The upcoming five-day extravaganza FOTOfusion 2000 at the Palm Beach Photographic Centre in Delray Beach bills itself as "the international festival of photography and imaging where creativity and technology fuse." A better slogan might be: "Everything you always wanted to know about photography (but were afraid to ask)."
Duane Michals' portrait of French artist Réné Magritte
From the first activity (a field trip to South Beach on Tuesday, January 25) to the last (the Farewell Bash on Saturday, January 29), FOTOfusion offers a dizzying array of photography-related stuff to do -- for both seasoned shutterbugs and neophyte photogs. The schedule is an Olympics-style affair, with as many as seven or eight programs running -- often simultaneously -- on a given day.
Numbers tell much of the story. Among the participants are 60 professional photographers, including such "names" as Duane Michals, Douglas Kirkland, and Arnold Newman; editors and photography directors from 21 publications, including Time,Sports Illustrated, People, Entertainment Weekly, and Vibe; and representatives of 27 photography-related companies, including camera and software manufacturers and image archives.
Many of the pros are involved in FOTOfusion's 55 seminars, which cover both general topics ("The Photo Essay," "Sustaining Creativity") and more specific ones ("Enhancing Your Outdoor Images Digitally," "Large Format Made Easy"). Others lead the event's 22 workshops, some of which include field trips to locations like Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago, South Beach, Butterfly World, and the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.
Join renowned portrait photographer Douglas Kirkland, for example, for a hands-on workshop called "Photographing Beauty." (He should know how: Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, and Robert Redford have posed in front of his camera.) Accompany nature/wildlife photographer Lewis Kemper on location for "Sunrise at Loxahatchee." Or let photo editor Laurie Kratochvil, veteran of 350 cover shoots for Rolling Stone, explain the "Anatomy of a Celebrity Cover Shoot."
Not surprisingly, many of the seminars and workshops concentrate on the changes computer technology has brought to photography. The image-altering possibilities of Adobe PhotoShop 5.5, in particular, are a popular topic.
The academic-minded will also find a series of four lectures on tap during FOTOfusion. For example Duane Michals, well known for manipulating his images in various ways, speaks on "Perception or Reality." Photojournalist Antonin Kratochvil chronicles two decades of war in Eastern Europe in "Broken Dream."
FOTOfusion also has its whimsical side. Daily "Photo-Ops in the Courtyard" allow visitors to click away at fashion models from Bloomingdale's, Harley-Davidson riders and their choppers, and African drummers. "What's It Worth?" invites you to bring in pretty much anything photography-related for an appraisal. If you're up for some criticism, you can also have your own portfolio evaluated by professionals.
Even if you're more of a spectator than a participant, there's plenty of eye candy to go around. FOTOfusion has 18 photography exhibitions on display at locations throughout downtown Delray Beach. Sports Illustrated presents "Great Sports Photographs of the Century," while the CBS Archives lets you look at "America Through the CBS Eye."
Images from the latest book by James Nachtwey, who's also part of the lecture series, are the subject of an exhibition called "Inferno: Crimes Against Humanity," which documents the strife in such international hot spots as Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, and Chechnya. The three-decade career of one of the world's best-known photographers is chronicled in "Duane Michals: Retrospective," which will continue at the Palm Beach Photographic Centre after FOTOfusion concludes.
Like most festivals FOTOfusion also has its share of social functions. Among them are receptions, an awards dinner, a beach barbecue, and an evening of "Art & Jazz on the Avenue."
Of course most of these activities have price tags. You can get into some of them for as little as $5, but you'll shell out $15 for an appraisal or $95 for a portfolio review. Individual seminars and workshops run $70, while various package deals range from $545 to $670. Members of the Palm Beach Photographic Centre get discounts. The fee scale, like the events schedule itself, is as complicated as a college curriculum, so by all means pick up a catalog to help you make sense of it all.