I'm happy to report that my in-person Portfolio Reviews have been going swimmingly. I've done four so far (Bill, Bob, Ed and Ben). Each person's photography has been completely different. Different kinds of work, at different levels of development, different concerns—making four very different portfolios. What the photographers had in common is that all have been unusually thoughtful and bright people capable of discussing their work (and other things) at a high level, and they're all very engaged with their photography. It's been challenging for me, but also quite rewarding. I can sincerely say it was a pleasure to meet each of them.
Having learned more about doing these reviews as I go, I'm making a few changes. The price will stay at $100/hour; I've done some calibrating to other, similar teaching/review services offered by other similarly qualified instructors, and that price seems to be nicely in line with the standard. In the future I won't be offering refunds in exchange for writeups, though. I just got health insurance for the first time since I struck out on my own and it's "like to break me" as Huck might have said. (It's my second biggest expense, between the mortgage and my son's college tuition.) I need the income from these reviews if I'm to be doing them. (Also, no one's done a writeup yet.) I'm limiting sessions to three hours, although you can book sessions on consecutive days if you like (Bob did that). From now on I believe I'd like to start the sessions in the afternoon, at about two or three—I write in the morning, and it discombobulates me to break that rhythm. But later we'll go have a meal, and that's off the meter.
I had anticipated that only people who live nearby would be interested in a portfolio review with me—the first client, Bill, came from nearby Rochester on a day trip with his daughter, who sat in on our sessions—but all three of the others came from various distances; Bob from Virginia and Ed from Massachusetts near Cape Cod. Ben lives in San Francisco but was visiting his and his wife's parents in the New York City area. Ben's wife Suzanne accompanied him here and joined us for lunch—she was as interesting and accomplished as her husband—but didn't sit in on our sessions.
For people who will be traveling here, I'm going to be recommending La Belle Vie (French for "the good life") Bed and Breakfast in Penn Yan. Llewellyn and Laurel, who run the little inn, are retired computer professionals from Brooklyn. They welcome visitors in a splendid and distinctive restored 1860s Italianate Victorian mansion that's renowned locally (deservedly so). Both seem to be ideal innkeepers, warm and personable. And they take their hosting duties seriously—the breakfasts are magnificent, for one thing. I can attest to that, because I joined Ben and Suzanne for breakfast they morning they left.
Llewellyn is a photographer. He won First Prize one year in Life in the Finger Lakes magazine's photography contest, and the camera in the picture is on permanent display in the living room—it's a Rochester-made Folmer studio stand camera with a Wollensak lens.
All in all I think a stay at this charming B&B would amplify the experience for people coming to visit. La Belle Vie isn't offering discounts for TOPpers but that's because their rates are already reasonable.
The only thing is, you should probably make plans if you want to come in season. Rooms aren't too hard to come by in the off-season (although a reservation never hurts), but during the season (June through September) the earlier the better. You'll need to make reservations at least three weeks in advance and probably more.
Of course there are plenty of other places hereabouts to stay—including a very basic Microtel in Penn Yan, short on amenities and charm but also cheap. And naturally it's up to you.
If you'd like to schedule a portfolio review, please let me know.
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