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On Assignment

Posted by Teresa Hanafin  October 24, 2008 11:12 AM

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Two things melded for me recently into a new idea for RAW: First, I attended the opening of the Young Photographers Initiative exhibit at the Children's Museum (and made them last week's POTW); next, I was intrigued by Kati Seiffer's photo of the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, which you voted into Third Place in the September "My Neighborhood" contest. I have heard of the museum, but never visited, and would like to know more about it.

So this was my idea: Why not ask all of you to go "On Assignment" for RAW and write about the photo-related exhibits, museums, classes, fairs, etc. that you attend?

Here's how it could work:

I'll make the assignments based on my ideas and your ideas; you'll visit the venue or take part in the activity, shoot some photos (if possible; not all exhibits allow that, for example), and do a little write-up. Also, if we want to evaluate these things objectively, it may or may not be appropriate for you to go up to the organizers and announce, "I'm on assignment for; show me around." In most cases, we'll want to avoid any special treatment, but rather, attend just as anyone else would. If you need more information, you can always call them later.

If you are able to take photos, then send in 5 or 6 of them along with a short write-up (200 to 400 words), and I'll send you $25 for your trouble. (In some cases, the twenty-five bucks will just cover your expenses, but c'est la vie.) We'll run a couple per month.

Kati has graciously agreed to be our "On Assignment" guinea pig; she's going to visit the Griffin Museum and tell us all what it's like. She'll include details like admission price (if any), hours, and whether the gift shop sells chocolate. Now, this is a case where it is appropriate for Kati to talk to the museum staff since she needs their permission to shoot photos inside. But she'll still write about the pros and cons of the museum objectively and not be tempted if the museum offers her free admission for life in exchange for a favorable write-up (just kidding).

So here are my first ideas for possible assignments. When it comes to exhibits, I want to avoid the commercial shows by individual photographers. Look for themed exhibits by nonprofits. But also think beyond exhibits. If you're interested in getting assigned to any of the ideas below, or have your own ideas, just drop me a line at

> PhotoWalks of Boston. This is a company that takes photographers around Beacon Hill, Back Bay, the Freedom Trail, or the Waterfront on guided walking tours and promises to provide "secrets for taking amazing pictures of Boston, fascinating historic commentary, and creative photography tips." They operate year-round and the tours, which cost $25 for adults, take place several days a week.

> The Photographic Resource Center at Boston University. The PRC was founded in 1976 as an independent, non-profit organization that has photo exhibits, education programs, and special events. Its gallery has five exhibits a year with an emphasis on new ideas and trends in contemporary photography. Admission is $3, but is free every Thursday and on the last weekend of every month.

> An exhibit about Prohibition at the Panopticon Gallery, located in the Hotel Commonwealth in Kenmore Square, Boston. Even though I want to stay away from commercial enterprises, the Panopticon Gallery is one of the oldest galleries in the country dedicated solely to photography. And this exhibit features photographs from the archives of the Boston Public Library -- images depicting life during Prohibition in the US. The exhibit, which commemorates the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, opens Nov. 20 and runs until Jan. 12.

> The Photograph NOW, an exhibit at The Grimshaw-Gudewicz Art Gallery at Bristol Community College in Fall River. The 10 photographers in this exhibition use various techniques: Some work with early photographic methods, such as collotype and palladium printing, while others rely on digital technology, and then there are those who combine several processes. The exhibit runs until Nov. 19 and is free.

This is enough to get us started. Any takers? Any other ideas? Send them to me at

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