Thursday, July 30, 2009

Juried Shows - A Matter of Aesthetics

EdgeOfSomething, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

It's time for me to continue with the series about juried shows. As I said in this post, if you're interested in getting into juried shows, a big part of getting in rests on your ability to gauge the aesthetic of the juror (or jury panel, as the case may be.)

So, let's talk about what that means.

One of the most obvious things you can do before sending your work off to a juried show is to type the name of the juror into your search engine of choice. Googling your juror will show you the type of work that he or she is looking for-it will get you into the ballpark, at least. With some jurors, it's a bit harder to predict what they might like, but this is usually a reasonably good starting point. If the juror is a painter who works with abstract minimalism and color fields, for example, don't send them "busy" work. That much might be obvious, right?

Sometimes though photography is a bit trickier than that.

The "Eggleston Christenberry" aesthetic is typically quite popular but many photographers starting out (even some who are more advanced) don't fully understand what that is, so I thought it would be a good idea to delve into this a bit.

My take on the "Eggleston Christenberry" aesthetic is that it's "American landscape" style photography-a peek into otherwise ordinary, everyday people, places, and "Americana" type things. In many ways it's almost a "snapshot aesthetic-" the images could look like snapshots at first glance. They aren't works about travel or gritty documentary images from the war, they are more like "slice of life" glances into everyday life (and living.) Sort of a celebration of the mundane, if you will.

The "Eggleston Christenberry" aesthetic lives on today in places like Jen Beckman's Gallery (and corresponding Hey Hot Shot website.) So, if you were to submit work to the Beckman Gallery, and you asked my advice, I would recommend that you follow along with that aesthetic-that you submit work that is Americana-like (doesn't have to be American here-this is more just a look than a specific time or place.)

Flickr, and the ranks of the Flickr Explore, have a slightly different aesthetic. Flickr, and the Flickerati, prefer nature-this is where you pick up the puppies, kittens, sunsets, and flower macros. An artist that was quite popular along these lines (and one that I adore, by the way) is Eliot Porter. I'd go so far as to say that, if Eliot Porter were producing work today, he'd be high up on the ranks on Flickr's Explore, while some of the artists in Beckman's 20x200 would not make the cut. Now, that doesn't mean that either one is "bad," "right," or "wrong," it's just a look, an approach, a style, a vision.

There are many other styles of photography, some of which, much like schools of art, have formal names, some of which are named after a prominent photographer from the field, some that have just a short-hand style "notation" and some that are unnamed, but still exist. A large part of your ability to get into juried shows rests, not on the quality of your artwork, but on your ability to submit work that follows along the lines of an existing aesthetic.

If a gallery likes black and white work, for example, they might be Adams-like in their interest in the traditional black and white landscape, they aren't going to go for splashy colors and they don't want to see many portraits. Likewise, if a gallery is very sort of "modern art-ish" they aren't going to want to see those same, traditional black and white landscapes-those are boring to them. They want to see more cutting edge work.

I think this topic is important enough that it should not just be limited to juried shows. You can learn a lot about yourself, both as a photographer and as a person, by understanding "where you are coming from" as an artist. What type of work do you do? What type of work do you want to do? Who do you identify with? Where does your work, your style, your vision fit in on the artistic spectrum out there? These sorts of questions will have to be answered for juried shows, yes, but they probably should be answered before you can become successful as an artist. Simply put, you have to know where you are coming from in order to know where you are going, or even, potentially, where you can go, with your work.

Hopefully, you will take this in the spirit in which it was presented-not a divisional diatribe about "the status quo" but more a means to help you advance to the next level with your work, whatever that might be (as you define it.)

Until next time...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Stigs, Magic Flying Donkeys, and a Whole Lot More

So much is happening today, I hardly know where to begin.

Let's see, for starters, the great Utata big "summer" (I put "summer" in quotes, since Utata is a global group and it isn't "summer" everywhere. Hello good people of Australia.) project has been published. It's called Storytellers and it's available at this link. For my contribution, I got to dress up as The Stig from Top Gear and pretend-I did an Adaptation of an existing TV program (Top Gear) so you'll find my contribution to the project, called "The Stig Gets His First Car" under the Adaptations link (or, you know, click here if you are impatient.)

While it's true that past Utata projects have not only taken out all of Flickr, but wreaked havoc on Flickr's Explore, in a (perhaps unrelated) topic, it would appear that the "special sauce" behind Flickr's Explore has been cracked. Yes, you read it here first (or didn't as the case for denial may be) Flickr's Explore algorithm has been compromised. In case you're wondering what kind of magic makes that magic donkey fly, wonder no more. Here's an excerpt,

"the algorithm rewarded 5 factors: the number of comments, the number of favs, the comment without html, a comment made by a non-contact and the speed in which all of this happened."
As you know, I've never been big on Flickr's Explore. Like everybody else, I've got some pictures in there, don't know how they got there, don't know when they'll drop out, and don't really care too much about it, but there are people out there who live and die by these things and, in the past, I too have been curious as to what the good folks behind Flickr do to implement this kind of thing. No we all know. But, don't get too comfortable, snowflakes, in typical "this is Flickr, we make the rules" fashion, the good folks behind the algorithm have promised to "rewrite it completely" to take into account new elements. Yeah. Whatever. I'm not holding my breath waiting for that one.

Finally, in what I hope is completely unrelated news (though one has to wonder whenever any kind of government conspiracy is involved) I found out this week that one of the actors from the X Files, Dean Haglund (a man who played one of the Lone Gunmen) attended the opening reception for the Texas Photographic Society's Plastic Fantastic show out in Johnson City, Texas. Now, though I have work in the show, I managed to miss the reception myself, so I can't really comment on this but, I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that he didn't fly in on a magic donkey being driven by anything resembling a Stig. As with any good government cover-up though, I shall leave this as an "I have no comment" remark-you're left to your own devices to figure out from whence he came, how he got there, who was driving, and just what exactly happened on that grassy knoll once he got out there.

Until next time...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Driving Home a Deadline

A Car At Last, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

I made my deadline! I made my deadline! Thanks to all of those who were encouraging me, it really means a lot to me.

The big project this year was pretty hard. It's very hot here in Texas right now, but I so needed something to get my creativity going. I have to admit, while I'm not 100% sure it's my best work, I had a load of fun doing it. Dressing up like The Stig was both challenging and very fun. I've thought all along that The Stig would make a great character for a photo project. It's really interesting to do something with a character so out-of-place like The Stig. Once you get him outside of a car, he's really an oddity, and that will always make for some interesting images, don't you think?

The great thing about doing conceptual/staged photography is that, once somebody "buys into" the concept, once somebody gets emotionally attached to a character, a scene, a place or a piece of it, it's almost hard to mess it up. Sure there might be little things off, here and there, and not everything always technically "perfect," but, once you get that buy-in, once you create that bond, it moves into the realm of "emotional impact." People respond to it, not because it's technically perfect, not because every little "odd and end" is in place, no, because they "get" the concept. That's what they respond to, right?

That's how I think this project will be received. Either you love The Stig and you'll laugh when you read my project, or you just don't get him. If you love him, there's almost nothing I could do to him to make you stop and, if you don't get it, there's almost nothing I can say or do to help explain it. Conceptual photography is often like this. I think that's what makes it interesting for me.

That and, well, it's a little bit like acting, which I cannot do, but I'm so willing to, you know, at least try for the sake of the project. I mean, who doesn't like to play with props, right?

Until next time...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Stig is Out of the Bag

Or out on the road as the case may be. I guess the secret's out. My Utata project is going to be an adaptation of...drum roll, please...Top Gear. Watch their space for more details and keep your fingers crossed (please!) that I make the deadline. There's nothing quite like starting mere hours before the project is due, right? (Yes, yes, I know, typical Carol. If it weren't for the last minute, how would anything get done?)

Oh, and while I'm on the subject of complaining, since this is my blog and I feel uniquely qualified to rant a bit, would somebody out in Internet land please, for the love of God, money, and great American muscle cars built before 1973, tell me how he can breathe in that helmet? Gosh, it's hot in that thing, and no oxygen, let me tell you. Oye. Stiggy, no wonder you drive so fast-you're a tough one for sure.

Then again, maybe his species doesn't need any oxygen?

Until next BIG PROJECT in the making...

Friday, July 24, 2009

It's The Weekend and Somebody's Getting a Bath

ChaseFaceAgain, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

So what are your plans for the weekend? Doing anything fun? Staying cool? I wanted something a bit more colorful to post this Friday. My usual photo Friday subject didn't help out any in that regard this week (this week's topic is "is shadow.")

Shadows aren't very colorful. And, those of you who know me, probably know that I never, I mean like really never, take pictures of shadows. I almost always take pictures in the shadows, to get nice, even light, but I seldom (if ever) capture a shadow. I just don't like them in (or around) my pictures. I'm an anti-shadow kind of a person, I guess.

've got the big Utata project to work on this weekend, plus also a big photo entry for an upcoming review, so that's what I'll be doing instead of playing in the shadows (in case, you know, you were curious.)

Speaking of upcoming, it might be a good time for me to "spill the beans" a little bit about what I have planned for future topics, posts, and ramblings. For starters, I'd like to do a series on photography workshops-what they are, how to pick them, how to find them, etc. Then, there's also a few posts about painting and mixed media I'd like to do. I'd like to jump a bit into portfolio reviews (I've done a bit of this in the past but, in typical Carol fashion, didn't really start at the beginning to give you a good, solid idea of what they are and how they work.) Finally, all of this is going to happen after, of course, we finish talking about juried shows. (A topic that will continue next week, for sure.)

All that and, well, I guess now I have to give my dog a bath.

Until next time...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Moon, Walking, a Portrait, Swiss Cheese, and a Slice of Reality

ShadowFigureWalking, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

In case you missed it, this week marked the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. An interesting thing, about how this relates to photography-how our notions of "reality," photography, and all have changed through that historic milestone. There are many people out there, for example, who don't believe we actually landed on the moon and many, many others who only believed it once they saw the pictures-that picture, that image, gave them their intangible proof because a photo never lies, right?

Photography has always been dogged by the notion of "reality." That is, it must be real if it exists in a photo, right? And photos only show us things that are real, things that really exist, right? If only things were that simple.

To the artist, or the fine art photographer, photography is light sensitive media, nothing more, nothing less. There's not really a built-in basis of "reality" anymore than there's a built-in "blue." Photographs are what you make of them and reality exists, independent of that likeness. Sure, you can take photos of things that really exist, just as you can paint things that really exist, but, at the end of the day, both of these things are just likenesses-they are an artist's representation of what he (or she) saw at one point in time. They can have a basis in reality, yes, but they are "colored" by the artists representation, the artist's belief, the artist's vision.

You can, for example, "paint" with photographic emulsion. You can also take photos that resemble paintings more than photos. You can also paint photo realistic paintings-there are entire schools of art surrounding this, the trompe l-oeil and the photorealism movements both give us paintings that are so "real" you could almost reach out and touch them.

There are also many photographers, Crewdson is one example, who go to great lengths to stage photographs, going so far as to paint backdrops, hire actors, make "fog" and the like. Between the combination of special effects, staging images, and now, yes, even Photoshop, a photograph does not have to have any real basis in "the real." Yet, somehow, the notion that photo = real has survived generations and doggedly lives on.

The photojournalists out there, I suppose, go to great lengths to preserve that tie. I mean, they dodge bullets, fight wars alongside soldiers, capture images of the starving, the poor, the forgotten, just to bring back memorable shots from the field, right? That's their genre and, for them, that intrinsic tie between photo and reality serves them well.

But, for the fine art photographer, this antiquated notion of photo = real is a nuisance at best. I'd just as soon take a picture of Swiss cheese and call it "the moon" if it looks more like what I think the moon should look like. Why should I care what you think "reality" is? Where you think "reality" begins and ends? It's not my job to find "reality," I just work with light, that's all.

All this talk of Swiss cheese has me hungry. I think I shall go and eat a moon pie in honor of the 40th anniversary.

Until next time...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Juried Shows - Are You Ready?

Balled Bush No. 2, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

The question comes up a lot-how do I tell if I'm ready to show my wok? So, as part of this ongoing series, I thought I would offer up some advice.

I think there are ready to start entering juried shows/showing your work more if:

  • You have been shooting for more than 1 year. You feel you have or can prepare a "body" of work (more than 1 image) on a similar theme. Maybe you have pulled together a small folio or essay on a related topic, but you feel comfortable working with more than one image and moving beyond the single shot.
  • You feel comfortable in printing your work. You can prepare archival quality prints suitable for display-either by using a lab or by doing it yourself. If you are doing it yourself, you should be comfortable and setup with your printer, your paper, your inkset, and you should be able to look at your work and have some sort of idea how you would print it. If you are outsourcing printings tasks, that is, going to a lab, you should feel comfortable with the lab and have found a lab that offers you quality printing at a price you can afford.
  • You feel comfortable in matting, framing, and presenting your work. Again, you can "outsource" this task but you should have it covered, that is, you should know the turn-around time for your work and the approximate price of things before sending your work off to a multitude of shows.

There are no hard and fast rules here. For example, I toss out the "1 year" mark as a good starting point but some photographers are ready much sooner than that while others do their first show after years behind a camera. The idea here is not that you are ready on day 365, rather it takes about a year to feel comfortable with getting the exposures right with your camera. That is to say, the average person, after about a year of shooting, will be able to produce consistently correct exposures, your actual results may vary (as they always say.)

Today we also send a big hello out to the folks at Wallspace Gallery in Seattle, who were kind enough to mention the upcoming "Plastic Fantastic" show in their blog, The Flat File. The show opens this weekend in Johnson City, Texas and features the work of 45 artists (myself included in the bunch.) I hope you can check it out (it's available on-line here as well.)

Until next time...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

First Soccer Ball of the Season

SoccerIsAKickInTheGrass, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

One of the disadvantages of living in the suburbs (yes, there are many) is that my backyard backs up to another backyard. Normally, this is not a problem, as we have the oh-so-awesome rickety "privacy fence" to separate us, to sort of keep the neighborhood dogs from eating each other. Not so much though in summertime.

In summer, you see, what happens is that kids like to play in the yard-the same backyard that backs up to my backyard. And, being kids, when they play, they like to do things like jump on trampolines, hurl baseballs at each other (narrowly missing my windows) and the like. Often, they kick soccer balls over the fence. In fact, it happens so often, come summertime, that you could almost set your clock by it. Every Saturday, there is another ball to be found in the yard.

This is the first official misplaced soccer ball of summer. I found it in the yard today. Chase jumped and barked when he saw it too, he was most confused as to how it got there and, despite the fact that it's almost bigger than he is, he tried to attack it.

I hope you have a great summer in your neck of the woods.

Until next time...

My Favorite Spot

Photo Friday: My favorite spot.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Until next time...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Juried Shows - Why Bother?

Fence Bending, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

So, a good question has come up on this series-why should I bother with juried shows?

The answer to that is, of course, complicated. For one thing, you don't have to bother with them at all-they are simply a way, another way, of getting your work out so that people can see it. It's a way of getting feedback on your work, of possibly selling work, and a way for you to share you work, share in the fun, the excitement, the drama of the gallery shows.

Yes, it's true the art world can be political and full of people who don't know what they are doing (wouldn't know good art if it jumped up and bit them in the face.) It's also true that there's a long standing tradition of the art world tearing people down, solely for the purposes of building them back up again (they like to insult students, to humble them, to make them feel inferior so they stay in line.) All of this only to get into a tight little insular world of people who, at times (or so it would appear) act like they are doing you a favor just by saying, "good morning."

On the flip side though, as you progress as an artist, once you move past the point of having an instructor, a teacher, a mentor, it becomes increasingly difficult to get feedback. A juried show (or even an open show) can provide this for you. You get to see what the juror picked, get to hear why they picked it, and you get to hear the people's responses to what was picked. It's very interesting to walk around at an opening, watching people react to the work-it's instant feedback. You know, you absolutely know you nailed it and have a good piece if you hear a little gasp for air and overhear somebody say, "Oh, look at THAT."

Also, much like Flickr, it's great to just share art. We can't forget there's a "here, look what I did" aspect of making something that's rewarding in itself. It's fun to share things like this. It boosts our confidence and let's us feel good about what we are doing.

Perhaps the most important reason for doing art shows though is to give the artist a "target" of sorts. As you go out and make images, paintings, or any kind of art really, if you have a finished product in mind-if you have some kind of vision of what it might look like hanging on a gallery wall, for example-you're going to make better art. That vision will provide you with a road map of sorts-you'll have an idea of what you want to do in your head. It can serve to give your artwork new purpose and direction. And that, for that reason alone, that makes all the crap about "calls for entry" and "rules" all worth it. (At least, it does for me.)

I can't say if I'm going to get into the next show I apply for tomorrow, but I can tell you that, because I'm thinking about it today, I'm going to produce better art, take better photos, and keep myself more in-line, because that thought is always in the back of my head. What am I going to do with this? Who is going to like this? Where will this end up? What can I do with this? Will this really make it into that next big gallery show?

To me, a piece of art is "finished" once it's framed and hanging on a gallery wall. It's there-that's it, I've done it, finished. If I were never to show anything, I'd never get a sense of accomplishment, I'd never feel like anything was done in my little bubble-everything would be still a work in progress, and that would probably drive me mad.

Juried shows are one way to get this kind of feedback, but they certainly aren't the only one. Blogging and web-based galleries are gaining a lot of ground here and, frankly, it's easy to see why. You don't have to frame anything, don't have to worry about shipping, and all of that. Let's face it, that might be a better route for a lot of people. But, having said that, there's just something about a juried show. There's nothing quite like the feeling of finding out that somebody, perhaps somebody famous or an idol of sorts, likes my work. It's kind of like a guitar player getting to play with Eric Clapton or a songwriter getting to pen something with one of the Beatles. It makes you feel as if you've arrived in the world-like you're work is really there, worthy of that spot next to the "big boys."

Creativity is its own reward-we don't need juried art shows to tell us that we've made something we feel good about, but it can be productive (and fun) to reach for that. And, if we should happen to get it, we can really sit back and enjoy that little moment in the sun.

Until next time...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Juried Shows - Next in the Series

RockAndBush, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Now that you have access to the Call for Entries and know where to get them, I'm going to give you my 3 Big Rules for getting into juried shows.

Carol's 3 Big Rules for getting into juried shows are:

  1. Fit the theme
  2. Gauge the aesthetic
  3. Follow the rules

Allow me to explain.

Rule #1-Fit the theme. Let's look at an example. The wonderful Studio 2 Gallery in Austin has a new call for entries on its website. The show is called "Matinee Mania" and here is the intended theme as provided by the gallery:

"Growing up, and even today, which movie did you hold your breath for until you could see the weekend matinee? To enter a world that swept you away and stayed with you so strong you had to watch it over and over (and over)? Did you jump, scream, laugh, cry, grab someone's hand or cover your eyes? Feature artist, Robert Cook, starts our tribute to the matinee genre with monsters, creatures and icons of horror. Share with us the bits of flicker that have stuck to your brain."
So, the theme for this show is very clear-it's going to be all artwork based upon movies-anything with a cinematic flair to it will fit the theme.

Some shows have a more "open" theme and sometimes it's hard to figure out what the theme is, the meaning is left more as an interpretation to the artist. My general rule of thumb is that, if the theme is open I will submit something I think fits their aesthetic. If the theme is clear, I make sure my work really fits the stated theme.

Look for additional posts on "the rules" to follow and, until then, good luck with your show entries.

Until next time...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mistakes Will Be Made

NoActuallyFail, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

So, the other day, I get this very nice, polite email from somebody asking me to submit my "digital mistakes" for an upcoming book on mistakes that cameras can make. While I'm flattered that they think my images are good enough to include in a book, I'm wondering how they got my name. I mean, did somebody actually sit there and say, "oh, send one to *her* she makes a lot of mistakes. She's always making mistakes, in fact, I bet she has lots of them. Put her at the top of the list." Well, take that you....HA! Oh wait, nevermind, scratch that. (Actually, It looks like somebody already did. That's for that, Mr. Sensor, I asked you for pixels and you gave me so much more.)

I used to think that digital mistakes were horrible looking. I mean, who would want to look at this thing? But then, when I think about it, look at it again, it's kind of graphical, what with the stripes and all. I bet some of them are going to be really interesting, don't you? I'm actually looking forward to seeing some of them, some of these so called mistakes people have made.

Of course, not actually any of mine, right?

Until next time...

PS Oh and, in case you're wondering, no, my camera's not actually Borked, it just does this every so often-maybe when it gets tired or if I've set something the wrong way. Hey, I guess, even cameras need a break every now and again, right?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Filling in the Blanks or the Theory of Twelve

FlowerWheelBarrel, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

It's hard to do consistent work for a blog. Even a solid photographer can find it challenging at times-it's just the nature of things-they come in cycles. Sometimes, we're more creative, sometimes, less so.

Some people say that, even the finest of photographers takes only about 12 good images in their lifetime. If that's the case, then what about the rest? Are they not good? Are they not "blog worthy?" When you combine the amount of images needed to do a blog, posting as frequently as we do, with the other work that we have on our plates (sending stuff out, framing, shooting, traveling, etc.) it can seem like an impossible task. But, we do it anyway.

Sometimes, in the course of doing this, we have to resort to what I call "filler." If you don't already know, you can probably guess what "filler" is-it's those shots that weren't quite good enough to make the first batch of editing. Maybe they aren't horrible, maybe they aren't a total mess, they just weren't quite "there" in one way or another. We learn to edit, so we learn to cut these things out. But then, over the course of doing a blog or having to do a series of shows, or, for whatever reason, we sometimes have to resort to our "filler." We have to drop down and pick from "tier 2" just to make our quota.

Now, that's probably not really fair for you right? I mean, you're expecting top notch images each and every day, but, the reality of the situation is, we just can't produce that much output and still do what it is we do. Sorry to say, you're going to get some "filler" every now and again.

So, lately anyway, it seems I've been in a bit of a "filler" mode. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop doing what I do, no, it just means I'm busy and haven't had time to output as much as I would like. I've got several big projects on the horizon, so I expect to be making more stuff soon, but it's going to be a challenge to get to that point. I'm going to have to pick from that "tier 2" heap for a little while longer.

Besides, every now and then we get lucky and find a gem down in that heap-something we hadn't noticed before and somehow just overlooked. Let's hope my luck turns and I spot one of those lurking about, right?

Until next time...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday Roundup - Going for a Dip

Had a lot of fun over at Art Space last night-they had a nice band and, though it was hot, we were shaded and hid in the a/c a lot. The show itself was wonderful-the work looked really nice and it was all beautiful work. I'm so glad I got to be a part of it.

While I was there I got to see some encaustic work that was interesting. I might try to do some of that in the autumn, once it cools down a bit, since it would melt far too easily on me right now. (Why is it that I always want to do stuff at the wrong time? Come winter, I'll probably be itching to do something that requires heat.) Up until now, I've been avoiding the encaustic work but, after seeing it again last night, I kind of feel like it's almost peer pressure. I'm going to have to try some at some point in time. It's all the rage right now anyway. Might as well give in, right? (If you've done some encaustic type work and have any pointers, do let me know, as I am going to have to do it, or so it would appear, at some point in the near future.)

Apart from the "I need to go for a dip in beeswax" outcome of last night, it's been quiet today. I'm going to work on the house some and play with Chase a bit. I think I'm actually overdue for a sleepy Sunday afternoon, so that's what I'm going to enjoy.

Until next time...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Down a Dark Alley

There's something about photographers and crime, really there is. I'm not just talking about the field of forensic and crime photography here either.

A photographer friend of mine was shooting in a park in San Diego a few weeks ago. She had her camera with her and her purse, with her camera wrapped around her wrist. Some guy came up and strong armed her camera away from her-luckily she was not hurt in the process, but now she's minus a camera body, lens, and some work on flash memory from the park, not to mention how horrifying that must feel.

When I met up with Alan Pogue last November, just as his book Witness for Justice was being released, he had just been mugged and was suffering from the aftereffects of a slight concussion, not to mention being sans gear as well. He had to attend his first book signings with his ears still ringing from the attack.

Then there's the Philadelphia story, the one from Flickr a while back, where somebody had his car broken into-somebody smashed a window on a photographer's SUV, broke into the back and stole a camera bag filled with gear and several laptops. The photographer was down about $10,000 in gear and, perhaps even more importantly, out of business completely. Without a camera, without a computer, it's kind of hard for us to do our jobs, right? Luckily, Flickr staged a print auction to help raise funds for him to buy a new camera and get back on his feet again.

Unfortunately for us, photographers make easy targets. Cameras are small and expensive and photographers are often engrossed in what they are doing-so much so that they neglect to pay attention and remain keenly aware of their surroundings. Even just the slightest of seconds is all that it takes to fall victim to an eagerly awaiting predator.

Let's face it, current economic conditions don't help matters either. In these days of double digit unemployment, even if somebody did face a harsh sentence for strong arm robbery or breaking and entering, a jail cell offers up a warm bed and the guarantee of a next meal.

So, what's a photographer to do? We can't stop shooting, it's what we do. We can't try to just "be more aware" it's impossible to have eyes in the back of your head and, sorry to say, some people are just bigger, stronger, and can grab things more easily. The answer would seem to be in the harsher sentences-we need to crack down on criminal activity and start to hold people accountable for their actions. How many times have you heard about something committing a crime, even say a murder or rape, and getting off with a slap on the wrist?

It's a shame that our society has come to this, really it is. There used to be a time when you could leave your doors unlocked and not have to worry. Sadly, those days are past us and, if we want to grow as a society, if we really want to thrive and flourish, we have to return to the days of personal accountability. There's just no other way. The police need to be able to do their jobs without having to worry about legal ramifications or getting sued. The criminals have to be made aware that, once arrested and convicted, they will be punished. No more cable TV, gym memberships, and coddling them-put them to work and make them pay society back for their crimes, even if it's just a small contribution. Make them earn their keep.

Photographers too have to band together-we need to build our sense of shared community. When something happens, we need to help each other out as best we can and we need to help each other remain alert, aware, and responsive to our surroundings.

There's record heat again today in River City so I shall now get down off my soapbox and let you enjoy the rest of your day.

Until next time...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Eyes High

CandlesAndDeepThought, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Taking a break from the juried shows (well almost) to wish you a happy Photo Friday. This is my entry for "eyes," I hope you like it.

I had a hard time with the eyes entry, because I have some many shots of eyes. I have shots of masks, of dogs' eyes, cats' eyes, all kinds of eyes. In the end, I opted for something simple, a simple glance, deep in thought, not really "eye" centric but still, it's all you can really see of his face.

I hope you have a great photo Friday in your "eye spy" part of the world.

In other news, I found out that I placed third in my next upcoming show this week. It's the "What Texas Means to Me" show, which opens tomorrow night, at the Austin Art Space Studio and Gallery. It's a wonderful space, so I really hope the show goes well. I found out too that there's going to be a band and refreshments in the form of vodka. I can hardly wait. I have two pieces in the show.

Getting ready for the next round of "send offs." You know, how that goes. I get to send my stuff out into the wild blue yonder and hope that somebody bites. It's always like this "wave" of busy when you're exhibiting. You get the calls for entries, they all seem to come at once, you send out like 15 things, and then you wait, just wait, for the responses If you should happen to get in, you make up your work and send it out, and so the cycle repeats, on and on, until either you're famous or dead, whichever comes first. Isn't life grand? Well, I can't complain, I'm enjoying it anyway. (The best part is when you get to go enjoy your own variety of "vodka refreshments." That sounds really good, doesn't it?)

Yeah, come to think of it, I never met a "vodka refreshment" I didn't like.

Until next time...

Thursday, July 09, 2009

More About Juried Shows

Gruhl1854, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Ok, so now that we know what they are, I guess it's time to talk about how to find them-Juried shows, that is.

There are many avenues to find juried shows. There are many juried shows. In fact, I have a hard time, sometimes, keeping from laughing when somebody says to me, "I never know where to find out about places to show my work." Newsflash: There's actually a shortage of artists and artwork out there, so, yes, there is a happy home for your stuff too. That's the theory anyway, it's usually just a matter of putting it to practice.

Juried shows usually put out something called a "Call for Entries." This is usually a form detailing what type of work they want in the show, where the show is going to be, how long the show will run, and who will be the juror. You can write (or email) many places asking for a "Call for Entries" and they will send you one. You can also surf for them on the web, in the comfort of your underpants (well, ok, there's a mental image I did not really need this morning, but, like, you get the idea.)

There are some places that do nothing but gather "calls for entries" from other places and reprint them for your convenience. There are even several magazines that have listings in the back-long listings, page after page, of nothing but "calls for entries." Yes, it's true, "calls for entries" are everywhere. They are sort of like 7-11 convenience stores-you never notice them and then, poof, one day, you can't help but think they are everywhere.

In case you can't find any, this list should get you started:

  • Art Calendar magazine-now features an online call for artists tab on their website.
  • Art Deadline-a search-able database of artist opportunities.
  • The Center for Fine Art Photography regularly lists calls for entries. You can find out more about them on their website.
  • The Texas Photographic Society includes a link to competitions on their main website.
  • Mary Virginia Swanson's blog lists many opportunities. She's known in the industry as an author and speaker in the area of artist marketing.

All of this just for starters. I'll include a longer list at some point in the future, for your reference but, really, this is more than enough to get you going. In our next installment, we'll talk more about how to respond to these "call for entries" as well as tips, pointers, and the like, for actually getting into the shows.

Until then, happy reading, and, I guess, good luck!

(Until next time...)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Missing Polaroid

CreoleCottageWPorch2, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Nothing much I feel like saying today. Some days, I guess, are just like that. It's been a bit cooler in River City, though it's still the depths of summertime, with the 95+ degree heat bearing down on us. It feels a bit cooler, a bit better though than the last few weeks. Phew! We really had an early summer oven roaster.

The Impossible Project is still going strong, at least that's good news, right? I kind of almost wish Top Gear would do a bit on them. I mean, it almost fits, doesn't it? And, it's so interesting from a raw science perspective. I mean, just think about it, here they've gathered some of the world's top scientists, together in some odd place in Belgium, to try and re-invent something that was machined, precise, and finely tuned, though invented long ago. It does almost sound like they're re-inventing a car, doesn't it? But, I guess, in a lot of ways, a car would be easier. Well, good luck you Impossible Project people wherever you are!

In other news, Chase ran out the door this morning and didn't even say goodbye to me. He just bolted off for his morning walk. What's up with that? Some days, even though it's hot and he's got long hair, it's like he's still all puppy. I guess he had doggie things to attend to, or some such thing. Since I did not have time to say it to him earlier, I'll say it to you now, "be a good dog, today, Chase, I've got to go earn some biscuit money and be off to work. You stay and watch the house."

Such a good dog. (Usually.)

Until next time...

Monday, July 06, 2009

On Scaffolding...Beams, Poles, and Posts

RooftopBeams, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

New template alert! New template alert!

Yes, it's true. I've gone off and gotten a new template for the ole blog. Now, I know what you're thinking ("funny, looks the same as the old template") and, well, you'd be right (for the most part.) The thing is though, this template is better, how shall I put this, "on the inside."

What does that mean?

Well, for starters, it's an updated version of the old one that I was using. Updated means it has new features. It's easier for me to move things around, and easier for me to do stuff like add links. It also allows me to add photos more easily-I could, for example, add a big "background" image to the top (title bar.) And, I probably will at some point. (Here at Carol's Little World, well, we like images, don't we?) So, yes, even though it does not look all that different, in some ways, perhaps, it looks a bit worse, it's a much better template in many ways. Look at it this way, it means I might not be as grumpy as usual. And, well, me not being grumpy is a good thing, right?

Speaking of me and, well, grumpy I'd guess, it seems I did not get to do any shooting this weekend. There was some stuff I wanted to do around the house, some new (very new) work I wanted to do this weekend that I did not get to do. I'm not too grumpy about it though, since I cleaned my house instead, and I've been meaning to clean my house for a while. It's still not really clean, it's just minus about two big bags of old papers and junk I did not need. That's a good thing, really, since I can always shoot (and, let's face it, with this 105 degree heat, the light really isn't all that good anyway.)

The series on getting your work into exhibitions will continue. Don't fret if you popped in here looking for that, it will come your way soon enough.

Until next time...

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Anatomy of An Art Exhibit

BonesAndLabNo1, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

I thought it might be a nice time to talk more about juried shows. The process of finding out about them, the process of entering them, the way the work, the sort of (if you will) anatomy of them. In my attempt at being educational, I thought it would be a nice idea to provide you with some of these details, so that you can make informed decisions about them, maybe even enter them (and get in!) on your own.

Over the next few posts (maybe even spread out a little bit) I'll offer you my tips and guidance, my advice, my ramblings too, about the entire process. At this point, I thought it might be a nice idea to dissect the entire process, so that you too can see what goes on behind the scenes (and maybe start to think about participating yourself.) For starters, I'll answer the most obvious question first.

What exactly is a national juried show?

From the wiki for art exhibition: "Art exhibitions can be juried, invitational, or open. A juried exhibition, such as the Iowa Biennial, has an individual or group which acts as judge of submitted artworks and chooses which are to be shown." Sadly, even the wiki is a bit lacking on this particular topic, so I'll start by giving my own definition.

National (or international, as the case may be) juried shows are shows typically held in galleries or museums where artwork (in various media) are showcased, usually for the purpose of sales (but not always) or education. The artwork to be showcased is selected by a curator (or "juror") from a pool of submitted (available) artwork. Sometimes, the juror is actually a panel, but is typically a person (or people) of significance in the artistic community (a professor, a professional, a well-known artist who is successful in the field, etc.)

So, there you have it. My definition of the "juried show." In the coming posts, we'll look at why you might want to enter one, how you go about entering one, how you go about getting into one, and what happens when you do. In the meantime, if you have any specific questions or there are any topics you'd like me to address, please drop me a note and I'll try to cover it as part of this new, upcoming series.

Until next time...

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Bend It Like....It's a Holiday

ApricotsNo8, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Happy 4th of July to all today and a special nod goes out to all of our men and women who are serving in our armed forces this holiday weekend. Please stay safe out there and a big shout out from the folks at home for all that you do.

This is a lensbaby shot, one from the archives, posted today because I've been eating a lot of fruit lately. I had some watermelon today to mark the 4th holiday and, I have to admit, it was some of the best watermelon I've had in a long time. Wow, it was good.

Speaking of lensbabies, bending, softness, and all of that, I found out yesterday that one of my images was recently accepted in the TPS upcoming show called "Plastic Fantastic." From the website:

To hold, point and shoot a (plastic) Diana camera implies a conscious decision to relinquish control. To concentrate your creative powers on capturing the moment and telling a story - rather than fiddling with a bunch of knobs and levers.” This quote from the Society of Lomography sums up the goal of this exhibition. Fantastic Plastic will feature the work of selected avant-garde artists who challenge themselves to create compelling images with plastic cameras and other “lo-fi” cameras such as Holga, Lomo, pin-hole, Lensbabies lenses, cell-phone cameras, home-made cameras, TtV with vintage cameras, etc.
One of my more recent black and white images, taken with a plastic lens, will be included in the show.

Until next time...

Friday, July 03, 2009

On Making Connections

MrCByTheGate, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Hard to believe, but I've had Chase for two years now. I got the little guy on the 4th of July weekend two years ago, so it's our anniversary (of sorts) for being together. He was an entire eight and a half pounds when I got him, just a tiny little bundle of curls and puppy attitude, and look at him now. All grown up and such a sweetie! Gosh, I love the doggies, don't I?

In other "making connections" news, it seems the good folks at Flickr have hooked up with the good folks at Twitter. Yes, you read that right. Just as I've been using flickr and blogger, in combination (what the techie folks call "web services") to bring you this blog, I can now Flickr and Twitter together as well. I can tweet my recent photo uploads. Isn't that special? How fun is that? I can't (yet) flickr my tweet, but that wouldn't make any sense anyway (if, you know, you were to really stop and think about it.) Anyway, this whole flickr/twitter connection is really great in a lot of ways. It's making Flickr be, like a dashboard of sorts, connected me to everything else. I can upload into Flickr, I can blog from Flickr (as I have been doing all along) and I can tweet my recent blog posts as well as my recent photos.

Don't you just love it when technology comes together like that? Isn't it great?

Until next time...

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Step Right Up Don't Be Shy

RidingTheBigWheel, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

It's almost holiday season here in the US, and since many of us will be away, dragging along our cameras, I thought that I would start something new. In a new series for the blog, I'm going to post some simple photo tips, easy stuff designed to be quick and simple, but get us all thinking about our photography a bit more.

My first tip?

Get closer to your subject-most people shoot from a bit too far away and would benefit from taking a step or two closer, to "get in there" and really get a good view of their subject.

I hope you have a great holiday season, even if you decide to stay at home this year.

Until next time...

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Visualize the Image-Tips and Visualization Techniques

Three Orbs in the Sand, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Since it's come up several times in the last week, I thought I would post about visualization and photography.

Many photographers are what I like to call "reactionary" photographers-they shoot what's in front of them. This isn't necessarily a bad thing-if you are a photojournalist, for example, it can actually be a plus (You would not want a photojournalist to, for example, stage an event just for the photographs. That would be, how shall I put it, wrong on oh so many levels.) For the rest of us though, especially those of us living in the "fine art" corners of the universe, visualization is a great thing.

But, how do I visualize something that's not there?

Take something you know already, and turn it on it's ear. For example, I watch a lot of Top Gear and you all know about my crush on Lord Stig. So, imagine the Stig going to the bank, the grocery store, the post office, the gas station (actually, he's already been there but, like you get the idea.) Since he needs a bit of help using mechanical things (other than, perhaps the obvious, cars) he'd probably get stuck in a shopping cart. Imagine the Stig stuck in a shopping cart. Wouldn't that be funny? Ok, now turn it again. Imagine a self portrait where you stick yourself in a shopping car. Put a supermodel in a shopping cart. Put a grandmother in there. See how this is working? It's not that hard to picture an old lady stuffed into a shopping cart is it? (As a matter of practice, it would be very wise to ask first before stuffing Granny into the shopping cart but, like, you get the idea we're going for here.)

You can also try this technique using song lyrics, scenes from a play, paintings, anything else that just pops into your head. (Imagine some Bob Dylan tunes visualized, wouldn't that be cool? Or make your own opera, how fun would that be?)

If it helps, deconstruct the image into basic shapes.

When you practice visualization, you often find that you have to draw things out using pencil and paper. You don't have to be Rembrandt to do this, simple shapes, lines, and curves will suffice here. The trick is to deconstruct what you see into simple shapes, put them down on paper, and "play with" the shapes on paper before you move into the real world. If you saw my drawings, they would not make sense to you. Again, here it does not matter. They only have to make sense to *me* since I'm the one implementing them, right? The trick is, think a lot, start simple, add details later.

But what if my pictures never match what I have in my head?

Oh, now this is a big one. (I hope you're sitting down.) It doesn't matter. There, I said it, now allow me to explain. It doesn't matter if your results end up matching exactly what you have in your head. You'll get better results if you practice visualization techniques regardless of the outcome. And, more to the point, as you continue to practice visualization techniques, you'll find that you can visualize more accurately what you know your camera can render. Likewise, you'll be able to shoot closer to what's in your head. The point I'm trying to make here is that, the more you do it, the better you'll get at visualization. It's like anything else, right? Practice makes perfect and all.

Some final tips...

Ok, so you're convinced that you want to give visualization a try. Here are some tips that might help you along. Try drawing, sketching, doodling more. Learn to just "let your mind go" and see where it takes you. Make visual associations (as we did here with The Stig) and explore new connections. Remember old stories. Think back to when you were a child and you used to play "dress up" or with toys, what did you imagine? What did you pretend you wanted to be? Record your dreams and fantasies. Re-read some of your favorite books, listen to your favorite music, or watch old movies to get ideas. Go to galleries, museums, and look at a lot of other artwork to spur your imagination. All of these things can help you visualize images.

Some of the best photographs in the world are deliberate. The photographer didn't wait for the universe to align itself in a certain way, instead he (or she) went out and made things happen. I'm sure that you'll find a new purpose to your work, and your work will have more depth, more soul, more drama, and more intensity if you give visualization a try.

It's not hard to imagine yourself, your shots, your work, only better. You should give it a try and do please let us know how it works out for you, or share any tips you might have for others looking to get started.

Until next time...