Portfolio Reviews at Mt.Rokko

A warm and humid Kobe greeted us at around midday when the Kansai Airport bus dropped us off at Sannomiya Station on the 28 August. ‘Us’, being the four photographers and myself, ‘Team Malaysia’ on our way to attend the 2nd Mt.Rokko International Photo Festival 2014. I was here in November last year (see here and here ) so there is a familiarity surrounding the event. Not so for the ‘four’ as the thought of attending Portfolio Review sessions over the next two days had put slight fear and anxiety into some of them, as for most, this is their first ever review, and an international panel for that.

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The four were Ailsa Bowyer, Syefry Moniz, Lim Paik Yin and Nadia Jasmine Mahfix. The first three photographers were selected from the alumni of EXPOSURE+, a photo-mentoring program run by myself and several photographers and colleagues in Kuala Lumpur. Nadia had been involved as a participating photographer in the TWO MOUNTAINS PHOTO PROJECT which was part of the Mt.Rokko program of talks, and attended to present her series and took part in the reviews also. They essential presented their portfolios of photographs taken from their experience with the EXPOSURE+ program and came to Mt.Rokko armed with prints in portfolio boxes, folders, dummy books, and not forgetting calling cards. These photographers were selected based on their previous works, and are at a stage in their photography careers where they would benefit from having their works reviewed in an international environment.

No iPads at this review.

Portfolio reviews are an essential and important part of a photographer’s journey to becoming a better and more focussed artist. There can be a limit to attending workshops which give direction and practical tips in self-development, but with reviews, the act of photography takes on a new step, which is the presentation and editing aspects, and are often neglected nowadays, due to the use of on-screen presentations, and lack of opportunities for critical feedback of works.

Reviews are also about communication. Without clear and concise communication through discussions with the reviewer and the photographer, a photographer’s works will only be limited in visibility and understanding. Experienced reviewers can guide and suggest new methodology and editing which may help create tighter narratives or explore new directions.

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Each photographer had the opportunity to meet about 5 to 7 reviewers over both days, and also in casual chats outside the official sessions. In addition to the review sessions, they also displayed their portfolios at an Open Viewing session, open to the public and fellow photographers and reviewers from the festival. This allows a more casual sharing of each other’s photography, and was a valuable opportunity to make new contacts and networking.

Individual feedback from the photographers will follow.

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Follow EXPOSURE+ Photo Mentoring program here

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