Sunday, October 29, 2006

Take Off to the Great White North

I was in Toronto again.

Sigh.

I HAD THE BEST WEEKEND EVER!!!

The ECNPA, the East Coast News Photographers Association, the Eastern Canadian photojournalists professional association did a workshop this weekend called Great White North Workshop. At school on Wednesday afternoons we have people in the business come in and do a lecture and show photos, and besides a consistent theme of "don't be a jerk" they all strongly recommended we attend Great White North.

I attended workshops on freelancing, photo-editing, and long-term projects, the best part, however, was not the actual workshops, but the opportunity for portfolio review.

Now, let me tell a little story about my portfolio. I didn't put a portfolio together for this event, because I didn't know what I wanted it to look like, and I wanted to do better than a collection of pretty pictures. I took my four image special project assignment, sixteen image contact sheet and showed that.

I showed my four images and contact sheet to Jacques Boissinot, of CP (that's Canadian PRESS, not Canadian PACIFIC), Rob Gurdebeke, the Windsor Star Assistant Picture Editor and ECNPA Mentor, Tom Braid, the Edmonton Sun Photo Editor, Will Yurman, the Rochester N.Y. Democrat and Chronicle Staff Photographer and Dave Chidley, of the London Free Press. Not one of those bastards offered me a job, the hand of their unwed sister or fell to their knees before me in awe of my obvious photographic ability, but they offered me the best photographic advice I have ever received. Some of the opinions of the images I showed were contradictory, but it was still good advice.

Those were the formally scheduled reviews, then there were the informal reviews. That night I stayed, again, at my good friend Monica's house. I couldn't get to sleep so, I went through the pictures on my computer and created an electronic portfolio based on the pictures I have taken since August. I got two hours sleep before heading back, on Saturday, morning to more presentations. On Saturday afternoon I showed my new, electronic portfolio to Randall Wolf, Director of Photography at The Journal News from White Plains New York and former Photo Editor at the Globe and Mail and also to Donald Weber, he received an Honorable Mention in the 2006 World Press Photo Awards, Daily Life Category, and the $20,000 Lange-Taylor Documentary Prize through the University of Duke. I'll wait here while you take all that in. Again, not one of those bastards offered me a job, the hand of their unwed sister or fell to their knees before me in awe of my obvious photographic ability, but they offered me the best photographic advice I have ever received. There is no other way I could have had access to those kinds of people. Actually, let me add something to that, there is no way I could have had access to those people for $130.

Based on all the incredible information I received I know how I would shoot my special project assignment, if I did it again. Based on the workshop with Don Weber, I know where I want to go as a photojournalist, what it looks like, and how to get there, though it won't be easy. And, I know what my portfolio should look like.


Oh, yeah, all those people in the picture are current or past Loyalist Photojournalism students.
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