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Review “My Skin” by Lensculture

Hi Judith-

I feel like you are threading a very nuanced needle in this project. And for me, it’s a fascinating space you are exploring.

For me, this project posits an issue of how humans relate to the animal world. And of course how we choose to cloth ourselves in the skins of animals. In the vast majority of the projects I have seen on this subject matter, the photographer takes a strong standpoint–almost always a hyper-critical attack on how humans exploit and torture animals. To be noted, that vantage point is somewhat in line with my own politics.

BUT… through your project statement, the very neutral lighting, the somewhat neutral expression on the model’s face, and the somewhat neutral relationship of the animals to the model, I feel you are positing a question rather than ramming a point down the viewer’s throat. And to be honest, I don’t know that the work is radical enough for how people want to understand this subject matter. In other words, I think they want to get angry or riled up about these topics rather than be faced with a more neutral approach that invites the audience to come to their own conclusions.

And because your work feels calm and neutral (which may or may not be representative of your personal beliefs), I feel this project stands out and distinguishes itself. And the right curator will understand this. But again, I think a lot of people will fall into the more usual adage of “if it bleeds, it leads.”

But to answer your question, yes; the subject matter is clear when I look at the photos without the text. I suppose I get a little confused by the dog image, but after reading the statement I get it– I didn’t know dogs were used for gloves. That’s intense.

Again Judith, it’s an interesting and powerful project. And I hope you can get this work in front of the right eyes.

Thanks for sharing this work and wishing you the best of luck.

Review “Freckles” by LensCulture.

Judith, this is a really cohesive body of work. Thank you for sharing this here within the LensCulture community. The portraits you have presented here in “Freckles” aren’t only similar (identical) in lighting, subject matter and visual effects, but you have also expressed a consistent tone through the expressions repeated throughout. This work calls to mind Joyce Tenneson’s body of work “Wise Women” (also “Wise Men”).

“Sera” is the image I keep returning to when going through the work. It is not only her freckles which create visual interest, but also the strong expression, accentuated by a slight downward tilt of her chin and, more than anything else, the symmetrical framing created by her hair. 

If your book has not yet been printed, I have made two very minor technical notes on the images above. Each would take less than a minute to adjust if you see fit. As you’ve requested, I’ll place more emphasis on promotions.

Brock Elbank has done an excellent job at marketing his project on freckles. I always keep a close eye on my colleagues who create in a similar visual style to my own. I make note of places they exhibit and publish, knowing that these same venues may be a good match for my own work. Of course, in the instance of Brock, the similarities may be too close (ex: a photo blog may be far less likely to post a second story with such similar subject matter unless the work is notably different). Still, I encourage you to google his name and make a list of where the work has been shared.

Marketing for anything (a business, a service, a book) can only be successful if you can first identify the intended audience. For instance, are you wanting to target booksellers or individual collectors? The more precise you can be in describing your audience, the less energy you have to spend in your efforts. Generally speaking, having a very specific lure for a very specific fish is far more effective than casting a large, general net. 

In this regard, you may want to consider creating an Instagram account in which you *only* share images from this book. Repeat your message of having a book for sale and place a purchase link in your profile. You can also create sponsored ads, though in my experience, the results received were half of what Instagram claimed to be able to pull in (they do provide tips on how to improve ad proficiency through the platform). Make use of hashtags to attract an audience: #freckles #book #art #artistsofinstagram #frecklesofinstagram, #bookcollector, etc. 

If your book is already in stores, making a personal presence through lectures and signings is another way to promote the book. You’ll likely find that personal connection is what most draws a person into making a purchase for artwork. Any time you can meet with potential buyers face-to-face, the more impact you’ll make. A director once told me that it is not my art that people buy, but rather my personality. This is powerful knowledge to make use of.

I’ll post a handful of resources below that may be helpful in informing or inspiring new ideas and outlets for exposure. You’ll notice one of the books I recommend has not yet been released, but Mary Virginia Swanson is one of the key voices in the industry in terms of guiding artists on how to sell their work. You may also want to follow her site and/or workshops. If you are prepared for an investment, I’ve also known creatives to successfully hire publicists. Although, in those cases, it wasn’t only about selling a book, but rather promoting a brand.

Congratulations on the completion of this project. Good luck as you begin your journey with sharing it with the rest of the world. Even if you feel like a broken record, keep going. Marketing research has shown that it typically takes a person three times to see a persuasive message before taking action. Best of luck!

Feedback Life Framer

My overall impressionis that your work is very strong, well-formed and cohesive. It’s engaging, absorbing and challenging. You exhibit a clear technical ability alongside an adeptness for story-telling. It’s the type of work that has an immediate visual draw, but then offers elements that slowly reveal themselves and linger, and that’s a powerful combination. It the type of work that viewers return to with anticipation.

Let’s start in detail with your artist statement. While your images should speak for themselves, an artist’s statement isn’t something you should overlook, or hastily pen before sending your finished work out for review. We encourage all photographers to put the same care into crafting a statement as their photographic work.

I think your statement is fantastic is well-written and evocative. You introduce the topic well. My only consideration would be whether you could tighten it up a little bit (say the same in fewer words).

Moving on to subject matter and viewpoint, or in other words the overall thematic impression of your work, your work is strong in both regards. In the case of the hotel scenes, you reveal an interesting perspective on a fascinating subject. In the case of your personal memories, you offer us a well-worn subject matter—everyday life—but inject enough creativity and personality into it to make it interesting. It is clear that you have engaged with the subject deeply.

Techniqueis of course fundamental, and a cover-all term for a range of elements – composition, framing and focal point, use of lines, perspective, layers and negative space, exposure, sharpness, depth of field and so on and so on. Like all good art, there are no hard and fast rules for what’s right or wrong, but that doesn’t negate the need for a general level of proficiency, and generally the best photographers know which rules they’re breaking.

You exhibit a technique which is a joy to review.

Your style of composition is complex and artful. I’m particularly drawn to image 8, for example where the elements combine effortlessly. There are a few places where your lighting and/or composition seems a bit off or awkward (i.e. the hotspots to the left and right in image 1, the main subject in the centre on 5, and the subject being well to the side of the frame in 6), but the level of thought that you gave to each scene really shines through regardless.

As far as post-processing is concerned, your use of it is elegant and strengthens each image, rather than overpowering them.

Well done!

And finally on to image sequencing and editing, which is something often overlooked but fundamental to the ways in which your work will be interpreted by the viewer. By carefully considering the order in which your images are viewed you guide the viewer on a journey—perhaps a chronological one, or one that ebbs and flows, or one that’s jarring. It’s a subtle, but powerful tool for influencing how a viewer interacts with your work.

I think this series would be stronger if there was a clear narrative flow from image. Of course, that’s not strictly necessary since each image in itself is a story, but I think tying them together in some way that the viewer could intuit would greatly add to the impact of the series. I was also wondering if the two themes (personal life stories and hotel room imaginations) should be separate series.

You may also want to think about initial and final impact. Or in other words, starting and ending with your best images in order to make your viewer want to see more from the start, and leave them with a strong impression at the end.

Thanks so much for sharing your work. I hope this review provides you with some ideas to consider and supports you along a journey of self-criticism and growth. You have an excellent imagination and have created some fascinating scenes here. I look forward to seeing more.

Review “Freckles” by LensCulture.

You have some very strong work in your submission. I very much enjoyed your imagery. Your pictures remind me that effective portraiture is often a true collaboration between the subject and the photographer, as the subject sometime brings as much to the image – making process as the artist. There is a wonderful overall tonality and contrast across your pictures which lends a heightened sense of theatricality to the portraits. Of course, the utterly consistent compositional construction foregrounds an essence of continuity as well. As all of the subjects appear in the same place within the picture plane and are also in relatively the same scale, minute differences between persons, including the quantity and degree of freckles ,of course, are heightened in an interesting manner. In other words, the more similarly the pictures are constructed – the more glaring and noticeable the differences among the subjects become. Photographically these pictures are highly commendable. However, I find myself wanting to read a bit more about the making of the pictures in terms of your project statement. You write of your childhood fascination with freckles, how you first began to approach the subject photographically, and then you include a small paragraph on your interest in freckles and relation to autism if I understand you correctly. I need to know more about what you hope viewers glean and experience from your work. You might consider developing more thoroughly your personal connection to the subject in terms of psychology perhaps. You might also write a bit more on physiological differences among persons, and historic photographic approaches to creating an index of such differences. In summary, I suggest you write less on how you how you began making these pictures in terms of process and concentrate more on your conceptual approach. In regard to sharing your work with others and/or publishing your work, do you participate in portfolio reviews and juried exhibitions? Often, these are some of the more effective ways of placing your work before industry gatekeepers.

Thank you for submitting your work to LensCulture.

Review “Moments in Time” by LensCulture.

Hi Judith – thank you for showing these images and, of course, thank you for creating them.

Oh, my, how I enjoy this work.

Right off, I want to note two masters whose works yours reminds me of – Gregory Crewdson and Gregory Beams, one established and one new. Of course, Cindy Sherman is another master who makes remarks with her own body as model and her images have the biographical input as well as actual presence as Photographer.

This complete reference to cinematic scenes and hyper realism are grounded in your autobiography, so this work you have submitted is a joy to behold.

The use of chiaroscuro is significant in your images, and the presence of you as Photographer (your hand at work) is so strong.

The precise control over the image is a hallmark, but the technical and aesthetic considerations merge well. One image has a weakness because it varies form somewhat. No. 4 (scene 4) does not draw our eye all the way across the image from edge to edge as do all the other images. The image still is balanced and considers a whole room as the structure of the emotional story. Would it have become complete with a baby carrier in the far-right foreground (even if in shadow)?

I enjoy thinking about your scene construction as it merges with your tale, and the total image each time is so intelligent. The marvelous aspect I am keen about is that the use of photography is representational, but the reality is fabricated and this remarks about the nature of memory, especially ones with strong emotions or feelings.

Image No. 3 (scene 3) is perhaps my favorite because the baby model does what all babies do – they present a genderless identity and they are merely specimens of humans, and so we can (in your image) connect with the communication between species.

I hope you continue this series. As you do so, think about ways in which high-value light can provide an opportunity for flatness and rearrangement of spatial relationships if shadows become less important to mood. Doing so may strengthen a graphic element and elevate the work above the mimetic nature of the medium.

Keep up the good work!