it's true. my classmates were confused. i just laughed.
let me take you back to that day. the last, ultimate FINAL PORTFOLIO CRITIQUE.

in preparation for the final photo critique, everyone needed to have 20 (was it?) final prints. and by prints i mean you need to have reasoning for why you have chosen to present your work with:
 the size, the medium, mounting/matting, framing.

each course had to have a final body of work with finished prints for a cohesive portfolio.
of course, every week for every class we were expected to schedule our own photo shoots, edit and print 2-3 prints to present to the class for critique. i was doing this each for my portraiture and advertising classes, both studio and location shoots per week.

[from my advertising final: Once Upon A Rockstar]

i loved critique. i would LOOSE SLEEP the night before critique class because i was always SO EXCITED to show off my work and see what everyone else brought to the table! it was like my weekly christmas. going to art school and being in the real world, critique is a valuable skill i am so grateful for learning and becoming so comfortable with. because how can you improve if you don't hear it?

to graduate photo school, your grades of course had to be decent. attendance was pretty important. but nothing compared to your FINAL PORTFOLIO CRITIQUE. that determined if you graduated and you were allowed to be sent into the real world.

consisting of a room with tables covered in black cloth and chairs arranged for all photography teachers to listen, watch and judge. we had to prepare our websites, business cards, portfolio images and give our "portfolio pitch" which briefly described our work and motivation behind the images.

after you gave your pitch, you left the room and the critiquing began. behind your back. without your defense because your images and your pitch should sell the idea, vision and concept, no questions asked.

every teacher voted on a pass or fail system and if you had more than 2 fails, you didn't graduate.


i got the inside scoop from my portraiture teacher: 
i don't remember in detail if the documentary or photojournalist teacher who had decided to fail me because my pitch was about how i took people and photographed them in their personality. that there was more to a person than just a pretty face, a look into the camera, but a set, wardrobe and design elements came together to create a whole story and unique portrait.

they didn't believe that my subjects had a say and felt i gave too much direction and style.

fair enough. was it true? how can you tell?

all i know is that i ended up graduating with honors in my portraiture major which was a complete shock and honor. i was one of 14 who graduated with portfolio honors which i not only love to brag about but also have a slight "humpf. take that!" attitude when i think about how i nearly failed. 

my body of work has a bit of a dramatic backstory which i think defines my photographic voice. i day dreamed over fashion editorial when i was in high school and first getting into film photography.
i switched schools from  manhattan to boston, specifically for their fashion photography course.

Pawel and me in Copenhagen a few years ago!

after me and the 'polish kid,' Pawel, (who i still keep in touch with because we share this) were the only ones to sign up for the class, it was cancelled. my teachers and peers knew where my heart and work belonged so i was lucky enough to have for each portraiture and advertising assignments on the lenient side to incorporate this in with my work.

i think the technical training for studio lighting in advertising and portraiture rules mixed with my fashion / narrative filled heart makes for my style of work. i wouldn't change anything if i could and i am obsessed with learning more about anything i can get my hands on within these subgenres of photography.  the learning has never stopped post photo school and i am shocked looking at these images from my photo school portfolio, looking at all the technical things that are terrible!

i have no fortune-cookie advice for the moral of this blog entry.
other than: photo school is more than just talking & developing photos. photography is more than just clicking a button. as artists we need to be prepared to know why we make the choices we do in camera and how we communicate that with our audiences.
thanks for reading/looking.