Another year over and a new one just begun

This is it.

2014

A new year and my final undergraduate semester. I thought I would never get here and now, as I settle into the last week of my winter break, I look forward to this coming semester with a sense of excitement, trepidation and unadulterated fear. It all seems so unreal and enormous.

What happens to the dream when you awaken?

I am lucky to have wonderful distractions: a family vacation, a wedding, Living Room Session #3 , and  a new toy; an Argus rangefinder. Of course, children move through life like small–but-mighty comets and, if you aren’t watching every moment, you are definitely missing things. I could spend all my time in starlight, watching them fly. They are moving so fast!

I had a really rewarding photography class with Eliot Dudik last fall that has me warily convinced I might actually be an artist.

And so now, I need to treat myself like a professional.

“Free” exposure is very alluring. Social media makes a lot of seductive marketing promises. And local jobs are actually paying…albeit, way below my asking rate. I am meeting people. My work is being seen and people like it! But, it comes at a price.

The film in my hands, the smell of developer, the finger bloodied from cutting mat board: physical manifestations of how valuable my time is. And it isn’t just the work done in the photo rooms at McMaster…it is the bedtime stories I sacrificed to be there…the family missing me so that I can have the luxury of time spent making art.

Once you post anything on the internet it is as good as gone, regardless (and often because) of current laws, etiquette or privacy settings. So, I have decided to seriously limit the amount and size of my work on the internet. Also, I am going to enter more shows. It requires research and a much tougher skin. I am getting there.

It is also time to join the clubs and follow up on the job postings that will get my PR muscles strong enough to enter the job market with some confidence this year.

So, wish me luck and I wish you the same.

More time doing what we love and more time with our families and more value for what we do. That’s all. And it isn’t asking too much!

Happy New Year.

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One Must Imagine Sisyphus Happy

I have spent so much time in school learning how to use equipment. That was the first really big goal. Getting to know my F-stop, shutter speed, ISO. Manual focus vs. auto. Aperture priority or program mode.

Then I was learning about chemicals in the darkroom. What to leave in and for how long varies depending on paper type, brand of film and temperature of the developer…among other things!

Once I felt pretty confident about all that, I turned my attention toward other details. What is the best way to photoshop out an “exit” sign? How on earth do you pose a model? Where did I put my lens cap this time!?

Then, I was searching for the light…

Golden Hour
golden

Blue Hour

Blue Hour

Happy Hour
Happy Hour

A hallmark of photography is that you are constantly learning. If you think you have plateaued, it is really just your brain taking a break from the Sisyphean pursuit of achievement.  You have probably just produced something really great looking, something you are really proud of. Congratulations, my erudite friend, but get back under that boulder because there is always more work to do!

I am constantly thinking about my work. When I am not shooting, I am often planning. Lately, I have been thinking more about what I am saying and, more importantly, what I want to say with my work. When I am more in control of the message I feel I will have accomplished the next big thing.

Recognizing that you have a long way to go can be a very frustrating thing.  It also means you have come pretty far.  Mastering all those other skills gives you the freedom to be an artist. At least, this is what I tell myself every time I look at someone else’s wonderful photo and know I am not quite there…yet.

I have spent some time pondering a sneaky collaborator: the influence.  Sometimes I seek it out and sometimes it pops up on me in ways I never expected.  More insidious than the artists you admire are the pieces of popular culture that actually creep into your aesthetic. I grew up in America in the 80’s. Popular culture was the aesthetic. Try as I might, I can’t “take the mall out of the girl.”

As an homage to my precarious perch on the next great foothold on this dang mountain (…to belabor the metaphor, a.k.a., The Myth of Sisyphus), I am linking you to a youtube video that is an amusing amalgamation of my influences. Before he was spit-shined into a reality star, Ozzy was just a simple Rock God in a leopard-print robe, serving up breakfast for his family and a documentary film maker. At the intersection of rock-and-roll and domesticity. Suburban artist. Complete failure at normal. Scrambling eggs.

“We all get dressed for Bill.” -Anna Wintour

Bill Cunningham is looking for "some marvelous exotic bird of paradise" or someone wearing "something terrific."

I recently watched a fascinating documentary about an iconic fashion photographer, Bill Cunningham. He is wise and unique, full of moxie and possessing the most terrific vintage New York accent. Living proof of the expertise (and mad respect) that can … Continue reading

Spirits in the Material World

From Space2 series, 1977

I was accepted into the student show at McMaster and I’m thrilled. I have been working my tail off to improve my photography for years and it is so encouraging to get some recognition. This is just the kind of motivation … Continue reading