Sunday, August 30, 2009

Out of This World Entertainment - Fun at Studio 2

AlienFamilyJewels, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

So, last night I was shooting the "Projected Pixels" project over at the wonderful Studio 2 Gallery on South Lamar, as part of the "Matinee Mania" opening. I have to say, it was probably the best fun I've had at an opening in a long time. The show was fantastic-it was great to see the diversity of work devoted to the movies-and the opening was such a blast. The piece you see here was painted by the Cupcake Lady (and, yes, that's me standing in front of it.)

The gallery was setup so that there was a small "theater" in the back, with the projector blasting images to a wall, and there was even a "red velvet rope" that I could pull back to allow people to step inside. Once in the project, the projected images were displayed and I was able to re-photograph the images with people standing in front, making gestures and posing. I have to admit, the people were great-there was such a surprising range of emotions and creativity. The project was very interactive-we even had chairs lined up (like a real theater) so that other people could sit and watch. That was a lot of fun too, actually, getting to sit down and see what everybody would do. It really was a fun project and I hope to do it again sometime soon.

In other news, the weather has finally broken a bit-it's been slightly cooler, at least enough to make me feel a bit better. Maybe I just had so much fun over at Studio 2 I don't notice the heat anymore, but it really does feel a bit cooler.

I'm still printing for my next two shows, some stuff is due this week and some (I think) next. I haven't had time to do much painting or do the transfers that I had wanted to do just yet but look for more details about some additional upcoming projects really soon.

If you can avoid the alien life forms, that is.

Until next time...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pull Up a Barstool and Let Me Tell You About...

OneTooMany, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Last night I did a small photo shoot inside a place called the Carousel Lounge-a small, local bar in downtown Austin. There was a Dixieland band playing there and I decided to tag along to take some pictures.

I love shooting in bars, even though bars are very unusual environments to shoot in. For starters, I always think I'm never going to get anything. I left last night thinking, "Meh, maybe I got a shot or two, but not much" and it always feels that way when you're in there. But then, sometimes, if you're lucky, there's something about the lights, the atmosphere, maybe it's the music, or the "Norm!" aspect-how you feel like everybody knows your name-somehow it all just comes together and clicks. That's how bars are for me. I always wind up getting some very intriguing shot of a bar somehow, though usually it's by no dumb luck of my own.

I think bars are just interesting places to be and the pictures sort of just fall out in the wash. Yeah, maybe that's it.

So how's your weekend?

Until next time...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Favorite Color of Sorts

BrownInVenice, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

What's your favorite color?

When asked that question, a lot of people say "blue." My favorite color is actually black-I love rich, deep, dark things. Because it's hard to paint over black paint, I stopped myself from painting my house black and instead opted to make everything brown.

I love the color brown. I'm a fan of exposed wood and I love how brown can take you from light golden colors to rich deep chocolates, covering everything in between. If you're ever unsure of what color to paint a room, I would always recommend painting it the color of chocolate milk. It's really a nice color and everything looks good on top of it. Brown is a very versatile color.

When people pick out colors, it's always interesting for me to watch. There really are no "right" and "wrong" colors, yet sometimes I see people fussing about which exact shade of something to get, claiming "this one doesn't go" or "that one is too yellow" (whatever that means.) Color is such an interesting thing because colors have different meanings in different cultures yet there is a biological basis for some of color theory-the color pink, for example, has a calming effect, yet nobody seems to know why.

I love shooting black and white, but there's something about color. I guess maybe it's because, if I could remember my dreams, I'd think that they would be in color. I would imagine myself dreaming some very colorful dreams, don't you think?

Color is fun and it's how we see the world. It's both personal and universal all at the same time. How could I not like something like that, right?

Until next time...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tips for Being a Photography Original - My Response

GreenDoors, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

The other day, Nevada Wier tweeted this link about "being a photography original." Since I'm a big fan of her work, I decided to follow the tweet-link and read the article. Nevada did say that she did not agree with all of it, and specifically pointed to some items she did not agree with, but I thought it was interesting enough to post a response.

The article says to "shoot commission work not stock" and I guess that's good advice if you want to make more money. It's getting harder and harder to shoot stock and make a living these days, and I'm probably not the best person to comment on the status of all things stock as I never was a big player in that market anyway.

Number two is "don't sell yourself short" and this is a sentiment I can totally agree with. I've seen too many up and coming photographers try to make a quick buck by selling stuff to microstock (pennies on the dollar) that they could have made more money on, if only they had waited. So, IMHO, that's good advice there.

"Show emotion and don't offend," yes, these are good things to do too so, again, I would tend to agree.

"Think scarcity not volume," again, here, this is very true. One of the downsides of the new "social media" explosion is that there's now a lot of pressure for photographers to constantly "put out" work. We aren't factories and we're not robots, so please don't expect us to act like ones.

"Don't copy the work of others." Oh, this is a big one. The author says that you should search and see "if it's been done before" and, if it has, don't do it. Move on. That's big advice that a lot of people don't follow there.

"Don't go to workshops for ideas," Here's where we tend to disagree. The author says to "be a loner" and that's good advice, but some workshops can be quite good for photographic development. I don't think they are all bad, nor do I believe they sort of "force" photographers into turning out formulaic work, though they can attract photographers who do resort to the old cliches. It just depends upon the workshop, the experience, and what you put into it, I guess.

"Don't share or post your techniques" and "Don't ask for the opinions of other photographers." Here is another one I tend to disagree with. Sure, you can show your cards a bit too much (and sometimes, I will admit, I do) but the opinion of a valued photographer can be golden. Notice I said valued. Yes, it's true. Getting a bunch of "cool shot, dude!" comments on Flickr is not valued. Getting feedback from another working photographer, one who knows my work, understands the directions I'm going, and the markets I'm trying to reach, and doesn't copy me, is like cash in the bank. I do have these people in my network, and I value their opinions, sometimes even more than my own. But, you have to work to build these types of relationships up-most of the photographers who give me this kind of feedback I've known for years and I've worked closely with time and time again. I would also give them the same type of feedback.

I really like what the author says about getting a smart phone to check your email. I do think there are a lot of photographers today (myself included!) who are spending too much time on the Internet and not enough time on the images. It's a slippery slope-especially since I love the Internet for looking at images-I love getting to see and share tons of work, most of it I would never otherwise get to see, but it can be a bit of a time drain and drag me away from making my own work. It's a fine line and I think that, nowadays especially, we have to learn how to walk it if we want to be successful. The Internet is here to stay, it's the new marketing tool, for better or worse, and so, like any other tool, those who learn to work it to their advantage will enjoy a competitive spot in the marketplace.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the read.

Until next time...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Photography Workshops - A Day Trip to Get Your Feet Wet

This is the next installment of my series on photography workshops.

Since a workshop can represent a major investment, both in terms of your time (sometimes we are using up our entire vacation time to attend these things) and money, I thought I would offer a few pointers on how to get yourself ready for one.

If you're not used to shooting all day, one thing you might like to try is to take a shorter "day trip" before you book your workshop. Get used to packing up you gear, traveling someplace (even if it's someplace close by) and shooting for an entire day. Take a Saturday, Sunday, or day you don't have to work and plan to spend a day out in the field. Don't forget all the important stuff like extra batteries, loads of flash memory, maybe even bring your laptop to get used to what it's like working in the wild. If you have to, work out of your car, but be careful. Remember to secure your belongings and try to have fun but also get a feel for what it's like shooting for hours straight, rather than just taking a few shots and moving on. Don't spend an excessive amount of time on your cell phone either-explain to your family and friends that you will be "offline" for that day and only plan to "touch base" once or twice over the course of the day. When you travel afar, you won't want to be spending hours yapping on your cell phone-the time should be spend focusing your efforts on your images.

One thing you'll probably notice right off the bat is that you will need to pack all of your camera gear, everything that you might possible need over the course of the day, into your pack. If it isn't in your pack, it's almost like you don't even own it at all, so it becomes important to plan ahead and think about what you are going to need over the course of the entire day. Remember here the key is that you don't have opportunity to "run home and grab" so you'll want to pack your bag carefully and deliberately. Go through every lens that you might need, lots of batteries, any accessories that you like to shoot with, and don't forget to care for your camera bodies. Dust them off and clean them up a bit around each shoot, so that you know they are in good working order. And, yes, notice I said "bodies" there-plan on having at least two camera bodies at all times. Cameras are prone to malfunction-especially now that you're going to be shooting more, you're going to be breaking them more, so plan ahead for this.

Another thing that becomes obvious when you hit the road is that you have to budget your time. Everybody always wants to shoot in "golden light" and that's great-we take a lot of wonderful shots at that hour-but the so-called "golden light" only lasts for a small part of the day. Learn to work the lighting conditions that you have and plan to be someplace spectacular during those wonderful "golden light" (precious) minutes. Sometimes, for example, you can find that high noon, while not offering the best of lighting conditions, offers you more opportunity for doing portraits, since a lot of people are walking about during lunchtime. Find shady spots and learn to look for where the sun is in the sky, and which way it's moving, so you know when to come back to something in the case where it will have better afternoon lighting. One more piece of advice: shoot a lot. There's nothing like shooting tons in the field, and you can always edit later, so plan on shooting way more than you'll need, at least until you feel comfortable enough working in the field to scale it back down again. Start early in the morning-be out to catch that early morning "golden light" and plan on spending the entire day, past sunset, out shooting, again because you'll want to catch the evening's "golden light" opportunity as well.

Meals can be tricky in the field. You'll probably want to eat at noontime, when the light is at it's worst, but plan on skipping dinner (or having a very late dinner) since you'll want to be setup for "golden light" right about the time most people think of their evening meal. I usually pack things like bananas and breakfast bars-these go a long way towards fending off hunger and can usually keep you shooting for the day. Also pack and drink a lot of water-it's important to stay hydrated.

If you're shooing in a desert or highly variable climate, you'll notice how the weather changes over the day. Dress in layers and plan to be able to add/remove clothing to keep yourself warm and dry over the course of the day. It's always a good idea to have some fleece jackets and clothing for the cooler spots (even in the desert it gets cool when the sun goes down) and some sunscreen for the hottest part of the day.

As you're shooting over the course of the day, remember that it's ok to take breaks but don't stop shooting for extended periods of time. We're not robots and we do need to sit down from time to time but I find that I do some of my best work when I'm exhausted, so really try to push yourself to shoot as much as you can over the course of the day. Remind yourself mentally that this is not a "spa day" and that you are, essentially, working now as a photographer. At the end of the day, it's a job, and you're getting paid (or want to be getting paid) to produce great work, not stroll around with a camera chatting up the locals. Instinctively you'll know as you produce a few shots that might work for you, so keep pushing yourself until you feel confident you have something to take home, some "money shot" as I like to say. When you spot something interesting, don't just take a few shots and walk away, try to get at it from every possible angle and adjust the lighting if you can to capture a few different takes on it. Think about your compositions, you lines, colors, textures, perspective, scale, gestures, and all of the artistic elements of your images, don't just "snap and run." You'll want to shoot a lot yes, but you also want quality shots, not just quantity.

Once you get back home, plan your editing sessions so they are a bit longer than normal-you'll want to be able to review work over the entire course of the day and this might turn into more frames than you imagined you would shoot. I like to edit a day of shooting in one session, as I can mentally review what I was doing, where I was, and how the light was at the time. I usually make a cup of tea and sit down in front of the computer using the Adobe RAW viewer to check my shots before I start to process them individually. This gives you a higher level "what did I get?" view of the world, before you start to individually process each shot that you like.

Don't forget to "pack out" your bag-unload all of your flash memory cards, clean your cameras and put them back, restock your lenses and recharge your batteries. Get yourself setup for your next outing. In the workshop experience, the next outing would translate into the next day, but now you've gotten a feel for what it would be like to shoot all day. Try to edit your work down into three or four good shots from the course of the day-it's great if you can get more, but really try to pull out a few of your top shots for highlighting later.

I realize that, for a lot of you, this was a review, as many of you shoot all day now without any help from me. In the next installment of the series, I'll talk about the portfolio requirement for some of the workshops, specifically addressing some pointers for getting your work together to secure a slot in the workshop or master class.

Until next time...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Carol's Theory of Bizarre Mannequins

ManicMannequins, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

It dawned on me the other day that I never actually got around to posting the picture I took in Hawaii of the "manic mannequins" so here it is.

I have this theory about mannequins. Actually, it's been developing slowly, over time, so you could really say it's more like a hypothesis than an actually theory, but it's still true. No matter where you travel in the world, there are some form of mannequins. Really, they are there, even if you just don't see them. Somebody, somewhere, is trying to sell or hem or darn or just do something to some clothing, no matter how tiny the town or how God-forsaken the rat hole you happen to be in, and this something that they are doing is going to necessitate they get a mannequin, dress form, or some other odd plastic-like representation of the human form. Really. Trust me on this one. Mannequins are everywhere. The world is suffering from an epidemic of mannequins only we just don't know it yet.

Couple this with the fact that mannequins are often hand-made and you get an interesting result. Mannequins look different in different parts of the world. Really, they do. Again, you might have to trust me on this one-especially if you don't get to travel a lot, but it's true-everywhere there are mannequins and they all sort of look a bit different-they have a sort of local "flavor" or "flair" if you will, probably because they are often hand-made or, in the very least, hand-decorated.

When I think of all the places I've been, I often think, not about the airports, the toothpaste (though I have done that before) or any of that-no I think about what sort of oddball crazy ass mannequins I've run across there. Sometimes, you see, you find the strangest of mannequins in the most "normal looking" of places. It's almost as if they sneak up on you or something-there they are, hiding, waiting, just waiting for you, the unsuspecting tourist to come along so, BAM! they can jump out and get you.

Such was the case in Hawaii. There I was, enjoying a tropical stay, minding my own business, even pausing to do a bit of shopping. That's when I saw them-that's when these scary looking crazy wild hopped up mannequins popped their funky blue-haired armless forms out at me. Oh the humanity! (What did I do to deserve this? I must have been a serial killer in a past life or something, I swear.)

But, seriously, if you should happen to find yourself in some odd hovel-if you should one day happen upon your own mannequin strangeness, remember this one piece of advice: they can't run and you can hide.

Well, that and don't forget to pack your camera because, though quite crazy, they can make for interesting pictures.

Until next time...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Like Books on a Shelf

BooksOnShelf, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

What do you think about when you think about school? For me, one of the best parts about being in school was having a great excuse to read a lot.

I love books. I love the idea that you can travel the world, hear the wildest of yarns, read about pirates, zombies, heroes, and villains all the while never leaving your comfortable chair. I mean, who doesn't want to read about zombies while sitting in a comfortable chair?

So, when I think of "school," when I hear about all of these back to school "sales" and "tax free days" (which are really just excuses to get us to buy more crap we don't need) I can't help but think where have all the books gone? (Sitting in the library and reading is still free, isn't it?)

Yes, go ahead. Stuff you ipods, fire up your laptops, don your designer jeans, do all of that, but don't forget the simplest of pleasures in life are sometimes free. Don't forget to go and read a book sometime before you graduate too, ok?

Until next time...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

It's Show Time

WhiteGateLast, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Some upcoming shows to tell you about today. For starters, the wonderful 5x7 show moves to Houston this month. look for it August 28th and 29th at the Inman Gallery. I'm also pleased to report that the Dallas show at Dunn and Brown Contemporary sold a record 286 pieces. Wow!

I've also got word that I've been accepted into AVAA's 32nd annual anniversary show and reunion. The show will be held in downtown Austin at a place we like to call "The DAC" (real name: Dougherty Arts Center.) Look for AVAA in the DAC September 4th through the 28th, with the opening reception the evening of September 9th.

I've got some work in the Georgetown Art Hop again this year. Look for that starting October 2nd which is also the same night as the opening reception. The shows will run at various locations in and around the historic Georgetown square, from October 2nd through November 2nd.

Finally, I've very excited to be a part of "Matinee Mania" at the wonderful Studio 2 Gallery in Austin. My "projected pixels" project is going to be included in a special art installation that you won't want to miss. I'm going to setup projections and take images live at the event. Here's your chance to step inside an actual movie scene and have your picture taken in what promises to be a fun installation event. All of this will be unfolding starting August 29th at 6 pm in the gallery on South Lamar.

Ok, so I've got enough to keep me busy. What's going on in your own little world?

Until next time...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Growing Crazy

Statue Cornered, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Had lunch with Scriber's Web yesterday-we went to this place called "The Grove." (So, I could not help but wonder, what grows there? What could possibly grow in this place called "The Grove?") As we pull up (get a really prime parking spot too, by the way) I notice they have this giant fan only it's outdoors and hanging from a tree-like a massively giant "ceiling fan" without any ceiling. So, I tell Scriber, "How odd. This place might just be 'blog worthy' yet." And we thought we were just going to get something to eat.

Turns out it's a wine bar and restaurant. They sit us down and give us a full wine menu so I, like a dufus, order iced tea. As we're sitting there, I notice we're at the back of the bar area and they have these bottles, all these bottles propped up against-they were propped up against the frosted glass that made up the back of the bar so they kind of looked like they were glowing. Man, talk about a distraction-nothing quite like getting a bunch of photographers sitting in front of glowing bottles without letting them take any pictures. The waiter comes over and I order some chicken and pasta dish-same as I always get, only his comes cooked in Gorgonzola cheese and has caramelized red onions. Man, I love Gorgonzola cheese and caramelized onions-though I have to wonder who in their right mind came up with the idea of caramelizing an onion. I mean, what genius thought that would taste good? Somebody whacked in the head there, if you ask me, though it is tasty, especially with the Gorgonzola cheese.

Scriber orders a glass of wine and it shows up not as a mere "glass," no, that would be too obvious, mind you, it's like a freaking goblet. The waiter might as well have told us, "here's your goblet of red, you wenches you." It was like a vat of wine, that thing was. About the same time I'm thinking this is a loony bin, I look up and notice they have this weird fountain on the patio. It's like a tiny fountain that you really can't see, though it's buried under the giant oddball "ceiling fan" that you really can't miss. They don't serve us "bread" with our lunch either, it's more like "panini" which is, I guess, some expensive Italian name for "a dinner roll." Oye. Why can't anybody call anything by it's normal name anymore? Why do we all have to pretend to be so freaking fancy?

As we're leaving, I started to wonder what grows in this crazy "grove" so I ask the nice hostess on the way out. "Why is this called a 'grove?' Do you grow anything here?" I ask her sheepishly.

Her response? "Nuts."

Oh, they got that one right. Nuts it is.

So, like, how was your lunch?

Until next time...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Photography Workshops - Total Immersion

StatueWSkyNo1, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

This is the next installment of my series on photography workshops.

Ok, so now that you know how to find workshops, maybe you've browsed the "virtual" brochures and picked out all of your favorite global hot spots you want to check out, it's time to actually book the workshop, right? Hang on, not so fast. There are probably a few things you should know before pulling that trigger and landing yourself in a workshop.

For starters, I realize that many of you out there are beginners. One thing to realize is that, for most of these workshops, you will spend the entire time taking pictures. The workshop experience is really about total immersion-for the entire trip, you're going to be a photographer, take pictures, and do nothing but take pictures. Your entire life will revolve around the camera and the image. This might sound like a good thing and, for some of you, it is. But, if you've never gone on a full day of shooting before, if you've not had to work in various conditions before, if the idea of filling up an entire memory card or running out of film is completely new and foreign to you, you might want to think about the whole workshop experience. Really stop and think about if this is the right thing for you.

Most people have this romantic notion that photographers jaunt off to interesting places, push a few buttons, and that's it. That's all there is to it. After that, we have these wonderful pictures to enjoy and brag off to our friends about. In real life, it doesn't always work that way. Yes, if you sign up for a workshop, you're going to get to go to a cool location, but you're going to have to get up early in the morning, stay out late at night, possibly forgo those fancy meals and post restaurants (normal "road" food often winds up being bananas and breakfast bars-even at odd hours of the night) pass on the "spa days" and all of that. If you think you can "sneak a few pictures in" between trips to any spa, trust me, a photography workshop is not for you.

For many of the more intense workshops, the schedule often runs something like this:

  • Morning location shoot-usually happens at sunrise. Plan to be up and ready before 7 am (possibly on location at that hour.)
  • Make late morning film drop-return to "base camp" about 10:30-11 am to make film drop (either drop off film to be developed or start digital upload.)
  • Between 11 am and about 1 pm-eat, shower, rest, etc. (Still have a lot to do, finish uploading, get directions for next location, make plans, start production work on morning shots, etc.)
  • Afternoon drive and scout location, plus afternoon shoot-get setup for late afternoon good light, and shoot until dark.
  • Make 7 pm film drop-return to base camp usually about 7 pm (in time for lab's last film drop) Start digital upload (if digital) Possible critique of morning sessions images. Start setting up for evening darkroom/printing session.
  • Somewhere in between 7 pm and 9 pm-eat dinner.
  • Darkroom hour-hit darkroom (or digital darkroom) no later than 9 pm. Plan to spend up through midnight printing. Print and critique sessions throughout the night.
  • Repeat again next day.

By the time you're through, it doesn't sound like much of a vacation, does it? It's not designed to be a vacation actually. It's designed to be a total immersion-to get you thinking about your photography, to get you shooting, to get you in the right locations at the right time with the good light.

So, if the idea of a "spa day" with a camera strapped around your neck is what you think of a workshop, this is probably not the thing for you. On the other hand, if you really want to take your images to the next level, if you really want to craft memories with lasting impact, if you're willing to work at it, and really want to "turn it up a notch" the workshop experience could really be just the ticket to take you to the next level.

A lot of times workshops are run by well-known photographers. I can't think if anything more enjoyable than, say, visiting the Maine coastline with somebody like John Paul Caponigro or getting to see Bali with somebody like Joyce Tenneson. The workshop experience offers you a master class-a peek into the way a top shooter works. In the process of tagging along, you'll learn tons, you'll get to see the world as they do and even challenge the way you shoot it for yourself. But that happens at the cost of many a "spa day" trust me. People like these don't get to the top of their game by sitting around in a spa and just "taking a few snaps" in between-there's a lot of work, planning, inspiration, and energy involved.

So, if you think you're up for the game, go for it. It really will be an unforgettable experience. If you're not quite ready to take the plunge, don't fret or give up on the whole experience just yet. In a future installment, we'll talk about some of the things you can do to take yourself there, to get yourself to the point where a workshop would really be a benefit to your shooting.

Until next time...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Weekend Roundup and It's Craig

Urm Greenery, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Biggest news to hit Austin is that, thanks to the 50 plus days of 100 plus temps., we are now under mandatory water restrictions. Sorry all you clean car buffs, there will be no more washing of the cars for folks in River City, at least not until it rains again. It's been so dry, even our name "River City" is starting to dry up-soon we will be "Iver City," then maybe just the uber-hip "Ver," followed by the confusing "Er" at some point, and, well that just doesn't have the same ring to it now, does it? (Thank goodness for the mighty Colorado or we'd be thirsty.)

Speaking of cars, tonight BBC America is showing us a new season of Top Gear. As you can imagine, I can hardly wait, though I know the shows are not "new" by any stretch. My guess is that these episodes are from at least a while back and yes, for the millionth time, I do know about bit torrent but, you see, there's something about plunking down my lazy bottom in front of the TV when I get home from a long day. I like to get home, pop up some popcorn (or some such suitable snacking item) and plunk myself down in front of the old fashioned television to watch TV. Well, I'm not completely turn of the century-I mean, crap, I do use a TiVo, but that's just basically so I don't have to run to get the popcorn. You get the idea, and, yes, tonight features the shenanigans of the top three car hosts in the world, not to mention my favorite of favorites, Lord "I Drive Fast So You Don't Have To" Stig himself. It goes without saying, really, but, in case you were wondering, yes, "Go, Stiggy, Go!" can be shouted at suitable volume over a tub of popcorn.

Finally, in perhaps completely unrelated news (I've seen Craig drive and didn't feel the sudden urge to don a helmet, though your results may vary) I would like to spread some "linky love" and point out that one of my good friends, shooting buddies and partners in crime, Craig, now has a blog you can checkout.

Apart from being a good friend, Craig has always been a favorite photographer. He's very creative and I love getting to see the world through his lens, not to mention he's taken the best picture of Stonehenge I've ever seen. You can visit his real website here if you are curious about that and, of course, start following his blog, as it promises to be not only fun but entertaining and creative.

Well, go on, what are you waiting for? I'm busy now, I've got some popcorn to pop.

Until next time...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Photo Friday: Young and Old

RedNoReallyBrownLeaf, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

The red leaf diaries are starting again, and I almost found one. This one doesn't really count as it's more drought stricken then actually "red" but, like, you get the idea.

Uploaded in honor of photo Friday-today's theme is "young and old."

hope you have a great Friday everybody!

Until next time...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Photographer's Resume-How to Boost Your Shows (Exhibition Record)

TheTakingOfTheUrnPart1, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

A few people have asked me about this recently, so I thought I would devote an entire post to it. It's what I like the call "the paradox of the beginner."

Basically, what happens when you start applying for shows is that a lot of times they ask to see a resume, a C.V. or some kind of record of shows you've already been in. That's all fine and good, but what happens if you haven't been in all that many shows? What happens if, say, you've been in none? It seems impossible to get a show without, well, having already had a show. Frustrating, isn't it? So, I thought I'd try and help out. Here are some tips to get you started.

The easiest ways to boost your shows (exhibition record) is to:

  • Consider entering mail/postal art show-these are usually non-juried shows where you basically just mail the gallery some artwork. It's simple, easy to do, and it puts a line on your resume. Browse Art Calendar or looking for mail/postal art shows or "open" shows and start sending stuff out there, but be careful. You don't want to stack your record with only mail/postal art shows, but they can be fun and a great way to get your work out there a bit more.
  • Join a camera or local art club. Check out some local clubs in your area and ask around-find out which ones do a lot of shows, especially group shows. This can be a great way to boost your exhibition record because it also cuts down on framing costs. A lot of these clubs either buy frames in bulk (and you can sort of tag along) or they can help you with the presentation of your work, not to mention you don't have to frame as many pieces for a group show. Be careful to ask around though, and find a group that is somewhat active and allows new members to be included in shows, even if it's for a modest fee.
  • Check out restaurants, bars, ice cream parlors, doctor's offices, hair salons, and other odd assorted places where artwork is not their primary goal. These places often don't know a thing about "exhibition records" and just want to decorate their walls. If you've got something that's pretty, not too offensive, and isn't too complicated you can probably get yourself a show pretty easily.
  • Enter more shows-might seem a bit obvious but, the more shows you enter the more shows you are likely to get into. Start sending your stuff out more, but be realistic. Try to aim for shows where your work fits the theme and your "look" fits the juror's aesthetic.
  • Consider gifting your work-places like charity auctions can be a way to boost your show record as well. Consider donating some older work or a print to something like a silent auction and you can not only list this on your exhibition record but also feel good that you just might be helping out a worthy cause.
  • Finally, keep an accurate record of the shows you are in-gosh, I wish I had done this. If you look at my record, it's says "selected group exhibitions." Yeah, well, that's because I can't remember all the shows I've been in over the years. It hasn't really hurt me much (in the long run) to have dropped some off the list but, man, there have been times I've really wondered what other shows I've done that now I just can't seem to recall. It's kind of like when you can't think of the name of a movie or song title-it will drive you slowly mad-not to mention you might as well take "credit" for the work you do, so keep an accurate list of all the shows your in. Trust me, it helps.

If you have any other "resume boosting" ideas, please feel free to share them with us. I'm sure we could all use a tip or two.

Until next time...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Photography Workshops - Next in the Series

DownTheFenceWUrn, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

I got an email today from Ken Goodrich over at Hawaii Photo Retreat talking about shooting on the Big Island, which reminded me that it might be a good idea to post the next installment of my series about photography workshops.

The photo workshop comes in all shapes and sizes. There are local workshops-a lot of times you can find a short lighting or camera workshop starting as close as your local camera shop or photo club-and longer "get away" style workshops, which travel to places like Timbuktu. (You always wanted to go to Timbuktu, didn't you?) There are very "established" workshops like the Santa Fe Photography Workshops or the Maine Media Workshops and also workshops run by people just starting out.

Some of the benefits of the photo workshop are that they allow you to try new things, to go to new places, to try out a different form of photography (maybe) and to get to spend some time with other, like minded folks. In almost all of the workshops I have attended, I've met at least one person (usually more) I enjoyed shooting with or sharing company with, and I've gotten to go shooting at some locations I'd never get to go on my own.

The biggest downside to workshops is the cost-they can be quite expensive. Let's face it, if you wind up in a completely wrong workshop (well, wrong for you) it can be an especially expensive mistake, though you can usually get *something* out of any experience (even if your only take away is which workshops to avoid.) (Remind me and I'll share a story of a friend and a camel in a future installment of this series that will have you laughing until you cry.)

Many people wonder how you can find out about photography workshops and, in typical Carol fashion, I'd be here to help. Here are some pointers to get you started looking at workshops:

  • Shaw Guides has an online guide to photo workshops though you should be warned, this is an "unfiltered" sort of a list.
  • Santa Fe Photography Workshops always keep a running list of workshops-I've posted about them in the past and we'll cover them more in a special topic.
  • Along with the Maine Media Workshops-another photo workshop along the same lines as the Santa Fe folks.
  • I've also attended the VSP Workshops in Europe-Jonathan and his wife are nice folks and they offer a broad range of workshops that span the globe to get you where you need to go, not to mention they have some special workshops-like carnivale in Venice (I mean, who doesn't want to go to Venice during carnivale?)
  • I mentioned the Hawaii Photo Retreat-again, Ken and Mary Goodrich are really nice folks and I can't speak highly enough of their work and their workshop.
  • Kathleen Carr offers workshops and creative retreats in Hawaii as well-her woman's photography retreats are another "to die for!" style workshop that will not only relax you but have you wondering how you produced so much great photography.
  • The folks who bring us National Geographic also bring us photo workshops, or "photo expeditions" as they like to call them. More information can be found here for the curious. They have also started offering what I'd call photo "long weekends" which really have me taken-I am very interested in doing shorter stays (like 3-4 days) in cities closer to home and they have started to offer these.
  • And, if you still want more, there's Strabo Tours-folks who seem to go everywhere anybody wants to go.

This list is not exhaustive but it might be enough to get you started looking at workshops. I find that, sometimes, even if I don't plan on taking a workshop right away, just looking through all of the websites and picturing the exotic locations is a bit of a break from my daily stress-filled routine.

In the next part of the series, we'll talk about what to look for in a workshop, what to expect, how to prepare for one, and the like.

Until next time...

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sunday Roundup - Printing and Stuff

PotteryOnTheLawn, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Today I finished my drawing sessions over at studio 3 in the wonderful Laguna Gloria (Austin Museum of Art.) The museum itself is an Italian style villa, with a statue garden, pottery, and the like, all around it. The studios there are wonderful-it's in a quiet spot on a hill in a shaded area up above the lake. It's a fantastic place, I've always really loved it there. For some reason, it feels cooler there, even when it's hot in the summertime-I think it has to do with the fact that it's pretty heavily shaded and it's also very near the water. Anyway, I enjoyed the sessions and enjoyed taking some photos there as well.

Tomorrow night is a photo meeting and I have to present some of the "New Beginnings" work for review, so I've been printing that out. I don't have to have a ton of stuff printed, and I've just about knocked out my sixth or seventh print, so I'm close to being done for the evening. The project is starting to come together, it promises to be a nice one, I'm sure. I hope to get back over there (Concordia University) to shoot some more in the science labs again sometime soon. Not right now, but maybe in a few weeks.

Some other upcoming projects-I am going to try to go out to the sculpture ranch out in Johnson City and photograph out that way at some point. There's also a music shoot at the Carousel Lounge-one of the photo groups in town is going to do a Dixieland style jazz band photo shoot in a lounge that's all dolled up to look like a carousel-that promises to be a lot of fun and I hope I can make it.

Feels good to be shooting again actually. I was buried under so much marketing, I had almost forgotten what it felt like. What are you shooting these days? Are you shooting much? Or staying indoors, waiting for summer to slip away, maybe waiting for some fall color and cooler temps?

Yes, in case you can't tell, I can hardly wait for the red leaf diaries to start up again. A few more weeks, I promise. Actually, this could be the start of it-look! I found not a red leaf but a red (ish) pot on the lawn instead. (Be on the lookout for those leaves-they are a crafty bunch and they slip away before you can even find them. Unlike, say, pottery, which seems to plant itself, excuse the pun, in the middle of the lawn for all to see.)

Ah yes. I wonder now how many emails I'm going to get that start with the words "nice jugs" since I've been out photographing giant vases on the lawn again.

Until next time...

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The End of an Era-So Long Kodachrome

Laguna Gloria , originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Many of you who know me know that I seldom used Kodak products-especially when I was first starting out. I was always a Fuji and Ilford fan, it's true, there's no denying it. But, there's something about the notion that Kodachrome is going away that really gets me. You see, a lot of photographers shot Kodachrome over the years. It's a great film. While I've not shot much of it, even I have shot some of it myself over the years.

It's not just about the film though. It's more the notion that there's one less option out there-one less process for a photographer to try, one less type of film we can use, one more decision a camera or film manufacturer has made for us. I like options-options are good. Without options, all of our work would start to look the same. If there's anything you should know about me (by now) it's that I don't like work that looks "the same." In fact, I've always been a big fan of "the different" (for many reasons, and in whatever form that takes.) So there you have it. I said it. I'm going to miss Kodachrome. Not because of any nostalgia, not because I've shot thousands of rolls of it (I haven't) just because I'm one of the many people who just doesn't want to see it die.

I'd be curious to hear your take on the whole Kodachrome issue. Did you shoot a lot of it over the years? Or were you more a fan of that old Paul Simon song than the film itself? Will you miss it when it's gone? Or, perhaps, are you happy to see it go?

So much for those "nice bright colors" and those "greens of summer." Sorry, call me crazy, say what you will, but "Mama don't take my Compact Flash away" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Until next time...

Friday, August 07, 2009

A Primitive Camera of Sorts

TreesCloudsSky, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

...And, for my next trick, I'm going to disappear. Allow me to explain. Tomorrow, I'm going to a "special" photographer's workshop. It's one in which they use primitive cameras-very primitive cameras-so primitive, are these cameras in fact that they aren't even cameras at all. You see, starting tomorrow, I go into the studio for two days of intensive drawing. (Pencils! Paper! Such primitive tools! What do you mean, there's no shutter release button? You heathens!) Yes, yes, it's true. I'm going to get all charcoal-y (or even worse, pencil-y) on you.

[Oh the horror! Oh the humanity! My kingdom for some film and a darkroom.]

All kidding aside, drawing is good for the soul. (Keep telling yourself that and maybe you'll believe it, right?) Drawing is the basics of art-there's really nothing simpler than taking pencil to paper, right? (Ok, so how come my local art supply store has entire aisles stacked with pencils of different grades, thickness, color, etc. Simple my bottom...I'll show you simple...simple is black and white film!)

Lately anyway, it seems as if this Texas heat has me not wanting to go outside. I can't paint (turns to pudding when it's 105 outside-trust me on that one.) And, for ages, I've been meaning to do some charcoal drawings of Chase (he is mostly black and curly, you know. Don't you think he would look great in charcoal, assuming I can draw, that is?) So, I'm going to retreat indoors and draw. Get back to the basics. Get down with the sketch book. It's been too long, I'm too tired-I could use a bench, and, well, I just feel like it, so I'm going to do it.

Which brings me to the next question in my mailbag. Janice from Isle of Wight has asked me about my background. She would like to know what other media I work with and a little about how I got started in the arts. So, I thought I'd tell her (and, um, I guess, you too.)

When I was young, I used to do (what I then called) ceramics. I used to paint on clay. I did it for many years. I painted a series of beer steins that had picnic scenes on them, I painted Christmas trees, I painted a lot of stuff. But, all the while I really wanted to be a rock star. Or, you know, maybe a best-selling novelist. I learned to play a few different instruments (flute, guitar, etc.) and seriously considered applying to Columbia's school of journalism. (Seriously. Me. Can you imagine?) Basically, I was all over the map, with a few things always coming around to haunt me: writing, music, and art. So, what did I do? I went to college and studied science. (Yes, I know, doesn't make sense to me either.)

I've always had a serious interest in the arts though. Even when I was young (and broke) I used to paint in my spare time. I would buy one canvas, make a painting, put gesso back over it, and start painting again (someday, I hoped I could afford more than one canvas.) I never had a camera back then, at least not a mechanical one, even though I used to always sort of "take pictures in my head."

When I moved to Austin, after grad. school, I took up photography. Since I had a job then too, I bought myself a nice Nikon camera. It was an old F-series match needle camera. I still have it actually and, yes, it still works. Within a few months of buying that camera I had my first photography show, here in Austin (where I live now) at an ice cream parlor. You can probably figure out where my love of the camera has taken me without me going into too many more details here.

But, photography is not all that I do. I've been drawing, painting-oils, acrylics, water (gouache, mostly but some light bodied watercolors as well) and lots of other stuff for a long time. I'm one of those "lazy painters" they always talk about-you know the type-I like to basically paint with my camera. But, I do other stuff too, including, yes even painting with paint instead of the old Nikon. At some point, I'll post more from my other media, maybe I'll even get "un-lazy" enough to photograph some of my paintings and upload them so you can see them. But, for now, at least you know a little bit more about what I do.

As usual, if you have any specific questions or want to ask me about anything, please either leave a comment or email me. I can't promise I'll get back to you immediately but, as time and projects permit, I'll do my best.

Until next time...

Thursday, August 06, 2009

To Carbon or Not to Carbon

GoddessOfLand, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

I got an email the other day, from somebody who follows the blog, asking if I prefer carbon fiber tripods. He was going to purchase a tripod and wanted to get my opinion. While I don't usually comment on gear, I thought it would be a good idea to comment on this, since I have fought (and lost) the "battle of the tripod" so many times it's not even funny.

My opinion (this is what I gave him) was that carbon was worth the money. For me (or somebody like me-he has a bad back too) carbon makes all of the difference in the world. It's lighter, easier to carry, my Gitzo folds up small and can fit easily in a carry-on or tucks neatly away in my luggage. Gitzo makes wonderful tripods, I would highly recommend them-the only real downside is the price. For this reason, I told him, "unless you are a broke 19 year old college student who is in really great shape and can lift/carry things easily, go carbon. You won't regret it." He wound up ordering a carbon fiber tripod and now he's happy he did.

There are some other, not so obvious advantages to carbon that become clear as you shoot it. If you're used to metal tripods, the carbon doesn't get as hot or as cold. This is helpful if you shoot in the southwest or the desert (as I do a lot.) The carbon fiber tripods tend to fold up smaller and are easier to pack. They tend to be more expensive, yes, and they can be easier to tip over, so you need to watch them more on a windy day and be careful not to bump them. In general though, they make for sharper images, because they are lighter but just as stable (if not more stable) than metal.

While we're on the subject of gear, I should point out that I've now signed up to become a B&H photo affiliate. Over the years, running this website, I've been contacted by everybody from baby food companies to record producers, to you name it, asking if they could advertise, become an affiliate, or just use this space to give something away. Most of these advances are met with a firm "No thank you!" but B&H is a store I actually believe in. I shop there myself. It's a great store, they are great people, and it's an outfit I believe in, so I decided to take the plunge and answer their email requesting me to affiliate.

Now, I'm not going to turn all commercial on you. I've simply put the button up and will probably provide a few links, as I review specific gear, to their site. I figure that, well, if you're like me, you're probably going to buy from them anyway, right?

Finally, in other non-related news, I hope that you enjoy the new template. I am starting to like it very much, as I find it easier to read, and I hope you do too.

Until next time...

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Photography Workshops-First in a Series

Palm Shores, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Many of you have probably considered taking a photography workshop. Photo workshops offer a great opportunity for the photographer-we get to go on location, for (sometimes) an extended stay, we get to devote all of our time to shooting, and don't have to deal with some of the routine hassles of traveling, scouting locations, and all of that, plus we get to socialize. Meeting other photographers, other like-minded people is a big plus in any photography workshop-the workshops usually boil down to between 6 and 15 photographers. Then there's the critique aspect of it. Many of the workshops are lead by prominent photographers-people working in the field, and we get to have them comment on our work. Workshop learning and the workshop experience is really a great way to enjoy photography.

For my next little series, I'll explore the photography workshop a bit more. I'll delve into what makes a good workshop, what you can expect to take away from a workshop, what to look for in a workshop, and other topics that might help you decide on taking a workshop.

If you have any specific questions about workshops, or the workshop experience, please get them to me soon, as I'll be starting this series next.

Until next time...

Monday, August 03, 2009

Juried Shows - Follow the Rules and Have Fun

TikiPeople, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Next in the series on juried shows, we get to Rule #3 which is "Follow the Rules." Most of the time, the call for entries will have rules spelled out for you. Things like "send 3 slides or digital files on CD by this date." That sort of a thing. You need to follow those rules as best you can, including how to size and present your work. Sometimes, they are very specific asking you to mark the CD with your name or naming your files in a very specific way-do that as best you can also. Remember that, in this capacity, you're acting as a professional and that this is the same gallery that may one day represent your work, so be nice and play along with what they request. It goes a long way.

Now that we've covered all the rules, there's a few more odds and ends I wanted to tell you about. It can be hard to tell how many and which juried shows to enter. This is where I might actually be able to provide some pointers. For me, juried shows are a bit like juggling. The secret (or so I'm told) to being a good juggler, is to "always have one ball in the air." I use this approach with juried shows. Let me explain.

Every month (or couple of months) I scan the list of upcoming deadlines (we've talked about how to get these already) and I come up with my own list-a list of things I'm going to send out. Then, I start sending out my work, as best I can, in order to meet the deadlines in front of me. Typically, I won't make all of the shows I've presented, not even in terms of getting into the show, more in terms of making their deadlines. This doesn't matter to me. I just keep sending work out, according to my list, and I don't pay attention to when results come back in. My goal is to always have work out for evaluation. The idea is, if you get rejected (and you will) always have the next things already sent out. I do this because it helps me to always have something out "on the horizon" of sorts. Sure, maybe I didn't get into this particular show but, hey, this other place, over here, didn't get back to me yet and I might still get into that one.

This is one way of coping with rejection, there are many others. Another trick I use is that I always tell myself I'm not going to get into a show, any show, and so, if anything comes back a "yes" I'm pleasantly surprised. Then I get to say "Wow! I made it in!" instead of "I so thought I had that one! Rats!" You get the idea.

The real trick with juried shows, if there is any, is that it's really just a numbers game. The same work, if entered into several different juried shows, might get rejected, get in, get an award, get a 1-person show, or just get lost. The best advice I can give you here is to do work that's close to your heart, that you feel good about, that you enjoy, and the rewards will follow in time.

Over the course of time, I've been able to get into many juried shows. Some I really thought I had and I did not get in, some I thought I would never get in and they took me, others, well, let's just say I got in and leave it at that. After years of doing this, I'm probably now above the 50% mark in terms of getting in, but it really took me a while to get there, and, I have to say, if I don't apply for shows I know I can't make, then I feel more like a failure than I would getting into every one. I think it's always good to reach, to try and make a mark that's out of reach, just so that you remind yourself of what the next level is-it's an important way to grow both as an exhibiting artist and as a person. So, that's what I do.

Finally, one last important note about juried shows-and this is perhaps the most important thing of all. You're life doesn't change if you get in. It's sort of like the old Buddhist saying, "a mountain is still a mountain, a river is still a river" nothing really radical happens to you after you get in. For some (odd) reason, a lot of people think that, once you get into a show, you're going to make a million dollars, go on and become a household name, start selling gobs of work all over the globe, retire a millionaire, all of that. Um, sorry to inform you, but it just doesn't work that way. Once you start getting into juried shows, you become what we call a "working artist" nothing more, nothing less. Welcome to the club. You're one with the rest of us-there are probably ten billion people out there who have been in juried shows, just like yourself and who aren't household names or have entire lines of oil paint named after them. And, guess what? More happy news! It doesn't get any easier (really) getting into the next one.

So, there you have it. The in's, out's, up's, and down's of juried shows. It been a fun series-I hope to consolidate this into an article of sorts and present it on-line at some point but, for now anyway, I hope you've enjoyed reading along, and maybe even found some helpful advice buried in there for yourself.

Until next time...

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Red Leaf Diaries and the Case for Paint

SoftRedBuds, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Since it's August now, and I'm feeling in the mood for it, I should tell you that this autumn, once again, I'm going to start the red leaf diaries.

What are the Red Leaf Diaries? You might be thinking, and, why, I'd be here to tell you.

Sometimes, in the autumn, when the mood strikes me, I go out searching for a red leaf. This might sound a bit odd, a bit lame, a bit, "oh, is that all?" but it's not really. You see, Austin and the surrounding areas (where I live) don't really get much of the traditional "fall foliage." So, it naturally follows that, well, we don't get many red leaves. But, it's not just the lack of red leaves in the general vicinity, no the red leaf diaries are something a bit more than that.

It's about the journey, not the destination.

It's not really about the act of finding a red leaf, you see. It's about my search for one. It's about the quest, the travels, the hunt. It's about where my trials, attempts, and meanderings take me and, perhaps more so about what else I happen upon along the way.

The way it works is, if I get to see it, if I happen upon it in the great hunt for my one, single, red leaf, you get to see it too. You get to see it and see pictures of it, and explore, right along with me, enjoying that quest, that thirst for all things autumn. And, if I should happen to come up dry, well, you too can share in my shortcomings. Yes, the red leaf diaries are all about finding autumn in the strangest and slightest of places-experiencing the change of season in the smallest of ways, and also of sharing that with you.

So, this year, once again, we'll be "red leafing" it together. I hope you're up for the trip and you enjoy the view along the way. It promises to be a fun, though at times, bumpy ride.

In other news, more topics for this week include the case for paint. Future topic alert-many of the recent "digital converts" who took to digital photography in the last few years are starting to, "get a little bored" with the media, maybe want to explore a bit more, and are now starting to paint. We'll discuss that more in the posts to come, making the case for paint and comparing the role of the painter in the digital photographer's toolbox.

Until next time...

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Shows, More Shows, and The Coolest Clouds Ever

CloudsNo1, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Some upcoming shows to tell you about, along with some other news too.

For starters, Kathy, Scriber's Web, and I have a show (went up today) at Amplify bank in Round Rock, Texas. It's a new branch, out very near the Dell Diamond. It's a small bank but an absolutely fabulous show-it really looks good. It will run until September, I think, so check it out if you are in the Austin (or Round Rock) area.

Next up, the 5x7 show from Arthouse will be traveling to Dallas. Look for it at Dunn and Brown Contemporary starting August 14th. I think it will be going to Houston after that-I'll post more details once they are available.

Finally, in other news, tonight we had some of the coolest clouds I've seen in a while. They were brilliant, I tell you. Well, actually, I don't have to tell you-I shot some for you to see. Beautiful black and white style clouds is how I would describe them-really quite a sight to see. So, I had to, I mean just had to, go out and burn some compact flash, just to share them with you. (I hope you like them.)

I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend, even if it does not involve any cool clouds of your own.

Until next time...