FotoWeek DC officially kicked off this past weekend, and our photo editor Paul Stanek and I traveled down to our nation’s capitol to take it all in. Not only were we excited about the gallery openings, workshops and events, but we were also asked to give a lecture and attend the much anticipated launch party. With our bags packed for a fun weekend, we left Philly on Friday afternoon and battled our way through traffic to eventually reach DC.
After parking, we strolled up Connecticut Avenue and entered our humble abode for the weekend, the Mayflower Hotel. After confirming with the receptionist, Nadia, that we required only the highest thread count sheets and finest down pillows, we were handed our keys and took the golden elevators up to our 6th floor suite, complete with cozy bath robes.
We dropped off our bags, slipped on our nice shoes, and rushed over to FotoWeek headquarters to attend the first of two launch parties that night. Taking over what used to be a Borders book store, FotoWeek Central was filled with two floors of well-curated galleries and photo books as well as an open bar and a spread of catered food…which was sadly gobbled up before we arrived. Nevertheless, on an empty stomach we busted out our phones and began calling and texting our DC photographers that we knew would be in attendance.
Paul and I first met up with Vincent Ricardel and had a great chat about the amazing space we found ourselves in and his current marketing strategy. After picking up a round of Peroni’s, we then bumped into Matthew Rakola and Jason Hornick. We caught up for a while about their recent projects and then walked around the enormous space to admire all of the prints hanging on the walls. The show was mainly photojournalism based, presenting strong work (quite emotional at times) from photographers around the world. One project that really caught our attention was a series of photographs by Michael Wolf of computer monitors showing Google Maps street views of various criminal incidents. The project presented a unique perspective on new technologies and reinforced the idea of the ever-growing methods of obtaining and capturing images.
At 8 pm, the music at FotoWeek Central abruptly ended, but the party was far from over. Everyone made their way down 17th St. to the beautiful Corcoran Gallery of Art for part 2 of the launch party. We entered the beautiful (and quite famous) gallery and once again found ourselves in the fantastic company of Matthew and Jason, while also getting a chance to hang out with our other DC-based photographers, JaTawny Chatmon and Douglas Sonders. A definite highlight of the evening was a digital photobooth that was snapping images of participants and streaming them up on a gigantic projection screen. As the line to the open bar steadily streamed, the projected images became more and more entertaining. The atmosphere provided a fantastic environment to socialize, network and establish great relationships with not only our photographers, but also many other incredibly talented people in the photo biz.
Part 2 of the launch party wrapped up around 11:30, and we continued the evening with Matthew, his wife, and Jason at a pub called The Science Club on 19th street. After some great conversations, we said goodnight and hit the hay after a fantastic night, and got some much needed sleep for our presentation the next day.
The sun crept in our room around 9 am, and we opened our eyes fully rested and ready for another action packed day. We put on our lecture outfits and headed out the door to grab a quick breakfast at Cosi before walking back over to FotoWeek Central. After preparing for weeks, we were ready for our presentation on branding and marketing for commercial photographers. With Paul’s experience in helping photographers establish their photographic identities, and my expertise in consulting with photographers to develop marketing strategies, we were confident that our lecture was filled with valuable information. As we began our presentation, the room quickly filled with an audience eager to learn more about Wonderful Machine and obtain a better knowledge on how to promote themselves.
The presentation went off without a hitch, and you can see the slides from our lecture, Branding and Marketing for Commercial Photographers.
Q+A after the presentation was so great that we had to take it into another room so not to overlap with the presenter after us. We received a wide range of questions ranging on topics from translating websites for Spanish-speaking clients to opinions on how to increase web traffic and make blogs a resource for clients. I even had a chance to meet up with WM’s newest DC photographer, Jessica Marcotte, to chat about a recent project we worked on together.
After the presentation, we decided to grab a quick bite to eat before heading out with our pals Matthew and Jason. Searching for something quick and delicious, we decided to swing by Pasara Thai Restaurant where we all enjoyed a final meal before parting ways and returning to beautiful Philadelphia.
Overall, the trip was a great success. Our presentation went well, the launch parties were great, and we thoroughly enjoyed meeting up with our DC-based photographers as well as countless other professionals in our industry.
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