2018 Review Selection Committee Statements

Three members of the photographic and arts communities comprise the Review Santa Fe Selection Committee. Their responses to their experience selecting the work for the 2018 Review Santa Fe conference are below.

What a great experience to be on the other side of the table today. Being an ex reviewee Santa Fe participant, it was very exciting to see the truly difficult task to choose and pick work that is ready to receive attention and support.

To sum up what I was able to grasp from this year participants I would say that there is a lot of work being done in photography that needs more commitment and self-reflection. We tend to as photographers, and I include myself, live in a bubble were we feel that our proficiency in photographic technique is equal to a proficiency in the photographic language and that is far from being the norm. We need to ask different questions. We need to risk ourselves more. In full, we need to let ourselves be vulnerable.

History is there to be seen, studied and reflected upon. Many of the portfolios tend to be retaking ideas of work that has been done to very high standards in the past and we need to pay attention to what made that work work; the context, the technique, the idea, the sequence, the light and so forth, and then from there ask what can we contribute to such subjects. Where does our voice stand in respect to what has been done already? These are hard questions to make as it can make your project become obsolete, but in reality, if you are honest to the project, in return the public, judges and yourself will grow with your propositions. We have an opportunity to make art and live through it, so let us be responsible and do the best we can and to take it to its ultimate consequences. Congratulations to all the participants. You have taken the a first step towards a better photographic practice.

Alejandro Cartagena
Photographer • Review Santa Fe Alum

Having spent my career looking at photographs I am drawn to originality in a body of work. This can be a traditional subject—landscape, portraiture, documentary, or conceptual—but explored in a new way. Presenting a completely new and original idea is also important. Mastery of technique, originality of idea, and a good sense of how the images work together is very important.

In addition to making good work, photographers need to be able to articulate what the work is about. That inability often affected the scoring of the work. Also key to impacting the score, is the disconnect between what the statement is and the problem of not seeing it in the work.

Alfred Stieglitz wrote, ”in my opinion the most difficult problem in photography is to learn to see.” The photographers that rose to the top in this review have clearly learned to see and to share that vision with viewers.

Deborah Klochko
Executive Director & Chief Curator, Museum of Photographic Arts

The projects that stood out to me most were those that instigated my own curiosity. Characteristics of the projects that made me curious were: a strong visual story, an interesting artistic or aesthetic approach, an exploration of a topic over time, unique access to a subject, or a new/original take.

The written statements, though secondary to visuals, were also quite important. The strongest statements identified what was at the core of the project succinctly and also articulated why the work is relevant now and what the photographer uniquely brings to the project. The review is both an opportunity for exposure and also an opportunity for development. I was excited to see many projects with strong roots, still in the midst of exploration, open enough for feedback, but with a solid foundation for growth.

Jessie Wender
Photo Editor, formerly with The New Yorker & National Geographic