Review Santa Fe was held almost a week and half ago now and I am finally getting around to commenting. I want to follow up this post with a list and a few images of photographers whose work I liked, but first I wanted to comment on the interaction that goes on at the table.
There is no other art medium that has this type or forum known as the portfolio reviews. It is an anomaly that only occurs in the photo world. At these venues, I am happy to offer as much advice as I possibly can to every one of the photographers who sits across from me. Sometimes I fail, but I feel an obligation to help. People on both sides of the table take risks and spend money to get to this place, but the reviewees spend more and also expose themselves and their artwork to the best accolades or much worse insults. I know of a few reviewees who have had horrible experiences sitting across the table from reviewers. I walked past one reviewee who was saying at the end of a review "you do not have to be so mean." Often it is like a person who waits tables waiting on the person who has not. Not saying that everyone has to have had waited tables or been on the other side of the table to have empathy, but it helps. There seems to be no venue for photographers who do not want to be blackballed to express their true feelings about certain experiences aside from anonymous evaluation forms. I tried to get a photographer to respond to some questions about a review I once worked, but she feared that she would never be shown again or could not be totally honest. I do not know what to say about this situation but to appeal to the reviewers to be gracious and tell photographers to do their research well and take the insults lightly.
Another friend who dated a critic would watch him write at the typewriter, as this was years ago, with a furrowed brow. In person, he is a very nice human being, but behind the keyboard he was vicious. On one occasion, this woman appealed to his kinder nature when she read a review he was writing on an artist's first public exhibition. She said "You know you could ruin what could be a wonderful artist" or something along those lines. He took another route of criticism and his usual butchery. This "reviewee" is now a much revered sculptor. I am not Aesop, but there is a moral.