Night of the Living Consultants

Apr 3, 2013

by Paul Stanek

Ah, the MegaBus man. Friendly if seen from a distance, but somewhat sinister if you take a real close look….

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Dun, dun, dun.

Anyways, I utilized this creepy cartoon’s bus service for the first time on my way to NYC to participate as a consultant in ASMP New York’s, “Night of the Consultants.” The ride turned out to be quite smooth, and I was able to get some editing done from my upper deck window seat while we cruised north. After de-boarding and finding my way to the event’s location, SoHo Photo, I chatted with some fellow reviewers before taking advantage of my earliness to grab a quick sandwich (and some mental lubricant) right down the street at Pecan Cafe.

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Yum!

Then it was back to SoHo Photo! As the space filled up, names were exchanged, faces were recognized, hands were shook, and new connections were made. The buzz was that we were in for a treat: this event’s structure was of a rather experimental format, an idea originally hatched by ASMP NY board member Stephen Mallon and organized by fellow board member Marco Castro.

Blogger extraordinaire Alex Geana getting the scoop while sporting one totally groovy hoodie. Shot by Thomas Donley

While sporting one totally groovy hoodie, blogger extraordinaire Alex Geana gets the scoop from Heather Lefort, Michael Weschler, Kevin Michael Reed, and Katarina Kojic. Shot by Thomas Donley

Consultant Louisa Curtis is one tough critic! Shot by Thomas Donelly

Consultant Louisa Curtis is one tough critic! Shot by Thomas Donley

The Brains of the event, Marco Castro, leans in for a snap with his adoring fans. Shot by Thomas Donley

The organizer of the event, Marco Castro, leans in for a snap with his adoring fans. From left to right: Andrea Fischman, Donna Dotan, Marco, and Katarina Kojic. Shot by Thomas Donley

I’ll lay out the format as best I can:

There were 11 tables and 11 consultants. Each table had 2 or 3 seated photographers—each was given a playing card with a number on it. They stayed put throughout the night. It was the consultants that went from table to table, in 10 minute increments. It was sort of a combination of creative speed dating and dosey doe. The number that each photographer received on their playing card determined whose turn it was to be reviewed when the next consultant arrived at their table, so whoever wasn’t currently being reviewed could observe the critique in progress.

This unique format turned out to be brilliant. Each photographer had the chance to be reviewed by 11 consultants. Photographers waiting to be reviewed would lean over the shoulder of the consultant, often taking notes along the way, giving everyone a chance for deeper learning.

Badass Wonderful Machine photographer Christopher Beauchamp (left) reviews me reviewing the portfolio of super-fly photographer Geoff Green (right). Shot by Thomas Donley.

Badass Wonderful Machine photographer Christopher Beauchamp (left) reviews me (center) reviewing the portfolio of super-fly photographer Geoff Green (right). Shot by Thomas Donley.

There was a lot of truly excellent imagery hitting my visual cortex. I ended up inviting one of the photographers I met, motion-savvy Johannes Kroemer, to join Wonderful Machine on the spot!

Johannes's photos are uber-impressive, and the film work on the accompanying iPad only gets better! Photo by Thomas Donley

Johannes’s photos are uber-impressive, and the film work on his accompanying iPad only gets better! Photo by Thomas Donley

It was also great to see the magnificent food photographer Evi Abeler again, who unveiled her latest brilliant marketing campaign.

Accordions ain't just for musicians. Photo by Thomas Donley

Evi (center) demonstrates to consultant Erica McDonald that accordions ain’t just for musicians. Photo by Thomas Donley

I’ve been hanging her monthly-themed food calendar/post cards on my monitor for over a year now. What can I say, she’s got a way with promos. Ironically, I mentioned her calendars to another photographer a few tables before I saw that Evi was there.

With opinions and suggestions zinging around the room like ping pong balls, the photographers I talked to at the end agreed that it was quite an intense experience, but in a good way.

Photo by Thomas Donley

ASMP NY Chapter President Frank Rocco checks in on the action as Darrel B. Perry reviews Manjari Sharma’s sensational photography. Photo by Thomas Donley

Gathering our wits, a few of us congregated over at Tataki to grab some sushi and sake.

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Thomas Donley grabs a laugh on the other side of the lens for a change! From left to right: Christopher Beauchamp, Thomas, Erica McDonald, and Manjari Sharma. Photo by Paul Stanek

It was great to hang out with Christopher Beauchamp in person and chat about everything from the relative wisdom of jumping off cliffs (literally) to a fantastic new film, No Place On Earth, which he’s done quite a bit of work on. The film opens in New York this Friday—stay tuned for a post about it tomorrow!

Eventually, the sake was downed and our eyes were heavy, so Christopher and I headed out to catch sleepy train rides (sorry MegaBus) back to our respective states. Another fruitful & unique NY adventure down the hatch!