriate word for these images was "isolated". The familiar topic in each image (a home, a car, a window, a view, i.e. a 'destination') was always obscured by some object: a hedge, a wall, trees, power lines. So we encouraged this photographer to look for what was being obscured, to probe into her artistic vision with her camera (or a notepad and pencil). Matt and I truly believe that by exploring her artistic vision as deeply as possible she will be able to discover the power of what she can express and experience through photography.
The variety of artistic projects was impressive, and I could tell that these students come from all walks and are encouraged to pursue the art of making pictures that are from the heart.