I'm writing this as I fly back home from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, after a long cold weekend. February is definitely not the month I would advise anyone to visit this part of the world, unless you had no choice. This is coming from someone who has spent very little time in weather that is below 0 (Fahrenheit), though, so understand I have a slight bias towards a slightly warmer climate. My reason for being there was work related, though, and although I did, in a way, have a choice, I would have missed all that I went there for. This trip has been the almost like the kick-off of my year, and hopefully will be indicative of what is to come.
A few months back I found out that I had a piece accepted for exhibition during the Exposure Photography Festival. The festival, in its fifteenth year, included forty-three shows, along with talks and a portfolio review, all of which takes place in February. Most of the shows are in the Calgary area, but as this is "Alberta's Photography Festival", there were also things to see in Banff, Canmore, Longview, and Medicine Hat. If you don't mind the bitter cold, or at least know how to bundle up for such weather, I highly advise it as a festival worth checking out.
Outside of the piece that I had in the Open Call show at the festival headquarters, the portfolio review was my main reason for attending. As I have been working on my long term project, it was impressed upon me the importance of portfolio reviews, beyond the obvious aspect of getting further input into a work in progress. The review process can also be a way to get a project in front of some important people in photography, including those with connections to galleries, publishing, and the creative world outside that of one's own backyard. Even though this project is refined and, for the most part, complete, there is always room for improvement and welcoming the input of others. Seeing that there was a review component to the festival schedule, I made it a point to get to Western Canada... in February.
The review at Exposure was small, but definitely worthwhile, especially for the emerging photographer. It was quickly obvious that most, if not all the other participants were local, but even so, it is an amazing thing that they provide at this festival. All the reviewers were very experienced and knowledgable professionals that could shed amazing insight on the work of all the participants. Each participant was given twenty minutes with six different reviewers, giving enough time to take a look, typically, at one portfolio, averaging a size of 20-25 images. Mine was a little larger, but I found that, outside of reviewers just wanting to see the whole portfolio for the sake of seeing it, they got the gist through seeing most of it.
Personally, the review went well. I made some contacts that I didn't have before and was highly encouraged to propose work to some of the galleries in Canada, specifically those in provinces that include the "prairie". I didn't realize it until I got to Calgary, but there are many similarities to the small towns of the southeastern United States and those of the prairies of Canada. I plan on doing some more research into this and look forward to possibly being able to touch on this common bond that the two countries have.
Although bitterly cold, Calgary was beautiful, along with the limited part of Alberta that I got to see. I've decided I definitely have to come back some time when it's warmer and less icy. I highly advise anyone who is looking to get some exposure outside of your local area to do so by applying to festivals like Exposure. If nothing else, it is another entry in your CV that shows you are working and that people are seeing your work. The people that run the festival are extremely knowledgeable and helpful, and like the rest of the people of Calgary, were nothing short of nice!
On a side note, about the same time I had applied to Exposure, I also sent work for consideration in the Arte Laguna Prize for 2018-19. Although this was a new competition to me, this is the thirteenth time the competition and exhibition has been held in Venice, Italy. It was definitely one of those competitions where I was very unsure, just due to the fact that it is not only photography, but multiple disciplines up for prizes. As I've been told since I was young, over and over, you can't win if you don't try. Well, I'm not going to say that I won, because officially no one has, but it was a personal victory to find out that I am one of 120 finalists across 10 artistic disciplines. Although I won't know anything more until March, I already see this as something big. I am extremely honored and humbled just to be included in this group of artists. I'll be sure to let everyone know if anything more happens in regard to this.
Cheers until next time.