FotoFestís Meeting Place was created in 1986 as an international portfolio review for artists working with photography and photo-related art. The brainchild of FotoFest co-founders Fred Baldwin and Wendy Watriss, the FotoFest portfolio review is a hallmark of the FotoFest Biennial and it continues to be the model for portfolio review programs throughout the world. With over two weeks of portfolio reviews for artists, FotoFestís program is still the largest and most international portfolio review program in the world.
The purpose of the Meeting Place is to open opportunities for artists to meet and show work to influential curators, publishers, editors and collectors. FotoFest invites 180 of the most important people in the field of photography Ė to meet with artists on a one-to-one basis and review their work.
The FotoFest Meeting Place offers sixteen days of portfolio reviews. The portfolio reviews are open to all photographers. Most participating photographers are mid-career artists having had one or more exhibitions. Recent portfolio reviews have been attended by over 500 U.S. and international photographers from 34 countries and 37 states.
Schedule and Fees
The Meeting Place is organized into four 4-day sessions of portfolio reviews. A different group of reviewers is invited for each session. Artists are guaranteed a minimum of four appointments per day; a minimum of 16 over the course of each 4-day session. Each one-on-one meeting is 20 minutes in length. Artists are able to register for one or two sessions. Between each session, there are break days where workshops, curatorial forums, exhibition tours, lectures, and symposia take place.
The fee to participate in the 2012 Meeting Place was $850. Registration in the Meeting Place includes a reserved spot in the Evenings with the Artists - Open Portfolio Nights; free inclusion, with an image, in the Meeting Place Artist Directory Booklets given to all Meeting Place Reviewers; free access to Biennial exhibitions, curator-artist dialogues, seminars and conferences; opportunities for informal reviews with roving reviewers; discounted Workshop registration; free access to Artist Book Signings (juried); networking with fellow artists.
Meeting Place Reviewers
Meeting Place Reviewers are museum curators, gallery owners, magazine editors, representatives of photography agencies, collectors and publishers. They are carefully selected for their ability and willingness to help artists to develop their careers with exhibitions, publications, and guidance for future career development. Reviewers donate their time free of charge and FotoFest pays for their travel, hotel and meals.
Evenings with the Artists -
Open Portfolio Nights
With the portfolio review, FotoFest does four public Evenings with the Artists - public open portfolio nights, attended by over 700 people. These events provide participating artists with the opportunity to show and discuss their work with Meeting Place Reviewers and the general public. The Open Portfolio Nights also provide registrants with the opportunity to sell prints and books.
Successes of the Meeting Place
Over the years, hundreds of artists as well as reviewers have benefited by advancing their professional work and careers through participation in the FotoFest Meeting Place and related programs. They send letters and emails about their Meeting Place stories and successes. FotoFest chronicles these stories and images on a web page, Successes of the Meeting Place.
Discoveries of the Meeting Place Exhibition
Each Biennial, FotoFest does a Discoveries of the Meeting Place exhibition showcasing work by ten artists selected by reviewers from the previous Biennial Meeting Place. The Discoveries exhibition often travels to other international venues after FotoFest.
Between Biennials, FotoFest hosts an exhibition highlighting the work of artists discovered by FotoFest curators at events around the world - International Discoveries.
Since 2006, the FotoFest Meeting Place has been held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Houston Downtown, the headquarters hotel and a major sponsor for the FotoFest 2012 Biennial. The hotel is located at 400 Dallas Street, Houston, TX, 77002. The Meeting Place, Fine Print Auction, Workshops, Book Signings, Evening with the Artists, and Artist/Curator Dialogues all took place there. Past Meeting Place Portfolio Reviews have taken place at the Warwick Hotel, Rice University, and the George R. Brown Convention Center.
Portfolio Review Programs outside Houston
In addition to its Biennial portfolio reviews in Houston, FotoFest has sponsored portfolio
reviews in Beijing, China (2006), Moscow, Russia (2011) and Paris, France (2010-2012).
International Network of Festivals - The Festival of Light
The FotoFest Meeting Place has been widely replicated by photo events around the world. Many of these events are members, with FotoFest, in an internalitional network of photography festivals, The Festival of Light.