Heading back to Charlotte



The Southern Short Course is back in Charlotte, NC this year, and for some crazy reason they've asked me to speak about this little cellphone project. So at 1:30 pm on Saturday I'm the opening act for Scott McKiernan and then William Albert Allard.

I remember my first SSC conference back in 1997. I was two years out of college. The freelance was starting to pick up but I was still working as a manager for a catering company because the pay and benefits were a necessity and my portfolio wasn't opening any doors yet for fulltime positions. Washington Post photographer Michael Williamson was doing portfolio reviews and a little crowd had gathered around him. He finally got to mine and subsequently started brushing each photo off, left and right. It didn't surprise me, as I wasn't exactly thrilled with what I had brought. Following other photojournalists advice I was shooting people, events, things, in order to check off categories. And this is what I presented; A check-off list and it was quite apparent. Instead of showcasing all of my strongest images no matter what the content, it had been watered down.
But halfway through, Williamson held up one of my slides and showed it to the crowd. "You have ten of these type photos... then you'll have a portfolio." He went on to use it as an example of what he was trying to get across to all of us newbies as to what made a good photo and a photo good. Years later I started to wonder if it was some sorta backhand compliment. But at the time, if I realized it, I didn't care. All I knew was that I was on some right track and I needed to keep motivated and keep working to get those other "nine" photos and then some.

There's a lot of great speakers on Friday and Sunday as well, plus portfolio reviews.
Today's professional climate is certainly different than the one in 1997, even 2007. But no matter what economy we live in, a few things still hold true... one being that what you get out of life (or anything for that matter) is what you put into it. And we all need a little help sometimes to figure out what to put in.
Conferences like these have been known to offer that help.
Hope to see some of you this weekend.

4 comments:

Bluesman with a Camera said...

I assure you Shawn, the comment was not back-handed--it was a genuine compliment. The full context was that I had indeed found a picture that I liked and YOU LIKED IT TOO. Many others weren't your favorite but someone had said you needed to "show variety." My point was that I'd rather see intimate images that were close to YOUR heart..I would have assumed you could transfer that love of photography and positive attitude to other types of photos...I told you at the time that I bet you had them but got talked out of putting them into your portfolio. I'm glad you remembered our session. It's been a joy to see what a great story-teller you've become. Congrats. --Michael Williamson

Sonny Ortolano said...

The photo above, is this the photo he was talking about?

shawn rocco said...

Mr. "Bluesman"
Damn you're quick. Do you have some sort of google-feed that alerts you whenever your name is used? :-)
Anyway, I should have added 'years after the years I started to wonder it didn't cross my mind that it was (backhanded).' It was an incomplete thought on a subject about reviews /critiques that I'll touch on in a later post. But I do appreciate the follow up and kind words.

Sonny... No this isn't the photo. This is the hotel/mall/banking center complex the conference was in last year. Of course the only people to know that would be the ones who were there.

Zaphoto said...

Great photo Shawn. Love the contrast and mood. All the best fellow mobile-phone-photographer from Cape Town South Africa.