First Year Review

Last week fototazo celebrated its first year of publication, creating an opportunity to take a brief look at the past year and to talk about the plans ahead for the site in 2012.

The site is working to develop an integrated system of support for young, emerging Colombian photographers with the goal of eventually extending the program to other countries.

The program currently consists of four parts: microgrants for equipment purchases, the equipment delivery program to give photographers access to United States market prices, the mentorship program to give the photographers guidance, feedback on their work, and connections to an international team of mentors drawn from across the spectrum of the photography world, and finally the bi-weekly private classes in Medellín that I am giving to the four students involved with the mentorship program.

In 2011 the microgrant program raised almost $2,200 and purchased four cameras. A fifth grant for a lens purchase is in the process of funding. A deep thank you to those who have believed in the value of these grants and contributed towards their successful completions. The equipment delivery program saved photographers $650 through access to US market prices and additionally delivered several pieces of equipment unavailable in Colombia that are therefore unable to be counted in this dollar total. A mentorship team has been assembled and four photographers selected as the initial participants in the mentorship program. Pairings have been created between mentors and these photographers and first connections have been made.

My goal is to strengthen and grow all four parts of the integrated support program in 2012. Primarily I am exploring ways to create income for the microgrants beyond a reliance on individual donations including print sales, sidebar banners for financial partners of the site, and grant applications to a range of foundations. A major goal for the site in 2012 is its recognition as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which will allow me to approach potential corporate donors more easily by providing tax relief benefits for contributions. As a 501(c)(3) organization I also will approach equipment manufacturers for wholesale prices for grant equipment.

As for site content, I would also like to extend a thank you to all of the 2011 contributors of images and words for their help in providing a level of content that has helped the site to expand and grow its readership steadily throughout the year. The site received visits from 149 countries in the first calendar year thanks to the quality of their efforts. The site has established a number of continuing series - including The Image, Profile, Of Interest, the Gallery, Interviews, Project Releases, Reading Shortlists, A Question About and Photographers on Photographers - as well as limited run series, such as the f100 series, the Publisher Q&A Series, 12 on Portraiture and the series on Emerging Mexican Street Photographers created with the help of Mark Powell. In 2012 I expect to evolve both the continuing and short run series as well as to begin to run collaborative cross-site dialogues, such as a Photography 2.0 Roundtable scheduled for early this year in collaboration with Andy Adams and FlakPhoto.

Another goal in terms of content for 2012 is to begin a shift to more of an editor role of the site by expanding the role of contributors in content creation. Photographer Kevin Thrasher, for example, has done as excellent interview with William Mebane that will be published shortly on the site. I believe this is a sustainable model for the long-run as I balance running the site with other sides of life both in and out of photography. One other note in terms of content: I did not publish any opinion posts in 2011 under the idea that as a non-profit, I want the site to appeal broadly by avoiding a particularly strong stance on photography or being a site based around a personality. After spending a year more closely observing the online photography landscape, however, I may look to begin opinion posts as a way for the site to generate conversation with the goal of further funding its mission through an expanded readership.

I would like to extend a thank you to the fototazo Board of Directors - photographers Nicholas Nixon, Laura McPhee and Gabriel Mario Vélez and business leaders Yaron Ben-Zvi and Raphael Crawford - for their year of service in this role.

Finally, I would also like to thank you - the site readers - for following the site and choosing to spend your time reading what we publish from among all of the many quality photography sites that exist.

All the best,
Tom Griggs