At 5pm today, the deadline to submit entries for the Miami Street Photograph Festival 2012 taking place during Art Basel this year will pass. In all likelihood, I will NOT be submitting any photos. That is, I won’t be submitting photos unless the event organizers respond to an email I sent to them inquiring as to their plans, if any, on drawing focus to either the work of the local artists/street photographers in Miami or at least to the street photography OF Miami in the affirmative.
As a street photographer living in Miami, I would sincerely hope that would be the case since they are using our city’s very name in naming their festival. And not only that, but the festival is being held during Art Basel, recognized without question as the world’s single largest art festival. And it is held here, in our home. In Miami.
So does Miami Street Photography Festival 2012 have anything at all to do with street photographers based in Miami or street photography OF Miami?
As it stands under the rules and regulations, the event is open to any and all photographers from all around the world. Photographs could have been shot anywhere at all; it is not a requirement that they were taken in Miami or even have any connection at all to Miami. So EVERY photographer from all over the world pays a fee of $20 FOR EACH IMAGE they submit ($75 for 5 images) for simply a CHANCE to have their work on display at the festival. After the deadline today passes, whoever the judges are that are sitting on the panel, decide which photographs will be in the exhibit. Out of the mountain of submissions they’ll receive from all over the world. Taken in any city in the world.
There is absolutely zero focus on Miami street photography from either the perspective that the exhibit will feature the work of local artists or that the exhibit will showcase, at least, street photography shot in Miami. Under these rules and regulations, the festival would be more aptly named “Street Photography Festival 2012.” And it would be less of an affront to local artists (and to the community that supports them). Were it appropriately named, it would have at least given a better picture to artists what they are taking part in. I might have even considered at least a little more seriously the possibility of submitting an entry. Or five. Though, statistically speaking, you are playing the lottery. Only you don’t even know who is picking the numbers or how they pick them.
As it stands, nothing within the festival promotes local artists or the city of Miami. Once you get to the fine print, the festival looks like an unscrupulous middle-man, coming in from the outside, trying to squeeze out some dollars from the artists with no regard for the local community of artists nor the residents of the city. It feels deceptive to me.
Perhaps I’m wrong. I truly hope I am. It just doesn’t feel right.