I had the opportunity to attend this year’s Hyères Festival of Fashion and Photography, and yet again I came back thoroughly impressed. (more)
In a nutshell, Hyères combines portfolio reviews with an exhibition and a prize, all that in an early modernist villa overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Photographers apply to be selected as one of the ten finalists (there’s no application fee!). The ten finalists get their work professionally printed and prepared (framed, mounted, whatever they want, and no, they don’t have to pay for that) in Paris. At the villa, the work is then hung in four rooms, along with information about the photographer. In the image above (click for a larger view) you can see the photographs by Billie Mandle (on the left) and Yann Gross (on the right). The presentation of the work is top-notch (think a high-end Chelsea gallery) - which is, of course, what a photography festival should be.
Over the course of two days the ten photographers then meet with the ten members of the jury, to discuss the work. This is the portfolio-review part. It doesn’t take a math genius to figure out that having to talk to ten photographer in two days is a bit different from having to talk to the 28 (this is the number of photographers I had to talk to in Houston). In Hyères, I saw photographers and jury members speaking often for more an hour - that is how a portfolio review should really be done. This is why I wrote yesterday that the real prize is to be one of the ten photographers - where else do you get that much face time with an assorted list of professionals from all over the world? This might also explain why every year, there is an amazing amount of camaraderie amongst the photographers - I’ve literally heard photographers tell me that somebody else should win, just because s/he was such a nice person! (the image above shows Yvonne Lacet speaking with Oliviero Toscani)
So who participated? The ten photographers were (in alphabetical order) Yann Gross, Yvonne Lacet, Matthieu Lavanchy, Dhruv Malhotra (who doesn’t have a website), Cara Phillips, Billie Mandle, James Reeve, Robin Schwartz, Indre Serpytyte, and Carlo van de Roer. In alphabetical order, the jury members were Saskia Asser (curator, Huis Marseille, Amsterdam), Patrick Burgoyne (editor-in-chief, Creative Review, London), Susanna Brown (photography curator, Victoria and Albert Museum, London), Claudia Donaldson (picture director), Dung Ngo (senior editor, Rizzoli, NY), Richard Pandiscio (founder of Pandiscio Co., NY), Walter Pfeiffer (photographer, Zürich; pictured above), Johan Svensson (art director, Vogue, Paris), Oliviero Toscani (photographer), Tho van Tran (creative director, Air Paris, Paris)), Ralf Zimmermann (photo director, Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, Germany).
On the second day of the reviews, the photo exhibition is also open to the public. “The public” of course includes all the various fashion people - which often results in the photographers talking to even more people; and every year, I see some of the big names from the Paris fashion world looking at the photographs and often approaching the photographers.
Add to this mix the fashion show (above one of my snaps from this year) - that’s how the ten shortlisted fashion designers present their work, the exhibition of the previous year’s winner(s), the other (usually fashion related) photo exhibitions, the colourful fashion crowd, and - of course! - the great food and wine, and it’s hard to see how this mix could get improved.
If you’re a photographer you definitely want to look out for the announcement of next year’s Hyères Festival.