Critique of "The Built Environment" by Karen Froyland on December 8, 2009
Over thirty club members and fans of good photography joined photojournalist Karen Froyland to admire and review the twenty-four photographs that made up the Photography Club of Davis' "The Built Environment" exhibit at the International House of Davis. The description of the exhibit said, "Our works take the viewer from the ancient world of the middle east and Greece, to the temples of Asia, to the flowering of architecture during the Renaissance in Europe and finally to our own contemporary built environment." This meeting was an opportunity for club members to hear the comments of someone who judges exhibits at the local and national level.
Froyland is a past photo editor of The Davis Enterprise and her work as a photojournalist has included long term work with the San Francisco 49er's and experience taking photographs for oceanographer, Jacques Cousteau when Froyland was photo editor of a newspaper in Morro Bay. She is also well known around Davis for photo and video work in local sports, with young children and with the arts. She was won best of show for her photographs at the county and state level and is a judge in juried shows ranging from the Yolo County Fair to national competitions.
Karen calls herself a photojournalist, not a photographer, because she has little interest in the technical end of taking or developing photographs. She tries to capture the photo she wants through the lens and admires photographs that move her or have some unique quality that sets them apart. For this exhibit, Karen came looking for photographs that drew her in and beckoned her to go wherever the photograph was taken or photographs of familiar buildings, like the St. Peter's Basilica or The Taj Mahal, seen in new ways.
Most of the seventeen club members who had works on display were there to respond to her questions and take in her blunt and direct perspectives on each photo. Even with some criticisms and suggestions, Froyland found something of value in each photograph and was especially impressed with several photographs.
Froyland took almost two hours to go from photograph to photograph giving her insights into each one while sharing comments about her own background and career in photojournalism. Without singling out specific photographs or photographers, here is a sampling of the comments she dispensed as the audience moved with her around the gallery.
"That's what you're supposed to do with the Eiffel Tower, to give a new look to something people have seen before so they say, 'Cool! I never saw that.'"
"I love the sense of humor and the juxtaposition of the old with the new. There is that old structure that probably took years of hard work to create and that strangely-shaped car that just popped out of the factory."
"That photo is all cattywampus and has no vertical lines so you don't have anything to stand on. It makes you feel like you're suspended in space, and that's what makes it so powerful."
"That photo has dark parts in the corners that draw your eye back into the photograph. It the edges had all been white your eye would have just floated off into space."
The critique took place on the last day of the exhibit, so as soon as Froyland finished her comments, the photos came down from the walls of I-House. However, her insights gave club members many things to consider as they prepare for future exhibits.
Speaker invited by Clyde Elmore