Monday, April 30, 2012

Night Shoot and a Juried Monster


CloudPeople-2_6046, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

This weekend I went out on a couple of shoots. For starters, on Saturday, I went over to the Hill Country Water Gardens and Nursery to shoot their Lily Blossom Festival. The lily blossoms were in full bloom and there was free bar-b-que there. It was crowded but then, I should have known that by the state of the free BBQ. Still, I good shoot, I think I got a nice flower or two and it was a nice day out so I enjoyed myself a little bit.

Then, yesterday, I went over to downtown Round Rock, in sort of the old town area for a night shoot. The shoot was supposed to start at 7:45 and run for an hour, the problem is that I had wanted to do NIGHT shooting (you know, after it actually gets dark) so I had to wait for the sun to set. I dragged out the trusty old tripod and walked around downtown in the Round Rock area to get some night shots. It was a nice night even if I don't think I got anything worth keeping.

While I was over there, I was talking to a friend and told her that I had just submitted work for a particular show. "Oh, isn't the juror for that...?" she asked. Yes, indeed, the juror was a woman who, as it turns out, we both know and have a history with. The woman in question, the juror in this case, is somebody who HATES my work. I mean, not just HATES but like HATES HATES. I'm so convinced she HATES my work so much that, I swear, I get this mental image of me drowning in a lake and her not lifting a finger to save me. I could see my limbs actually flailing about in the water and me shouting, "Help! HELP! HELLLLLPPPPP!" while she just say on the beach (or by the side of the pool) sunning herself. Seriously. Like she HATES my work that much.

As I was talking to my friend, she told me how this deep hatred goes even further, "she's rejected work by almost everybody in Barbara's old group." Yes, it's true, this "jury monster" lady not only HATES my work but she's rejected the work of my entire GROUP. That's like an entire movement of people-an entire art movement-she's rejected soundly. HATES, HATES, HATES us all, or so the image in my head has already played out. Like, seriously. I have visions of her with bloody fangs, a pitchfork and a tail. That's the kind of hate I'm envisioning here. (Imagine somebody saying something along the lines of, "I really HATE those cubists!" and then knocking them every chance they get, at each and every turn, and you start to see what I'm envisioning here.)

An interesting thing about this though, as I started to think about it a bit more. I'm sure she doesn't actually really HATE me. I mean, I'm sure, I'm reasonably sure, if I were found drowning she would probably lend a hand. Most artists are nice people, even if they prop up a veneer of being "larger than life" or even if egos and the ugliness of the business gets in the way. Honestly, the art world is filled with good and decent people and artists are some of the nicest most compassionate people I know. Nice, nice, nice, right?

So, why on earth do I have this vision of fangs and a pitchfork?

It's the nature of juried shows. The juried shows tend to prop up the juror. The juried shows tend to make the entrants feel small. The juried shows, they accept only 12 people (or some such thing) out of 300 entries (heck, sometimes 3000.) The juried shows, why they can make you feel small even if you are the most thick skinned person going. Juried show? Yes, they can be ugly, but people behind them? Maybe not so much, at least not as much as I had once thought.

There really are no juried monsters. In fact, I'd go as far as to say, if you asked this woman, if you honestly asked this women, "do you know XXX's work?" and filled in the name of somebody (anybody, we're not just talking about me here) from Barbara's group, the juried monster, the same juried monster I envisioned having fangs and tail and, oh, I don't know, leaving me to drown, would probably say something like, "Oh, I know that group! They do great work!"

If you haven't figured this out already, there are no juried monsters and nobody hates you, specifically nobody HATES your work, they just maybe like something better than what you've presented to them at any given moment. When young children had nightmares and wild fantasies about monsters under the bed, art critics do not come crawling out with fangs and hooves and all sorts of odd pitchforks, tails, and the like. It just doesn't work that way. To use a movie term, they aren't "the bad guys." They are only artists (like yourself!) trying to do a job, and they are trying to do the best job they can do. Somebody shoves a bunch of work under their nose, they sniffle, and say, "There! That one!"" and then get on with their lives, they aren't, in fact, "out to get you" (whatever that means.)

A few years ago, I was rejected from a show (well, I've been rejected from better shows since then, but bear with me on this story, as it has a point, we're getting to it, and it just might help you out too.) Shortly after getting my, ahem, oh so "lovely" rejection letter in the mail, I went to an art opening-it was a different/unrelated art opening. Sure, it was a fun opening, the work was all nice and all, but guess who was there? Yup, the juror from the first show! Can you say "awkward?" Oh no! There I was trapped between the little glasses of cheap wine and the crap on a stick artwork that was showing at the moment in this other, completely unrelated gallery.

I tried to hide behind some sculpture and figured that "mean girl #1" the jury monster would not bother to talk to the likes of little ole' me (I mean, she was, after all, the big bad art juror and there I was, teeny little "art peon") I kept trying to avoid her, not look in her general direction, and the like but, unfortunately for me, the gallery was small and I could not really leave (as much as I wanted to.) Much to my horror, at some point in the evening, the "jury monster" came over to me and started chatting up the group of artists I was talking to at the time. And, much to my horror, one of my friends actually said something to her, spoke to her, something like, "Oh, do you know Carol?"

I was horrified! I thought for certain she was going to say something like, "oh, yes, I know....HER" and look down her nose upon me. After all, this was the jury monster who had just rejected me. How could she possibly do anything other than that, right? What surprised me was what she actually said.

"Oh, yes, I know her work. Hello, Carol, it's nice to meet you, I'm a big fan of your work, I'm...."

What?!? WHAT?!?! Really? If you're such a big fan they, why oh why did you reject me? And how do you come off being so nice about it?!?!

It took me a long time to accept the fact that the jury monster doesn't always get to take work he or she likes into the show-that sometimes work has to "go" with other work and that means, if you do work that's "different" (and by "different" I mean actually different in any way, like say maybe even being "blue" as opposed to being "red") they might not be able to show your work. And some galleries only want to show certain types of work and yours might not fit. And some galleries only have room for so much work and yours might not fit. And some jurors want to, oh I don't know, give beginners a break or give a show only to very established artists or whatever and you, why you, frankly might just not fit. There are so many, so very many reasons to reject work for a show, many of which have nothing actually to do with you or your work. It's easy to get rejected. It's downright easy and expected and you just have to deal with it. Some days you are the pigeon and some days the statue, right? (Yes, I know that's easier to say than it is to hear but that's how the art world is.)

In case you could not guess by now, there really are no jury monsters. They really don't hate you. Nobody hates you, it's just a numbers game and, frankly, the only way to win it is to be in it so, if you're an artist go out and do what it is you do. Just do it! You're going to get rejected, yes, you will, but you're going to get accepted too. Just keep going and, at some point, I promise, the acceptance pile is going to be larger than the rejection pile. There are no jury monsters, they are all just people and they love your work, really they do, even if they themselves don't know it quite yet. Go ahead, make them a believer! You know you can do it. Don't take rejection personally, just take it and move on, make bigger and better work and go out and get rejected from bigger and better places.

As for me and the juried show this year, my friend swears I'm going to get in and that this, in fact, will be "my year" for overcoming this particular jury monster. I tend to disagree with her, and I tend to think I'm going to get rejected yet again but, in some ways, in some small ways, I've already won this battle. You see, I've slayed the "jury monster" that existed in my mind. The fangs, hooves, and pitchforks? Why, they've already been run out of town. I'm left with a renewed sense of optimism.

It's ok if you don't like my work, that doesn't make you some kind of a monster. You're just a person with likes and dislikes and tastes and attitudes and, hey, it's great if you like my stuff but, you know what? It's just as great if you don't. I do hope you find something you *do* like and that you enjoy that to its fullest, no matter what it looks like, heck, even if it has pitchforks and a tail because that's what art is. On some level, it's all about acceptance and love and that's the kind of stuff that makes the world go 'round. It's not about getting into one show or even into one gallery, it's about doing what we do and keeping it going, making better work each time we go into the studio. It's about making work I feel comfortable in presenting and work that expresses myself, how I think and how I feel, and you know what? Some people might not feel that way or like what I do. It's takes all types for the world to go around so I'm going to let them have their peace and keep on doing what it is I do because that's just who I am. My art reflects me, yes, but there's room for everybody in this great big blue ball of a world. I'm not going to take it personally if I get rejected, nor am I going to stop doing what I do. I'll just take it in stride and keep going, because that's just the kind of artist I am, right? I'm doing the type of art I'm supposed to be doing and some people will get it and like it, or love it, and some won't.

There just are no monsters in that equation. There's just taste, and style, and a matter of personal selection and who am I to argue with that, right?

Until next time...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Jazz Funerals for One and All


Jazz Funeral, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Ah what fresh little Hells we have going on all around us these days. It's just like an entire universe of broken being propped up by the buggy while the poorly designed join us for lunch. *Sigh*

For starters, Flickr broke their trusty ole' uploader tool. Ah, yes, how fun. For a while there, I could no longer upload any images into the great Flickrness at all, now it's just sort of broken in all kinds of weird ways (you didn't really want that tag now, did you? Awwwe...too bad!) What's up with this? I mean, the Flickr uploader has been working, sound and true, since I first joined Flickr and that was back when dinosaurs roamed the earth ("circa 2005!" or so you can tell your friends. Think do do birds and you are close, right?) Wow! Who knew it could even break let alone get so Borked people are now even afraid to mention its name in mixed company. ("Have you heard about the Flickr uploa....so, how about them Mets!")

Adobe is coming out with Photoshop 6 and, for all we know, that actually works, though it might be hard to tell, what with everything else being broken. Hey, did you see the giant Zipper that's passing for Google today? Oh that things broke in all kind of new innovative ways but then, I would expect nothing less from the likes of the Google's. (Don't click on the Zipper. For the love of God, money, and great American muscle cars build before 1972, don't click on the zipper. Oh! Damn! You clicked. So sorry....so very, very sorry to hear that.)

What time is it? Oh, that's right! It's almost time for Facebook to TIMELINE ME. You finks! You utter finks! What fresh little Hells have you bestowed upon the likes of me today? Oh the horror! If I wanted your crappy Timeline, heck, I might have asked for it. Didn't your mama tell you it was rude to not only put your feet up on the table but to bestow you fresh Hell-like gifts unto others? Spreading Timeline is akin to spreading warts. You suck, you really do suck, Facebook people of the world (and, yes, you heard it from me!)

I've always said that, when I die, I want a jazz funeral. I want them to have a party, an actual party with elephants, dancers, and face painting for the kids. I don't want people to be sad I'm gone, no I want them to be happy I was once ever here. Of course, days like today make this rather difficult. Instead of my jazz funeral, I want to crawl under a rock.

I wonder if, on the day an outfit like Flickr or Google goes down if anybody would notice? Have you ever thought about how these might die? Go quietly in the night, wilt slowly maybe or go out in a great, big BANG? Yahoo! is slowly making the creep towards the end, but I still think it's going to be a ways. Yes, sometimes I think we're stuck with this kind of stuff for a while, like it or not (and, on days like today, it's not, believe me, it's NOT!)

In this day and age, I have to stop and think, I actually have to stop and think, about how separated we really are from our technology. I mean, the most intimate connections we get are all in the form of network bandwidth, right? This makes for an interesting life, maybe, a complicated one, perhaps, but it also makes me wonder about my jazz funeral. Will there be anybody left to even play the music once I'm gone? Or perhaps I am destined to one day become but a channel on something like Pandora? Makes me wonder sometimes.

Technology, especially the technology I use to bring all of this to you, the web, the blog, the Facebook pages, Flickr, Google, and the like is fantastic. It does a lot for us, it does so much that sometimes I wonder if it's really doing too much. If it's even possible for it to do too much. Do we really rely upon this stuff so much that we aren't living our lives to the fullest? Makes one stop and wonder, doesn't it?

There was something in my local newspaper the other day about how people have been so busy taking pictures that they don't actually do anything. They spend the entire time they are at concerts, for example, holding up their iPhones and trying to record, that they forget to actually listen to the music.

I hope they play some real music at my jazz funeral. I hope they not only play it but that people put down their iPhones long enough to actually listen to it, don't you? I mean, I love my iPhone as much as the next guy but I like to think I know when to put it down too.

The thing about a jazz funeral is that it's an experience to be shared, to be remembered, to be lived. That's what makes it so lively. It's life itself and who doesn't love life, right? I do sometimes wonder what happens if you Google "jazz funeral" but then, at the end of the line, I don't really want to find out.

Nah, you can keep that one. I'm enjoying my music and dancing in the street while I still have the chance. Suck it, technology, I'm determined to get out and play in spite of your best attempts at thwarting me. Oh, and it goes without saying really, but anybody who is so-inclined, anybody who wants to dance out in the street with me is more than welcome. Just please leave your iPhones at home, OK?

Until next time...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Ray of (Photoshop) Light


ShaftOfLight_1133, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

I just felt like upload this sort of "Shaft of Light" image today. I don't know, I was just in the mood.

And, speaking of moods, OK not really, actually speaking of Photoshop, there's a new version of Photoshop about to hit the streets. Yes, Snowflakes, Adobe CS 6 is about to go live as it were, and "encloud" itself (is that even a word. Oh! I guess it is now.)

Adobe CS 6 features all kinds of new good stuff, including updates to the RAW processor, better text handling (Yay! Or should this be more like *finally*? Either one works, actually) a built-in tilt-shift blur tool ("Lions, and tigers, and BETTER BLUR...oh my!) and, get this, MOVIE editing. Oh, be still my beating heart, Adobe is giving it the gusto with this new upgrade. Yeowza! This has everything but the kitchen sink and, for all we know, it might even have that buried under a new layer as well.

For those of you out there who are cheap, I mean um, more "frugal" (Yeah, that's it!) they are also introducing a new Elements version to go along with all of this madness (and we're hearing Elements going on special on the web for $49. $49! What's your excuse for NOT having Photoshop now?)

If all of this were not enough, Adobe is rolling out it's new "cloud" service which, for $49 a month gives you 20M of storage plus access to lots of cool new uber-Adobe goodness.

It's kind of like an Adobe Christmas in April minus the fat man with a beard and a red suit. I hope you are enjoying this as much as I am because it's sure fun to play along.

As you could probably guess, I'm already thinking about ways I can use my new blur tool. (What? Me bokeh?) In depressing (related) news, they have yet to announce the upgrade pricing on this new Photoshop gem but, come on, you know you want it. You just know you want it and now you have to have it and now it's almost out so, go on, what are you waiting for? You can pre-order today if you are so-inclined. (Insert your own "tilt-shift" joke here. Get it? Inclined? Oh, ok, that was bad, even for the likes of me. We'll stop now.)

Until next time...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I'm Still Here


Gallery Corner, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

I know it's been a while since I've posted last. Heck, it's been so long people have started to email me asking if I'm still alive. (Yes, yes, I'm here. I'm still here!) I've been a bit busy and a bit enjoying some spring, taking a bit of a break and doing some other things (like taxes and paperwork actually. Oh the horror!) I hope to get back to it soon enough but thought I would pop in over here and let everybody know I'm still alive (and doing well.)

In other news, look for an iPhone class to be happening on June 10th over at the wonderful Flatbed Press. This will be a one day workshop type event, hosted with the lovely and oh-so-talented Tina Weitz. I will post all of the details soon, so consider this a bit of a tease for now. (Come on now, you know, you just know you want to take an iPhone class, don't you? I mean, who doesn't want to take an iPhone class these days?)

This one a night shot from my strolls out in the French Quarter after dark and will have to tide you over until I come back around again. (You laugh but, hey, it could happen!)

Until next time...

Monday, April 09, 2012

Cigars, Gifts, and Maybe a Person or Two


CigarsAndGifts_6020, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

I'm feeling in a portrait-y people-y kind of mood again. I don't know what it is about me, but, I swear, there are times when I feel like shooting nothing but the quiet woods or the elegant lines of a modern building. And then, *poof* out of a clear blue sky, I suddenly want to start putting people in front of my lens yet again.

I seem to have a love/hate relationship with people in my work. There are times when it seems like I love, love, love doing portraits and then others, ppppft, I could care less. Show me an interesting tree on a spring day and, heck, I'd be happy. I'm so "get out of my shot!" already, it's not even funny. A friend of mine, Neil, once told me that people in my pictures are "incidentals." That I sometimes tolerate them but they never seem to play front and center in my vision. That's probably true-Neil's right about that.

I grew up in the suburbs. You know how the suburbs are, right? It's always the little house with the nice picket fence. You can take a stroll in the early evening and peek into everybody's front window as they are sitting down to eat dinner together as a wonderful family unit. It's so....Ozzy and Harriet in oh so many ways.

I think this upbringing sculpted me in a lot of ways. I tend to always feel like a bit of an outsider when I shoot people. I never (almost never) want to get up all in your face about it. On the other hand, I love showing context. I like shooting people in settings, almost as if they are on a stage. I'm sort of the queen of the environmental portrait-never showing too much up close and personal but sometimes letting the people do what it is they do.

Sometimes too, I'll setup a scene and sort of "tolerate" a person coming into it. If they have on matching clothing, a nice dress, a funky hat, or sometimes if they are kids. You know, anything that's out of the ordinary, if they don't look sort of dull or too expected, why, I'll tolerate them being there. It's almost like they get a "hall pass" but only if they shut up about it and stand in *just* the right spot. Otherwise, it's off with their heads. (Well, not literally, but you know, they get chopped out and cut around.)

I would guess that most photographers, if they were to look at this scene, if they were to stand where I was standing and see what it is I was seeing, they would not have included so much of the store front. No, they would have cut in closer to the person, so that you could see the actual people in the shot instead. I thought about doing that, honestly I did, but that would have been a different shot. Sometimes, I like to give more context, especially when the environment is all crazy like this. Crazy is as crazy does and sometimes anyway, crazy makes for some interesting shots. The people don't always have to take center stage in the great play of life and frankly sometimes I like to let things have a little space to provide more of a back story. A little context goes a long way and can make for an interesting shot.

But, you know, maybe that's just me. I'm sort of like that. I like my open spaces, from time to time, to balance out my "city scenes" where everything is so up close and in your face. How is it for you? When you are shooting people, are you more of a "country" girl or a "city" girl? (In your face or back a ways with some context?) I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on this age old question.

Until next time...

Friday, April 06, 2012

Ripple


AbstractWaters_4840, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
This is one of those abstract shots I love to take. This particular shot was taken in Iceland, but it could have been taken just about anywhere. Heck, I think even the bathtub could get me results that look a little something like this, don't you think? (Glub, glub, glub.)

A funny thing about ripple shots like this too is that I think a lot of people have them and, on some level anyway, they can be viewed as being quite "boring." I mean, there's really nothing to see here but a bunch of lines, right? How dull is that? Doesn't make for an interesting photo (or does it?)

Ah, but there's something about a quiet ripple. I like to call shots like these a "spa day for my eyes." There's something quiet and soothing and gentle about it all. It's minimal. It's quiet. It shouts in loud whispers and screams in silence. You get the point. It's subtle. Sometimes subtle is good, no? We can't all be in-your-face loud all the time, right?

I like to think that there are times in life when we can all speak softly and make our way through a dense forest. As we walk through the woods, our boots quietly cracking the pine needles beneath our feet, we get to enjoy the subtle, quiet sounds of nature. A quiet forest, a tall overhead canopy of trees, thick grass, maybe a small pond or two. This is the kind of place where we can skip stones, where we can take our shoes off, sit down, and enjoy an apple. Couldn't you just so *be there* right about now?

Of course, we all relish a quiet walk in the woods, enjoy the pond, and the apple right up until the giant bear comes along and eats us all.

Hey! I'm an optimist. Get your big bad bear out of my fantasy Friday!

Until next time...

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Lotto Fever


CigarsAndGifts_6020, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

This is the type of store you can find in New Orleans that sells lottery tickets. It also has an ATM and sells cigars (or so the sign says.)

Speaking of lottery tickets....

In case you did not notice (or hear about it!) this weekend, there was a 650 million dollar jackpot. That's a lot of money, 650 million dollars is. It's a lot of money and it made people do strange (and crazy!) things. It seems like, for this recent "mega millions" we all had a collective case of "Lotto Fever" at least it looked that way from the news and the way people were going on about it. Of course, I fell into the trap too, purchasing a staggering (well, for me) 3 entire lottery tickets including, get this, not one but *two* quick picks. Yeowza! That's me really going all out to get a chance at winning, let me tell you. (I'm one of those people who plays the lottery about once per year.)

Even though I did not win, I sure feel like I got my money's worth out of that 3 bucks. You see, for me, this time around anyway, the lottery was all about the thought of winning. I "spent" the money over and over again in my head, thinking about what I would buy if I did win. I tossed around holiday travel, purchased giant art centers (one of them even had a theater and summer "art camp" for the kids!) I did a lot, let me tell you. That three bucks really traveled around and took me places I never thought I'd go. (Mentally anyway, I think I'm still visiting some of them.)

To give you some idea, a friend of mine recently purchased a camera like mine: the Canon 5D Mark II. Now, this is a nice camera, but it's a bit on the expensive side. It retails for about $2400 (give or take) with a "kit" lens that is not too bad (though not too good either.) He was thinking about getting some Compact Flash to go with his newfangled toy. (Gee, I don't know why he thought *I* would know anything, anything at all, about purchasing Compact Flash. *wink wink*) So, I gave him the pusher...I mean, um, supplier (yeah that's it) I use for flash memory and he ordered four cards.

With 650 million dollars, you could not only buy those four cards, you could probably afford to purchase a new compact flash card for every single bluebonnet picture you wanted to take. In fact, you could probably purchase a new compact flash card for every single petal on every single bluebonnet in every single bluebonnet photo you could possibly want to take. You could probably purchase a new Canon 5D mark II camera every day for the rest of your life and still not run out of money. That's how much 650 million dollars really is. It's staggering!

These numbers, rolling around in my head, got me thinking so much about this entire "lottery fever" situation. Or, to put it another way, could you imagine the mountain of compact flash I could have bought had I been the winner? I just get this mental image of a person, a very small, teeny tiny person sitting atop a mountain, and I mean a really big honking large mountain of little compact flash cards all stacked, piled high to the sky, in their annoying little plastic cases. I would have to hire an assistant just to help me with all of that compact flash (and, hey, with 650 million bucks, I could *afford* to hire an assistant just to help me with all of that compact flash. Imagine what you could tell your friends? "What do I do for a living? Oh, I'm a compact flash opener for some rich photography lady who won the lotto jackpot." Hey, it beats being a phlebotomist.)

Imagine the headlines if I had won the lottery.

In Cedar Park on Monday, "Local Girl Wins Lottery!"

On Tuesday, "Local Stores Report Low Inventory of Flash Memory" and, in "unrelated" news, "Local Lottery Winner Heads to Italy. First vacation of many!"

On Thursday, "Merchants Report Flash Memory Shortage." "Lottery Winner Hits Spain!"

You can probably see where this is going. In a few months:

"Lottery Winner Checks in From Bhutan" coupled with "Global Flash Memory Shortage Worsens. Supplier Panic, Black Market Thrives"

There would probably be a black market for compact flash cards and somewhere I would be raking up a bucket load of frequent flyer miles (not that I would need them because, you see, with 650 million dollars, I could afford to fly first class everywhere, and I do mean *everywhere.* Yup. First class tickets for me and my compact flash opener/assistant and, yes, please we *do* so want that complimentary beverage before our next flight takes off.)

So you see, in the end, it's probably a good thing I did not win that lottery this weekend. First class stewardesses and compact flash suppliers everywhere can now breath a sigh of relief. Phew! They are safe (at least until the next big jackpot hits.)

In the "it's a good thing" really department, I heard on the radio today that four firemen in New Mexico won (collectively) $10,000 in the big lottery. They had pooled their money to try and get the jackpot. While they did not win the "big" prize, they collected a $10,000 bounty by getting four balls plus the megaplier (or some such thing.) They have since donated the money (all of the money) to one of their co-workers who needs brain surgery-a delicate operation for which insurance will not entirely pay.

If only everybody who had purchased a ticket could now take the same amount they spent on losing tickets and donate to some kind of a fund, I bet the brain surgery would be paid for in full. Really, I'd love to see something good like that come out of Lotto fever, wouldn't you?

Until next time...