A print viewing session is run like this: A photographer lays prints out on a table and gives a little introduction about the work. The other participants are free to make observations, ask questions, and offer suggestions about what they see. This is an extremely open-ended kind of experience, but one that finds its own rhythm as the evening goes on.
It’s almost easier to say what this kind of thing isn’t- namely, it isn’t one of those misguided “brutal” reviews that’s supposed to enlighten the photographer through verbal destruction of their work picture by picture. It isn’t something that anyone paid any one other person to be a part of (i.e. workshop). Nor is it a session where compositions and technique are nit-picked into absurdity; because why talk about photos that don’t exist? Forget the rule of thirds and other compositional jibber-jabber, what was discussed was how the pictures presented worked together and what those connections might mean in regards to the message or experience of their creator. Likewise, those points of realization about the work of others can encourage the progress of the viewer’s own photographic experience as well.
In the company of other photographers and prints individuals are able to get past the inherent limitations of the internet and computer monitors. As much as multi-national corporate internet companies want you to believe that human communication is somehow enhanced through smart-phones and computers, I believe that every participant in this evening’s event (and dinner at a nearby restaurant) came away enjoying a real sense of satisfaction that comes from interacting with other friendly, curious, and creative people in real time.
I’d really encourage anyone interested in an experience like this to arrange one in the your town. This would be hard to do in Tokyo without a space like this gallery- it’s not something that can be done in a restaurant or bar (unless you can get a party room or something with a large table)- but it is likely that your local library or community center would have facilities to make it work. Good luck!