Flash Forward Festival, Boston

This past weekend was the first ever Flash Forward Festival in Boston, hosted by the Magenta Foundation.  Because the mission of Magenta and the festival is to promote the work of emerging photographers, and because a weekend away in a posh hotel sounded glorious, I went to check it out.

The festival presented three large exhibitions and several lectures and panels.  There were also receptions which allowed photographers and photo professionals to meet and network.

Overall, I thought the festival was a success.  I would have liked to see more participants from a wider geographic area and to have an opportunity to see the work of photographers who came as participants but whose work was not included in the exhibitions.  But for the first time out of the gate, the lectures were interesting and informative and the entire event ran smoothly.

The Future of Photobooks panel was the most hyped from the festival, and it was fantastic that people were able to watch live and pose questions from around the world through the Flak Photo Facebook group.

Unfortunately, I felt a lot of photographers in the audience of the panels were too focused on sales and money generated from art as an indicator of success.   It seemed like the discussion thread was weighted toward questions like, “how can I make money from that?” and “why make a photobook if it’s expensive and hard to sell?”.  But I think if you are asking those questions, you probably are not making inspired work.  You make work because you have to, you were meant to, because you can’t do anything else.  Let’s panel about that.

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One Response to Flash Forward Festival, Boston

  1. I didn’t watch the video so I’m going to base my thoughts on your last paragraph. Do I measure my success on print sales? No. Would I like to make a living from print sales? Yes (who wouldn’t really) Do I think that is going to happen anytime soon? No. Do I care? Not really.
    This why I do wedding photography, because not only does it support my family, it also helps fund my projects, when I have the time to work on them. I was told by one reviewer that I should try to hide the fact I do wedding photography to the fine art world. Am I going to do that? No, I’m rather proud of the wedding images I produce. (Paul Caponigro was a wedding photographer for a few years and I don’t think that hurt his fine art career.)
    I don’t even bother nor do I want to total up the money I have spent on the American Motel project. I have talked to many of galleries, and a lot of the times I get “Well I love the project, but I don’t know if I could sell the work.” I understand this, if you don’t have the client base that is interested in work like mine why would a gallery owner waste their money on an artist they know they cannot sell? I don’t let this bother me at all. Representation is the last thing on my mind. I’m happy if a gallery is keeping me in mind for a future group show.
    I would like to do a book in the future, I know it is going to cost me a lot of money. I’m still going to do it. Maybe do a short run the first time, and send it off to museums and galleries that might have interest in the project. I don’t care if I lose a bunch of money, I care more about getting the work out there.
    When I graduated from college I stopped photographing, I figured I’m never going to make a living as a fine art photographer or become famous. I got really depressed as the months rolled on, and it took me awhile to realize that the reason I was depressed was because I wasn’t making images. I picked my camera up and just started shooting without any project in mind, and I started to feel better.
    Also when I met with you, and the other reviewers in New Orleans the one thing that I found in the feed back that I really liked were the stories. When people looked at the images they would tell me a story of this crazy motel in so and so town. It made me really happy that an image that I produced trigger a memory someone had about a motel room. To me that is success.
    The point is I realized that I shouldn’t care about becoming famous or being in a gallery or museum I should care about making the work and everything else will fall into place one day. Maybe.

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