That was one of the first pieces of Photojournalism advice that I received during my first year at the Corcoran. What my teacher, Michael Connor, meant by that was to construct a visual narrative using ten photos that give the viewer mostly everything they need to understand and connect with the subject’s story. The captions that support these images should merely exist to provide situational context. You would think that the acclaimed work chosen to be on display at FotoWeekDC would at least do that.
This past weekend, I went to check out one of the photo exhibitions at this annual photo convention. One of the exhibits on display was the Women Photojournalists of Washington (WPOW) Annual Juried Exhibition. The work by WPOW is always great, but how the photos were organized in this show wasn’t made clear to the public. The exhibition showcased all winning images on the walls, but only one of the images was labeled “Best in Show” next to the photographer’s name; the rest of the photos were only accompanied by the photographer’s name and caption. In addition to those images not being labeled with the award they won, most of the photos appeared to be extracted from larger photo stories. Each photo was strong individually, but the presentation and organizational choices left me feeling disconnected from the stories captured.
Jacquelyn Martin received the Best in Show award for her photos about the Tanzania Albino Killings. She had two powerful images that were on display at this exhibit, but their meaning was not evident until reading the captions. After visiting her website and browsing through a larger collection of images in this story, I felt the impact and the significance of her work. At that point, the context in the captions became supplementary.
I would have liked to see the full photo stories of the work done by WPOW, and at least know which category each photo was selected for. Because of these issues, I was left relying on the captions to learn about the images. I spent more time reading the captions than I did observing the photos, simply because I felt like the captions helped me understand what I couldn’t quite get from looking at each image. A poor job done by FotoWeekDC, in organizing and presenting some exceptional photos taken by WPOW members.