Review Santa Fe:
JUNE 7-9, 2013
Review Santa Fe Selection Committee Member Statements
Review Santa Fe 2012 Selection Committee
Lesley Meyer, Photo Editor and Archivist, The Annenberg Space for Photography
Aline Smithson, Founder and Editor, Lenscratch
Lisa Sutcliffe, Assistant Curator of Photography, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
After reviewing all of the submissions for Review Santa Fe I must emphasize how challenging it is to edit down to a much smaller selection of talent. I was struck by the overall strength of the entries and it was an honor to have the opportunity to spend time contemplating each one. It is responsibility I do not take lightly.
When judging photography I am looking for both a visceral and intellectual reaction. Work can be technically strong but if it lacks a clear idea or direction, it falls short. On the other hand, sometimes the idea and direction are cohesive but the work itself is not yet resolved. I search for images that surprise and inspire me, but I also seek images that may be more modest and quiet in their point of view.
These hundreds of submissions were an incredibly eclectic mix of journalistic, fine art, portraits, landscapes, still life, and more. There was humor, beauty, ugliness, sweetness and tragedy, to name a few, and juxtaposing any of these to make final edits was incredibly difficult. My goal was to create a multi-faceted and balanced expression of talent. In the end I believe it comes down to what I connect with as relevant, new and successful in its execution.
I encourage those that did not make the final selection to reexamine their work technically and their statements about their work. Many photographers and visual artists struggle with talking about their work, often believing the work should speak for itself. Sometimes it actually does, but one still has to be able to realize and express to others why he, she is creating this work and what importance it has.
Photo Editor and Archivist
The Annenberg Space for Photography
Thank you to CENTER for the wonderful opportunity to spend time with great photography. The privilege of looking at lots and lots of well-crafted photographs is not an insignificant one. Each project reflects a photographer’s unique point of view—some using photography as a tool for story telling, some as an art form, some as a way to shine a light on sorrow and tragedy, and some simply use the photographic process to break new ground. All of these approaches are co-mingled and stand beside each other, and the process of selecting work from this diverse collection is not an easy one.
However, there are qualities that are universal to creating a compelling photograph or project. The work has to have an intangible resonance and a sensitivity that links together images and ideas. The photographs have to be well crafted and have power, sometimes in their simplicity and sometimes in their complexity. Most importantly, the work has to have authenticity—it has to convince the viewer that it has come from a genuine place and it needs to persuade us that there is meaning and purpose behind the effort. That meaning can be reflected by a statement that helps elevate the work, but most often from the perfect marriage of intention, writing, and unique visual expression.
Photography is a universal language. It allows us to travel the world, to weep over injustice, to laugh at absurdities, and to look at ourselves with wonder, without ever saying anything out loud. In exploring that language, I first looked to see if the photographs had their own power, then I read the statements to see if I was convinced by the idea and the realization of the project. If a photographer didn’t follow directions, omitted a statement, or didn’t send a well-developed series, their work did not move forward. For the most part, the submissions for Review Santa Fe reflected complex and sophisticated ideas and images. But in a world where everyone has a camera, and many more image makers are contributing to the photographic dialogue, it is crucial to be unique, to be relevant, to be exacting, and to be professional.
Congratulations to all the photographers for their thoughtful and significant submissions.
Founder and Editor, Lenscratch; Educator
It was my honor to be asked to be part of the Selection Committee for Review Santa Fe this year. I was impressed by the high quality of the submissions, which made the selection process exceptionally difficult. I appreciate having had the opportunity to see each and every project.
In my selection process, I looked for projects that were conceptually driven, technically proficient, even and cohesive in form, multi-layered in meaning, and relevant to the current dialogue in photography. Artistic individuality – the ability to distill a clear voice and a fully developed vision – was one of the most important guides in considering the submissions, and I looked for original and insightful projects that demonstrated this quality. I did take artist statements into account when reviewing these portfolios, but it was the photographs that ultimately defined my final choices.
One of the reasons I like attending portfolio reviews and seeing the work of emerging photographers is to get a sense of the various ideas artists are considering. As I sifted through the entries, a range of themes became apparent: a return to close observation through still life and portraiture; projects examining land use, especially in the American West; and politically charged pictures documenting events around the world. In each case, I looked for work that seemed to approach these well-worn topics from an original perspective.
Lisa J. Sutcliffe
Assistant Curator of Photography
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Stijn & Marie