As I got juried in to attend the ACP Portfolio Review my excitement couldn't be higher. I worked towards being ready for it and I would say I was almost there. Below, you will find my take on what I perceived to be a very positive experience; and how this type of events might affect the level of your work if you are trying to be a solid and strong photographer.
I want to make clear that the numbered points below are related to my personal experience, and my own level of expectations; which at this point in my career were completely full filled, I was not going in it with the idea in my head of striking a gallery deal or being catapulted to stardom (This has happened for sure with some photographers). But what I was after was to get some insightful comments and reactions to my work from people who live, breathe and move within higher levels of the photography world, which will give me the tools to keep on moving forward.
1.- In my personal opinion; my work is still evolving, on how cohesive it looks, for me this always presents a challenge; well, with four different people looking at what I brought, and all conveying at one point or another that symbolism, and thoughtfulness was my personal trade, definitely opened up my mind regarding to what I am doing; this comment and understanding that not everything has to look the same way, as long as this personal trade I am showing ties them up together, I will be OK. So, to summarize, a conglomerate of experienced eyes looking at your work will transfer in a new level of direction you can take with what you already have.
2.- Meeting people who can be your advisor or connection; THIS IS KEY. Since you never know when any of them might help you to get the foot in the door. At ACP you choose your reviewers so I decided to get two local reviewers and two from outside of Atlanta that I felt could understand my work better. This was intentionally done to plant seeds within my immediate environment, and later to branch out if possible, a move that proved to be useful, since I am able to keep in touch with most of them, and their field of expertise was a match to what I am doing.
Note: I am somewhat aware that in bigger Portfolio Reviews the case of being able to choose your reviewers is different, and probably you might not get a good match.
3.- Listening to the not so good you are doing. HIGHLY IMPORTANT. So you avoid doing it again.
4.- Opening up your eyes what everybody else is doing. Among photographers that were present there, I can say that there were at least 4 that have gotten very important recognition or prizes Internationally and nationally. So, peeking in how they produce their imagery; was an enlightening experience. Well, and meeting them was out of this world. Again an opportunity to a face to face networking.
5.- ACP out of all of the renown portfolio review venues is very affordable, It is here in Atlanta, and the jury process make it a safe place to showcase your work, because you rarely see a not well presented work among yours.
6.- Listening carefully to what you need to absorb and what might not apply to your vision is key; in other words; make sure that you really take the experience with a grain of salt.
7.- Understanding were you are standing,what you have walked, and what is the road ahead is massively important; now I know i am getting started, I am developing and that I will let at least a couple of more years to go by before I attempt to do this again, and I will try to shoot for PhotoNola or the LA Review. In the meantime my head is still absorbing what I have experienced and learned this last 2 weeks. There are people who are talented, grab a camera and they can produce perfect masterpieces just like that. In my case is not like that, I need to keep working on it. If you have a vision, pursue it; and I believe that attending at least once to this type of event, will help you on obtaining it.
This is the link of the promotional email within the festival with a little promotion for yours truly.