The body of work could have garnered more impact if the judges had read his statement and understood his process and point of view. For those who don't think the artist statement should matter, I think Michael's project is a perfect example of why they do. I, for one, feel that an artist's statement can make or break a body of work--it can fill in the blanks, give us a deeper understanding of what we are looking at and what the photographer has gone through to create the work. What frustrated Michael was that the judges hadn't understood his processes, that he was working with darkroom chemistry, not using a paintbrush or pencil.
Comments from First Round Jurors:
I like the use of alternative processing, and it’s a very strong group of images. Consistently holds my interest. Looks a bit like the beginning of “American Horror Story.” Forwarded.
Response from the Photographer:
I was impressed by the ideals stated for the contest, in particular because I had been included in The Art of Photography Show and spent a huge amount of money to be part of it. By the time all was said and done, I had spent about $1,000 for a line on my CV. That being said, I did learn much from Julian Cox and very much appreciated his insights about my work in TAOPS.
Canteen provided an opportunity to see all of the entries to be juried and to see the jurors comments as well. That process was fascinating, I found that I agreed with much of what the jurors said. Most importantly, I began to grasp what the jurors understood about images that they considered to be fine art photography and that they made a distinction between fine art, documentary, and editorial photography. I felt that all of the live judging comments were appropriate to the process, I was not expecting in depth commentary and analysis. I’m still not sure that the audience added much, but it did make it more lively. I was surprised that the jurors were not supplied with the artist statements so that they could answer some of the questions they had.
They continued to talk about painting and drawing on my work, almost all of which was done with darkroom chemistry in the active development of the images, my statement clearly stated that this work is an exploration of the boundaries and relationships of painting to photography. My father, a painter, and I used to have lengthy discussions about things we saw and whether the view would be best as a photograph or a painting. All in all, I was highly intrigued and gratified by the entire process.