PDNEDU

Project X: Portfolios with a Global Reach

by Theano Nikitas


© FOTOFOLIOS.ORG
Global Connections: A screengrab showing a variety of images from the Fotofolios.org Web site
 


For the past six years, Fotofolios.org has provided a home for student and graduate portfolios and projects, with an eye toward expanding the reach of their work among peers and potential employers. At the same time, the Web site provides photo community resources and professional opportunities, ranging from current jobs to upcoming artist calls.

The site was conceived at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) in Farnham, U.K., when professor and photographer Anna Fox and her colleague Penny Laslett began looking at ways to promote employability for their students. As Fox recalls, “I’ve always been keen on students being taught about professionalism within the curriculum, but there was little being taught at the time Fotofolios started.” Perhaps more important, Fox adds, “I was taken by how lost the graduating students were because they were losing their support network. They’re the ones who most need to be connected to the world of opportunities and exhibitions. And they stay on the list after they graduate.”

Fox and Laslett’s intention to develop a Web site that would advertise jobs and promote student portfolios led them to submit an application to the university’s teaching and learning research fund to prepare and launch the site. Other colleagues came on board, including Web designer Christian Nolle and Sveinung Skaalnes offering tech support, and Fotofolios.org went live. The site is currently run by Anna Fox and Maria Kapajeva and designed by Christian Nolle. Anyone can view the portfolios and many of the resources featured on the site, but membership is required to view the job boards and to post portfolios. Fox often promotes the site when lecturing at international educational institutions she visits in her travels, and she extends invitations to universities and colleges with photography programs to join the network.

As a student herself in the 1980s, Fox began photographing in India. She found it was ideal “to combine the shooting work and educational work because the two things get me totally involved in the country and the culture.” After Fox started teaching in India in 2007, she “realized how really limited our knowledge has been about the global histories of photography.” This awareness has further reinforced her interest in globalizing photography education.

Although students are the main participants on Fotofolios (Fox recommends those who are in their final year of study or have recently graduated), each member university must have a teacher or professor who will share and post photographic job and creative opportunities. When approached by students, Fox suggests they work with a faculty member to join Fotofolios. Interested university and college representatives are encouraged to contact Fox via e-mail to discuss participation in the program.

© Federico Michettoni

Portrait of Rachael from Federico Michettoni’s 2012 master’s exhibition at Goldsmiths University.

Federico Michettoni joined Fotofolios to show the works from his final master’s exhibition at Goldsmiths University in 2012. While his portfolio on the site didn’t result in direct job offers, “it helped raise my profile as a photographer,” he says. “At the time, my Fotofolios page came up as the first result in a Google search for my name.”

Right now, Fotofolios member universities include those from the U.K. and other parts of Europe, the U.S., the Middle East, Africa and, “hopefully soon, South America,” says Fox. Although some of the newer member schools from India, Ghana and Saudi Arabia are in the early stages of developing photography as part of their curricula, these programs are evidence of photography’s global relevance.

In addition to growing the number of participants, it’s the students who are the Web site’s primary focus. Fox feels a chat section will encourage more interaction between the students and, perhaps, collaboration across borders. “In the past, students would frequently feel lost and disconnected when they left school,” she says. “With Fotofolios they can see work from other colleges across the globe, which is bound to provoke ideas and debate.”

 

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