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Portfolio Review

August 07, 2016

 I recently entered a photography contest, and although I didn't win, I was fortunate enough to have had a portfolio review of the images I entered.  It was nice to hear my work discussed by someone for whom it was new and who understood what I was trying to achieve. The contest was through Lensculture and the reviews were not by the contest judge but supposedly by a Magnum photographer although the reviewer's name wasn't provided. I will never know who it was but I appreciated the fact that he or she got it when it comes to my street photography. The review follows.


Greetings Karen, and thank you for submitting your work to LensCulture’s Magnum Awards!

This is a lovely group of street images you have here. I really appreciate the poetic and thoughtful text.

I think that this dark and grainy aesthetic you’ve developed really goes a long way towards evoking the emotional response you speak to in your submission statement. To me you’ve created undercurrents of deep dramas that exists within even the most mundane aspects of life.

In Blow, I think it’s particularly effective in reversing the celebratory mood of the two central figures, and placing your audience in a space to consider a moment like this from an inverse perspective. There is also a bizarreness to the two floating faces in the background, and it’s hard to come to terms with the logic of this image, which I think makes for a vastly more interesting picture because it leaves open so much space for interpretation and speculation on the part of your viewer.

Much of the same thoughts are seen in Three Faces of Steve. The inclusion of the two faces, again with little grounding of reason or logic, to me allude to a kind of fracturing. In this case, as you directly point towards a protagonist, I read this as an image of personality, or personalities. There is a lot of tension in this image created by competing visual elements, and I can’t help but read the image as a psychological portrayal of this character, as more of an internalized portrait rather than externalized.

For me, Takeout is the least successful image of this group. The bright “Sandwich-Man” text forces a sense of specificity into the image, and moves it away from the ambiguity that I think is central to the other images here. This scene to me is too grounded in reality to allow for speculation, and it makes me aware of this space as an actual existing place, rather than a metaphorical one.

The foreground element in Closed for Business has a certain type of violence to it in its abrupt gestures. As it overlays the rest of the image it defines the scene in its terms. The distant figure in the window is indecipherable, and I think that adds to the sense of uneasiness and uncertainty that you’re depicting throughout this group.

At any rate, keep up the good work! It was a pleasure to spend time with your work and I hope to get the chance to see more form you here in the future!

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