Sunday, December 30, 2012
I would have to say that 2012, while not a bad year, was not my best. I did some good work in 2012, so I would have to wrap it up as a sort of "solid" year, but I do think things could be better. I'm going to work on changing around some things in 2013, in order to better move things along for the coming year. More on that tomorrow, for now, let's look at 2012 in review.
In January of 2012, I had a show out in Johnson City. It was a big show for me, because it was one of the first times I was juried into a show by a tough juror. Phew! Felt like I slayed a dragon with that one (even though, really, in hindsight, I didn't. There are no dragons here.)
I celebrated 10 years of blogging in 2012. Cheers to that, right? I wrote about 127 blog posts (well, OK, maybe make that one or two more, not counting this one and all just yet.) I completed National Blog Posting Month and participated in the annual Austin City Hall art exhibition again this year.
Got a little bit of travel in. I finally went down to the Texas Coast, to Port Aransas in the summertime and I went back to one of my favorite cities, New Orleans, just about the time of carnival. Fun stuff, and I've already started booking travel and thinking about booking travel for the coming year. This time around, I hope to get to a few places I've not been before, so here's hoping 2013 brings on some new inspiration in terms of locations. I'm really looking into some exotic locations for 2013 so maybe it's safe to say 2012 gave me the courage to finally look beyond my comfort zone in terms of travel locations.
I started teaching more in 2012, having workshops and speaking engagements. I spoke to three groups in 2012 and helped lead an iPhone photography workshop over at Flatbed Press with the wonderful Tina Weitz. I also lead a bunch of portfolio discussions and helped a few artists out in terms of getting portfolio presentations together. I'd have to say 2012 was a banner year for that and, though I expect to continue with some of this in the new year, I also have to stay focused on getting my personal work out more, as I have not been doing that enough.
I did a few commercial-type shoots in 2012, including one for a costume designer/seamstress friend and some of these holiday type boxes. I participated in the East Austin Studio Tour (EAST) and did some painting as well.
I refinanced my house which, though not really art-related, took up a lot of my time in the late summer months. It has really been great to get that behind me, as it was a real blocker and now I am more financially free to work on other things. That newly found financial freedom (of sorts) allowed me to order a new computer and finally a solution to my hard drive issues, which have been dogging me for the majority of 2012. Hopefully, this will all be put behind me in 2013 and I look forward to doing a lot more shooting in the coming year, with a new computer to process it all and lots of storage space to save everything.
I also started looking at lighting kits and got myself setup to do a few new things in 2013, most notably lining up a few new projects and also thinking about new ways to present my work to you. Look for some big news in the early part of 2013 regarding that.
I was approached and sold a few shots for print publications, so look for my work to appear soon in printed format. I always love that kind of work and expect to pursue it even more come 2013.
All in all, 2012 wasn't a bad year. It was solid. I did enough to keep busy, did things like re-finance the house, and got the hard drive issue worked out, getting myself setup for a big round of shooting come early 2013. I have lots of plans for the early part of the year, even though I took a bit of a break at the end of 2012 to rest up and relax some over the holiday season.
I hope your 2012 was all that you wanted it to be and more. Artists are busy people and, though it can feel like we never get anything done, sometimes, when you look at a list such as this one, you can see how much work we actually really do over the course of a year. It's a lot when you look at it this way, even if it didn't seem like we were always busy or even always moving forward with a lot of things. Eh, it's just like that sometimes, right?
Here's hoping you have a great 2013 and please stop back in for more news about what I have in store for the early part of the year.
Until next time...
Friday, December 28, 2012
For a long time now, I've wanted to do something about my lighting situation. I have enough space (if I clean it out!) to setup a small studio in my home. That sounds all well and easy enough, but then I start looking at lighting kits and I get all befuddled.
I used to have a nice little lighting kit that worked wonders for me. Still have it, in fact, it's packed somewhere in the garage. I had three hot lights, with the bulbs you had to buy at the local camera store, some bouncers and a backdrop thing-y. It all just, somehow worked, even though it was simple. I think I had cheap Smith-Victor lighting kits, but strong enough hot lights to light up a small studio for a portrait or even a product type shoot. It all just worked. Was a little hot to sit under but I made do with it and it just kind of worked for a long while. Even fit in the back of my car pretty easily, once I packed it up so, you know, so I could take it on the road, or at least over to somebody else's house should the need arise or the call for portraits come to my nearest telephone.
Fast forward to the modern era. I would love to get some LED style lighting or just some lighting that works and doesn't get too hot. No more oven mitts for me, OK? Maybe something, you know, something a bit more modern. All well and good. So I start doing research. Oh, the options! There are so many options.
For starters, there are these things called AlienBees that are great little mono-light style solutions. Then there is the entire process of going strobist, mono-light, or old school controller box + lighting kits. Yes, I know there are advantages and disadvantages of each. Radio control anybody? (Gosh, I've read so much about this now, I feel like I just ate one for breakfast or something. Burp! Hey look, there's a pocket wizard!) Some lights are more portable, some offer better looking light, some are more expensive, some are more easily modified/appended to do more when you need more, that sort of a thing. Oh, the headache. My head hurts just thinking about this. My kingdom for a simple softbox and a hot light once again! Geesh, can't they make these things easy? I guess, sadly to say, this is the price of progress. Technology is attacking me yet again and, loathe as I may, I must slay this dragon. Be gone, dragon, be gone, and let there be light! Or, at least, you know, a decent softbox so I can take a portrait or two. Maybe even shoot a bunch of fruit. You ain't got anything against fruit, do you great technology dragon? 'Cause, like I sure could eat an orange right about now and photograph one too.
In the end, you know I will probably opt for getting a good flash unit for my camera (heck, I really need one of those, as I have a pressing project to work on that requires it) and I might even spring for some of those AlienBees lights, since they are cheap enough and frankly I could use a decent light or two at home (not to mention they come with portable features, so I can bring them on the road too!) Still not spending too much money while solving the problem at hand. It's kind of a funny situation. You all know how this is going to end and we all know what I'm going to do about it, the one and only one question that remains is "Just how crazy will Carol go in getting *this* sorted out and will she drag us along for the ride too?" (The answers, unfortunately, appear to be "very" and, um, "yes, probably, but only if you tune into the blog on a semi-regular basis or, you know, bump into me at the grocery store frantically stocking up on oranges in the produce department, because that's probably where I'll be once I get a new lighting kit setup.")
I need better lights, really I do. Have to do something about this. Been meaning to do something about this for a while now and just have not gotten around to it yet. Will do in the new year. Note to self: get some freaking lights on in this place already, will ya? And don't go crazy already. (OK, I know, I know, I'm probably already too late on that last bit.)
Until next time...
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Today is Christmas for me, so I thought I would pop in and wish everybody a wonderful happy holiday season. As we like to say in Texas: Merry Christmas, Y'all!
As for myself, I have spent a quiet day at home, playing with the dogs, eating, enjoying friends and family. We had a roasted chicken with all of the trimmings and some great winter veggies, including yams. It was a great day, nice quiet, uneventful, just how I like them. I've been resting up this holiday season, really enjoying myself and relaxing a bit.
We had a cold front move in and, though we don't have the extreme weather everybody else is getting, we did have some sunshine and mild temps earlier in the day. It then got windier and the cold front blew in. Still not complaining, as the weather here is a lot better than what some folks are facing, especially for the travel home. It's a blizzard in some parts and bitter cold in others, with tornadoes still in other parts, so stay safe out there.
I hope everybody out in Internet lands had a great day with their family and friends this holiday season. I know the new year is already shaping up to be busy and bright so why not enjoy the quiet time at home until it all kicks up again. Just as the wind blew in the cold front today, I know too that winds are going to kick up a lot of new, exciting things in the coming year. So, get ready, hunker down, enjoy yourself a holiday and be prepared to kick it starting in the new year.
Merry Christmas, Y'all!
Until next time...
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
This lady I know has a collection of enamel boxes. Actually, it's a wonderful collection of hand-painted bejeweled enamel boxes that's just totally incredible. I mean, I have to say, I love these kind of things. They are just so precious and fun to hold. So, a few weeks ago (maybe months now?) we had an auction, to raise money for charity...she wound up donating some of these little ornaments for the auction. I tried to purchase one, but I was shut out in the bidding war. No worries, as the money was going for a good cause and all. Shortly afterwards, she told me I could borrow the boxes, the pretty enamel boxes, if I wanted to photograph them. If I wanted? Oh, yes please!
So, this weekend, I finally got around to photographing them. I wanted to use my macro lens and do the shallow depth of field on them, because, to me anyway, my eyes and all, they looked a bit Dr. Seuss-like and I just wanted that shallow, feminine, dream-like state. Originally was going to do a red backdrop but then decided to go with white, as the red would have interfered with the hand-painted colors. Not the best lighting job on my part but, you know, good enough. You can see them and all, for the most part.
Interesting thing happened as I started to work with them though-I started to get really fascinated with the feet on these things. So now I have about four or five really good shots of odd feet, boots, hooves, and like. Strange, I know, but hey, who ever said I was normal, right? I guess it really was all about the shoes, at least for me. Well, that and I have one really very angry looking camel that I just absolutely adore. Oh, and a bird too.
I'll show you the faces later but, for now anyway, opt to start with the feet and we'll work our way up from there. I hope you enjoy them, even once you get to see the rest of them, that is.
Until next time...
Saturday, December 08, 2012
There's been a big trend in photography too recently. It's all about words, words, words. I've seen Scrabble words like this and even people writing on themselves, sending messages, lost in space, kind of words. Light painting with words. Writing words on prints. It's really all over the place nowadays. I'd have to say it's one of the latest trends going.
You would think that, with my fascination with words, why I'd be all over this trend. I hate to admit it, but sadly I haven't been. Maybe I need to be? I keep seeing it a lot, so it must be popular. All the cool kids are doing it and all. And, heck, some of them, why, they don't even like words, at least not the way I do. I keep reading about how kids today don't even learn how to write in school. When I say "write" I really mean cursive, not write as in bang out a novel using a computer. Most of them can do that, or so I've been told. But, no, they actually don't learn how to pick up a pen and scribble anymore these days. It's all done with thumbs (and maybe some smoke and mirrors too.) But, the words? The words are still really there, no? Just hiding behind all of the text messages, right?
Words, words, words. Yeah, there are a lot of words happening now in connection with photography and with art in general. There's a lot of homeless text running around unbridled. A lot of Tweets with words going down, don't you think? Hapless letters strewn about on a page. It's all just words to me really. Yeah, I really should do some kind of photography project. Heck, it's long overdo. Now I'd have to admit I can kind of feel that old itch starting to build-you know the one-the one where you want to start a new project (of sorts.)
Until next time...
Thursday, December 06, 2012
There's a connection between even using the word "artist" that some do not like. Some artists don't like to use the word "artist" because they fear they aren't "good enough" or up to the task of being an "artist" no matter what that might mean. Like there's a tape machine running through their heads, "Nope. Not me. I'm not an artist. I couldn't possibly be an artist." Yeah, right. Artists are those beret-wearing alcoholic French men who dab paint on canvases in the streets of Paris. Those men in those berets, why they make artwork that hangs in museums and I'm not like that. They aren't, they couldn't possibly be *you* or me or anybody you even know, right? Nobody I know could even look like an artist, right? Keep repeating it enough times...
Don't get me wrong, I'm guilty of this myself, many times over. Some days, I look at my own work and think, "who did that?" I feel like there's some kind of possession going on-like I really can't create anything at all. I'm just a mindless drone and the real artist is off hiding in the back room somewhere. It makes me sometimes even stop and think thoughts like, "OK. Who snuck into my house and left all these photographs?" Heck, somebody must have. They can't possibly be *mine* right? I think that I've never been to Venice nor stepped in front of an iceberg and, hey, who is hiring all these models? Sometimes, I would imagine, it feels almost like having an out-of-body experience on some level. Like there's some part of me that creates are and, the rest of me? It's busy doing day to day things. (I'm certain you can guess which half does the laundry and makes the coffee in the morning.)
I think there is a connection between art and religion in part because of these types of feelings. Many artists view being able to make and produce art some kind of gift and, in turn, they feel almost an obligation to produce art that celebrates their faith. It's the thinking that God (whatever Gog you might happen to believe in) gave me a gift and so I'm going to celebrate Him in the highest. I couldn't possibly be a great artist, no, this is coming from the "hand of God" (if you will) and it's not mine. Nope. Not me. Nothing to see here. Move right along, please.
I think many artists life with this fear - almost juggle it if you will. They fear what the world will think of them, that the world will reveal them, to be nothing but a giant fraud. Like they really can't paint, nor draw, nor take pictures, that this is, in fact, coming from somewhere else. What could I have possibly done to be able to do this? I'm really not very good at... and, someday, the world will see me for who I really am, not the way they want to see me. It's sort of like self-doubt combined with guilt coupled with inadequacy all rolled into one big ball of hesitation. I call it "The Fraud Effect". An artist thinks he or she is a fraud (on some level mind you) so they then, in turn, hold back or try to diminish their contributions to the artistic world. It can actually lead to, if you follow it through logically, a fear of success or an incredible guilt trip should one happen to start along the path of doing great work. It can be a big problem and lead to a lot of trouble for the artist in question. Crippling self-doubt, in the long run, will get you nowhere.
So, how to combat these feelings? How to fix this problem? How to work through, even past "The Fraud Effect?"
I think, on some level anyway, you have to accept "The Fraud Effect." Yes, you really *are* a fraud but, hey, guess what? So too was everybody else! Wasn't Monet human too? I'm sure he had flaws and, at the time, nobody thought much of his work either. Even today, why I bet you could find some art critic somewhere who absolutely *hates* his work. That doesn't mean you should stop painting. Many artists, most in fact, don't live to see their own success. That doesn't mean you should quit and that doesn't mean you're not an artist. You have value. You have talents. Use them already! Accept the fact that we all, each and every one of us, have talents and that, yes, Santa Claus, some people really can draw and paint and take pictures. That's just what it is they do. Just because you don't look exactly like the guy in the brochure, why it doesn't mean you are not one of those people too.
Now, I'm not a shrink, but I would suggest that the answer to this dilemma lies in learning to accept your role, you various roles in life. Yes, there are going to be some days you will do laundry. That's your job too. But, on a few of the magical days, sometime in-between doing the laundry and making the coffee and doing whatever it is that you do get to do, you're going to be an artist too. And, I would also suggest, be a great one. Go ahead. You have permission! You might be a fraud. You might not be that French man with that beret and that bottle of booze, but that doesn't mean you can't make great art. Go ahead and make art anyway. Make it on your terms. Be a fraud. Be a glorious fraud. Dance like nobody is watching. If you are a fraud, if you really were a fraud, what would it really matter? You'd just be wasting time, right? And, hey, it's your time to waste, so go ahead, be that fraud. Be that fraud, be all of that and more. Push yourself to be the best damn fraud you can possibly be because, guess what? You have just as much right to be there. Everybody else is just a fraud too.
I am but a glorious fraud. I can't draw, paint, nor take pictures. Nope, nothing to see here, just move along please. Sure, I can feel that way, but that's not going to stop me from doing it. Push on, push through, and make some great art in spite of being that "fraud" nobody really thinks you are. There's a song out there, I've forgotten the title, but it's a song with a line in it: "I'm going to take these lies and make them true." That's what you need to do here. Think of yourself an an artist, yes, you too can be that artist, and make it happen. Don't wait for that French dude to show up on your doorstep with his beret and his bottle of absinthe. He's not coming. You're the real artist now so, go ahead, make some art already. Be that glorious fraud. There are far worse things you can do with your life, believe me.
Until next time...
Tuesday, December 04, 2012
I've been fighting the IT/equipment battle for a bit now, and I have to say, it's really dragging me down. I hate fighting with IT equipment, especially something that's supposed to be so utilitarian, but, unfortunately, that's what a lot of photography boils down to these days. Rather than fight with older equipment, and try to wrestle things into a make it work situation, I opted to upgrade my older iMac and get a spiffy new one, complete with Thunderbolt.
As many of you know, I am also fighting the battle of hard drive storage and have decided that I am going to also purchase a new RAID device. My requirements here are that it must support a RAID level 1, to provide mirroring, and it must be something that can handle my big beefy image needs. I have narrowed it down to a few options. The good folks at Lacie make a 6TB RAID device that would give me 3 TB of storage (after the RAID 1 configuration.) This is a solid option, as the drive has really good reviews, but I'm afraid I will outgrow it quickly, as I'm already sitting at 2 TB of data and I have hard drives stacking up. Next up is the Promise Pegasus hard drive array. These are expensive, checking in at about $1600, but I can get an 8TB solution and also one that is expandable. I have heard mixed reviews about the Promise systems, and they are quite expensive, so I'm kind of opting for the Lacie at this point, but the jury is still out and I might change my mind yet again. Finally, the good folks at G-Tech have a few storage options. I'm most inclined to go with a new G-Tech device, as they provided me with the G-safe that I currently use, but I'm a bit torn here too. They don't really have a drive setup that offers the RAID 1 in combination with the hot swappable options of the Lacie drive, so I'm more inclined to switch over to the Lacie. Wish me luck in figuring out this solution before too long, as the new computer is now officially on its way.
I did also order a new router to upgrade my home network. Oh what joy this is going to bring me over the holiday season. This also means that I have to reconfigure the TiVo and my TV set is going to go out on me while that happens.
To summarize, there will be swearing. There will be fists pounding on desks. There will be more swearing. This will probably nearly kill me before it's over but, hopefully, one day real soon now (well, soon enough) I will upgrade everything to a new setup, with a new iMac, a new wireless router, and a larger RAID array, capable of storing my entire digital image catalog.
Wish me luck, for I am sure to need it sometime soon!
Until next time...