My daughter's portfolio

Discussion in 'Education' started by peter wagner, Dec 15, 2009.

  1. My 17 year old daughter is applying to several colleges as a Fine Arts major. She wants a traditional college as she will dual major by adding Journalism or French. Her current portfolio is can be seen at:
    http://www.kelleywagner.com
    Positive and negative comments are welcome as she still has a little time to add or subtract from her submission portfolio.
    - Peter
     
  2. First suggestion is to get the equipment list off the website. It's irrelevant, as is the comment on that page about her "beloved" Hasselblad. Admissions committees are looking for people who have the potential to grow as artists, not amateurs who are in love with gear.
    The presentation is in the wrong order. You should be starting with the portfolio, and each piece in the portfolio should have a title, underneath which should be the year of creation, size, and materials used. She sort of did that on the thumbnail page, but the captions are inconsistent, some with sizes, some without but with gibberish instead, etc. Fix that asap.
    The "About Me" should be at the end, and should contain some kind of Artist's Statement explaining her approach to photography, what influences her, and why she wants to be an artist. It's an opportunity to put her portfolio into perspective for the viewer, and to demonstrate her understanding of the art beyond just a fancy camera.
    Remember who you're showing this to. People on admissions committees are usually faculty, and at your average undergrad arts school, not all of them will be photographers. They may be painters, sculptors, mixed media artists, the whole gamut. Some admissions committees might not have a single photographer on them. So lose the camera lingo, and start talking about art .
     
  3. Hi Peter.
    First, is her "bio" pic part of the presentation package? Because it says "I am emo, see me sulk".
    OK, moving past that: I know, looking at it from the point of view of a possible dual major (journalism and fine art photography) she may have wanted to "tell a story" in this portfolio. But in doing so, she's confined herself to one subject and one style of photography. The limited subject matter left me feeling like she only is good at one thing, or worse, that she's only "trying to be good at" one thing. It also makes a statement along the lines of "How serious can I be? I only spent a single day shooting my portfolio".
    OK, in order, from 1 to 11 (eleven? Shouldn't there be more like 20?)
    1. I found this one to be weak. A division of space into three relatively uninteresting regions. There's no message.
    2. Better. But it teases us that the "real story" is inside that window, and we never get to see it.
    3. I love it. The strong shadows, the stray diagonal (shadow of a wire) the whole Escher meets Mondrian thing, it just clicks. And it clicks in a square format, which isn't easy.
    4. All I see in that one is a transition, from 1-3 "walking along a wall or fence" into 5-11, inside someplace. Again, even as a story telling aid, it's weak.
    5. Yow! The colors! The colors! If it's meant to shock the eye, it worked. As a fine art piece, is it supposed to be making some statement about the trash can? There's not enough rubbish to really establish a "state of decay". If not, to make this an architectural shot, dragging that can out of the picture would have taken 30 seconds.
    6. Stronger. I like the colors. The quarter round shadow at the bottom is distracting, but not a fatal weakness.
    7. Kind of fun. The "busy" sky with all the wires seems to be right for the location. The half shadow is a bit annoying: I think it detracts on the image's usefulness as either "fine art" or an architectural shot.
    8. Excellent. I love the composition, the two point perspective, the colors. If this is the same building as shot number 5, this one is ten times stronger.
    9. Another strong shot, pure night, and a subject that's lit just right to take advantage of it. Lots of interest around the building, the chair in its pool of light, the lit window with a little story of its own.
    10. This is just as rehash of number 8, except this version doesn't have as interesting a building, the wonderful foreground, or the charm of the twilight hour. Everything that we see in number 10, we've already seen in number 8. "I can imitate myself, badly" isn't part of a portfolio statement.
    11. It's a good, strong night shot. Not strong enough to be the last image in the presentation. Order is important.
    My suggestions:
    • Remove or replace images 1, 4, 5, and 10. (How many images does she need for this? If there's a range, if they say 6-12, it's better to hit them hard 6 times than less hard 12 times).
    • Change the order. Open with one of the strongest images, so they're going "wow" from the beginning. Close with another really strong one, so that they remember you. I'd open with 3: it's pure, abstract "fine art". No story, just composition, just a picture that keeps you interested. End with number 7, it's got art and story. In between, I'd alternate buildings and fence, night and day, etc.
    • Dual major, fine art photography and journalism? Now, I may be going out on a limb here, but maybe, just maybe, some pictures with people in them...
    Good luck to her. It's an interesting time to get into the arts.
     
  4. And, as Hugh said (he was typing his while I was typing mine) "talk about the art". She's welcome to use my "Escher meets Mondrian" sound bite for number 3.
    ;)
     
  5. Wow Joseph that was a very thorough and great critique. I wish I could get critiques like that. I agree with everything you said.
    I do feel like the portfolio needs more variety. Maybe I am missing something but all the pictures look like they are from the same day walking around. They are all city/urban pictures. I feel like the portfolio would greatly benefit from some other pictures from other genres, maybe some portraits and a couple of landscapes and a still life. Not necessarily those but just as an example.
     
  6. Just want to clarify a few points here. First, a portfolio being used for an art school application is not the same thing as a portfolio you're planning to show to a prospective employer. It is perfectly fine, recommended even, to tailor your portfolio to the situation at hand. So while a variety of pictures that demonstrate your versatility may be a good thing for, say, a portfolio you're planning to shop around newspaper editors, this might not be as good an idea if you're looking to convey your strengths as an art photographer. In this sense, you have more freedom in assembling a portfolio for an art school application because what you're trying to do is show who you really are, rather than what you can do.
    The important thing is to able to artistically justify what you include in your portfolio, and to structure it in such a way that you give the admissions committee a visual idea of where you stand in your development as an artist, without being redundant or repetitive. The typical admissions committee is looking for open minded candidates who show not just an innate talent, but also a certain humbleness and eagerness to learn. A newspaper photo editor wants to know that you can handle different types of assignments competently. Two completely different things, which justify entirely different approaches to building a portfolio.
    I am holding off any comments on the images themselves until the portfolio is complete, but I wouldn't worry too much about people pictures if that's not what she wants to do. Journalism is about news writing, not about people pictures, so if anything, the journalism admissions committee (if there is one) will be more interested in writing samples than pictures. In this case, people pictures are no more required in her portfolio than pictures of Paris should she decide to double major in French instead.
     
  7. i agree with almost everything stated above. i just have to say that it is not a smooth website, and she should work on her portfolio more, not exactly an impressive one. fine arts colleges are going to shoot it down, i see 1 maybe 2 good photos in there and colleges are going to want 10-20 GREAT ones. also ones that show P's
    1.Passion-- devotion to what she does
    2. patience -- showing strong technique
    3. Personality -- originality
    4. Performance -- teacher reviews, art classes, exemplary work
     
  8. Hugh, Joseph, Kyle, & JD,
    Thank you very much for taking the time to respond to my post! Your comments are very helpful and I'm helping my daughter make some needed adjustments right away. One of the kindest things that a person can do for a young artist is offer constructive criticism and for you guys to put that much thought and time into this is - well, it's just very very appreciated.
    My daughter was fortunate to be able to install these images as a display (all at 16 x 20) during her interviews at 2 top rated universities and one of those has already said 'yes'. The rest of the schools on her list require that the images be submitted electronically and she has a few weeks left to add, subtract and tweak. Luckily, her website is not part of the official submission process but many of your comments are spot on and she'll make those corrections ASAP.
    Thank you again - very kind of all of you!
    Best,
    Peter
     
  9. as a current art college applicant (next year) The only thing i can tell you is. REFINE REFINE REFINE! your portfollio is one of the most if not the MOST important thing in your app. i've been spending on avg. 2.5 hrs a day on mine... and remmber. especially in your sitch... KISS! keep it simple stupid. a compilation of your best is better then all of your *X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#*.
    remmeber that these people will be looking for ART not a "nice picture" this is something i had to get past... because something that would hang in a bathroom or as a post card is not art..
    [​IMG]
    From LandScapes

    and this
    [​IMG]
    From Intimacy In nature
    may be nice photo's but they're not what they're looking for!
    Link to my sample (not finished---and yes too big... also it doenst help that the aforementioned image is in there, but i wanted to show that i could create profitable work(postcard and such)
    [​IMG]
    Sample

    YOU NEED TO go hard, edgy, artistic, showing TECHNIQUE, basics and advanced, some exemplary photo elements from various series that focus on such elements, displaying an array of photos documenting your range and style in a well formated medium.
    Put your portfollio (NOT TO MANY, about 25) on disk and send it along, as well as take with you some great prints... go to a place with a professional printer...and use CMYK color.. Photoshop... Image --> mode--CMYK
    and print out your best landscapes and such.
    i am currently applying to Keene state and Franklin pierce for extra curricular photo courses. and that sample is what i sent in...
    you need to show what SORT of work you can do and how much you can do it... the personal stuff is really not important.
     
  10. go to a place with a professional printer...and use CMYK color.. Photoshop... Image --> mode--CMYK and print out your best landscapes and such.​
    Never, ever, ever do that.
    CMYK color is printer dependent, you have to have an intimate knowledge of the press (or CMYK RIP feeding an inkjet) in order to get it to come out decent. There's nothing a print shop hates more than someone without such knowledge who tries to do their own CMYK conversion.
    Work in the Adobe RGB or Prophoto color space on a decent quality, proprely profiled monitor, and give the printer the best RGB that you can. Let them do their job with the CMYK.
     
  11. YOU NEED TO go hard, edgy, artistic​
    No, you don't. What you need to do is to be true to yourself. If all you're doing is trying to impress someone, the committee will see right through it. They're not idiots, they've seen a lot of portfolios, and they don't like having their intelligence insulted.
    you need to show what SORT of work you can do and how much you can do it... the personal stuff is really not important.​
    Absolutely wrong. Please read what's already in this thread. You're a "current art college applicant" who hasn't even gotten in anywhere yet. "Portfollio"? "Sitch"? "Remmeber"? "All of your *X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#*"? I hope you had a really good proofreader for your college applications, and I hope you actually put some manners on when you interview.
     
  12. Thanks Hugh, I was going to respond back to JD on his ill-mannered, misspelled, and misinformed post but as I am a newcomer to Photo.net I thought I'd hold my tongue. I'm glad I did because I now know that JD is very young and inexperienced and obviously prone to putting his foot in his mouth.
    I've been an amateur photographer for about 35 years and I'm used to criticism of all types but I have to say the "all your *X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#*" comment was completely uncalled for and especially so coming from someone at that skill level.
    To be fair, I'm sure I said some dumb things when I was 16 too, but I was fortunate in that those comments weren't published for a whole community to see for the rest of time. Doh! Nevertheless, I think this is a really good thread that is useful to many people and I value most of the comments here. Thanks to all for the kind help.
    Best,
    Peter
     
  13. Good luck to your daughter Peter. I am sure she will do fine. The most important thing for me in art is passion. You have to really love it and want to create art every waking moment of every day. People who are creative will succeed no mater what type of art they decide to get into. Also tell her not to be afraid to explore many other types of art as well as they all support each other. I have taken many life drawing classes as well as basic drawing classes, painting classes, and sculpting and they all use similar principles but make you look at the world differently.
     
  14. Hi Kyle,
    You're right, all of the art forms help each other and she is specifically looking at schools that emphasize photo, drawing, painting and sculpture. She's looking forward to learning and improving her art in all ways and she's dedicated to improvement.
    I'm not an artist but I would classify myself as an above average technician and it's rewarding to be able to answer the call when my daughter says, "Dad, I want the end result to look like this - how do I get there?". We talk about photos and art every day. We're currently trying to deconstruct some of Eggleston's images in an effort to better understand one of her favorite photographers. Fun stuff!
     
  15. I'm trying to help both you and your beautiful daughter. (I have a beautiful 2 yr. old grand daughter (she calls me PaPa and another in March 2010!)
    Does she have a passion for photography?
    Then why go to school? (Answers will vary given the age, time & goals.)
    Could she find someone who could be her mentor and coach and help her along the way? I was fortunate to have Monte Zucker on my side. He provided me with the path to follow for success. What she needs are skills that will land her a good job. What's a "good" job?
    Journalism and French have different objectives than photography.
    I will be 62 yrs. old in June and I still feel I'm just beginning to learn this art, called photography; it is a wonderful way for me to express my view of the world around me.
    People seem to like what I do. I hope to continue with my clients for at least another 20 years.
    Hope your daughter catches the creative fire. And carries that passion every moment of every day.
    Best to her success.
    Congrats to you Dad!
     
  16. I can't figure out why it says '16 x 20” C-print' under each image when none of them are 4:5 proportions. Just curious.
    As to Mr. Cohen's comments: I'm sixty eight, and I'm not nearly as sure of the absolute value of my opinions and insights as I was when I was sixteen. Life'll do that to ya.
     
  17. I've been to three art schools....your daughter has some very good work, but, what she needs to do is refine the portfolio a bit and talk about the different sub-group series within the common theme. I'm not going to comment on what I think is good, or best, as that is immaterial. As the artist she needs to make the choices, and my opinion doesn't count - only hers and the people evaluating the work count. For example, I personally like "Cadillac Wrecking," and find it one of her strongest pieces, while several other people don't - who's right? Doesn't matter - she has to choose, that's part of being an artist is having confidence in YOUR choices.
    Art schools like to understand how an applicant sees by finding out WHY the person is motivated to take the photograph. She appears to be working in different sub-series, for example, the corrugated metal group; the small, retail stores, etc. She has alluded to a series theme in her statement where she says, "This series was meant to convey a sense of isolation using familiar settings in Southern California." This is a fine start, but within this broad context, she's working with related sub-themes - why and what is she trying to show within each group; and how does that relate to the overall, broader theme? Providing a paragraph or two explaining each group with the overall series would show how she relates them to the greater theme.
    She needs to provide more background on what motivates her to photograph the subjects and what aesthetically she's trying to accomplish and/or show. This will help the review committee evaluate her thinking ability and whether they can work with her and assist her in developing further. Knowing her thinking process is as important as presenting the visual work.
    I don't think the method of reproduction is really germain to each photo individally. If this is important to her; then she should have a separate statement about the equipment she uses, why she has chosen that equipment ("it's my favorite" doesn't count) related to the image aesthetics; and why she has chosen a certain reproduction method and how that relates to and enhances the aesthetics. She'll find out that in most art schools being able to verbally articulate her aesthetics and thoughts is as important as the ability to produce the visual work (reference Tom Wolfe's "The Painted Word" - which, while a parody, is not far from the truth).
     
  18. I would also make another comment. What you put in the portfolio should be tailored to the type of school you want to attend. For example, her portfolio would not be a good fit for the Missouri School of Journalism photojournalism curriculum. But it would good fit for a Bachelor of Arts program in the art departments at a number of other colleges and Universities like the University of Nevada at Reno, University of New Mexico, University of Arizona, etc. If she wants to work into journalism, then she needs to find an art school that has a strong journalism program so she can double major or have a minor in the other field.
    If she want to go for an advanced degree it gets really tricky. Many MFA programs like people with degrees in other fields like history, writing, etc. as they value the thinking/analysis ability as much (or more) than the visual ability. I experienced this personally as I have been denied entrance to several MFA programs specifically because I have a degree in Professional Photography from Rochester Institute of Technology and a degree in graphic design from the University of Michigan School of Art and Design making me "too technically oriented" (my degrees relate to commercial art work) - and despite also being told by the interview committee "You have a very strong portfolio" - and then told "We prefer people with a broader background for our program." Had I known this type of bias in MFA programs, I would have concentrated on a double major with the second being in history or creative writing.
     
  19. Bill Clark,
    Thank you for your comments! You asked "Then why go to school?" and it's a good question that I'm sure every artist faces coming out of high school. In our case my daughter simply enjoys formal education. I also think that learning for the sake of learning is a good thing and it doesn't have to be income driven. I also think that her opportunities MIGHT be better with 3 college degrees on her resume. Certainly there are millions of success stories of people that chose a different path and so this isn't the be-all-and-end-all way to get there.
    Besides some of the most talented artists are buried deep in college art programs! Someone has to help keep them employed - might as well be me. :)
    Thanks again for your insight!
    Best,
    Peter
     
  20. Greg Peterson,
    You asked "I can't figure out why it says '16 x 20” C-print' under each image when none of them are 4:5 proportions. Just curious."
    The images are printed on 16X20 paper to sort of look like large Polaroid's.
     
  21. Many MFA programs like people with degrees in other fields like history, writing, etc. as they value the thinking/analysis ability as much (or more) than the visual ability.​
    This is simply not as big a deal as you make it out to be. Granted, if an admissions committee isn't able to decide between two possible candidates for that one remaining spot based on portfolio, statement of intent, and letters of recommendation, then it may boil down to background. But background isn't anywhere near as important as those first three things for MFA admissions.
    "too technically oriented" (my degrees relate to commercial art work)​
    And there, I suspect, is the problem, and they're seeing it in your portfolio. Photographers who have been through primarily professional- or commercial-based programs tend to produce the kind of simple, graphically oriented images that, while great at selling or adorning products or calendars, aren't really the kind of personal work that MFA admissions committees are looking for.
     
  22. Hi Peter,
    Here is a video on my friend & coach Monte Zucker:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoLlA1wMYuI
    His mentor & coach was Joe Zeltsman. Here is a link to Joe: (don't laugh too much at the costumes, hair style!)
    http://jzportraits.home.att.net/
    My wife & I had dinner and he mentioned he would go to Joe's studio so much that his wife said, "You're going to be nothing but a cheap clone of Joe." Monte said, "I may become a clone of Joe's but I won't be cheap!"
    Here is a gentleman who worked with Monte for several years:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGUJoMgZO84
    Hope this helps your daughter go on the path of classical photography. Some people like this. And they even pay for it!
    Your daughter can make money with this!

    Best!
     
  23. I also think that her opportunities MIGHT be better with 3 college degrees on her resume.​
    If she can find a way to successfully integrate or interrelate them, then yes. Otherwise, it may be interpreted as a lack of focus. It's also no secret that the most successful and happy people in the world have found a passion for one thing in particular, and have worked/studied hard to do that one thing better than anyone else.
    http://www.ted.com/talks/richard_st_john_s_8_secrets_of_success.html
     
  24. Steve Swinehart,
    Yikes, thank you for taking the time to post these valuable comments! I agree with your thoughts on artists being confidant with their work. You would know better than I would, but I would guess this is one of the toughest things about creating fine art. Conviction. Knowing that this is the right way and knowing that this is good work.
    "Cadillac Wrecking" looks pretty cool when printed large. That image has scored points in the one-on-one portfolio reviews that she has done since I started this thread.
    Your second major point, explaining the thinking behind the image, is also dead on right. My daughter does a good job of explaining this in the portfolio review and we have to update the website to reflect that. A huge part of the review is spent on the students thought process. In one review they asked her to install the images as she would for a show. It made all the difference as she was able to show how the images connected or at least how she saw them connect.
    I find your comments about your application to MFA programs especially interesting and again, very helpful. Ideally my daughter would like to dual major in Fine Art and either Journalism, French, or Art History. The first two offer a broader education and also might provide for a 'plan B' after graduation. She then would like to try for a MFA if her work is good enough by then.
    I wish you the best luck in finding a good MFA program and thanks again for your comments!
    Best,
    Peter
     
  25. @Bill Clark:
    That kind of photography is more about being a salesperson than a photographer. It's no less valid than any other kind of photography, sure, but it does require a certain type of personality combined with a natural business acumen. A degree in business probably wouldn't hurt, either.
    The "path of classical photography," while interesting and at times even lucrative, isn't for everyone, and this is true for any sub-field within photography. I suspect that the only person who really knows if it's the right path, is the photographer herself.
     
  26. Bill,
    I remember reading about Monte Zucker many years ago in photo magazines. Thanks for the links - good stuff my friend! Minus 7 in Minneapolis right now? Did I read that right?
    Hugh,
    "It's also no secret that the most successful and happy people in the world have found a passion for one thing in particular, and have worked/studied hard to do that one thing better than anyone else."
    This is the direction my daughter is lobbying for as she wants the dual to be in Art History. We had a discussion last night about how the publishing world is changing. Newspapers shrinking, the emergence of eBooks, etc. I see things heading in what I call a micro-publishing direction. Things seem to be going in the blog direction where I publish my own material and attract a following and somehow make it valuable enough to make a living at it. If any of that is true then Journalism and creative writing may be useful skills.
    On the other hand, being really REALLY good at one thing might be the better road.
    I forgot to thank you for your link from Dec 18th which I found very useful.
    Best,
    Peter
     
  27. This is simply not as big a deal as you make it out to be. Granted, if an admissions committee isn't able to decide between two possible candidates for that one remaining spot based on portfolio, statement of intent, and letters of recommendation, then it may boil down to background. But background isn't anywhere near as important as those first three things for MFA admissions.​
    At the schools I applied to it evidently is as the majority (90%) of the people accepted into the MFA program do not have degrees in art. How does that work with your assumptions?
    And there, I suspect, is the problem, and they're seeing it in your portfolio. Photographers who have been through primarily professional- or commercial-based programs tend to produce the kind of simple, graphically oriented images that, while great at selling or adorning products or calendars, aren't really the kind of personal work that MFA admissions committees are looking for.​
    Since you have never seen the portfolio that I submitted you're way off in your assumption.
    As an example, part of the portfolio I submitted included a photographic installation where the photographs were hung matted but unframed on top of 36-inch wide white roll paper that ran across the entire wall in back of the photos. There were crayons hung under each photograph, and the viewers were invited to color the photographs. The exhibit progressed until the viewers had incorporated the photographs into an entire tableau, colored off the mats, and turned each photo into a different type of train car, and the entire series into a train. This was fully documented with photographs of how the installation changed daily.
    There were several other series as part of the portfolio that were also as far from your projection that the photos were commercially oriented. Since you were not at any of the interviews your comments are pure speculation and projection - I was there you weren't. I had direct interaction with the interview committee you didn't. Your comments are not even closely related to my experience.
     
  28. Bill,
    I remember reading about Monte Zucker many years ago in photo magazines. Thanks for the links - good stuff my friend! Minus 7 in Minneapolis right now? Did I read that right?
    Hugh,
    "It's also no secret that the most successful and happy people in the world have found a passion for one thing in particular, and have worked/studied hard to do that one thing better than anyone else."
    This is the direction my daughter is lobbying for as she wants the dual to be in Art History. We had a discussion last night about how the publishing world is changing. Newspapers shrinking, the emergence of eBooks, etc. I see things heading in what I call a micro-publishing direction. Things seem to be going in the blog direction where I publish my own material and attract a following and somehow make it valuable enough to make a living at it. If any of that is true then Journalism and creative writing may be useful skills.
    On the other hand, being really REALLY good at one thing might be the better road.
    I forgot to thank you for your link from Dec 18th which I found very useful.
    Best,
    Peter
     
  29. Heat wave Peter 5 above now!
    Be Well.
     
  30. Steve Swinehart But it would good fit for a Bachelor of Arts program in the art departments at a number of other colleges and Universities like the University of Nevada at Reno, University of New Mexico, University of Arizona, etc. If she wants to work into journalism, then she needs to find an art school that has a strong journalism program so she can double major or have a minor in the other field.​
    I don't want to hijack the thread but I am curious if you have any specific experience or know anything about the photography program at University of Nevada at Reno.
     
  31. the work is pretty cool. personally i found them to be heavy on foreground but i reckon she was going for that...
    my 2 cents.
    get her hooked up with a grant writing program. it will help her understand a LOT MORE of how that site should look and how to form a plan of attack for developing the "artist" end of the career.
    for the record the last grant i applied for asked what camera i use and why.
    j
    www.galler7.com
     
  32. The first thing I want to say is your daughter has a great eye and her technique seems to be keeping up with her vision. I'm an architect and spent six years in Southern California and the photos brougt a tear to my eye ( particularly Autentica and Hilltop Cleaners - my favorite) I also admire that she can see a building as a building like Hill Top and as patterns like Mondrian's Hanger. I find both quite effective. On the other hand, while I like Munch Munch, the slight distottion from tilting the camera up drives m a litle batty (the architect in me) - looks like sloppy technique. Several other photos have this problem to sime degree. Asuka Chair is wonderful - the tight cropping and twin vanishing point adds to the mystery. While one or two of the beginning shots don't do much for me and the last two seem redundant, I think they are a great group of photos. The one easiest thing to do to add variety while staying with the architectrue is to get closer. As a secondary benefit it will make her think about what specifically to include or exclude in a photo although she seem to be doing a pretty good job on that. I woud also try printin some of the images in black and white - I think several would be very successful.
     
  33. Hi Peter
    One thing that maybe hasnt been mentioned is that these images on the website are too large=very slow to load. Slow to load is a big turn off for web surfers. Also I noticed there are no watermarks or copyright and these are big files ( 200kb ) big enough for the unscrupulous to steal.
     
  34. I like images 1, 6, 8, 10, and 11 very much. 1 is abstract but pleasingly geometrical. The restaurant shots make a nice collection and have a cool retro feel. It's as though I'm driving down Route 66, except fifty years ago when it was all new and fresh. Great character!
    Image 2 is nicely composed as well, but it doesn't quite grab me. Image 4 would be very nice with the perspective distortion corrected. Perhaps reshoot from a higher vantage point so the building doesn't "lean."
    I like the colors in most of the shots and they're all very well-exposed except for 9 (a tad dark) and 2 (a bit overexposed).
    I'm curious as to why she calls them 16x20 prints when they're all just about square. Maybe she should print them at 20x20 (or 12x12) in order to maintain the original aspect ratio.
    This is an enjoyable portfolio and it leaves me wanting to see more. (Most people's portfolios make me want to see LESS.)
    Finally, if she wants to make millions tell her to sell her secret for great hair. I know women who would kill for locks like that! ;-)
     
  35. hi Peter, enjoyed the portfolio, especially the night shots, "time to buy" is awsome.
     
  36. First, is her "bio" pic part of the presentation package? Because it says "I am emo, see me sulk".​
    And this comment screams "I'm self-important and I enjoy making nice people feel bad." It's a shame that when asked to offer responsible criticism of someone's work, some people see it as an invitation to criticize the artist's appearance. This is doubly troublesome given that the artist is an impressionable minor.
    One thing that maybe hasnt been mentioned is that these images on the website are too large=very slow to load. Slow to load is a big turn off for web surfers. Also I noticed there are no watermarks or copyright and these are big files ( 200kb ) big enough for the unscrupulous to steal.​
    The site loaded very quickly on my computer. Maybe I'm doing something wrong.
    BTW, I checked the portfolios of some of the "experts" who've chimed in here, and I have to say that I enjoyed this young lady's pictures more. C'est la vie, mes amis!
     
  37. OK, Steve. So your portfolio was stellar, definitely putting you in line to be the next Todd Hido or Larry Sultan. Your statement of intent was a gut wrenching trip into the very depths of your artistic soul. And you had three absolutely stellar letters of recommendation from recognized names in the practice or teaching of contemporary art photography.
    And yet you were rejected because of your educational background.
    Do you honestly, truly believe that?
     
  38. Step one is the Mom to take herself out of the picture and let her daughter take charge of her admissions application portfolio.
     
  39. Hi! I'm not a big fan of 7 due to the shadows, they are distracting. I think your daughter should collapse those photos into a series. She should also do a series of portraits and some other series of photos as well. So on the website you can have the "landmark" series, the "blank blank" series, the "blank blank2" series, etc. so the college can see a more diverse portfolio. Also, on the "about me" page, please change the "Don't Know Yet!" to "Undetermined" or something, "don't know yet!" sounds valley girl-ish. Otherwise, I hope she makes it into her college, good luck!
     
  40. A mom named Peter?
     
  41. If there's one thing i've learned from my job in the arts, it's that the single most important thing of all is to stay true to your own vision. Tailoring things to what you think other people may or may not like, never, ever , works. You are weakening your own statement, and at the same time very likely to misjudge what you 'think' someone else is into, when in reality, you probably don't know.
    In art, or music, what everyone is looking for is a singular, strong vision - or, a person capable of that. That means, if you like photos with lots of foreground (for example), and know why they're there, then great, be true to that, and keep your foregrounds in, whatever anyone says. If you like photos to be personal, keep them personal. People respect focus and vision, and comittment to your own ideas, never forget that. If it matters to you, then do it. What your vision is, that's your business, but stay true to it and yourself - your own mind is the only thing we can ever know for sure - try and second guess someone elses and you'll always be surprised and mostly wrong.

    At the end of the day, the only thing you can really be confident about is your own judgement - your inner likes and dislikes. If you stay to that, trust me, you'll be fine. And hey, this is why we do it in the first place, to make something that we feel inside ourselves is worth creating.
    My ten cents, and best of luck to your daughter peter.
     
  42. I would also like to add, that in my opinion, having people around you that are supportive is the most valuable thing a young artist could have.
    Peter, i think it's fantastic you're here getting peoples thoughts and trying to help and support your daughter, trust me, this matters the world. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don't have someone who supports and believes in you, it can mean nothing if you don't have the confidence to continue.
    Once again, kind regards to you both and good luck!
     
  43. stp

    stp

    I'll offer an opinion, but I have to state up front that this genre of photography is foreign to me -- I do landscapes. So I have either an open mind or an uninformed mind (perhaps both). In reading the posts above, I find myself in particular agreement with the advice given by Hugh J.; I think his several arguments and suggestions make a great deal of sense, especially to someone like myself who has been involved in education for a long time (although not in advanced art education). That said, I'll offer a few personal opinions. I like the changes your daughter has obviously made to her bio page. In particular, I appreciated knowing her goal in taking these photos (the conveyance of a sense of isolation). I'll leave it to others to argue whether one should show a range of abilities or an ability to say "this is who I am," although I generally agree with the approach cited by Chris Rok above. The photos that I think are strongest are 1, 5, 8, 9, 10, and 11, although there is a lot of similarity among the last three (lit commercial buildings shot at night); she may want more diversity here. The photos that seem to be weak to me (again keeping in mind her stated intention) are 6 and 7. I don't like these aesthetically because of the shadows, and relative to the the others, they just don't adequately convey a sense of isolation. I wish your daughter the very best in this exciting time of her life.
     
  44. At the schools I applied to it evidently is as the majority (90%) of the people accepted into the MFA program do not have degrees in art. How does that work with your assumptions?​
    The only assumption I'm making is with your apparently unique situation, because it doesn't jive with the facts. Since you haven't been specific about a) what was in your portfolio, and b) what program(s) you applied to, I can only speculate as to what the cause of your rejection was. And the fact is, in the overwhelming majority of cases, rejections are based on an insufficient portfolio. Statement of intent and letters of recommendation play a supporting role, and all of this together is used to eliminate the first round of applicants, leaving the remainder who go on to interview, after which the applicant pool is finally whittled down to the accepted/wait list. But the portfolio is the centerpiece of the application, and this is true for MFA programs in any field, whether creative writing, sculpture, painting, ceramics, or what-have-you; not just in photography.
    But just for argument's sake, let's have a look at an example that everyone has access to. Yale is currently ranked by US News and World Report as the #1 MFA Photography program in the nation as of 2008. Their current roster is here:
    http://art.yale.edu/CurrentStudents
    I just took a quick look at the upcoming MFA Photography graduating class, and with the exception of one student (Tiffani Hooper) each of them has a B.A. or B.F.A. degree, as evidenced in either a Google search for their names, or in the bio sections of their websites. Ms. Hooper may also have an art undergraduate degree but I haven't been able to verify it, so I'll just assume for this example that she doesn't. So we can say with absolute certainty that, in Yale University School of Art's MFA Photography entering class of 2008, at least 89% of the people accepted had an art degree . I suspect you'll find that this trend to be true for most or all of the schools on US News and World Report's top ten list.
    Anyway, I don't know what so-called "schools" you applied to, Steve, but if it's indeed true that they are dumb enough to reject people only because they come from an art background (as opposed to the universally accepted criteria of portfolio, statement of intent, letters of recommendation and interview), may I respectfully suggest that you aim a little higher?
     
  45. and despite also being told by the interview committee "You have a very strong portfolio" - and then told "We prefer people with a broader background for our program."​
    One more thing I'd like to point out is that it is inconsiderate and rude to the extreme on the part of the admissions committee to summon an applicant for an interview that they've already eliminated based on the initial application. If they already knew you wouldn't make the cut because you didn't have the "broad background" they were looking for (information available to them at the start from the college transcripts that you submit with your application) why did they waste your time (and money, if you had to travel) by summoning you to an interview?
    Either something isn't quite right with your story, or the "programs" you applied to are staffed by idiots.
     
  46. Hi Peter, your daughter has a good eye for photography. I think I would like to see more variety in her portfolio with maybe a portrait or two and some landscapes and still life work. It looks like she is stuck on the square format of the camera. I did some cropping and adding to some of the photos and they seem to work better for me, again this is just my opinion but once I cropped them I was impressed with what your daughter saw in the images. Also having lived in Northern Nevada I don't think UNR is considered a highly rated college and the Nevada education system is undergoing drastic cuts at this time. In general education in Nevada is not a high priority with high dropout rates and a very low percentage of students moving on to college from high school.
    00VQqK-207257684.jpg
     
  47. be very careful about what responses you are heeding here my friend. there aren't a lot of responses (barring one or two folks) that display a sound understanding of how things work in this world. suggesting that your daughter "diversify" is sweet and well intended i am sure but sadly WAY OFF BASE.
    as mentioned already, find a couple of grant writing programs before she's off to school. certainly it will help you with the grant process however it will also offer a clear understanding of how she is going to survive/make it after school. where the money is, how to get it and HOW TO START PRESENTING YOURSELF now. the art world is a very different place than the commercial. you can live and work if you understand where the money is and how to get it.
    as she goes to school she must also start accumulating those "lines" on the CV. explore a subject path, exhibit that work and carpet bomb the grant and award circuit. build those lines because no matter how good you are you NEED those "lines". having a degree from a respectable school is an important "line" indeed but she will need more.
    in my humble opinion "diversifying" would be a step in the wrong direction.
     

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