Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Rhubarb Photo Festival in Birmingham

Saturday I attended the internationally renowned Rhubarb Festival which this year took place at Aston Business School. Now if you’re a regular on my blog you know the Aston Business School have bought some of my work so its something of a lucky building for me, that’s taking superstition too far but you know what I mean.

In brief what it’s all about (move to next paragraph if you know):
the organisers of a festival get all the top buyers, movers and shakers of the photo industry in to one room, these reviewers are gallery owners, agents, magazine photo editors etc etc. from all over the World. We as photographers select who we want to see and book a time slot with them to show our portfolio of work, this selection process is achieved by looking at the reviewers profile which might state “I’m looking for documentary photographyusing film not digital” (therefore this reviewer would not be interested in my work). With further assistance of links to websites you can be extremely accurate in targeting who you want to sit down with and show them your portfolio to. Its important that you get this process correct because time is precious in this situation, and as you have to pay to enter the review you want to maximise your investment. Having done your research you have 20 minutes with each selected reviewer to show your portfolio and talk about it.

One of my reviewers Fred Baldwin Chairman of Fotofest, Houston, USA

The reviewers tell it like it is bad or good they are professionals in a hard business, suggesting anything from printing processes to taking the work forward with new approaches to the image making. In the main I had a very successful day and made some great contacts and in generally had a good response to my work.

I am extremely fortunate because living in Birmingham I didn’t have to c atch a plane or incur hotel costs; I spoke to several UK photographers whom had to start the day at 4am and others from the USA and Europe. Me, I rolled out of bed at 8am to arrive by 8:45 but that’s not to say I had a good nights sleep. No I was too nervous for that. Being a local was handy when it comes to sourcing free car parking although it wasn’t any advantage for finding somewhere for lunch because the facilities at the venue were reasonable, well done Aston Business School.

As well as the festival, Rhubarb provide mentoring to photographers, again I’m lucky living on their doorstep, because I have attended countless workshops that have prepared me for situations like the festival. Perhaps the biggest value of all was a two day workshop about assembling and packaging my portfolio, many of the reviewers complimented me on the presentation, it stands to reason if there’s nothing bad to distract then they are more focused on the images.

Rhonda Wilson MBE , Creative Director of Rhubarb popped over for a chat

In the evening we had a Portfolio Promenade were each artist sets out work for sale on a table 4ft square. So there you are lined up with loads of other photographers and invited guests file past looking at the work, it also gave us photographers a chance to network and discuss work, techniques and marketing experiences. Have a look at their sites: Richard Foot, John Maclean, Joe Ford, Michael Marten, Kelly Hill, Richard Fear, Kurt Tong and Jon Tonks.

This lady (sitting down) flew in from the USA that morning, her work was amazing really detailed close shots of wild animals, each time I tried to have a chat with her she was talking to someone and I never got around to finding out her name or get a business card.

Harry Palmer the driving force behind the The Worlds First Dedicated Eccentric Newspaper "The Eccentric City" cycled across Birmingham to have his photo taken by me.

About 9pm we finished and made our way across the courtyard for a few drinks I got home about 11:30pm I was so tired that I pulled up outside me house too exhausted to get out the car, and then I realised I still had to take my 3 dogs for a walk.

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