|Written by Andrew Hetherington|
|17 May 2008|
The organizers had projected attendance for the 5 days to be a bold 100,000 people. Yesterdays weather certainly didn’t help but I, as I am sure they are, are grateful to see the sun and the warmth has returned for the weekend. It will be interesting to get a tally on the actual numbers, particularly of paying punters. I have to say I haven’t noticed too much press or PR in the local media as a way of drawing a large and curious local crowd. They did seem excited though about the review in Fridays New York Times weekend arts section, although it didn’t make the front page and was tucked down back.
Didn’t make it out to Dumbo till the afternoon where I was pumped for Donovan Wylies presentation. I have really enjoyed his two epic projects ‘Maze’ and ‘British Watchtowers’. Both are centered on his native Northern Ireland which is enjoying a new period of peace and prosperity after some 30 + years of armed conflict. Wylie was obviously excited to share and one was swept away by his frenetic passion and enthusiasm. We were served up a treat when he shared some early footage of a film project he has been working on. And yes he had that dry sense of humor and a wonderful way with words. As an Irishman myself living in New York I sometimes miss that turn of phrase you get back home or in the U.K. I was fortunate enough to be sitting next to another ex-pat; the incredibly talented Mr Philip Toledano and we both cracked up when Wylie threw out the phrase “a lovely bit of kit”. I know it’s only a blip but man I haven’t heard that in forever. Yeah with all the rain and grey around I could have been back home in the motherland.
Unfortunately I missed the Stephen Gill seminar which was the talk of the day. Big bummer but at least he was rockin the slide projectors for his presentation. Nice to see someone still kickin it old school which seems so appropriate considering the photographer and his subject matter. We did however take in the Aperture event: a panel discussion Curating 2.0 with Tim Barber, Jen Bekman and Laurel Ptak. You will be pleased to hear that all 3 have book projects in the works. Tim for Tiny Vices, Jen for her Hey Hot Shot ! project and Laurel is putting together a book on portraiture; the catch being the faces of the subjects are never visible.
Fridays big event was the eponymous New York Photo Awards which the organizers had decreed would be an exciting addition to the proceedings. Have to say the weather did not bode well for attendance. But in the end there was a stellar turn out with over 400 brave souls making the effort.
So heres where I got confused. It was a play to pay. They had over 3000 artists submit over 15,000 pieces for consideration. Then they had the judges whittle down the numbers to a more manageable list of nominees from which a winner and 2 honourable mentions were to be chosen. The list of nominees was published on the festival website a couple of weeks back. Thing being, I like some of these nominees then assumed that they were all in the running to the bitter end and presumably therefore would have their work projected at the ceremony in their category before the announcement of the winner. Well this was not the case as the nominees were whittled down even further for tonights presentation; sometimes only 2 in each category. So am I wrong in presuming then that the runners up were also the honourable mentions. No explanation of the competition workings was provided. One photographer I know was at the ceremony, he was a nominee although he had received no official notification of the fact and indeed expected as I did to see his work projected. Hell he was in from out of town and extended his stay especially.
Anyways there was of course plenty of congratulatory back slapping and so on during the proceedings. Most of the winners were women, anyone else notice that ? Jessica Dimmock, Amy Stein, Jessica Todd Harper, Anna Skladman, Alana Celii, Tiana Markova-Gold, Gratiane de Moustier and Paula Bronstein all got to take home a Canon G9.
In a way it felt to me as if this was the last night of the festival. Maybe it was the weather or the cocoon I have been in or maybe seeing as it was the third night in a row at party central aka the powerHouse arena for the post awards bash. Note to the organizers: when you are expecting a crowd of 500 revelers maybe it would be a good idea to set up two bars at opposite ends of the space, not just one. Boy was it was a cluster f**k in the beginning. Even festival founder Daniel Power had to man the taps to try and refresh the throngs. Its not like they don't have parties here all the time ! I still haven't learnt my lesson, should have brought my own cooler bag and stocked it with beers from the deli around the corner. Festival curator Lesley A. Martin has got her act together, she brought her own wine. Now thats class maybe some day I will learn and get into the premier division.
Its becoming a sea of familiar faces now and I could almost cut and paste the previous day/nights sightings but hey you know you love to read your name in print. Go on admit it, it’s okay. So in no particular order with some new and notable additions here’s a who’s who of who’s out and about for NYPH 08 the Friday May 16 edition: photographers Rafael Fuchs, Benjamin Lowy, Thatcher Keats, Lauren Greenfield, Joel Barhamand, Ashley Macknica, Stefan Ruiz, Caroll Taveras, Jan Banning, Simon Roberts, Mark Murmann, Mr. Phillip Toledano, Joseph Michael Lopez, Cara Phillips, Corrine May Botz, Christoper LaMarca, Deirdre Brennan, Jesse Chehak, Christian Patterson, Shane Lavalette, Amy Stein, Michael Cogliantry, Robert Wright, Chris Bartlett, Jonathan Saunders, Anna Bauer, Katie White, Livia Corona, Loretta Rae, Wassink Lundgren, Zack Seckler, Jeff D, Naomi mcColloch, Gabriella Herman, Lyle Owerko, Fiona Aboud, the Photoshelter crew including their star blogger Rachel Hulin, the ClompChings, photo reps Bill Stockland and Maureen Martel of you guessed Stockland Martel, the blog farther himself Joerg Colberg who it turns out is having a hard dealing with adoring fans, Dana Faconti: editor Blind Spot magazine, Brian Storm: Media Storm, photo editors Jennifer Miller and Liane Ridel, gallerist Jen Bekman and Joshua Machat: publicist Rizzoli books.
Andrew Hetherington is a freelance editorial and commercial photographer. Originally from Dublin, Ireland he has lived in New York City for the past 13 years. A Photo District News emerging photographer to watch in 2003 he has also won awards for his work from American Photography, Communication Arts and American Photo. A contributing photographer to Wired and ESPN the Magazine he also works for GQ, Details, Esquire, Conde Nast Portfolio, Mens Health and Fortune. He is the author of the popular photo blog ‘Whats the jackanory ? ’.