November 2012


2011 PhotoNOLA Photo WALK, by Tatyana Bessmertnaya

NM: Jennifer, thank you for speaking with SXSE. PhotoNOLA has become one of the more important photography festivals not only in the Southern Gulf region, but nationwide. You’re entering your 7th year and once again there’s an ambitious schedule. Share with us what is new or unexpected this year?

JS: Thank you, Nancy! Yes, it will be an action-packed four days. One exciting new addition this year is that we’re bringing the Indie Photobook Library in for a two-day pop–up exhibit. We’re also delighted to be partnering with the Ogden Museum and the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) in a more substantial way. They’re right across the street from each other so people will be able to walk back and forth to take in a variety of lectures and events.


Map of Memories, by Adam Neese (PhotoWALK)
NM: Let’s say this is my first time at PhotoNOLA, and I’m an emerging photographer with still a lot to learn. What schedule would you recommend for me, and which event should I not miss? 

JS: The Education Day seminars on Friday will be fantastic (Sasha Wolf and Mary Virginia Swanson), and the lectures by Shelby Lee Adams and Henry Horenstein are sure to be inspiring. I’d recommend they take in as much as they can, but if asked to pick just one event, I really love the PhotoWALK for the diversity of work all under one roof, and the ability to interact with the participating photographers.


Switch For My Cousin, by Brandon Thibodeaux (PhotoWALK)
NM: For your returning photographers, or those who may not be interested in a portfolio review or workshop, what can they look forward to garnering from this experience, or contributing to it? 

JS: There are exhibitions all over town to explore, and a nice line up of lectures and talks. Just being here and taking part in the conversation is fun.


Sunday Morning, by Deborah Luster (Arthur Roger Gallery)
NM: PhotoNOLA is sponsored by The New Orleans Photo Alliance, which is a fine example of what all photography communities need. Tell us how this got started, who were the founders, and what was their impetus? 

JS: The New Orleans Photo Alliance was formed in 2006, after Hurricane Katrina, by a diverse group of photographers. Owen Murphy, Bryce Lankard, Michel Varisco and I were the founding officers. We worked with guidance from Don Marshall, George Long, Joshua Mann Pailet and others to create an organization that would foster community and opportunity, for photographers in New Orleans and the Gulf South region.


The Skinning House, by Kathleen Robbins (NOLA Gallery)
NM: Tell us something about what it takes to stage PhotoNOLA each year. How many volunteers does it require, when do you begin planning, who stuffs the rabbits into the hats, etc? 

JS: Planning starts in January. We have a core group of about ten extraordinarily dedicated committee members who work to shape the various programs – reviews, workshops, lectures, exhibitions and the gala. The closer we get to December the more we depend on extra hands to help pull it all together and implement the events. There are roughly 50 volunteers on the ground helping things to run smoothly during the actual festival.


Masked Couple, by Keith Carter (A Gallery for Fine Photography)
NM: There are 40+ exhibitions associated with PhotoNOLA this year, with such great support from the New Orleans community. How do you choose these, and is there one, or more, you’d call a do-not-miss this year? 

A. We put out an open call for exhibition listings within the metro area, and include all that are submitted. We also accept exhibition proposals in order to do matchmaking when we find venues that are open to artist recommendations. This year we partnered with the Ogden Museum and Candela Books to bring in the Shelby Lee Adams exhibition, an exciting first for us. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing new work by Deborah Luster at Arthur Roger Gallery, and Priya Kambli at the CAC. Also the Louviere + Vanessa exhibition at the Ogden is stunning.


by Lyndsay Carter Pritchard (Byrdie’s Gallery)
NM: The PhotoGALA Benefit Party and Auction will take place on Thursday, Nov. 29th, as a kick-off for the 7th annual festival. If someone is unable to attend, is it possible for them to view the photographs to be auctioned on line, and submit a bid? 

JS: Yes, there will be both an auction preview and an absentee bidding option available online.


The World is Exciting Enough Without You, by Louviere Vanessa (Ogden Museum)
NM: You have a respectable line-up of workshops – Aline Smithson, Lori Waselchuk, Sasha Wolf and Mary Virginia Swanson. Would you tell us a bit about each of these? 

JS: Aline will teach a small group about crafting the fine art portfolio, Lori will present a three hour seminar on the art of grant writing, Sasha’s lecture on the artist/gallery relationship will be entertaining and informative, and Mary Virginia will address new markets and image licensing rights. Lectures include Henry Horenstein, Russell Lord, Jennifer Schwartz, A.D. Coleman, and the keynote with Shelby Lee Adams. There will also be more intimate talks with Larissa Leclair of iPL, Priya Kambli, and a guided walk-through with Louviere + Vanessa of their Ogden exhibition.


Coon Skins, by ShelbyLeeAdams
NM: What would you like people to know about PhotoNOLA that I have not covered? 

JS: I think it’s worth noting that the festival is organized and run entirely by volunteers.

NM: And last, but not least, where do you see the future of PhotoNOLA, has it hit its stride, what dreams do you have for it? 

JS: PhotoNOLA is in a lovely place right now. We have a fantastic team that works together to put the festival on, and increasing levels of support and participation from the New Orleans art world. Dreams? I would love for the festival to attract a larger audience of collectors, and am hoping that things will continue to evolve organically. In seven years PhotoNOLA has grown into a wonderful place for photographers to connect and learn from each other, and that in itself is a dream come true.

PhotoNOLA 2012, New Orleans
November 29 – December 2, 2012

By Nancy McCrary