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The FOTOfusion Experience

January 27, 2010

Anna's Lemon by Frank Ward

Last week I went to FOTOfusion at the Palm Beach Photographic Center which had newly moved its location from Delray Beach (paradise) to West Palm Beach (not so much paradise). My first impression was FOTO(con)fusion. I got lost, I showed up late, I made Harrison Funk late because he and Rolfe Ross were waiting for me to go with them to Calle Ocho, Miami. Anyway, I soon regained balance and had a great first visit to the famed Little Havana of Florida. If you click on Rolfe’s link, you can see his pictures from the visit.

Domino Diva, Little Havana, Frank Ward Photo

I have to give props to Rolfe because he told me to check out the Domino Diva. Even though it was early afternoon by then, I was still staggering around in a 3AM wake-up, post-flight daze.

After a rough first Tuesday, I returned to equilibrium by Wednesday. The (top lead) “still life” I discovered when I wandered late into Anna Tomczak’s “Assembling a Photograph” class. There were a half dozen people playing with fruits and feathers by a venetian blinded window. I jumped right in and tossed out the apples and oranges.

Parking Garage Portrait by Frank Ward

I walked into the City Center Parking Garage Friday morning with my Leica M6 and Noctilux f1.0 over my shoulder. The legendary David Burnett was there with some models giving a class on available light portraiture. He yelled, “Where’s the guy with the Noctilux?” I was a guy with a Noctilux, so I jumped in. I stayed with the class even after he hollered at me for shooting my 1.0 lens at f16, the opposite of what I should have been doing. I soon figured out that my f-stop ring turned in the opposite direction to my Nikon lens and was able to redeem myself. A little later, I came across another guy in the class with the new Leica digital M9 and $10,000 Noctilux F0.95. He was shooting with his lens cap on so I didn’t feel like such an idiot.

Steve Grilling by Frank Ward

In addition to “professional development” I was in Florida to visit my family. Here’s my brother-in-law Steve Hoxie grilling burgers. Just in case anyone who funded my trip reads this, I want to say that I went to lots of great classes and portfolio reviews. I already started using what I learned on my first day teaching for spring semester.

The best part of FOTOfusion, as always, are the portfolio reviews. They reserve a large room where, morning and afternoon, they have 6-12 different photo-world movers and shakers. I went every chance I could get to talk with the top people in the business. Maura Foley, one of the New York Times top picture editors, was sitting around waiting for someone to show her their portfolio. Robert Pledge, the President of Contact Press Images of New York and Paris, remembered me from three years ago. These professionals really do have photographic memories.

I got consistently good feedback from key photo people including Pulitzer Prize winner Stella Kramer and Rick Friedman, who is the President of the Boston Press Photographer’s Association. My experience was better than the first time I went to FOTOfusion in 2004. I was showing work from my Curious Footprints book. The reviewer, a gallery owner, nearly chased me out of the room when I didn’t agree that I should be illustrating children’s books.

Platypus by Frank WardPlatypus from Curious Footprints, 2004

A fortuitous series of events occurred during the reviews. First, I saw professor/photographer Steven Nestler. He is starting a promising portfolio website called Steven loved my Central Asia work and told me to show it to his most famous student, Scott Mc Kiernan. Scott is a barrel of dynamite and a working photographer who also publishes DOUBLEtruck Magazine, runs, and is the founder of ZUMA PRESS. I asked for an appointment and was told by FOTOfusion that, if I want to see Scott, I should see Ruaridh Stewart first. He is Zuma’s News Director. I had already made an appointment with Ruaridh (Rory) because I liked his name. We met and made a clear connection. Later, I met Scott who, literally, shoots off sparks (as in “coruscating”). I did mention that he’s a barrel of dynamite. The result is that I am now: (see the graphic)

So thank you to Ruaridh, Scott and Steven for making nice things happen. There will be another “all about me” post before I can return to the photo education theme that I am more comfortable pursuing. In the previous post, I forgot to mention the opening date of the Bob Aller, David Prifti, Frank Ward Valley Photo Center show in Springfield, MA. It opens on Sunday, Feb. 21st. from 1-5. For student edification, attendance will NOT be taken.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 28, 2010 12:56 am

    I am quoting something you said: “A little later, I came across another guy in the class with the new Leica digital M9 and $10,000 Noctilux F0.95. He was shooting with his lens cap on so I didn’t feel like such an idiot.”

    It solidifies and compounds the quote that I read a few weeks back, “any idiot with a camera thinks they are a photographer”. Now I will take into consideration the fact that he must be of some distinguished level to have been present at such a prestigious event. But if you are using equipment of that magnitude, then you should at least know how to detach a lens cap.

    Congrats on being represented by Zuma Press. I also find your portrait from the garage to be extremely captivating. That was definitely a decisive moment captured exceedingly well. I would be curious though to see what new educational practices you were able to impliment from what you were able to take away from your experience at fotofusion.

    Great post Frank.

  2. January 28, 2010 5:58 am

    frank…thanks for the kind words…great to see you again and congrats on the zuma representation,,,great post all around…..

  3. January 28, 2010 8:37 am

    Hi Jeff, In my first class I told the story of the guy who was Michael Jackson’s personal photographer. I met him at FOTOfusion. He was in bad shape. He was deaf from photographing Jackson’s concerts and his cat ate his hearing aides. BTW, I’m not talking about Harrison Funk, who was also Michael Jackson’s personal photographer and now works with Janet Jackson.

    The guy with the $30,000 Leica set-up who was shooting with his lens cap on was a rich guy taking the workshop with his son. Lots of money down there.

    I heard that you’ve been working with Eric P. I hope it goes well.

  4. January 28, 2010 9:16 am

    Congratulations Frank! They are very astute to take you on.
    This was a very funny post. Had me laughing out loud.

    • January 28, 2010 7:16 pm

      Thanks, Nancy. It is an honor to know that you are out there looking in here.

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