Boston Pops: Magenta's first U.S. Flash Forward Festival was Picture-Perfect

By Stella Kramer, Guest Panelist at FFFBoston

It can’t be easy putting a photo festival together. You have to pull together interesting panels with interesting people, get work chosen and framed, decide on a theme, find a venue, and let the world know. You have to bring people in, put them up and make sure that everyone involved leaves feeling that they learned something new, met interesting people, and felt a part of a greater community.

That the Magenta Foundation put on the Flash Forward Festival in Boston, their second festival in less than a year (the first was last fall in Toronto), is quite an accomplishment. That it was such a resounding success is true of only a handful of festivals. My congratulations to all involved. This festival was full of fascinating panels, beautiful work, and all-around wonderful people. And, I mean every word of the superlatives I’m tossing about.

Stephen Mayes at Flash Forward BostonI came as a member of the panel “Smart Marketing Strategies for Photographers” , which was moderated by Alison Zavos of FeatureShoot. The turnout was impressive, the audience engaged, and we all had a wonderful time. Preceding us was Stephen Mayes of VII Agency, talking about “Restructuring the Photographic Practice”. As someone who goes to photo festivals, I appreciate panels that speak not only to photographers (I am not one) but also to everyone in the photographic community. I felt energized and excited after his talk, which is not something that frequently happens to me.

By the time of the live-streamed panel “The Future of Photobooks”,  I was telling everyone how super-impressed I was by the level of intellectual discourse, the beautifully hung shows, and the quality of the work of the emerging artists chosen. When compared with the NY photo festival held in Dumbo, there was no contest: Flash Forward Festival Boston beat it on all counts.

Flash Forward is carving out its own identity, bringing in important photo people who not only have something to say, but are able to put their ideas across in front of an audience — no mean feat. Their commitment to identifying and presenting the work of strong emerging photographers from the U.S., UK and Canada is something that needs to be supported. Too often festivals focus on the well known at the expense of those struggling to become known.

For me, Flash Forward was an unexpected delight. Many people came up to me at the end of my panel, introducing themselves as we continued the discussion. That casual friendliness was everywhere. I found the other panels fascinating, enjoyed seeing old friends and making new ones, and saw a lot of fantastic work I hadn’t seen before. I have blogged about several of the photographers whose work I discovered, something that is always exciting for me.

I expect more great things from the people of Flash Forward, specifically MaryAnn Camilleri, whose heroic work made this all possible. I know she looks towards making Flash Forward a repeating, novel festival that separates itself from all others. I admire the commitment as much as her unique ideas.

If you weren’t in Boston this time, be sure to be at the next Flash Forward Festival. If you are an emerging photographer, become involved in the Magenta Foundation, and sign-up to get news of their events.

The sponsors of Flash Forward Boston, TD Bank and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts should be commended for their strong support in making this festival a success and for treating the invitees extremely well.

It was a privilege to have been invited. I met Foundation board members and had some great discussions over dinner. I’m looking forward to their next festival, and plan on being there, whether it’s in Toronto or Boston or anywhere else.

To see some of the coverage that the Flash Forward Festival attracted, visit To see the “Future of Photobooks” Panel Discussion livestream archived at the wonderful Andy Adams’ Photo Blog, click here:

Stella KramerStella Kramer is a multi-award winning creative strategist who works one-on-one with photographers to help strengthen their creative vision, edit their portfolios and websites, and set marketing plans for their careers. She also lectures, curates, appears at photo festivals around the country as a portfolio reviewer, and consults with companies on their visual image.

Stella is a Pulitzer Prize-winning Photo Editor who has worked at such major publications as The New York Times, PEOPLE, Entertainment Weekly, Sports Illustrated and Newsweek. She is also the co-curator of Fraction-J and has curated for the Griffin Museum of Photography.

Her blog, Stellazine is about all things photography and features commentary and interviews with photographers of all genres who discuss their creative process. She also writes the ASMPNY blog, Sharpen.

Festival photos courtesy of The Magenta Foundation. Photo of Stella Kramer © Sari Goodfriend.