I must admit that I was a little unsure what to expect when I put out the call for portfolios for the addition of a few new photographers on the Fine Art Photoblog. I was pleasantly surprised to have 44 exceptional photographers submit portfolios of top quality and seriousness.
What I thought would be a simple selection process turned out to be a very difficult and mentally taxing turn of events. The seven of us at the photoblog plus one guest judge spent a good deal of time selecting and discussing these portfolios and the photographers behind them. So here's the result of several weeks of work from 44 photographers and 8 judges.
A NOTE TO THE ARTISTS
I think I speak for all of us at the Fine Art Photoblog when I say that we're blessed to have so many great photographers and artists take an interest in our venture. I was completely blown away by many of the portfolios and I knew that the process of choosing only a few would be the most difficult thing I've had to do in a long time. If we had the capacity to take on more than a few new photographers, we certainly would have. For those photographers who weren't chosen in this round, in no way does it mean that your works aren't “worthy” or “good enough”. For many of you, it was quite the contrary.
So if you're bummed out that you didn't make it to the final picks, don't be. I hope that this process of creating and submitting a portfolio was at least an educational one. The ability to choose a limited number of photos for a specific topic is a seriously useful skill to have. I also hope that you all had the chance to look through the other portfolios, learn from each other, and maybe even make a few new friends. With that said, here we go…
PLEASE JOIN ME IN WELCOMING…
… the following three artists to the Fine Art Photoblog. I'm very excited to have them join the group and expand our body of work from here out.
Mathias displays a very strong sense of composition and use of brilliant colors to depict a variety of scenes. He's best known for his very bold imagery of mechanical subjects, mixing strong shapes and colors to create a visual treat for your eyes. Mathias seems to have a good handle on street, urban, and abstract photography — not to mention his very noticeable and memorable artistic style.
Dawn has knack for simplifying complex objects and she displays an amazing control of light and shadow. Her photos are pleasing to view and there's no question as to the focal point of her images. Plant and flower photography is such a popular subject, and thus often becomes cliche as a result. But Dawn brings her subjects to the next level and places her work outside of the realm of cliche imagery.
William exhibited outstanding panoramic landscapes in his portfolio, both natural and urban. The wide sweeping landscapes, big skies, and attention to detail in every corner of his photos certainly won the judges over. Although we already have a strong landscape representation on the photoblog, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to include William in the group, and we felt that his consistent quality in panoramic images would be a nice addition.
ABOUT THE JUDGES
First of all, we had a very special guest join us for the decision-making process behind the scenes.
Elizabeth Cecil is a photographer living on Martha's Vineyard. She is devoted to the tradition of black and white printmaking as well as alternative processes. Elizabeth currently teaches darkroom courses through the Artist in Residence program on the Vineyard as well as summer classes at the Maine Media Workshops in Rockport Maine. She has an impressive collection of photos and an equally impressive history of experience in art photography. We are grateful to have her join us in the process of selecting new photographers for the photoblog. Thanks Elizabeth!
And now for “the rest of us”.
Andreas Manessinger a photographer working in Vienna, Austria who spends his weekends in Carinthia, Austria's most southern, sunny province. Since autumn 2006 he has a photoblog where he posts one image per day, and that means shot, processed and posted at the same day. His work is mostly street photography when he is in Vienna, and landscapes and rural environments on weekends, but these are no hard rules. [personal website]
Andrew Gibson is Andrew Gibson is a photographer who was born in the UK and graduated from the Blackpool & Fylde College with a BA (Hons) Photography in 1999. One region he's been drawn back to time and time again is South America, in particular Argentina and the Andean regions of Boliva and Peru. It's for this reason that he's moved to Argentina to focus on photographing and writing about these countries. [personal website]
Joseph Szymanski is a photographer based in San Francisco, California. A native of Detroit, his interest in the photographic process began at a very young age. After secondary school he moved to San Francisco to attend college, studying art and photography formally for five years. Today the majority of his time is spent working on personal photographic projects, as well as several web projects with other photographers and designers. [personal website]
Cody Redmon is a native and current resident of Montana who fell in love with landscapes at an early age. Growing up in a rural area gave him the access to explore his interest and grow his techniques, while visiting some of the most beautiful areas of the United States' northwest and southwest regions. As a photographer, his goal is to capture the beauty of a scene and present it in a manner which conveys emotion. He has a deep respect for the wilds and is pleased to present to you scenes and vistas from the back reaches of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Utah. He maintains a personal blog of current works at Cody Redmon – Photoblog, and has additional signed and numbered, limited edition prints on his personal website, CodyRedmon.com. [personal website]
Neil Creek is a visual person, with a keen affinity for beauty. He is driven to capture sights and emotions that move him, so that he can move others who see his photography. He has a thirst for knowledge, and is always looking to improve his skills and add new techniques to his repertoire. He is especially passionate about panoramic photography, macro photography and pushing the boundaries with experimental and abstract photography. As he pushes photography in an artistic direction, he also continually hones and refines his professional photographic skills, especially portrait, product and travel photography. His web site has many panoramas, and he is participating in Project 365 – a photo every day for a year – on his blog. [personal website]
David Ziser is a professional photographer from the metro Cincinnati area. He concentrates mostly on weddings and family portraits. To relax, he enjoys landscape and fine art photography as well, and puts quite a bit on energy into both when he has a bit of spare time on his hands. [personal website]
Brian Auer is a photographer currently residing in the San Diego area. He's been actively pursuing the art of photography since 2003, and his daily quest is to become a better photographer. The Fine Art Photoblog is Brian's creation and he has selected some of the finest and most enthusiastic photographers to participate in this website. He also blogs about photography at the Epic Edits Weblog and shares his work at Flickr. [personal website]
OUR DECISION PROCESS
Due to the number of portfolios we had to deal with, the process of elimination was broken down into three parts: A narrowing of the field by way of voting, a discussion of our personal favorites, and a final selection via another voting process.
Andreas suggested a method for voting that would produce a combination of group favorites and personal favorites. We each chose 5 portfolios from the original list. We then assigned 1, 2, or 3 points to each of those portfolios in any way we wished. Tallying up these votes gave us the group favorites. In addition to assigning more points to the portfolios we liked more, we each also chose 1 of our 5 to be “nominated” for the final round of discussions — meaning that this portfolio would be included with the top voted portfolios no matter who else did or didn't vote for that portfolio. It turned out that most of our nominees were in the top 5 or 10 anyways, but it gave each of us the assurance that our absolute favorite portfolio would be looked at a second time around.
Once we narrowed the field, we ended up with two photographers who stood out above the rest based on points assigned. This was actually a bit unexpected to us, and we hadn't planned on the process being so easy. So rather than call it a day, we decided that we would take on three photographers rather than two because the remaining group of top-voted portfolios were way too good to pass up that easy. So we spent a few days discussing, arguing, and defending these remaining photographers. Some of us may have even changed our minds about our selections based on these discussions.
Once the discussions were tapering down, we wiped the slate clean and cast another round of votes for those remaining by voting for up to 5 photographers using the same points system as before. This time around we still had a few top runners battling for the first spot. By the end of the voting, one photographer was ahead by several points and it was agreed that this would be our third addition to the group.
QUOTING THE JUDGES
Here are a few random quotes from the judges as the discussions wore on. None of these are specific to any one portfolio entry, just some generalities here and there.
Holy crap… we're up to 42 entries. – Brian Auer
I'm impressed with how in line with each other we are, says a bit about us and the artist pool both. I'm happy to consider a 3rd member, it would cool to spring on some lucky winner. – Cody Redmon
It is quite difficult to choose favourites from such a varied selection of work… In the end, I decided to look for a consistent style and vision amongst the portfolios, and also for signs that the person has an archive of photos that they can fall back on when they're not producing new work. I think this last point's important because it's hard to post a photo a week, and harder still to post a good photo. – Andrew Gibson
When do we start the next round? – Joseph Szymanski
We all have our various tastes, likes ,and dislikes. I think that is what makes it kind of fun – what did they see in his work? This guy is the clear winner, etc, etc. You know, I believe the process nearly always works – I mean that as positive remark. – David Ziser
A BIG THANK YOU TO EVERYONE
I'm so grateful to everyone involved with this whole thing… the artists who submitted portfolios, the visitors who showed an interest, and the great judges who did a superb job at selecting the new photographers. This was truly a group effort, and we're lucky to be a part of such an outstanding community.
You can all expect to see some great new work from Mathias, Dawn, and William appearing on the Fine Art Photoblog very soon.