The World Photography Festival is in full swing, and I caught a first-rate glimpse of some of the exciting features and artwork during the Festival’s opening event Thursday evening at Left Space Studios. But what I was really excited about was having the opportunity to sit down with some of this weekend’s featured talent, many who travelled from around the world, to find out a bit more about their work and their contribution to the San Francisco Festival.
Photographer Andy Katz is best known for his photographs of the wine industry, from California’s Napa and Sonoma Valleys to the French Burgundy Region to Italy’s Tuscan Hills. But Katz has a long and diverse career that has taken him through more than 90 countries and across several different fields and industries.
Katz worked in the music industry prior to producing his creative imagery of wine, shooting album covers for artists like Dan Fogelberg and the Doobie Brothers. Travelling when he can and always with camera in hand, he’s found inspiration in every corner of the globe for his work; a trip to Egypt, for example, lead to a journey around the world documenting fading sites of Jewish cultural heritage.
Katz’s latest project is a forthcoming book on India, a country that Katz first visited in 1978 and now explores with his family. “It’s my favorite project,’ says Katz. “The book won’t be released till next year, but I think it will display the effort and heart that went into producing it, as well as the raw beauty, grit and diversity of India.”
Andy and I parted with a glass of the evening’s house wine and I caught up with local Renaissance woman, Monique Deschaines, current Director of Communications and Design for the Haines Gallery on Geary Street. Deschaines continues to work in a variety of media, including fine art, photography and graphic design, and recently has been creating a series of self portraits of her back to explore human obsessions with self-image and changing appearances.
As Director of Communications and Design, Deschaines juggles the Gallery website, installations, press and publications and is lending her expertise for the Festival’s portfolio sessions. “Generally, when reviewing artists’ portfolios I want to help them establish ideas and create a flow for a body of work,” said Deschaines. “It’s also really important for them to make connections with other artists, whether they work in photography, graphic design, sculpture or other media. You never know what may inspire you and direct you to a better place.”
Personally, I left the World Photography Festival Thursday evening feeling more than inspired after meeting with Andy and Monique. Photography as a usable process dates back to the 1820s, slow to process and expensive to produce. But it seems today that many people can take the skill and art of photography for granted as ‘point-and-shoot’ digitals and camera phones are readily accessible and affordable and photos are easily printed at the nearest pharmacy or even uploaded online to the latest social network. Artists like Andy and Monique and the countless others featured at the World Photography Festival continue to find ingenious and breath-taking ways to manipulate the world around us and produce a narrative, all through the eye of a lens, and remind us that photography is still an evolving art form. The San Francisco World Photography Festival continues through Sunday, but I’ll be honest, I can’t wait for next year and the hundreds of other new and illuminating stories that will unfold.
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