One year ago today, Mark Murray and I presented a workshop about photography portfolios at the 2012 Spring JEA/NSPA National Convention. He and I have presented together for several years. How we present changes each time, because each convention space influences the presentation. The rooms are different sizes. Some conventions have more workshops and fewer people. Technology constantly changes, so we try to adapt. We try to keep it simple, while at the same time providing valuable information.
Mark and I practice simple complexity, a term my educator step-father referenced during the discussion thread of my Simple Man post. In our presentation, we simplify many fast moving complex dynamics that we cannot always predict. (Dr. Hannah Fry explains complexity science during a short TEDx video, “Is life really that complex?”)
How is complexity theory relevant? Well, we still teach students the simple lesson that “First Impressions” influence perceptions; however, photographers cannot control which image is viewed first. Now that online portfolios can be accessed as galleries, a potential portfolio reviewer (or customer) might see thumbnails with several photos. I cannot even control which galleries will appear first during a search (nor do I always want to control what will be searched.) Our simple lesson that weaker images “pull down” a portfolio actually is supported by the more complex technology shifts. When students see fifteen photos on the screen, the students understand how a bad photo affects impressions.
Mark and I also assist Bradley Wilson with the large group photo critiques. There are a few hundred participants seated. The judges discuss what makes a good photo (or what does not.) We keep it simple, even though we realize that taking a moving 3-D object and putting it on a two dimensional surface is challenging. What we choose to discuss is the simple complexity.
In the title, I ask What Do We Do Next? I had asked the question at the end of the discussion thread about Seattle when I was responding to one of the organizers for the 2014 convention. (I am one of the 2013 convention organizers where Mark and I present again.) I have noticed recently that internet search has created a new level of complexity. My smart phone and my laptop are connected AND the search terms seem to influence my Pandora. My dreams might also be affected. Tonight in San Diego. I noticed that my internet searches reveal different responses than my searches earlier this week in Oakland, even for something as simple as a Jewel song lyric I had quoted. When I fly away tomorrow, I will check again.
When Mark and I started our portfolio presentation, students used matte board. We recommended that students purchase a domain. I own mine and I always search my own name in each city and find amusing results. Next year will we even suggest that students search? If so, what will they find?