Academy of Art in SF has a bumper crop of solid talent this year

Every Spring we are lucky to be asked up to the Academy of Art to review the photo depts. students portfolios and give whatever bits of advice we can to help the photographers get to their next level of success.
The room is filled with luminaries from the world of photography, who can truly give a helpful eye to the work.

Jim Wood, Director of the dept. Lauren Wendle, publisher of PDN,

And me.
Then we always try to share and showcase some of the talent that struck us during the day we were able to look at work, right here on
One of our favorite things is to also see students whose work we’ve watched through the year and see the growth as they get ready to graduate. More on that later.

First of all, I’d like to congratulate all of those brave enough to show their life’s work to essentially a room of strangers, and hopefully we were all able to give you some kind of feedback that will be of use.

On the lighter side of things photographer Kimberly Sandie had a series of visual juxtapositions that stopped us, and only if because the things she juxtaposed were a bit off the beaten track and her choices were engaging, as you can see:

© Kimberly Sandie

Daryn Labier brought a very cool, brilliantly lit, finished and conceptualized body of work, you can see a taste of in this sample.

© Daryn Labier

One of the most arresting set of images in the fine art category, was the hardest to re-photograph to show you. Renee Peck exhibit 3 images that used a delicate layering of translucent cloth to evoke a lyrical mood and imagery, I have not ever seen before.

Here is a straight up shot:

And a photo taken at an angle so you can get more of a sense of the layers.

Even in the closed hallways of the Academy, the slight breeze from people’s movement gave the images a soft life that was arresting. With a huge body of work, the first gallery to pick up on her work will be lucky folks.

In the space of the one day, we didn’t get to see everyone unfortunately, so we cruised the halls to see some of the prime work hung on the walls.

One person that struck us was the portraiture of David Bornfriend. With a very odd mix of a Civil War era stark lighting, and a texture that was grounded in a gritty contrast, these large prints appear to have been made from polaroid scans, although actually the process used goes back further..actually closer to the 1860’s using processes common to that time.
The subjects addressed the camera lens straight on, and the intensity behind the eyes became almost reminiscent of Diane Arbus’s work.

© David Bornfriend

There was another student that I was very happy to see again and look at the growth in his images.
He goes by the name Unni, and we wrote about him last year.

This past year, he has been mentored by Colin Finlay, famed photojournalist who has now joined the staff at the Academy of Art.

As you can tell, I’m a huge fan of the Academy and it’s because of the talent that comes out there. Consistently they are awarded, working and exhibited.
The brilliant, dedicated staff have found some great ways to bring out the best in these new artists. I know this to be true from seeing some of the same students as they progress through their college years.

Take a moment in your day to check out their sites. You may be looking at a future photographic superstar.

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