Laura Pressley, Executive Director at CENTER

Elizabeth Avedon Talks With
Laura Pressley, Executive Director at CENTER

REVIEW SANTA FE, the 11th annual juried Portfolio Review produced by CENTER, concluded last month. The 100 Photographers, who were chosen to participate because they had created a significant project or series, met with curators, editors, publishers, and gallerists.

Elizabeth Avedon: Tell me about your selection process for Review Santa Fe.

Laura Pressley: This year’s 2011 Review Santa Fe Selection Committee included Karen Irvine, Curator and Manager of Publications, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; Alan Rapp, Alan Rapp Studio, and formerly Senior Editor at Chronicle Books; and Whitney Johnson, Director of Photography at The New Yorker Magazine.

The reason I chose these three for the Selection Committee is that they have all participated in Review Santa Fe previously and they have different perspectives from within the photographic and art Industry. With Alan Rapp, we have a perspective from the realm of Publishing; with Karen Irvine we have the Curator's perspective, Whitney Johnson provides the Editorial perspective.

Photographers submitted an Artist Statement, Résumé and 20 Images. Everyone says this but its true in that the quality of work every year gets better and better. This year there were approximately 500 entries, with an increase in International submissions. Photographers from 23 U.S. states and 13 countries, including Austria, Egypt, Hungary, Japan, Mexico and Scotland, were chosen to come to New Mexico to attend Review Santa Fe.

Review Santa Fe judging process is via a numeric system, so each juror picks their top 60 or so and each photographer then has a number in a ranking. Additionally, there is a high attrition rate at these types of events so in addition to the 100 slots there is also a Wait List. About 25% of the accepted photographers cancel due to personal reasons. So the Wait Listed photographers who are asked to attend are asked in order of their rankings.

In addition to the people who are ranked highly, we have about 17 Project Award Winners who are also here. So not only are there photographers accepted into Review Santa Fe, but there's also a high quality of work because of the Project Competition Winners, and the Project Launch Winners, as well as some of the Choice Award Winners are in attendance. So there are many photographers recognized through our other programming who have the opportunity to attend Review Santa Fe free of charge.

I feel that a major component of the awards and what they offer is the exposure and the opportunity of attending Review Santa Fe. That’s the key to building personal relationships and potential for career advancement. We also have about 15 attendees who receive partial or full scholarships. They participate for a discounted tuition or free of charge. We have the Scholarship Fund raffle this year, with all the proceeds, every dollar, benefiting the Photographer Scholarship Fund for next year.

Elizabeth Avedon: How do you Curate the Reviewer list?

Laura Pressley: One basic, simply stated guideline is that we invite a lot of curators and publishers. Why? The CENTER mission is to serve gifted and committed photographers and a lot of the participants would prefer to meet with curators and publishers. I can easily assess that in the reviewer rankings in the online lottery scheduling system. The other genres of industry professionals I invite are high-profile editors of magazines like National Geographic, The New Yorker, and Time Magazine; people that use photography really well. In addition, reviewers who support the community by creating Photography Blogs or on-line Magazines like Fraction who can give photographers exposure.

Providing exposure to people who can offer direct outcomes is an extremely valuable component to the whole weekend. In addition, we offer access to the people who are somewhat inaccessible, like the people from the Whitney and SFMoMA. Busy curators who don't typically have time to sit down with photographers and look at portfolios in their day-to-day work flow. Ultimately, we strive to create a platform for both sides of the table, Reviewers and Photographers, to be able to slow down for a weekend, be present, and focus on something we are all passionate about - Photography.

EA: How long have you worked with CENTER?

Laura Pressley: This is CENTER’s 16th year and my 10th year. After their first review event, the organization, then called the Santa Fe Center for Visual Arts, noticed how much synergy and forward momentum there was around the organization and they hired me to help them move continue and expand on that forward momentum. Prior to that, I was living in the San Francisco Bay area where I worked at the Richmond Arts Center with the after-school program for kids, and the Artist’s-In-Schools Program. There was such poverty there; I saw the great impact of these programs on this community. It was then I decided I had to work for an a mission based organization from that point on, lending my strengths to the impact that Art can have on our communities and our lives.

EA: What is your background in Photography?

Laura Pressley: I'm originally from the Chicago area. I was a Photography Major and graduated with honors from the College of Santa Fe now the Santa Fe University of Art and Design.

I moved to San Francisco for two and a half years after college and moved back to Santa Fe in 2001. I really missed this community and I missed the landscape and the light. I needed to come back to New Mexico, which happens to a lot of us here, we try to leave and we have to come back.

I needed to come back to New Mexico, I missed the landscape and the light that is so inspiring and expansive –Laura Pressley

When I came back I got involved with a program called PhotoArts Santa Fe. At the time, I worked to get their inaugural festival off the ground by providing volunteer support and other administrative support. The Santa Fe Center for Visual Arts Executive Director and staff noticed me through PhotoArts and recruited me to come on board. I met with Reid Callanan, Founder of the organization, and Director of the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops and I was hired shortly thereafter.

The organization has evolved through a few name incarnations. It was the Center for Photographic Projects, then Santa Fe Center for Visual Arts, then the Santa Fe Center for Photography. Finally, in 2006, because one of our board members had a relationship with a design firm called McKee Wallwork Cleveland, which was a national award winning agency that happens to be in Albuquerque we were gifted an identity package and campaign. That was an important milestone in our history and development.

They asked a series of questions to determine our target audience. That was an important part of their process to create that identity package. In fact, they trademarked their process as it’s a unique and successful method of creating and crafting a brand. They helped us tremendously, not only to strengthen our brand, but to really own who we are in the photo industry. Before we changed our name, we were often confused with the Santa Fe Workshops. I would have to say, “We are not the Workshops, we are a separate non-profit organization." That is not a problem anymore as I feel our brand is really strong and it's thanks to their good work.

Branding is so powerful. I think success goes hand-in-hand with creating a Personal Brand. You need to claim who you are. If you don't brand yourselves, someone else will. That holds true for organizations, businesses and photographers as well.

Everything comes back to CENTER

EA: What’s the thought process behind the design of the new CENTER logo?

Laura Pressley: The same Agency was behind the identity and the new logo. We have the light turquoise color as our home is in Santa Fe and we wanted to retain the New Mexico connection in our name. The whole idea of what the name means - to CENTER oneself - your CENTER is where Art comes from and it's a very sacred space. CENTER is also a fruitful ground where you go to create relationships, to commune, to find people of like-mind that are passionate about photography. It all comes back to CENTER, so all of the letters point towards the CENTER. That’s why the R and the E at the end is reversed. I love the whole Russian Constructivism look it evokes. Come to CENTER and thou art shall be seen. Our target audience, those gifted and committed photographers, they get it.

La Lettre de la Photographie:
About Review Santa Fe Part I / Part II


EJEN CHUANG: Cosplay in America

Jordan. Altadena, CA
Dhalsim, from 1991 Street Fighter II
Photograph © Ejen Chuang

Scott. Chapel Hill, NC
Cloud Strife, the protagonist of Final Fantasy VII
Photograph © Ejen Chuang

Ali, Becki, Clayce. Plano, Texas
Photograph © Ejen Chuang

Ejen Chuang was one of 100 photographers chosen to participate in Review Santa Fe 2011. When I met him, I admit I wasn't familiar with this fascinating sub-culture. Cosplay is the act of dressing up as your favorite anime, manga, comic book, movie, video game character or pop culture icon.

Chuang photographed over 1,600 cosplayers traveling 16,000+ miles and spent half a year (more by now) taking portraits.
He has created a beautiful, hugely popular book.
+ + +

Ejun Interviewed Jordan (top). Altadena, CA

Tell me about the outfit you are wearing – who are you cosplaying and how did you decide to pick this particular character?
I am cosplaying Dhalsim from the Street Fighter series. Being a big Street Fighter fan, I’ve grown up playing the games, and Dhalsim has always been one of my favorites. With his stretchy limbs and fire breathing abilities, he has always been one of the more interesting characters to me. Because he and I share a few looks in common, my small and thin size, and tan skin, I thought it would be a great idea to cosplay him!

Tell me about the process of making your outfit – was it easier or tougher than you imagine it to be ?
Making the outfit was not difficult at all, I assumed it would be much harder to put together because I had no idea how I would do a few of the props, such as the skull necklace and the bracelets, but things fell together nicely. Since I started putting together the costume around Halloween of 2009, I easily found some skulls that matched the look I needed at Party City, and for a good price. The bracelets were simply dog toys I painted silver!

Any interesting stories from people’s reaction to your outfit at the con ? ^^
People freaked out when they saw me, and it caught me by surprise the entire time! No one had seen a Dhalsim cosplayer before. There are a few in the world, but not many people dare to do it. There was even one kid who ran up and hugged me whenever he saw me at the con, which would scare me quite often because he would run up out of nowhere and surprise me. People shouting at me from all over, asking me to do Dhalsim’s victory dance or shout “Yoga Flame!” or “Yoga Fire!” It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed making people happy during the con.

How did you get started cosplaying and what got you interested ?
I started in 2006, and to be honest, I had never even heard of cosplay before that. A group of friends in High School would tell me all these awesome stories they had at Anime Expo, back when it was in Anaheim mind you, but that got me interested. I have always had a flair for the dramatic, and I thought this would be a fun and new experience. To pretend to be someone or something else for a weekend seemed exciting! It’s been a blast ever since!

What are the con did you first attended and what’s your favorite con that you’ve attended so far and why ?
I’ve attended every Anime Expo since 2006, I went to Mikomicon, and Pacific Media Expo (PMX), but by far my favorite con has to be Anime Expo! With it’s large crowds, amazing guests of honor, and a spacious convention center, nothing is left to be desired in my eyes.

What does cosplay mean to you ?
Cosplay means a lot to me. I’ve made so many new friends because of it, doors have opened for me and it gives me the option to be creative and flashy. This hobby is by far the most productive one I have ever had, and then being able to put on your hard work and walk around in it and have people recognize you, and maybe even compliment you on your work, it feels great!

+ + +

"I will be with Crunchyroll at Anime Expo in Los Angeles this year. Yup, I know some of y'all had trouble finding me at other cons well, fear not, I should be very hard to miss at AX this year. ^^." – from Ejun Chuang's Cosplay Blog. Drop by the Crunchyroll Booth at the Anime Expo July 1-4th and buy Ejun's book - support Creativity and Diversity!

La Lettre de la Photographie:
Review Santa Fe Part I / Part II



Father’s Slide Show in the Living Room, with Slides He Took in the States in the 1970s, Hörsching 2008. Photograph © Paul Kranzler

Gregor Exercising His Show Horse Dusty Diamond, Ybbsitz 2008.
Photograph © Paul Kranzler

Father with Mother’s Fox Fur in his Walk-in Wardrobe, Hörsching 2007
Photograph © Paul Kranzler

Austrian photographer, Paul Kranzler, was one of 100 photographers chosen to participate in Review Santa Fe 2011 with his series, Brut. "In Brut, Kranzler turns his lens on his own family, choosing 120 images from among the thousands he has taken of his family since 2004, and providing revealing captions about family history and the realities of everyday life. “In the living room my father likes to show slides he took in the States in the 1970s,” writes Kranzler. “He says that the town of Traun is Austria’s equivalent to Los Angeles, and he’s not wrong.”

“These are images of places and people I have known for a long time, whether related by blood or otherwise. And places and people who know those I know, and also people who I don’t know in places I have known for a long time. You become the way you are in your own environment. Relatives are an integral part of the genetic environment, and people, to whom you are not related and who become your relatives are always your closest environment. Indeed the people, places and landscapes of your own environment are always the most photographed motif in the world. Once you have been in a particular environment for a long time, it becomes your “home”, your “relationship”, your “family”, your “homeland”, your “cemetery”, your “prison”, etc. Perhaps one’s personal environment is four-dimensional: the three dimensions of space plus the fourth dimension, i.e. the emotion inherent to that (living/human) space.” –Paul Kranzler, BRUT, Fotohof edition

Paul Kranzler Website
La Lettre de la Photographie:
Review Santa Fe Part I / Part II


RUBEN E. REYES: The Raramuri

Ester and Her Siblings. Samachique, Mexico
Photograph © Ruben E. Reyes

Raramuri religious dancers during the ceremonies for the Virgin of Guadalupe, San Ignacio, Mexico. Photograph © Ruben E. Reyes

Ebaristo and his son Santiago from Basigochito, Mexico
Photograph © Ruben E. Reyes

Raramuri parishioners wait outside the village church for the ceremony in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe to begin, Cusarare, Mexico. Photograph © Ruben E. Reyes

"Raramuri’s are a group of indigenous people that live in the Copper Canyon area of northern Mexico. They are reclusive people that have resisted westernization for almost four hundred years, however in the past twenty years there has been a shift in their culture, due to a prolonged drought, pressure from the Mexican government, and an increase in tourism in the area. As they become modern they begin to loose their cultural essence, their traditional clothing, their language." –Ruben E. Reyes

Documentary photographer, Ruben E. Reyes (México D.F.), was one of 100 photographers chosen to participate in Review Santa Fe 2011.

Ruben E. Reyes Website
La Lettre de la Photographie:
Review Santa Fe Part I / Part II


JOSE BELTRAN: Despite/Embargo Cuba

Arturo. Photograph © Jose Beltran

Eliany. Photograph © Jose Beltran

A Portrait of Havana's Youth 52 Years After The Revolution

Born in Mexico City, 34 year old Jose Beltran, now a photographer based in California, was one of 100 photographers invited to participate in Review Santa Fe 2011.

La Lettre de la Photographie:
Review Santa Fe Part I / Part II


MIKE REBHOLZ: Ice Fishing In Wisconsin

Anson Jimenez Shack #3 Lake Monona WI
Photograph © Mike Rebholz

Un-Named Shack and Blue Whale, Lake Monona, WI
Photograph © Mike Rebholz

Clint Schneider Shack #1, Lake Monona, WI
Photograph © Mike Rebholz

Barry Thoma Shack #5, Lake Monona, WI
Photograph © Mike Rebholz

10 Weeks Ice Fishing In Wisconsin

"I'm a photographer and I live and work in Madison, Wisconsin, or at least that's where the journey begins. I'm happiest on the road going to or from location. There is a profound mystery for me in going some place new - I might see a new building, see something I don't know about, meet a new person, be exposed to something I've never experienced before. Photography is a good occupation for the curious." – Mike Rebholz

Mike Rebholz was one of 100 photographers invited to participate in Review Santa Fe 2011.


TAMAS DEZSO: CENTER 2011 Project Award Winner

Bricks (Budapest, 2009)
Tamas Dezso

Building (Emod, North-East Hungary, 2009)
Tamas Dezso

Johanna (Zsambek, North Hungary, 2009)
Tamas Dezso

Tree and House (West Hungary, 2011)
Tamas Dezso

Petya (Budapest, 2010)
Tamas Dezso

Tamas Dezso, CENTER 2011 Project Award Winner

"The map of Hungary is speckled with capsules of time. During the political transformation twenty years ago, as the country experienced change it simply forgot about certain places – streets, blocks of flats, vacant sites and whole districts became self-defined enclosures, where today a certain out-dated, awkward, longed-to-be-forgotten Eastern Europeanness still lingers. There are places which seem to be at one with other parts of the city in a single space, but their co-existence in time is only apparent; places which decompose in accordance with their own specific chronology, determined by their past, such that what remains would then either be silently re-conquered by nature or enveloped by the lifestyles of tomorrow’s generations. Of the inhabitants, who have never fully integrated with majority society, soon only traces will remain, until they too, disappear in the course of time."–Tamas Dezso

Tamas Dezso's series, Here, Anywhere, was chosen as First Place in the 2011 Project Competition by CENTER's hand-picked international panel of esteemed jurors - Simon Baker of the Tate Modern, Alexa Becker of Kehrer Verlag Publishers and Christina Cahill of Getty Images Reportage. In this series, the Hungarian photographer gives us a first-hand look into post-Communist Hungary. The New Mexico Museum of Art showcase's Dezso's photographs in their current exhibition, The Curve: CENTER Award Winners 2011. Tamas was one of 100 photographers invited to participate in Review Santa Fe 2011.

The Curve: New Mexico Museum of Art
Santa Fe, NM, through August 7, 2011
Tamas Dezso website

La Lettre de la Photographie:
Review Santa Fe Part I
/ Part II


MARJORIE SALVATERRA: Clark | Oshin Gallery

Gwen, 2010
Marjorie Salvaterra

Screaming Man, 2011
Marjorie Salvaterra

“...a fine line between sanity and insanity...”– Virginia Heckert, Associate Curator of Photography at The Getty Center

“When most girls were reading Judy Blume, I was reading the DSM," says Salvaterra. "It lists all the psychological disorders and their symptoms. Diagnosis is made on the number of symptoms. And yet, it is easy to go through the list of symptoms for the various disorders and think, ‘that could be me.’ Are we all a little crazy -- at least at certain moments in our lives? Is it nurture vs. nature? Some believe people are either born sane or insane. Others believe we are all born perfect and it's the things that happen in our lives that damage us. I tend to believe the latter. In each portrait, I am looking for that line in each person: the part of ourselves that we tend to hide, the part that scares us, the part that is usually saved for the people closest to us - the ones that know our secrets.”

Marjorie Salvaterra Exhibition through July 7


LIFE MAGAZINE: 2011 PhotoBlog Winners

Congratulations to Jean Jacques Naudet,
Alex Kummerman, Magnus Naddermier, Sophie Hedtmann,
and all the Correspondents for La Lettre de la Photographie!

...and to Rob Haggert at APhotoEditor.com,
James Estrin & Josh Haner for NY Times Lens Blog

LIFE 2011 Photo Blog Winners