Thursday, June 18, 2009

LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph & Photographic Essay workshop, June 6-June 13

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Dear bloggers,

I know it's been awhile, and for this I extend my sincerest apologies. But, the reason I've been out of contact is because I was away in Virginia having the best experience of my life. A few of you got a hint of this through my facebook postings, but to catch the rest of you up, I was away attending a photography workshop called "The Art of the Photographic Essay" taught by living photography masters and legends James Nachtwey and David Alan Harvey. I applied for the workshop months prior, and when I got accepted, I knew that it would be a life-changing experience. I don't even know where to start to tell you about it, as I am still reeling in the wonder of my experience...

I'll start at the beginning. Once upon an internet search, I came across the coolest blog I've ever seen. Rewind to January of this year, and I happen upon my introduction to Burn Magazine. The premise itself hooked me from the git go: an online magazine that showcases emerging photographic talent...in publishing, contacts, and with David Alan Harvey's (DAH) status as a Magnum photographer, a yearly grant worth $10,000 is awarded to a worthy photographer so that s/he can continue a project already underway. My interest and intrigue was instantaneous, and quickly evloved into a teeny obsession. I had the utmost respect for what DAH was doing, and the fact that he was using his clout and status as a master photographer to bring us emerging photographers up and give us a showcase upon which to display our work. (DAH is a Magnum photographer, which is basically the Bentley of Photo agencies to be represented by - besides VII, which James Nachtwey started after leaving Magnum - anyway, Magnum also represented the likes of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Elliot Erwitt). So Burn became a creative outlet for my writing as well as bringing me back to my technical roots, and gave the opportunity to view such a vast variety of work. It was like therapy, class, family, and art all in one place.

Burnmagazine.org was stylishly laid out in black with almost daily posts boasting the work of emerging photographers. The posts themselves were varied as well, from single stills to entire photographic essays, both usually accompanied by a note or a foreword by the artist. And there is a section below each post where the viewers can comment about the work, and the threads turn into these crazy, artsy, technical, lofty, all-inclusive to exclusive conversations, comments, reactions, accolades, and criticisms of the imagery that is presented. I suddenly was seeing a community where all kinds of imagery was accepted, seen, and reviewed, and the comments were intelligent and technical and well-thought out and written beautifully. I knew I belonged in this burning group, and I had an outlet for writing about others' photography. Immediately I was hooked.

So, I began commenting regularly on Burn, and I struck up some conversations with other regular contributors as well (via Burn and email). After awhile of being a part of this community, I knew that eventually I would meet some of my fellow Burnians in person. I wasn't sure when, but I knew it would happen. Then one unassuming day while I was navigating into the site, I was following the workshop link to see what that was all about. This is how I found out about the plethora of workshops that David Alan Harvey teaches all over the world. I clicked the link for this event called "The Festival of the Photograph" which the tagline of "3 days of peace, love, and photography." Umm, yea. I was totally going to be a part of that. Then upon further investigation, I found out that here were workshops happening prior to the festival, and one was taught by David Alan Harvey and James Nachtwey. I didn't even look at the other two workshops that were offered; I just knew that "The Art of the Photographic Essay" was where I needed to be.

I discovered that there was a sort of application process, which basically involved me sending a link to my work online (thank you, blog!), and then wait and see if I was accepted. Needless to say, I was shocked and euphoric when I found out less than 24 hours later that they would be glad to have me participate in the workshop. All the beaming and dancing in the world couldn't express my gratitude and happiness.

So, it would be months before June would come, so in the meantime, I kept living and shooting and building and laughing and loving. As the time crept closer, my excitement and anticipation welled up inside me. I had no idea what to expect; I just knew that I was driving down to Charlottesville, VA by myself and that I was going to turn into the human sponge so I could soak up as much knowlege and friendships and learning and shooting as I possibly could. And that's exactly what I did.

I have no words to explain my gratitude for the amazing experience that I had. I learned what a photograph is. Not all images are photographs...there is a difference, and even the people who aren't versed in the visual arts can see it. I learned above and beyond about composition and that the 28mm is one bad ass lens and perhaps the only lens you need. I met people whose names I've seen online at Burn for the past 6 months. I forged friendships with like-minded talented people. And most of all, I extended my family and felt at home. Now, without further adieu, some pics from my fantastic experience...

The amazing David Alan Harvey is ever-teaching, even after class over coffees...the beyond talented Eugene Richards looks on (Eugene taught a workshop called "Photographing People)

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Perhaps the best photographer of all time, here sits James Nachtwey, who was my other instructor. Jim had an exhibit at a gallery during the festival as well, about victims of TB in other countries. Having won several awards and accolades for his work, Jim's primary goal is to promote global heaqlth by using photography as a tool do so. In his own words, "I have been a witness, and these pictures are my testimony. The events I have recorded should not be forgotten and must not be repeated." A most humble man, his photographs are tragically beautiful and horrifying at the same time. My respect knows no depth for Jim Nachtwey.

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Kris Giacobbe and Andri Taubman, fellow classmates, laugh with Jim as Kris gets some insight

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Jim in class during a classmate's critique

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Patricia Lay-Dorsey was also in my workshop. Pat is a fellow Burnian, and I had been looking forward to meeting her. Her photo essay "Falling into Place" was featured on Burn and is now looking to be published as a book.

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In Charlottesville, VA, the Festival was held in the downtown "mall" area, which was blocks of open brick courtyard flanked by trees, restaurants, and stores. By far the coolest "mall" I've ever seen. Prints by wildlife and National Geographic photographer Tom Mengelson hung between the trees.

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There were tons of street musicians. This one brought his dog.

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Jim's name hangs in the window of his exhibit.

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The Festival kicked off with a showing of the student work at the Paramount Theater. It was so awesome to see my work projected up on the big screen in front a theater full of people. Here is the photographer credit for my class.

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The Paramount was a gorgeous theater that emitted a hint of goth.

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The LOOK3 Festival is named as such because of the 3 in-sight conversations with 3 different established and fantastic photographers. The first night highlighted the career of Sylvia Plachy, who was the Village Voice staff photographer for 30 years. She has a bit of claim to fame as the mother of Adrian Brody as well. Her work is beautiful and it was lovely to hear her speak about her photographs.

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Martin Parr was the guest of honor, marking the highlight of the second day of the festival. Parr is also a Magnum photographer, and his sense of humor comes through in his photography. He has amassed quite a volume of work as he always has a new project in the works. He tends to do the complete opposite of what everyone else is doing, for example, when everyone was shooting black and white, he shot color; when others were shooting the poor, he shot the rich. Quite a character and extremely talented.

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Parr was interviewed by fellow photographer John Gossage

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I love this picture!

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Nick Nichols' reserved seat. Nick started the Festival of the Photograph about ten years ago in his backyard. It has grown exponentially and is supported powerhouses such as Canon, Leica, Magnum, and National Geographic, among others.

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On the third and final day of the festival, the Paramount played host to the Masters talks, where DAH showed the Burn reel and announced the winner of the 2009 Emerging Photographer Fund. Congratulations to Alejandro Chaskeilberg! What a beautiful essay and original idea. Check the 11 finalists and winning essay as well as the new Burn reel created by Anton Kusters at burnmagazine.org. (And check out James Nachtwey being featured on the reel!)

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Before the third and final in-sight conversation, the voice of the Festival of the Photograph got everyone all amped up and was giving shout-outs left and right. When he told Nick Nichols to stand up, DAH hopped up too, to photograph him.

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We were privileged to see and hear the talented Gilles Peress be interviewed by MayAnne Golon for the final in-sight conversation of the festival. Gilles is also a Magnum photographer and rarely, if ever, gives interviews.

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The Paramount and water fountains...

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Random, fun festival shots...

Check out this guy with the 8x10. Such a thing of beauty...

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These next few are my perspective during lunch one day. Similar, but all different. I couldn't decide on a favorite.

I like the juxtaposition of all the bodies in this one, and there's depth to it as well. And Jim Nachtwey!

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My new friend and fellow redhead, Kerry Payne

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The paprazzi was everywhere!

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What a fantastic festival. Best experience of my life. I can't wait til the next one!

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2 comments:

  1. wow! It looks like you had a seriously awesome time carrie!
    I'm glad everything came out as awesomely as you hoped and you got there and back safely. What an awesome experience this sounds like. I'm in for next year! :)

    Thanks for sharing the frames they're divine. Your photographs really document the event well while still having that artistic touch that your frames always carry. Fantastic work, as always carrie.

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  2. From all the fantastic pics, looks like you enjoyed while you were learning. I am so glad you were able to have this experience in your life. And we both know, traveling far to learn something new and have a great experience is not new to you - LOL

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