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Members Reflect on Paula Tognarelli’s Reviews

    On August 13, Paula Tognarelli reviewed the work of five members as part of the PRC Portfolio Review program. Paula is Executive Director & Curator of the Griffin Museum of Photography. She is a highly respected presence in the national and international photography community.

    (The PRC Portfolio Review program is a valuable member benefit. Read more about it here.)

    Paula: “I want to thank the PRC for inviting me to review portfolios recently. Hopefully the experience was enlightening and enjoyable for all of us at the review table. I know it was for me.

    Paula Tognarelli, Executive Director & Curator, Griffin Museum of Photography

    “Five photographers shared a mix of  work I knew and photographs I have never seen before. It is such a rush when the portfolio box opens and the work inside takes its shape. There’s this moment of silent acknowledgement between the reviewer and the artist. My goal is to make this moment of assessment be as comfortable as possible for both of us.

    “It isn’t really what the photographer can do for me in a review that counts but what I can do to help the photographer achieve what she/he wants to accomplish. And twenty minutes isn’t really a lot of time to build the relationship needed to make change happen. What I am good at, though, is getting to the bottom quickly of why someone wants a review, have them know I can be trusted, see the potential in a photograph or series, and suggest a strategy.

    “My methods involve past experience, a very broad aesthetic, exposure to a large resource pool, and not being afraid to be different. To achieve a goal one needs to know what the goal is, invoke a dash of self confidence, a jigger of risk, a boatful of diligence and the wisdom to know when it’s time to regroup and move a project aside to come back to it with a fresh perspective.

    “I saw potential opportunities in all five photographers, who were at varying stages in their art-making process. I encouraged all of them to keep me updated on where their journeys take them, and I could envision working with each of them in some capacity over time.”

    Paula reviewed the work of PRC Members Sage Brousseau, Jessica Burko, Fran Forman, Steve Genatossio, and Jen Morris.

    “Blur and Handout,” photo-based installation works in progress, encaustic and photo image transfers on found wooden drawers, dimensions variable, 2018 by Jessica Burko

    Jessica Burko: ” “I’m just beginning a new chapter in my work so the timing was perfect for a PRC review. Paula was positive, made great suggestions, and encouraged me to push the boundaries of the current photographic lexicon.”


    “Machine Robot” from the series Treasure Hunt by Steve Genatossio

    Steve Genatossio: “My portfolio review with Paula Tognarelli was very helpful. I didn’t have many questions about the work I showed but needed some insight into where to take it and how to make connections. She gave me the names of photographers who have done similar work to look at and also recommended a few gallery people who might be interested in seeing it.

    “All in all I enjoyed the experience. Thanks Paula and thanks PRC.”


    “Woman Writing a Letter with Pencil” from the series Portraiture Redressed by Fran Forman

    Fran Forman: “I was delighted to have the opportunity to sit down with Curator and Griffin Museum Director extraordinaire Paula Tognarelli. The timing of our meeting was perfect. I had been working for several months on a new series, and I was at the point of considering whether or not I should take this work to the next level.

    “Paula gave me the encouragement to continue in this direction. But most importantly, she looked carefully at each of the new images, commented on tiny details that only a visually astute observer such as she would notice, and she asked penetrating and relevant questions. Not only is she an astute observer of all things visual, but she’s also extremely educated in art history and, of course, photographic methodology. Thank you for arranging this review!”


    Image from the series Within by Sage Brousseau

    Sage Brousseau: “It was such a wonderful opportunity to be able to have Paula Tognarelli review my portfolio. Her thoughtful commentary on my work gave me great insight and direction on these works in progress. I appreciate the PRC providing this opportunity to an emerging photographer like myself. It was a great step forward for me and I plan to take advantage of the advice I received from Ms. Tognarelli and other resources the PRC provides.”