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Bill Vaccaro

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Ones2Watch with Atlanta Celebrates Photography

Atlanta Celebrates Photography is an organization that kills it year round for photography. Not only is the MONTH-LONG (which actually starts in September and goes into November, because there is so much programming) festival overwhelmingly stellar, ACP programs year-round and it a huge reason Atlanta's photography culture is so robust.  Ten years strong. . . hot damn. While ACP is celebrating it's 10th year, the annual gala auction benefit has been happening for five. There is an exciting live auction, led by Denise Bethel from Sotheby's, where inevitably you get swept up in the moment and wave a paddle you previously had no intention of raising.  There is also a silent auction with a variety of items (was so bummed to be outbid on the Martin Parr faces paperweight) and a selection of ten framed photographs from the Ones2Watch section.  For years I have poured over this part of the auction and bid mightily, and this year I was beyond honored to be invited to curate it.

I was asked to select ten photographs from ten photographers who are on the front lines of awesome.  Yes please!  The selection process was so much fun for me, but then seeing all of the pieces lined up on easels with each one framed to best showcase the image (thank you Myott!) was beyond, beyond.  And then to see all the bids flying!

Want an up-close peek at the images?  I thought so. Click on the image to visit the photographer's website.

Heather Evans Smith

Heather Evans Smith

Jeff Rich

Jeff Rich

Brandon Thibodeaux

Brandon Thibodeaux

Clay Lipsky

Clay Lipsky

Bill Vaccaro

Bill Vaccaro

Kurt Simonson

Kurt Simonson

Aline Smithson

Aline Smithson

Kelly K. Jones

Kelly K. Jones

Elizabeth Fleming

Elizabeth Fleming

E. Brady Robinson

E. Brady Robinson

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Astoria Retreat (Season 4!): #flashersforlife

When David Bram and I started planning our first invite-only retreat for photographers over a year ago, we never could have imagined how powerful these experiences would be - for everyone.  David and I leave each and every one completely blown away by the talent, energy and drive of these artists.  And then there's the bonding. . . something about living all together in a house for five days, talking non-stop about your art and life. . . it easily makes the retreats one of the most special and rewarding things I do. I have often said that living in the house together is like The Real World without the hot tub, and when I started my tour, so many of the photographers who have participated on the retreats either came along on a leg of the trip or participated in a pop-up or just showed up in a city for an in-person high-five. It started to feel like The Real World-Road Rules Challenge, with photographers from one retreat meeting photographers from another and sharing stories from what they all knew was a completely unique experience.  "What retreat were you on?" sounded very much like "What Season were you on?".  

Sean Dana and Kurt Simonson (Season 1 - aka Astoria 7/12, aka #Astoria6) drove with me from San Francisco to Portland, where we met up with Bill Vaccaro, who was also Season 1 and participated in the New Orleans pop-up (so did Kurt!) and met up with the Crusade in Cleveland.  In Portland I saw Julia Vandenoever (Season 2, aka The Cat Cave) and Elizabeth Clark Libert (Season 3, aka The Bone Collectors) and Brandon Thibideaux (who was soon to be Season 4, aka Flashers).  Sarah Moore (Season 2) was my co-pilot from Chicago (where we met up with Matt Crowther - Season 4) to Cleveland (enter Bill Vaccaro and Matthew Conboy - on Sarah's season) to New York (where she reunited with Muema from Season 2 and met Sara Macel from Season 4 and Charlotte Strode, who will be Season 5 in July).  And to bring it all home, Heather Evans Smith (Season 3) met me in Richmond to celebrate the final Crusading days.  Whew.  Confused?

In all of the traveling excitement, I have not written up the last retreat (Season 4 - held in Astoria, Oregon in April).  This group bonded straight out of the gate.  It was almost alarming.  We always try to put together people from different places, photographic experiences, types of work, etc. so that the participants learn from each other as much as they learn from us.  And although this group had the usual amount of diversity, they were besties nearly instantaneously.

We had the usual agenda of intensive work on portfolios, sequencing, artist statements (my favorite!), and hours and hours of more, followed by after-hours bowls of Butterfinger ice cream and more photo talk.  We also explored Canon Beach (Goonies rock!), made friends with some locals, rocked the DQ,  and became flashers for life.

This crew. . . damn special.  They all are, honestly.  David and I say it constantly - we are so lucky to do what we do.

Make sure you check out the work from this talented group: Matt Crowther, Elizabeth Fleming, Sara Macel, Brandon Thibodeaux and Annick Sjobakken.

Are you a photographer interested in getting a project ready to launch? Check out Flash Powder Projects here.

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Portland Pop-up - Put Some Art On It!

Lady Blue rolled into Portland last Tuesday, and while I hunkered down in a conference room for four days to  meet with 48 different photographers and give feedback on their work for the Photolucida portfolio review, the Lady luxuriated in a garage across the street.  The trip from San Francisco was gorgeous and an absolute blast, but after three days of driving, Lady Blue deserved some downtime. But by Saturday afternoon, she was ready for some Crusading!  We decided to mix things up in Portland, after big events in Los Angeles and San Francisco where we parked on a busy street and set up display shelves and tables on the sidewalk.  We wanted to be more rogue and have a roving Crusade event, and so we had just three local photographers participate to more easily pile into the Lady and move from location to location.

I mentioned before how each city's personality has influenced the way people engage with the pop-up, and Portland was no exception.  The vibe of the city seems to be pretty low-key and unassuming, and that was definitely the vibe of the participating photographers!  When we were driving over to our first location, we talked about how to engage people walking by. . . if the bus had not been moving, I'm pretty sure these three would have jumped out and run away.

But alas, we got into a groove, and being on the move made it a lot easier to reach out to people.  We also received a lot of unsolicited treats in exchange for art - cookies, candy bars. . . Portland is awesome.  One man did refuse to participate in protest of the mandatory art tax just imposed here.  Portland is kooky too.

All of the photographs were gone in record-time, and we didn't even have a chance to move the bus to a different part of town.  It was really fun to be on foot and spread out a bit, and it has been exciting and educational to speak with people about art and gauge their reactions to the project.  More on that later. . .

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Give the Gift of Original Art

. . . the gift that keeps on giving. . . Every year Fraction Magazine holds a Holiday Print Sale, offering special editions of small prints (most are 8.5 x 11) at affordable prices (average of $95) from photographers who have been featured on the online magazine.

Scrolling through the 94 items (both photographs and photobooks) is like a who's who of photographers I adore. I had so many items in my shopping cart, I thought the site would crash. And just like every other year, I over-spent, but felt good that I could put money directly in the pockets of photographers I admire.

So check it out! The sale runs through December 31, and all photographs are shipped within 5 days of purchase.

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#Astoria6

If you have read a number of my older blog posts, you know that I have a love affair with Oregon (for example: Portland, Will You Marry Me?). But I have just spent over a week in Portland and Astoria, and since I left my husband at the helm of the house to take care of three kids, he strongly suggested that coming home and mentioning how much I love it there would be a serious misstep of goodwill and appreciation. So I won’t do that. . .   . . .

. . .

The reason for my trip to the totally average Pacific Northwest? David Bram (Fraction Magazine) and I hosted the Roundtable Retreat where six invited photographers came to participate in a four-day, five-night retreat on the Oregon coast.

The goal was for each photographer to strengthen and package a portfolio of work and develop a plan to strategically launch a project. We all stayed together in a quirky house, Real World-style – all the cameras, confessionals and late night debauchery but sadly no hot tub.

Photographers were invited to participate based on their work, experience and willingness to share and explore as a group. The intimate nature of the retreat was designed to foster community and create dialog around the work, as each participant brings different perspectives and ideas. And it rocked. Seriously rocked.

The group came together both personally and creatively in the most amazing way.  They became the Astoria Six, replete with a logo and nicknames.  David and I led discussions, critiques and instruction (on topics like social media, writing an artist statement, how to find your audience, what makes a good website and the artist-gallery relationship).  We even managed to scout out various Goonies filming locations and take a spin on a carousel.  You know, serious stuff.

I feel like I sound like an artist statement myself if I talk about the in-between moments being the most salient ones, but after hashing out nearly ten statements in half as many days, I guess that’s understandable. And nevertheless, that is the truth. The times spent informally discussing art and life and fears and successes were some of the most productive and gratifying moments of the week.

Although I was one of the “leaders”, I came away from this experience feeling inspired and recharged in a way I did not expect. So to the Astoria Six – I am grateful for your light and your humor, your talent and your energy. Thank you for giving as much as you got and for being unforgettable.

The Astoria Six:

Sexy Camera (Tatiana Wills), Cookie (Kurt Simonson), Bugle Bill (Bill Vaccaro), 5am Randi (Randi Lynn Beach), Dawnology (Dawn Roe), Fancy Bram (David Bram) and Vaguery (Sean Dana)

Are you a photographer interested in getting a project ready to launch? Check outFlash Powder Projects here.

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