It’s all about Curation: That, plus talent and luck!

You’ve studied for years.
Tuned up your technical skills to a point, where showing the work publicly creates discussion about the content, not the paper its printed on.
At some point you chose a stylistic path.
Hopefully.
Now it’s time to hear from the pros and see how you stack up in the real world.
This is the life of the arts student at graduation.
Every year, I fly to San Francisco to review portfolios of primarily graduating students from the Academy of Art.

Every year brings a different crop of visions, that myself and the rest of the reviewers, have to be brutally honest with the folks behind those lenses.

I deal with the gut and perhaps the most important factor of the process: Curation.

The portfolios came at us 1 every :15 mins from 10:00AM to 4:00PM .

That first opening of the book, better hit us hard. Or engage us. Or scare us.
That high should continue for a few images before a shift can come in. The Middle of the book should have another stake in the ground. Power and style should lead us into the next ride of the collection.

I usually feel that there is a nether region after that middle image +3.

Perfect opportunity to take a breath or a deeper glide into the full body.

The hit strong.

Sorry, but sometimes the image I remember, is the last image.

Is this the only way it runs?
Nope. Just a starting point.

The hardest part of being the next big thing, or heck, just a working photographer, is to show how those strong influences from University, didn’t make you a clone.

Very tough.

From this last trip, the most impressive work came from a woman named Kristina
Varaksina.
Check out her site for a full hit.
She calls her work photo narratives. Full disclosure, she is a former agency art director, who decided that full control was the best way.

Typewriter

Her portfolio ran a smooth guided tour. The opener, to the center stake to the finale,

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very classic, almost Hurrell-esque

the viewer (or art buyer) will get a great idea of her concepting, narratives, fashion, light, and where her strengths are.

Apparently, they are many.

As I said, it was a day filled with talented photographers, being very brave and having essentially strangers look over their work and comment, even as they were moments away from graduating.

Fashion was a strong suit with a majority and there were students already shooting.

There were a few that had great concepts, but the execution was lacking.
The documentary category was less than informative, although they have one of the most passionate teachers you could imagine. And a former student to boot.

Tragic missed opportunity for some students. Maybe they had the inside track on the info about the Chicago Tribune laying off all of the staff photographers.

One of the most refreshing photographers I met was Jessica Rankin.
She. Nailed.It. Knew what she was passionate about. Photographed it so it showed.
Carved put a burgeoning career in her chosen category.

It’s hard enough for folks to know what they want to do.
To meet someone who seemed to know what her chosen path was, way before she got to school, was a happy moment that day.

It’s a long day, but I’m happy to have done it these past 10 years. As a long time collector, ad executive, reviewer, and shooter in my own right. Sharing whatever guidance in a short period, is a good thing.
I Hope.

Honorable mentions for Lauren Bayless and Bonnie Rae Mills

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