The Reviews at PhotoNola
by David Bram
How it all started:
About six months ago, shortly after Fraction was launched, I was asked to be a reviewer at PhotoNOLA. Having never been on either side of the review table, I said yes, but with a bit of nervousness. My good friend Sam Portera, who is a member of the New Orleans Photo Alliance (NOPA), assured me that it is a top-notch organization and that I should participate. Well, I did attend as a reviewer, and I am glad I did. Everything about my experience with the PhotoNOLA review and NOPA has been positive. This organization is very well-organized and the members are extremely kind and friendly. It is clear they have a true love of photography as well as serious dedication to their organization.
The PhotoNOLA Review as a whole went perfectly. The reviews took place over the weekend, filling a Saturday and Sunday and included a benefit art auction at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Over the course of the two days I saw the work of twenty-four photographers. In spite of the large number of participants, it was extremely well organized, allowing just the right amount of time for each meeting. Each review lasted twenty minutes. Although this seemed short at first, the limited time really focused the review on what is important: the artwork. At about the fifteen minute mark, someone with “amazing” skills rang a cowbell to alert the reviewers, and the reviewed, that they had five minutes left. Once the review was over, everyone had a much-welcomed ten minute break to stretch, get some water, get things back in order, et cetera. NOPA continually ensured that reviewers had all necessary materials and information they might need. For example, all of the reviewers were provided with a folder that contained the list of their artists, including a small thumbnail of the work they were going to be showing. In every respect the review ran like a well-oiled machine.
I really enjoyed talking with all the photographers and seeing such a terrific range of work. The work I reviewed ran the gamut from good to superb. Based on the best work I saw during the review, I chose five photographers whose work is featured in this issue of Fraction, and we are thrilled to show these artists here.
I was honored and grateful to be included review at PhotoNOLA, where the other reviewers, such as Stella Kramer, Jörg Colberg, Mary Virginia Swanson, and of course, Melanie McWhorter, are people that I would have loved to sit in front of as a photographer myself. The variety of reviewers provides valuable expertise and insight for all participants.
For me, PhotoNOLA has set the bar for how a review should run, and every other review that I do, whether as an artist or a reviewer, will be judged against this experience. I think PhotoNOLA is destined to become the review to attend for several reasons, including the relatively low cost of attending, the high quality of reviewers, the city of New Orleans, and the professionalism of the New Orleans Photo Alliance. If they continue to run this event and organization as well as they do, they will be big. Very big. Congratulations to them.