2.12.2014

Third Year Review

Projection still of an image by Edwin Ochoa, from actual color may vary's "Artist as Curator –
Spectacle in Photography" at the Belfast Photo Festival 2013

A couple weeks back, fototazo celebrated its third anniversary, creating an opportunity to take a look at the past year and to talk about plans for the site for 2014. This is also the "yearly report" required for fototazo's 501(c)3 non-profit status application.
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SITE MISSION

The site's primary mission is to develop an integrated program of support for young, emerging Colombian photographers with the goal of eventually extending the program to other countries. All content on the site serves the need to produce viewership to support the site's primary mission.

The support program 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, private classes in Medellín I teach for those involved with the microgrant and mentorship programs. Of the twelve microgrant recipients from the last three years, eight continue to be engaged with all four parts of the program.

In 2013 the microgrant program raised $1,081 and purchased two cameras and two lenses. Three grants were completed during the calendar year and a fourth nearly completed – it finished funding yesterday, in fact. Thank you to those who have contributed towards their successful completions – this site continues because of your contributions.

I am seeking other streams of revenue for the microgrant program to complement individual donations. Possible ideas include print sales, sidebar banners for financial partners of the site and post sponsorships as well as grant applications to a range of foundations and the pursuit of corporate sponsors.

One of the major goals for the site in 2013 was its recognition as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which will allow me to more easily approach foundations and also potential corporate donors by providing tax relief benefits for contributions. As a 501(c)(3) organization I also will also be able to approach equipment manufacturers about getting wholesale prices for grant equipment. The application was – huzzah! – finally sent in in October after almost two years of procrastinating. According to the federal website, however, they are currently reviewing applications from May 2012. It's now a waiting game as far as completing this long-standing goal. Once that application is reviewed and – hopefully – accepted, I will be attempting to expand the microgrant program aggressively.

Prices for photography equipment have fallen in Colombia, but the equipment delivery program continues to be used and the program will continue as long as it is useful. The amount saved collectively by photographers through the program is hard to approximate because a number of items brought from the States are simply not available in Colombia. Three photography books, a lens and a light seal kit were purchased through the program. The lens alone saved the photographer $159 by having access to US market prices, which gives an idea of the scale of savings the program provides. If anyone will be visiting Colombia, please let me know and perhaps we can arrange for a delivery.

The mentorship program has strengthened during the year by redesigning it. Last year it had been in rough shape due to a number of issues that I tried to identify in order to resurrect the program (all of the issues are listed in last year’s review here).

The program has become a public mentoring process in which I am facilitating the interactions. Approximately once a month, mentors receive a link with new work from one of the mentees to all of the mentors to solicit their comments. Each mentee has two dedicated mentors that are expected to comment; other mentors add additional comments if they have time. The work and all comments are then published as a Classroom post on the site. The premise behind the public process is that the issues encountered in the work and the comments given in relation to them can help others to identify and approach similar issues in their own work.

Seven photographers are currently mentees and the mentors expanded to thirteen in 2013. A goal for 2014 is to include two or three new mentees and a similar number of mentors.

Private classes will continue for the mentees in 2014 on a once-a-month basis.

Additionally, the seven photographers in the mentorship program put together an exhibition at the Biblioteca EPM in Medellín that opened in January. This is the culmination of two years of work by them and it looks fantastic. Donors contributed $200 to cover the expenses of the opening and postcards.

Finally, Julia Schiller and Oliver Schneider of actual colors may vary gave twelve students from my classes at the Universidad de Antioquia and Fundación Universitaria Bellas Artes in Medellín the chance to project their work as part of the Belfast Photo Festival 2013.

These exhibition opportunities are a culmination of work by all of those involved in the four parts of the site's support program and are also, I hope, a demonstration of what this site's support for emerging photographers in Colombia can help provide and an argument for helping us with that support.
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CONTENT

As for site content, I would like to extend a thank you to all of the 2013 contributors of images and words for their help in providing a level of content that has helped the site to grow its readership. The site received visits from 171 countries in the third calendar year and page views maintained their 100% jump over 2012 and increased, albeit slightly, from 2013.

fototazo has established a number of ongoing series including Interviews, The Image, Profile, Project Releases, Reading Shortlists, Project Shortlists, A Question About, Q&A, Exchange Edits, Selects, International Site Profiles and Photographers on Photographers - as well as limited run series such as the Publisher Q&A2 Series and How to Develop a Project. The Gallery section of the site closed in 2013 in deference to the continued evolution of Tumblr as a replacement for straight, simple posts of images and links.


In 2014 I expect to continue to evolve these continuing and short run series as well as to run more collaborative cross-site dialogues and projects, such as the current series on Colombian contemporary photography being published with Alec Soth of Little Brown Mushroom and the guest curation project with Mariela Sancari on Cintia Duran's 1x1.

I published longer, more in-depth articles in 2013, but fewer posts overall. This – along with occasional breaks from actively publishing posts entirely - has helped me balance running this site better with being a photographer and educator as well as provided the site with deeper original material. I hope to continue roughly the same publication patterns in 2014.

I featured more work from Latin America this past year and am actively working to use the site to serve as a bridge between Latin American photographers and an international audience. In terms of planned upcoming content, the site will move even more in this direction.

In 2013 I also began to shift to more of an editor role with help from an excellent group of regular contributors. This is something I hope to push even further in the coming year as it will allow me to focus on writing pieces of opinion and history, reviews and interviews and because it brings a wider range of perspectives and types of content to the site. In addition to individual posts written by contributors published during the year, Joshua Dudley Greer has launched a regular Outtakes series on fototazo, Adam Bell has been providing periodic book reviews and Antone Dolezal is working on the Independently Published Photobooks series. Thank you to all of you - the quality of your posts has been inspirational!


la red fototazo is a side project that I hope will continue to advance in terms of quality of discussion. It is a Spanish-language photography forum on Facebook; it has 80% more members than a year ago. Continued thanks to Mariela Sancari, Arturo Soto and Jaime Permuth for their help in getting this project off the ground.

In 2013, fototazo also started a Tumblr page with the help of contributor Kevin Thrasher. It’s honestly been slow-going in terms of posting, but I plan to pick it up in 2014.


fototazo also continues with it's Facebook and Twitter pages.

The previous Board of Directors was divided into two boards as part of the 501(c)3 process. I would like to extend a thank you to the fototazo Board of Directors now composed of business leaders Yaron Ben-Zvi and Raphael Crawford and photographer Amani Willett and also to the fototazo Advisory Board, which is made up of photographers Nicholas Nixon, Laura McPhee, and Gabriel Mario Vélez, for their year of service in their roles.

Finally, thank YOU 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. We look forward to taking another step in 2014.

All the best,
Tom Griggs