Well, That’s 4×5 Photo Fest I Guess…

Howdy Wonderful Listeners…

So, yesterday was most definitely an interesting day to remember. See, I had the pleasure of going to the 1st annual 4×5 Photo Festival in San Antonio. And while I was quite grateful to have had the experience I had, I was…well, somewhat disappointed.

But let me explain myself. Jump back to 7:00 AM yesterday when I had to wake up. See, since I’m out in my college town, I had to commute back to San Antonio to get to the festival and that meant leaving early. Luckily, I caught a ride with Chelsea who was going as well.

Oh! I guess I should mention that the only reason I even knew about this event was because Middle Grey (the club that I’m an officer of) got invited to the event! It’s honestly amazing that the coordinators were so eager to include us (but I suppose having connections will do that for you.) So I wasn’t necessarily going to enjoy myself but to represent my club.

Anyway, Chelsea and I left to head for San Antonio. We had all over our prints in the back of her car that we planned on selling. But what I was excited about was the new officer shirts we were receiving! Honestly, I was totally stoked about them! 🙂

The commute to San Antonio was smooth. Honestly, Chelsea and I chatted the whole way there and jammed to a few tunes of course. When we arrived to the festival, I had to change into my officer shirt.

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Look at me! I’m official!

After doing a quick change, we headed inside of Brick, where the festival was being held. Since we were the first to arrive, we were also the first to get some cool badges! Everyone ended up getting one but our badges were the first and were specially waiting for the first ones of our group who arrived (which was us! 😛 )

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What a nice badge! Keeping this for scrapbooking! 🙂

But since we were the first to arrive, we also had to start setting up our booth alone. But thankfully, it was long before two of the other officers arrived to assist.

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It’s the start of a beautiful day!

We had flyers for our upcoming show, prints, and merchandise on display! I mean, we were trying to sell our stuff since it was a great opportunity! And you know, it wasn’t long until we got all of our booth done. I even had time to pin our Middle Grey shirts to the wall all nice and neat!

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How eloquent is my setup? I think quite, to be honest. Eh… Sort of.

And just like that, we wer all set to go before the festival really started! That also means we had time to look around and boy, at this point, it was empty.

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It’s primed for an eager audience if I say so…

And looking around, I couldn’t help but notice some shirts on the wall aside from our own. They were the T-shirts designed for the festival. They looked quite nice!

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I wanted to buy one but, I decided against it.

You know what made the morning even better? We saw Chelsea’s work on the wall of photos from those who made it into the event! See, Chelsea’s work was chosen to represent Middle Grey by our supervisor, Jessica. I honestly felt really happy for her! And she was happy for herself too… 🙂

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Anyway, after all of our looking around, we went back to our booth. We were all excited since everything was set up and looking so neat. We even took a picture to remember the moment.

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The Middle Grey Family (excluding non-officers)

At some point in time after 10 AM when the festival started, we received our copies of Chelsea’s prints for the print swap which was going on. Honestly, the prints were nice and we got some wonderful ones back. But there was a little note inside of our received envelope addressed to our group.

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It only keeps getting more and more official!

We also managed to pick up some buttons while we were there that I thought were absolutely cute. I mean, I am totally going to wear these on something… At some point in time. What I know for sure, is that they are cute and they match my personality.

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C’mon! They’re cute right!?

Well, around 11 AM is when the events at the festival got started. To be honest, most of the events were panels and artist talks. If I may be frank, many of there were worth listening to but they yielded little help to me.

Now, let me explain this. If I had not already been aware of most of the things they were talking about with reference to advice, I would have learned a lot. But, since I was already aware of these tips and tricks and opinions, the talks weren’t all that fruitful. AND they took up most of the festival to begin with!

So, as you might guess, since I felt like most of what could’ve been fruitful was not and it took up most of my time, I wasn’t all that pleased. But I did run into some cool people. Like Anthony Francis for example.

See, he had a booth close to us and he is a recent graduate student. And I gotta say, his work is absolutely GORGEOUS!! I mean, I was in love to be honest.

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Black art if you will, but I loved it regardless of its context.

And you know, he was a cool dude. He actually ended up giving us some well-received advice for our future endeavors.

He was basically passing on his lessons to us so we could learn. But he talked a lot about graduate school from what I remember. He said that you really gotta know your graduate school and what they’re going to give you, and part of that means visiting the school itself and meeting those you’d interact with if you got into it.

I think that’s very helpful overall and if I ever go to grad school, I do hope I’ll remember that advice. He was also talking about how undergraduate programs aren’t really prepping us for the real world. To a big extent, he’s right. I mean, most schools with fine arts programs don’t teach some really fundamental things to know: like how to price your work, how to market yourself, how to build connections with individuals who can get you jobs, what obstacles you must expect to run into in your career path, etc.

So while he was a bit all over the place, he had a lot of helpful things to tell us. That may have been the most helpful thing I heard all day. So we all thanked him and we went about the rest of our day.

Between many panel discussions, we were selling our work and merchandise to the public that attended. Honestly, we were having a very hard time doing so. See, we were the only “college” group to attend this festival, as everyone else was an independent artist or a company. So, it felt like we were out of our league.

We talked with a lot of people and we did get the word out about our showing that will be held in Austin soon. Plenty of people during the festival were made aware of that and were excited! But hardly anyone bought anything. And what strikes me about it, is that our work was the cheapest in the room but it was still great work.

So you know what I learned? I learned that all you can do is offer yourself to people and the ones that truly are interested will pursue. All others are just looking to browse and that’s it. Still, that agitates me a bit because asking a million questions about purchasing and options only to not buy is aggravating.

So I guess, if you will, I was mad (and disappointed) the most because none of my work sold. Not a single one. But we did have a certain President sell lots of her own work so props to her! But an extra bit of money in my pocket would’ve been nice too…

But even though not selling all day, and being there for a total of 12 hours, and being forced to sit through panels that were, in the end, irrelevant to my world, was agonizing. It almost ruined the experience.

But thankfully, that’s not how the story ends. Actually, the story ended with a panel for Dan Winters. Now, I was not familiar with Dan Winters whatsoever but I sure have him on my radar now after his panel. Everyone else had him on their radar apparently though. Like, the room was packed! And I can understand why because it was amazing to say the least.

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The room is packed! I barely have room in here!

I mean, his work is so very particular but it’s a beautiful archive that he has up his sleeve. I mean, I could stare at his work all day. And what made it better was that he was so down-to-earth. I mean, seriously he was just awesome. He even kept me from falling asleep (as I did during other panel discussions.)

What made it great for me was that he reaffirmed my optimistic hopes for the future. He made me feel that it was OK to do what you love and just be on your stuff. He made me feel that it was OK to not be consistent in terms of idea types. He made me feel OK about many things. And, well, it also helps that he’s a fantastic storyteller. 😉

But yeah, that was pretty much the 4×5 Photo Fest experience. I mean, we had some small glints of happiness here and there: a selling of merchandise, our members showing up to support us, connecting with other artists, getting free stuff… So I mean, it was a good time overall. But it definitely could’ve been better.

But then it was over. We packed up the booth and all headed home (well, three of us did anyway. Two of the officers left half-way through the festival for previous engagements.) And it was a smooth ride home with Chelsea I’ll tell ya…

Well, that’s all I got for you guys. Hope that did something for you. And until next time, cheers!


What sort of festivals do you like going to? Have you ever been to a festival? Leave all your thoughts below!

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