Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Money


Have some and want more? Don't have enough? Today my world is all about money. Paid taxes, getting a new roof, getting a new fence, need a new laptop. It's all expensive crap but I have to do it. Oh that giant sucking sound. Oops there goes my wallet! I hope you have better luck with the stuff than I do! 

Until next ca ching.....

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Flower Power

"Time and tide waits for no man." "Seasons change." We've heard the old adages until they become cliche. But, there is more than a glimmer of truth to these old sayings, in particular (as of late) the wisdom that seasons are in fact changing. I can see it on my morning walks, I can see it in the afternoon sunlight, I can see it in the way the sun hangs in the sky just a little bit later each and every evening. Spring is starting to bloom its way into our hearts and minds.

I've been visiting my garden center as of late, paying attention to the subtle differences each day brings this time of year. I've spotted new growth trees arriving, awaiting planting in the fertile soft soil. I've seen the wheelbarrows full of flowers arriving too. First the early arrivals, the pansies and the like, then, slowly, the spring blossoms are starting to arrive, as if by magic, showcasing the vibrant colors this season has to offer. Bright reds and oranges greet me in my garden center now where once barren and dark landscapes did appear mere weeks ago. It's starting to come alive in there, and I must confess, I'm loving it.

Yes, spring is on its way to my little neck of the woods. I have to say I've been enjoying the blooms, although not as much possibly as I should be. I really should get out more time time of year, as it can be nothing short of magical. The red bud trees give way to black eyed susan's and eventually, if we're lucky and rain and weather cooperate, fields of Texas bluebonnets grace our landscape. It's a wonderful time spring is, I hope you get out and enjoy it as best you can. I know I am trying my best, even if I feel at times it's not good enough, I still try, I still manage to get out as much as I can in this fleeting season. Even a short time in the outdoors is a reward to me these days. It feels so magical and light just to be outside this time of year.

Spring is springing up all over the land. Are you starting to feel it yet? Starting to enjoy it? Here's hoping this season brings you magical colorful blossoms of your own.

Until next time...


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Me, Myself, and Her

Got an email recently from the good folks over at Artsy who are putting together a collection of Cindy Sherman's work. From their description,
"Our Cindy Sherman page provides visitors with Sherman's bio, over 65 of her works, exclusive articles, as well as up-to-date Sherman exhibition listings. The page even includes related artist & category tags, plus suggested contemporary artists, allowing viewers to continue exploring art beyond our Sherman page." 
They invited me to check out the page and I thought I would share it with you.

For those of you who don't know, Cindy Sherman has been a big influence on my work. Her exploration of self, her ability to redefine herself and play with her own self image has not only made her a titan on the photographic stage but has left quite an impression on artists both currently working and for many decades to come. The notion that an artist can play or experiment with one's own self image makes for compelling artwork. If you don't believe me, you can ask countless artists who cite Sherman as an influence, probably most recently Madonna and Lady Gaga, although there have been many others. The notion that a woman can redefine herself, can change not just her appearance but her role in society, that she can play up or experiment with facets of herself is probably most directly attributed to Sherman more than any other contemporary artist. It really makes for compelling artwork, this notion that we all have facets of ourselves. The modern notion that a woman can change from this to that, can explore who she is and actually play with or present certain facets of herself is very empowering as well.

This image is from a series I did, inspired in part by Sherman's work, called "Pieces of Me" where I insert myself into previously photographed images and rephotograph the images, each of which plays up a facet of how I see myself. It was a great project to work on, challenging at times, but most rewarding.

I would encourage you to go and check out Sherman's work if you have not seen it already. It's worth a second look and that artsy page is a wonderful collection for you to explore.

Until next time...

This image from the archives, previous series "Pieces of Me" it's called "The Horrified."

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Vote for Me Please: art prints - Pointed Iceberg at Minted.com

Asking for Some Help with This - Please Vote for Me


Vote for my
design on minted.
Smoke Over Earth
see more from Carol Schiraldi
vote for me!
Check out my competition in Christmas cards and birth announcements at Minted.

I seldom ask for help. Heck, I don't even often ask you to buy things or pimp my work all that much. Today, however, I am asking for your help.

Some of my work is up for voting as part of the Minted/West Elm challenge and I would like to ask that you vote for me. It won't cost you anything, it's totally free, and your vote could really help me out. Voting like this is a great way to support the arts without it costing you anything in terms of cold hard cash so, please vote if you are so inclined. Vote early and vote often, if you would, as it would really help me out.

I'm going to try to paste in this link that will allow you to vote on the Minted site. Please vote for me if you can as it would make a world of difference to me to know that I have your support.

Until next time...

Sunday, February 07, 2016

A Week of Wondrous Celebrations

This week marks several wondrous celebrations. For starters, tomorrow is Chinese New Year. Welcome, my friends, to the year of the monkey. If that were not enough, Tuesday is Fat Tuesday or the height of carnivale in New Orleans and other points. This year, I would be remiss if I did not send a special shout out to Bobbi Lane and David Nightingale (aka Chromasia) who are off photographing the Carnivale in Venice. Following these two on Facebook and social media has really demonstrated how lovely the celebrations in Venice can be, as they are producing some fantastic work documenting the festivities. I really wish I were off shooting with them and love seeing the subject in these very capable hands.

What is it about celebrations such as the ones this week that make us take out the cameras? There's something very appealing about pageantry and costumes. They allow us to both hide parts of ourselves and to reveal plenty. In this image, you can tell there is a man inside that puppet. There's a man in there and, quite frankly, he's almost frighteningly familiar with a cigarette lighter (of sorts) as he was able to make lots of fire on short notice. All well and good, as I did not get too close, but you can guess a few things about him, even without being able to see his face. For starters, you can probably guess he is either Chinese or of Chinese origin, as he was participating in a Chinese new year celebration in Austin. Next up, tradition is import to him-you can tell by the way he works the puppets. There's just so much revelation under that puppet and yet you have no idea what his face looks like.

In some ways, you don't have to know. I think it's more powerful to not know, to actually imagine what he might look like or what his life might be like. Can you imagine him going to work or to school? Do you think he has children? Do you think he practices his puppet working skills (I can tell you for certain, he does in fact do that but then, I cheated and actually spoke to him.) Even without me telling you the details you can fill in the blanks.

Celebrations do this. They give us our heritage, our history. It's the same history that helps forge us, helps make us who we have become and defines who we might be. We get a lot of traits from our upbringing, from our family, from our culture, and celebrations put this on display. It's little wonder they are photographed so much, as they help define who we are, who we might become, who our children are going to be, and the like. Family, traditions, heritage, culture, it's almost too easy to commit these things to film (or digital camera sensor as the case may be, though that does not sound nearly as romantic.)

So, yes, this week we mark celebrations of all sorts. I hope you have your camera ready and make the most of these treasured celebrations.

Until next time...

(This image from the archives.)

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Portrait of a Swimmer

Do you find it interesting how I tend to photograph a lot of swimmers but I don't know how to swim very well myself? I must confess, I'm not a very good swimmer. In fact, in the swimming department, I'd have to say I rank right near the bottom (and, by bottom here, I do actually mean bottom of the pool! I don't know if I could stay afloat long enough to make it more than arm's length from the ladder. Not exaggerating when I say I'm really not a very good swimmer at all.)

I think it's an interesting thing about portraits. Some people tend to shoot what they know. That's good. I mean, that's one way to make great images, right? But, myself and maybe some others out there, why, we tend to shoot not what we know, but instead how we want the world to be. I've never been all that hindered with the whole "reality" business. Instead, I tend to focus on the world the way I would like it to be. In my world, in my own little world? Yeah, I totally swim with dolphins. And, sharks, but, you know, mostly dolphins (I believe they are better swimmers and, heck, if I have to dream, I want to dream big. Only the best for me, right?) I swim and I see things underwater, I dream, I fly, heck I've traveled to mars already, in my mind. In my mind, I'm lots of places, lots of people, and I do lots of things. I must confess, I have a wild imagination. I think that goes a long way in the arts, although it can be a bit tricky to wrangle it around in real life, I suppose. I can't let it get the better of me but it can make for some, shall we say, interesting images.

The nature of a portrait, a true portrait, is that we reveal many facets of ourselves to the camera. There is who we are, who we want to be, who the photographer sees, who the photographer doesn't see, who the photographer wants to see. I've always said that, when you shoot a portrait, even if it's only one person in front of your lens, there are a lot of people there, in that room, working alongside you, slowly coaxing the truth out, whispering in your ear. Our camera is a magic box, it's always real, it always reveals, but it doesn't always speak the truth, at least not until we let it. Strange how that works.

Strange and, well, kind of filled with sharks (and dolphins. Mostly dolphins but there are some sharks in there too.)

Until next time...


Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Eternal Frustration of Being THIS Close

One of the things, and there are a few, I hate about photography (like I said, "a few." Well, OK, really not all that many, but work with me here) is the external frustration that stems from being *this* close. What do I mean by that? Allow me to explain. Often, when we shoot, we come back with a pile of "almosts." Shots that were "almost" good enough, but don't quite make the cut. You know what I'm talking about here. This close. If only I had moved just a smidgen to the left or, gosh, had I watched that corner, filled in that blank spot over there, if only I had a little bit better of a sky to work with here...It's very, almost way too, easy to generate a pile of shots that are almost but not quite good enough. This can be maddening at times.

Unfortunately, this feeling is not isolated to the single frame either. Just the other day, I was looking over some work that had been submitted to an opportunity: 22,000 images, all really good. I looked at the best ones, of course, and I thought to myself, "Damn. I'm so close but not quite that good. My work just isn't good enough!" It's frustrating as all get up, that feeling is.

You hear about this a lot in the arts. There are places like American Idol where you can watch it play out in real time. Yes, they have people who audition dressed up like chickens and, frankly, you can tell before they even open their mouths to sing how they are going to blow the audition. I don't feel sorry for those people, as most people don't, no we just sort of laugh them off all the while thinking, "Get the hook!" as they used in the old vaudeville days to quite literally drag people off stage. That's all well and good, everybody gets a laugh and it's entertainment. Once in a while though, a singer comes along and, why I actually feel sorry for him or her. They are not horrible, not chicken costume material by any stretch of the imagination, but they aren't the best either. Still working the craft, maybe could use a few more lessons, that sort of a thing. They are the "almosts." And, I really do feel sorry for them. They want it so bad. They've worked for it. They've tried. They made an effort. You can't help but feel sorry for them, on some level, I mean they are being honest and giving it the old college try, right? Unfortunately, they sometimes just don't make the cut. Life is cruel like this, in some ways. The arts are a cruel mistress and, why, sometimes, it seems like she takes more than she gives. It's almost enough to make me want to wave my fists in the air and curse the universe, that is.

I talk a lot about the "myth of talent" and I do firmly believe that the entire concept of talent can be a myth if you let it. There is really a lot to be said for hard work and tenacity. It goes a long way. Unfortunately, for the "almosts" it doesn't always go all the way. A lot of times success in the arts is working hard, yes, but it's also finding opportunities that are right for you, for where you are at in whatever stage of the game you are in your artistic development. It might mean opening up a door that just reveals more hard work is needed. It might mean you have to stand there before some judge in California who bites his lower lip and says, "I'm sorry. It's just not working for me." Art is a wonderful thing. I love being an artist, making things with my hands, sharing my stories with the world but, I'd be the first to admit here, that kind of rejection can be hard to take. On some levels, it takes a thick skin to do what we do. A really very thick skin to hear that kind of rejection over and over and over again. It can be hard to swallow. It's especially hard to hear this over and over again and just try to press on, to keep going, to keep practicing the craft, after all of the rejections.

There is an old saying that "close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades." I suppose that is true. I've always felt that there is not really a market for mediocre art and that, while our work may look glamorous, there is a lot of hard work that goes into being an artist, any kind of artist, be it a contestant on a singing competition or an exhibiting photographer. We have to work hard just to make it, then we have to work hard to stay there, and opportunities sometimes only bestow upon us more demands. It's a vicious cycle and one they don't always prepare you for in art school. (There's a reason Georgia O'Keeffe went mad and had to be institutionalized at one point, and she's not the only artist out there to suffer this fate.)

Some nights I sit, looking over my pile of "almosts" and just force myself to think about how I can craft them from "maybes" or "could have beens" into "yeses." On some level, the only thing you can do is to focus on the work, keep going, keep driving yourself, pressing yourself to do new and better work. Always improve, I believe that's the key. And, respect that fact that, a lot of times, this sort of frustration comes just before a breakthrough.

Gosh, I know I sure could use a breakthrough right about now, couldn't you? Man, I'm so overdue for a piece of that action. Here's hoping, right?

Until next time...

This image shot at the water gardens. Canon 5dS with a Canon 100mm macro lens. I love the bright linear feel to it and hope you like it too.