Archive for December, 2009

MVS Workshop in Los Angeles SOON: January 8 – 10 at Julia Dean Photo Workshops

As of this writing there are a few spaces left in my upcoming workshop “Presenting Your Work to the Fine Art Community” for Julia Dean Photo Workshops.  We will begin on Friday night, January 8 and conclude by 6 pm on Sunday, January 10th.

From the catalogue:  In this workshop, Mary Virginia Swanson provides insights into the most effective avenues for photographers to introduce their work to gallery and museum professionals. She discusses the value of entering national and international juried exhibitions and participating in portfolio review events. Important art fairs are discussed from the perspective of helping artists assess prices and edition sizes, and research the marketplace towards potential venues for their work. Effective self-promotion materials are shared with participants, as are the professional practices necessary to successfully present their work. She will discuss ‘talking points’ when given the opportunity to sign with a gallery for representation. In addition to the collecting market, Swanson will discuss the issues relating to granting the rights to reproduce (license) images and related negotiations. Participants are invited to bring several samples of their work to share with the class (not required).  Swanson’s book, The Business of Photography: Principles and Practices will be provided to all participants as the course workbook.

The workshop will be held at JDPW’s facilities on Ocean Front Walk in Venice, California.

If you are going to LA for either Review LA or Photo LA (both of which begin on January 14th), consider coming early and joining us at JDPW for my workshop!

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Deadline January 11th: The New Documentarian Award for a Long Term Project

The deadline is rapidly approaching for “The New Documentarian Award for a Long Term Project” established and sponsored by the Julia Dean Photo Workshops.   Entries must arrive at JDPW by 5 pm on Monday, January 11th.  Cash award to the first-place winner is $1000.00.

Click here for complete application instructions.

Click here to see the work of the 2008 finalists and winner Matt Eich, click here to see the work of the 2006 finalists and winner Keri Collins

I encourage those of you that are working on personal documentary project to apply.  The guidelines state that in addition to 15-25 images and an “inventory page” with complete caption information, each applicant must submit a “Statement of Purpose that includes a description of your project, your reasons for doing this project, what you hope to accomplish with this project, and the progress of the project.”

Completing the written component of this Award will be a challenge but one that I urge readers to tackle.  This, along with the challenge of editing your project images to a group no larger than 25, will provide you with the materials so often needed for grant applications, and make it easier for you to enter other competitions.   As my friend Susan kae Grant tells her students “If you don’t apply, you will have a 100% chance that your work won’t be selected.”  Start your edit!

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January 17th- Worldwide Photography Gala Awards’ Student Competition

January 17th is the The Deadline for the Worldwide Photography Gala Awards Juried Exhibition for Photography and Fine Art Students. The Nadar Award

From their website:

The Worldwide Photography Gala Awards ( WPGA) open a Juried competition for students and recent graduates of photography, fine art and design attending institutes, colleges, schools and universities worldwide: The Nadar Award for Students. Students from art-related schools and faculties such as architecture, as well as students from other careers, who are amateur photographers (i.e. members of photographic associations and photo clubs) may also qualify to submit images to The Nadar Award.
The first prize will be the attendance (including round trip from the country and city of residence, lodging, and tuition) to a Workshop organized by Santa Fe Photography Workshops, and will the winner images will be widely promoted internationally. Selected images will be exposed during 2010 in US and Europe. As in other contest organized by WPGA who partner with Save the Children, a portion of its revenue (entry fees and sales of works in exhibitions) will be donated to that humanitarian organization.
WPGA invites all  students (and recent graduates) working in all mediums, styles and schools of thought. Traditional, contemporary, avant-garde, creative and experimental works that include old and new processes, mixed techniques, and challenging personal, emotional or political statements are welcome to The Nadar Award.
Reid Callanan (Director, Santa Fe Photography Workshops) and Roy Flukinger (Senior Research Curator, Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas in Austin).
The competition will open in November 3nd, 2009. There will an Early Bird Deadline with discounted entry fees on December 20th and a Final Deadline on January 17th, 2010. Jurors’ selection will take place during the month of February, and the final announcement will be on March 11th 2010.
As always, applicants should read and understand all guidelines for competitions before entering.

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REMINDER: Approaching Deadline for FLASH FORWARD 2010, Magenta Foundation Call For Entries


Now in its sixth year, the Magenta Foundation’s call for entries has been announced for Flash Forward 2010.

From the website:

  • This is an open call for submissions.
  • All photographers in Canada, the UK and the US, 34 years of age and under, may submit.
  • All submission requirements and instructions are on our web site, at
  • Submissions close on Thu, Dec 31, 2009.

Jurors for 2010

  • Canada:
    • Liz Ikiriko – Photo Editor, Toronto Life Magazine
    • Daniel Espeset, photo-eye Magazine
    • Myrabelle Charlebois – Photo Editor, enRoute Magazine
    • Erin Elder – Manager, Business Development, Digital Media, The Globe and Mail
  • UK:
    • Lorna Mary – Company Manager, Rhubarb-Rhubarb Festival
    • Chris Littlewood – Photography Coordinator, Flowers East Gallery
    • Simon Bainbridge, British Journal of Photography, London
    • Aaron Schuman – Director/Editor, Seesaw Magazine
  • US:
    • Andy Adams – Editor/Publisher, Flak Photo
    • Amanda Maddox – Assistant Curator of Photography and Media Arts at the Corcoran Gallery of Art
    • Susan Bright – Independent art writer and curator based in NY
    This past November I was excited to see the exhibition of the work selected for Flash Forward 2009, one of my favorite of the contemporary offerings at FotoWeek DC.  I hope many of my readers had a chance to see it.  To view a list of winners, click here.  The publication is worth seeing.   I encourage readers to enter the 2010 competition.


2010 marks Magenta’s launch of the new bi-annual Flash Forward Festival celebrating”emerging photographers from Canada, United Kingdom and the United States” which will be held in Toronto, Canada October 6-10, 2010.  Plan now to attend!

Here is how the Festival was described in the press release:

“Set to take over Toronto’s Liberty Village area, Flash Forward Festival will provide an in-depth experience for emerging photographers with educational and networking opportunities including events with collectors, arts enthusiasts and industry professionals. The festival will include five curated exhibitions (representing Canada, the UK and the US, plus one guest nation), as well as workshops, a lecture series, nightly events, an art fair and a major closing event that will be filmed and transmitted globally.”

See you there!

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The JAZZ LOFT PROJECT: A multimedia must!

This morning on NPR’s Weekend Edition featured its last installment of the JAZZ LOFT PROJECT, a story of the early 1960’s as captured on audio recordings captured by photographer W. Eugene Smith in his NYC loft at 821 6th Avenue, which was a gathering place for jazz musicians, often jamming late into the night.   In today’s segment, the sounds from Smith’s radio in the background told of life in America in the 1963, which along with Smith’s life, was falling apart.  The Jazz Loft Project tells us of the life of a photographer, the movement of modern jazz, and of our country in a time of great turmoil.

From the Jazz Loft Project website:


In January 1955 W. Eugene Smith, a celebrated photographer at Life magazine whose quarrels with his editors were legendary, quit his longtime well-paying job at the magazine. He was thirty-six. He was ambitious, quixotic, in search of greater freedom and artistic license. He turned his attention to a freelance assignment in Pittsburgh, a three-week job that turned into a four-year obsession and in the end, remained unfinished. In a letter to Ansel Adams, Smith described it as a “debacle” and an “embarrassment.”

In 1957, Smith moved out of the home he shared with his wife and four children in Croton-on-Hudson, New York and moved into a dilapidated, five-story loft building at 821 Sixth Avenue in New York City’s wholesale flower district. 821 Sixth Avenue (between Twenty-eighth and Twenty-ninth streets) was a late-night haunt of musicians, including some of the biggest names in jazz—Charles Mingus, Zoot Sims, Bill Evans, and Thelonious Monk among them—and countless fascinating, underground characters. As his ambitions broke down for the epic Pittsburgh project, Smith found solace in the chaotic, somnambulistic world of the loft and its artists. He turned his documentary impulses away from Pittsburgh and toward his offbeat new surroundings.

From 1957 to 1965, Smith exposed 1,447 rolls of film at the loft, making roughly 40,000 pictures, the largest body of work in his career.  He photographed the nocturnal jazz scene as well as life on the streets of the flower district, as seen from his fourth-floor window. He wired the building like a surreptitious recording studio and made 1,740 reels (4,000 hours) of stereo and mono audiotapes, capturing more than 300 musicians, among them Roy Haynes, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, Roland Kirk, Alice Coltrane, Don Cherry, and Paul Bley. He also recorded legends such as pianists Eddie Costa, and Sonny Clark, drummers Ronnie Free and Edgar Bateman, saxophonist Lin Halliday, bassist Henry Grimes, and multi-instrumentalist Eddie Listengart.

Also dropping in on the nighttime scene were the likes of Doris Duke, Norman Mailer, Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Salvador Dalí, as well as pimps, prostitutes, drug addicts, thieves, photography students, local cops, building inspectors, marijuana dealers, and others.

The Jazz Loft Project, organized by the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University in cooperation with the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona and the W. Eugene Smith estate, is devoted to preserving and cataloging Smith’s tapes, researching the photographs, and obtaining oral history interviews with all surviving loft participants. The transferred recordings reveal high sound quality and extraordinary musical and cultural content, offering unusual documentation of an after-hours New York jazz scene.”

Read about the book component to the project here.

WYNC’s  Jazz Loft Project Radio Series was presented in 10 episodes.

“Sara Fishko and WNYC, in collaboration with partners at the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke University, have build a radio series from the tapes of loft life discounted in W. Eugene Smith’s vast archive.”  Hosted by Sara Fiscko, Produced by WNYC. Read Fisko’s introduction to the Jazz Loft Project Radio Series and read complete credits here, and a listing of content featured in each segment here.

From the credits, expanded credits to Smith’s Estate, and the Center for Creative Photography, which together enabled this project to commence: “Smith’s photographs and tapes from the loft building at 821 Sixth Avenue, New York City, 1957–1965, represented in the Jazz Loft Project, were generously made available by the CCP and the Smith Estate. The CCP collects, preserves, interprets, and makes available materials that are essential to understanding photography and its history. Through its archives, collections, education programs, exhibitions, and publications, the CCP promotes research into and appreciation of the photographic medium. The archives of significant American photographers—including Ansel Adams, Harry Callahan, W. Eugene Smith, Edward Weston, Garry Winogrand, and Louise Dahl-Wolfe—form the core of the collection. The CCP has an integrated program of preservation, access, and education that celebrates the history of photography and its contemporary practice. The CCP was established in 1975 by photographer Ansel Adams and University of Arizona president John P. Schaefer. It is a special collection within the University of Arizona Libraries.”

Click here to view WEB EXTRAS which include a slide show of 25 of Smith’s photographs with ambient sound recordings made in the loft.

WNYC’a Leonard Lopate  Show Interview with Sam Stephenson (December 8, 2009):

“W. Eugene Smith’s Jazz Loft Project has been legendary in the worlds of art, photography, and music for more than 40 years. Sam Stephenson, writer and instructor at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, tells about his seven-year project to catalog, archive, select, and edit Smith’s jazz loft photographs and tapes for his book, The Jazz Loft Project. It includes photographs of some of the biggest names in jazz—Charles Mingus, Zoot Sims, Bill Evans, and Thelonious Monk among them—and countless underground characters who hung out at 821 Sixth Avenue late at night, as well as street scenes that Smith took from his fourth-floor window. ”

Sam Stephenson has spent many years studying the work of Smith.  Learn more about Stephenson from this link on the CDC website:

“Stephenson became interested in Pittsburgh’s history and character during a visit to the city to meet the family of his fiancée seven years ago and began researching the life and work of Smith. Since then, he has edited two books on the photographer: Dream Street: W. Eugene Smith’s Pittsburgh Project, published by the Center for Documentary Studies in association with W.W. Norton and Co., and W. Eugene Smith,published by Phaidon Press in its Photography 55 series. Stephenson also wrote the script for the documentary film Brilliant Fever: W. Eugene Smith and Pittsburgh, which will screen at CDS on Thursday, January 23, at 7 p.m. The National Endowment for the Humanities recognized Stephenson’s work and awarded him a fellowship to continue his research on Smith; currently, Stephenson is directing a documentary and oral history project about the New York loft where Smith lived and worked and where jazz greats, such as Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, and Charles Mingus, frequently held all-night jam sessions.”

Stephenson’s curatorial work continues: this exhibition is coming to the New York this spring:

“The Underground Story of Photographer W. Eugene Smith and the Jazz Loft is Told in a New Multimedia Exhibition at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.  Photographs and audio feature the anonymous and celebrated, including; Thelonious Monk, Zoot Sims, Salvador Dali, and Norman Mailer. The Jazz Loft Project on view from February 17, 2010 to May 22, 2010 in the Donald and Mary Oenslager Gallery.”

I’ll post more about this exhibition as it approaches.

Lastly, click here to read a review of the Jazz Loft Project published on November 27th, 2009 on the CONSCIENTIOUS weblog authored by Joerg Colberg

…and more press links are archived here.

SO much to learn from this fantastic project!

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2009 PhotoNOLA Review Prize Winners Announced!

At the close of the PhotoNOLA Porfolio Review, each of the participating reviewers were asked to nominate their 3 favorite photographers that they met with during the two-day event.

First Place went to (drumroll) Jessica Ingram

Jessica’s work will be featured in an upcoming solo exhibition at the New Orleans Photo Alliance; she will also receive a $1,000 cash award.

Second Place went to Michael Donnor

Third Place went to Nancy Newberry

Michael and Nancy will have their work showcased on the PhotoNola website and be profiled in upcoming NOPA e-newsletters.

Congratulations to all three,  and thanks to all of the talented photographers that participated in the PhotoNOLA Portfolio Reviews!  It was indeed my pleasure to participate.

The 2008 Portfolio Review winner was Sarah Wilson, who’s current project, Blind Prom, is on view at the NOPA gallery now through January 24, 2010.

PhotoNOLA is an annual event organized by the New Orleans Photo Alliance (NOPA). I look forward to seeing you there next year.

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MVS Interviews re: PhotoNOLA 2009 and attending portfolio review events

Before leaving New Orleans I stopped by The Darkroom to be interviewed about the New Orleans Photo Alliance‘s recently concluded PhotoNOLA events, primarily speaking to its very successful portfolio review component.  As many of you are preparing for Review LA and FotoFest‘s The Meeting Place, I thought I would share this link to the interview with you from the event blog; it’s also posted on the New Orleans Photo Alliance blog where  if you scroll through the December archives you’ll find another (print) interview with me (posted December 1st at the start of PhotoNOLA).    I hope you find my advice of value towards making the most of attending review events.

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