Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward Festival

I just got back from a terrific five days of celebrating photography in and around Boston and want to share my experiences.  The Flash Forward Festival starts as a love story between an amazing photography organization (the Magenta Foundation), a city full of support for photography (Boston), and a very special hotel (the Fairmont Battery Wharf).
A couple of years ago, the Fairmont Battery Wharf Hotel in Boston was under construction and they were looking for a way to bring something extra to the hotel experience.  The hotel loved what the Magenta Foundation was doing in Toronto and offered them an annual home in Boston, to bring photography to life for a week in June.  They provide huge exhibition spaces, a space for lectures, and lots of exterior walls and walkways for the celebration of images.  It’s a MAJOR undertaking, but once you meet the amazing Maryann Camilleri, and her incredible assistant, Alicia Slakin, you begin understand how it all comes together with such grace.  Every detail, from the signage to the catalogs, to the smiling volunteers eager to assist, to the event planning and the parties, the festival is pretty much perfection.  It’s a quality event that brings together not only a community, but photographers and photography from around the world. And guess what, it’s all free.
The event kicked off with the Griffin Museum’s annual Focus Awards. Wednesday night we donned our finest to celebrate individuals who have made “critical contributions to the promotion of photography.” Hosted by gallerist Jason Landry of the Panopticon Gallery, the Griffin is one of the few organizations to recognize the work of those who have been instrumental in building greater awareness of the photographic arts in the general public. 
The Focus Awards are presented in several categories: Lifetime Achievement Award, given to an individual whose ongoing commitment to photography has created far reaching impact; Rising Star Award, given to an emerging force that the photographic community is watching with great enthusiasm; New England Beacon Award, recognizing a local individual whose work brings prominence to the local photographic scene; Spotlight Award, for an entity that consistently shines a light on photography and has created a far reaching impact in the field; and Quick Silver Award, given to an individual who has made significant advances in using and exploring new technologies, as well as innovative approaches to photography utilizing nontraditional ways to showcase the medium in ever-changing media.
This year’s recipients were:
 Lifetime Achievement – Eelco Wolf
 Rising Star – Aline Smithson
 New England Beacon – Stephen Jareckie
 Spotlight – photo-eye, Santa Fe
Quick Silver – Keith Jenkins

Museum director Paula Tognarelli brings so much to the Boston community with her support of emerging and established photographers, and has made the Griffin Museum into a world class organization.

image by Matthew Gamber

Thursday through Sunday the Flash Forward Festival offered amazing lectures by photographers such as David Hilliard, panel discussions, and insights into all the waters that photographers are navigating today, from learning about Pricing and Negotiating, the Merits of the App, Crowd Funding, and Innovative Ways to Sell Photos Online. Photo editor, Stella Kramer, introduced the lectures, and Andy Adams of Flak Photo streamed the events live.
When you needed a little air, you could stroll the Harborwalk and get filled up on beautiful scenery and more photographs.

Jan von Holleben’s images on the walkways

Andrew Rowat’s images on the walkways

The Griffin Museum’s 100th Anniversary Celebration of Fenway Park
Rob MacInnis’ farm animal portraits on the sides of the buildings

Amy Stevens‘ cake portraits on the buildings

Every evening, there were exhibition openings.  The Flash Forward Group Show 2011, curated by Maryann Camilleri, Aaron Schuman, and Julien Beaupre-Ste Marie lined the walls of a second floor space.

Downstairs, the Humble Arts showcased a wonderful collection of small prints. (these are just a sample of what was shown).

In addition, Maxine Helfman and I showcased solo exhibitions on the first floor. 

Arrangement in Green and Black: Portraits of the Photographer’s Mother

There were an number of exhibitions off sight in galleries across the city.
Upstairs, Larissa Leclair brought the Indie Photobook Library to Boston.

 It was truly an amazing festival, reflective of an amazing organization.  The Magenta Foundation supports emerging and established photographers is significant ways, through publishing books, exhibitions, and much more.  A huge thank you to Maryann Camilleri, the Flash Forward staff, Paula Tognarelli and all the Griffin Museum staff and supporters,the wonderful photographers of Boston, and the Fairmont Battery Wharf for a remarkable experience.