Natalie Slater Photography, LLC


Photographer + Designer

Palm Springs Photo Festival

I have had a lot of people ask me to explain how I got in touch with the curator at Santa Barbara Museum of Art in relation to my most recent sale to the museum. To answer that question, I have to tell you a brief story. After I graduated undergrad one of my professors invited  me to go along with him to Palm Springs Photo Festival. The fest is self described as an intense week-long event for Professional, Emerging and Serious Advanced Amateur Photographers. The event takes place in Palm Springs California and has been running for about 8 years, it has grown from a few critiques from major publishers and editors to workshops with world reknown photographers, and critiques with people like Karen from the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. I have spoken with the photo editor of Wired Magazine, I have the cell phone number for the editor of one of the most well known photography magazines in the nation, the critiques alone would be worth spending my time in Palm Springs once a year for a few days. I have attended the last four years and plan my entire year around the festival.

My first year I was able to study under the great Keith Carter. Carter is a Texan native and his class titled "Finding Your Voice" helped me find a direction and realize the potential of my abilities. Keith is supportive, and a wise, wonderful photographer, I am so glad I was able to study with him for a few days.

The second year I studied under Frank Ockenfells III and Nels Israelson, Frank and I email about every 3 months, and he still critiques my work from time to time over the internet. Frank is a celebrity photographer that thinks way, way outside the box., while Nels Israelson is also a celebrity photographer, the two men couldn't be more different. Frank focuses on the idea of the photograph much more than the mathematical ideas of photography when teaching, where as Nels really likes to hone in on the numbers, and the technical aspects of editing an image.

Nels Israelson "The Hobbit" 2011
Nels Israelson "The Hobbit" 2011

And finally, the third year I worked under Shelby Lee Adams. Adams is a portrait photographer that mainly works in Appalachia. From time to time he emails me articles he has written for academic purposes, and I pass them on the the academia that I am in contact with. But Adams taught me about flashes, how to work with a subject and how to approach a scenario, what to think about and how to execute those ideas.

Shelby Lee Adams "George's Branch Porch" 1991
Shelby Lee Adams "George's Branch Porch" 1991

My fourth year I spent entirely on critique. I spoke with the editor of Popular Photography, the curator of Rayko Photo Center in San Francisco, the photo editor of Real Simple, the woman who I currently consult with on my own career. I met a woman who sent my work to the creator of Buzz Lightyear at Pixar. These critiques are the most valuable of all because these wonderful people have decided to fly to southern California to give me 20 minutes of their time. I don't tell you these things to brag about the people I've been able to talk with, I tell you these things to convince you to come. I wouldn't have been able to do what I do without Palm Springs Photo Fest.

Besides all of the networking and elbow rubbing I've been allowed to do at this fest, I have also made life long friends that I stay in contact with throughout the year. If you are a photographer, and you want to further your career more than you already are, take your portfolio to Palm Springs Photo Fest. Sign up for a class. Take the free symposiums they offer. Talk to the camera sellsmen about their gear. Talk to the person next to you about their portfolio. Everyone at this fest has a goal and a dream, and they all want to hear about your goal and dream too.

All that to say, the answer to "How did you get noticed by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art?" is "Palm Springs Photo Festival"