From my bed in room 901 of the International House Hotel I can look across Camp Street to the building where the PhotoNOLA reviews take place. It's a quick jaywalk from the hotel across to the annex, and up to the second floor where a score of reviewers have made themselves available to several dozen artists from Louisiana and beyond.
Today, each of us on the receiving side of the table saw 12, and each of the artists presented to four or five of us. I'm not sure who's job is harder, but the day proceeds with unpredictable rhythms. Some photographers are more eager than others for the exchange to be revelatory; some just want a key that will open doors, whether to new opportunities or new self-awareness.
These meetings are like speed dating (or what I imagine of that phenomenon), in that you go away with impressions that may or may not prompt further connections; I tend to dwell on work more than personality. Nonetheless, the chance to add faces, voices, and energies to the images is so valuable; today I met two people whose work I'd seen recently in Critical Mass and IRevelar, and though I'd admired the images in both cases, today I enhanced my appreciation for their personal stakes in our medium.
In an age of electronic reproduction and virtual lives, the face-to-face still holds value. Even established and emerging cyberspace mavens like Joerg Colberg (Conscientious), Andy Adams (Flak), David Bram (Fraction), and Melanie McWhorter (photo-eye) are making analogue connections, in the ballroom across Camp from the International House and in other meeting rooms in the real photo world.