View Full Version : Fotofest in Houston.

Robert Langham
1-Mar-2016, 21:01
Doing prep for fotofest in two weeks. I'm in the first Meeting Place session. Three more to follow. We get four reviewers per day, 20 mins each, plus a table at an artists evening to lay out our stuff. Presently working up 30 notebooks with three portfolios in each. The three are The Blackfork Bestiary, Magic & Logic and Shiprock. Each reviewer gets a notebook plus some extras for whoever else I pick up. Plenty of business cards as well.

Darin Boville
2-Mar-2016, 01:22
Has anyone found these events to be valuable in term of sales or career development? They *seem* like they would be but I never actually hear of anyone citing concrete results from the effort. Anyone?


Kirk Gittings
2-Mar-2016, 06:45
I have never been to one, but a friend of mine has really gotten a boost from them-inclusion in nuwerous shos across the country because of them.

2-Mar-2016, 06:45
I was in Houston for the 2000 FotoFest, it was an invaluable experience in terms of career development.
You have to pack your work in a way to allow for them to touch it, edit it, mix it anyway they want/can.
It is important to read about the reviewers, learn what they are looking for, respect that above all, and if possible ask them specific questions so you get the info you are looking for. Some are there to offer oportunities, some are there to offer advice, but most are there to question you and your work and to learn about you.

Robert Langham
9-Mar-2016, 16:40
Finishing touches on 31 1/2 inch notebooks done showing three portfolios. Print portfolio ready, though I am taking my spotting pens. Printed out my list of curators, got everyone I wanted starting with a private collector, Rixon Reed from Photoeye, Elizabeth Avedon and then Jessica Johnson from George Eastman House. Nice opening day.

The show at Old Jail Art Center opened last weekend and the gallery handout they printed is in the notebook. Tomorrow is pack up and Friday travel day.

Robert Langham
9-Mar-2016, 17:42
One image, in my still life series, is controversial enough because of the subject matter- (Whitetail deer embryos), that I texted it around to extra brains around the country to see what the consensus was. I'm interested in showing an image that's a little unsettling. I think. A little buzz is good but I don't want people screaming for the doors. The jury is split, so I'm not getting much help. I show my work in waves- first six mats and talk about the concept, then the six best under the earlier photos in the mats. Just when they think they have seen it...I start pulling prints off and show the best of the group. Sounds hokey but I have made people stand up across a table with the second group.

Still deciding. Always a lot of moving parts.

Robert Langham
16-Mar-2016, 06:33
Just back home up in the Blackfork decompressing after a very intense four days. First two guys I met when I walked into the hotel lobby were Jeff Graves and Ron Johnson from the Denver area and this forum. We added Yukari Chikura and Chris Schmeltz and that was our road family for the duration, hanging together, eating together and checking in after splitting up for different events.

The hotel was nice but pricey in every respect over the room rate. 30 bucks to park, no wifi without a supercharge, lousy service in the lounge at night and 20 buck breakfast. Jeff finally discovered the quesadillas for 11 bucks on the bar menu and we lived on those. Yukari got sworn in as a native Texan as soon we taught her to say "Quesadillas, Ya'll."

Robert Langham
16-Mar-2016, 08:37
The set-up was: an area with tables to wait and sort outside a conference room. They had Dave Wilson running the doors and the clock. Dave would announce the time, "9:00 session starting". Give a five minute warning. Two 20 minute sessions and then a 10 minute break. Broke also for lunch. Things happened and people left and there were extra sessions you could claim as soon as the 20 minute session started, so you could get a few extras. Day ran until after 4:00. I cut my portfolio down and showed about 12 images of two series: The Blackfork Bestiary and then Magic & Logic. I pared it down so that I finished early nearly every time, without rushing, and never made a sudden move or frantic gesture. "Talking faster doesn't help." Only occasionally did I have to bump someone late off the table, and always did so with courtesy and a smile. Four reviews a day minimum though I had as many as eight. Several reviewers came to me and asked to see work once the buzz started. This was the first session of four, so they will get streamlined as they go on.


Clint and Joan looking over Magic & Logic in an extra session.

Robert Langham
16-Mar-2016, 08:42
Wolfgang Volmer tells me something I didn't know about my daughters hand. Exactly what I came for.

Steven Bridges sorts it all out. Cargill in the background.

Yukari Chikura in a session.

The incomparable Clinton Cargill lays it out on the "Murderer's Row" side of the review room. They were fair, but could be tough. Cargill used the phrase, "The perversion of a line," while talking about a Ron Johnson ladder shadow that he loved. I nearly fell off my chair going for pen and pencil.

Robert Langham
16-Mar-2016, 11:49
Vollmer was talking, (smart and experienced guy who was saying several interesting things), and all of a sudden out of the usual nowhere I got a very intense idea of cards dancing on the end of a bone. Just took a half second, like stepping through a thin shadow but very distracting. I love the masticating and savoring of a new idea and I had no time. Was in the present with Vollmer.

Now in the studio with bone and cards and light, sorting out the incarnation. Crazy. That switch flips as it wants. You can make it flip more, or dull it out and make it flip it less......but as much as I grope around I can't seem to actually find it.

Robert Langham
17-Mar-2016, 18:24
They provided busses to haul us around to various openings after the reviews were done.

People eating meals in Nigeria on video.

Polluted Mai Tai at Rice University, pallet walk celebrating Katrina in back.

Awareness-enhansing posters at the Katrina exhibit.

A Joel Satore shot I helped assist at some cavernous warehouse animal show. Actually taped up the background and set up the Dynalites.

Randy Moe
17-Mar-2016, 18:43
Very interesting. Sounds fantastic.

Thanks for posting.

Robert Langham
19-Mar-2016, 06:52
20 minutes to explain your life isn't long. I had to get inside the time and slow things down. (Talking faster doesn't help) After day one I cut my portfolios by 1/3 and flipped the order on my two portfolios. I got to where I could stroll up, ask them if they needed a moment, run through my presentation and beat the time limit. A couple of sessions we shook hands early and both walked out for a break...though of course I didn't have a break, I was prepping for the next session.

My secret weapon was my notebook. Everyone was getting a bigger picture of what they had just seen, plus I had gallery sheet from Albany show. Nobody else was giving out notebooks. I gave it to reviewers I met without a session. Had two left at the end and those just went out in the mail to folks who heard about Fotofest.

I tend to think a little "contra," so my other technique was to take others along on my session. There are two chairs on both sides of the tables. Day one, Len Kowitz, a Houston Center for Photo founding member and well known local face went along to listen to me work. Day two I took a couple different folks....and went along with a few others. At one point, I was with the photographer who was at the table in front of me, talked to the reviewer during the break, and then had my 20 minute session immediately following. Another time I was at a table through two 20 minute sessions back-to-back though I didn't have an appointment at all. I actually introduced the second photographer. I'm at the table to help, not compete, so I just went with folks I respected and admired. This takes a certain sang froid, but a couple of times the folks running the room commented that I seemed to be the most relaxed person there. One morning I had been on three sessions before I had a scheduled appointment.

You can also pick up extra sessions as people start not showing up. They announce these and try to spread them around. You can also see people after the day is over. Several reviewers including Chris Rauschenberg, Joan Morgenstern asked to see me after hours once the buzz started getting around. The Museum of Fine Arts new director came by, with assistant and a member of his collections committee during the open portfolio night.

In the mean time, I was meeting photographers outside the sessions, passing out cards, et.

Randy Moe
19-Mar-2016, 07:18
Solid advice and description of how to network and make friends.

billie williams
19-Mar-2016, 09:00
Wow. Thanks so much for all of this insight. I remember when you did your artist n residence, you were also quite generous in sharing the details. It says a lot about you, Robert. Thank you.

Robert Langham
20-Mar-2016, 07:06
One evening the bus trip included the Menil, where my favorite piece of art in the whole world lives. First I made a beeline for the Rothko Chapel, but it was closed, then I headed inside for my favorite...gallery locked. Then I walked into the Henri Cartier Bresson show. There are few things as delightful as an HCB image that you have never seen before. Only 40 prints or so, but really a great room of art. We had a lecture afterwards by whoever the emeritus HCB scholar is. Got to hear a lot of inside baseball stories about HCB.

Billie: Glad you find this helpful. There aren't as many large format folks in the world as there used to be...but we can all find each other in one place. Everyone in here has self-selected to come together, so I always remember that we are more alike than we are different and behave accordingly. First guys I ran into were Graves and Johnson from here on LF, and we hit it off from moment one.

Robert Langham
22-Mar-2016, 07:33
Two of my former students drove over from St Edwards in Austin to see a few shows and drop by to see the Meeting Place. With a little help from Fred Baldwin I got them both in the review room on the reviewers side for six presentations. Three with one reviewer, then flipped and had three with another. They staggered out with their minds slightly blown. They hadn't ever seen anything like this.

Robert Langham
24-Mar-2016, 13:05
Image that came up during Vollmer review. Cards dancing on end of bone.


Darin Boville
24-Mar-2016, 15:37
Who is this guy?




Darin Boville
25-Mar-2016, 14:22
Just wanted to point out that the guy in the photo (above post) is Robert Langham himself, if you didn't catch that, as photographed by reviewer Elizabeth Avedon. She wrote several vignettes (see link, above) of her reviewees and photographed them and samples of their work. An interesting resource for those interested in these events.


Who is this guy?




Robert Langham
25-Mar-2016, 19:43
Actually that's an old guy who does my stunt-double work. The real Robert Langham has a little more international-man-of-mystery vibe.

AC Gentry with Wisteria.