Friday, May 19, 2017

Opportunity Weekend

Once again it's time for my running series, "Opportunity Weekend" where I present you with several ideas to promote your art and photography. If you've been following along, this is the third installment of what I hope to be an ongoing series. I am really enjoying doing these for you and I now am fortunate enough to report back in that, yes, they have been paying off for me as well. The image featured here was selected as one of 35 or so images to be included in the Southeast Center for Photography's upcoming exhibition, "Forsaken." You read that correctly. I submitted my work for consideration in one of my own opportunities and actually made the grade. So happy to get this wonderful news and so looking forward to the show, which is shaping up to be absolutely great  based upon the initial cut I've been lucky enough to see.

But, enough about opportunities past. This is all about onward, to the future. Let's look ahead and check out some opportunities for you, some stuff that you may very well be lucky enough to get in on as well. How does that old southern expression go, "better get while the gettin's good!" Yup. That. Get after it already!

Without further ado, here are some opportunities for you to consider this weekend:
  • Edition ONE Gallery has a call for entries exploring the theme "Disappearing World." For those of you who missed out on the Forsaken opportunity, some of your work might just fit this theme. Details at the following link: The gallery is in Santa Fe, New Mexico so jackalope to it. 
  • Aint-Bad Magazine has a call for entries to be included in their Issue No. 12 which is a curatorial issue. This is an opportunity for you to get your work put in front of some major curators and potentially be interviewed and published in print. Details at their link here: The deadline is July 1st.
  • PhotoPlace Gallery in Middlebury, Vermont has a call for entries with the theme "Black and White." They are looking for black and white work for this upcoming show juried by Jennifer Schlesinger. The deadline is fast approaching so don't wait on this one with details here:
  • The Bauhaus Prairie Art Gallery has a call for entries exploring the theme, "the portrait and self-portrait." This is all media and looks like a fun opportunity. You can find more details at the following link:
I seriously hope you are getting after it, as they say. These are some great opportunities and could really give your work a chance to shine. And, now I can honestly report back to you that yes, hey, it worked for me!

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon EOS 5DS and the walkabout lens. Dakota. Talk about forsaken, this once styling blue room was indeed very much forsaken when I happened upon it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Heavy Lifting of Sorts

So, I don't like to get into the usual blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada about website design and the like. I figure most of that just bores people and I'm no exception. Frankly, I get bored pretty easily with that kind of stuff, because it just makes my eyes glaze over and, why, you know I'd much rather spend my time looking at photography. Recent events, however, have lead me to post a little bit about my website design, just for those who follow along and for yours truly as well. I want to try to keep tabs on these things, so I hope you will forgive the intrusion.

Recently, I've been thinking I wanted to give the blog a little bit of a revamp, to kind of move things around a little bit. Focus more on the photography and less on some of the backstories and funny things. (Don't worry, there will still be funny things. I just want it to look a little less cluttered in here really. That's all.) So, I had an idea to add some tabs to the top of the page. You know the stuff one might usually find up there, items like "About Me" and "My Portfolio" and the like. I started down that path a while ago and never could get the dang thing to work. My blog is very old, you see, and so it just sort of breaks some templates. Anyway, I finally figured out the magic pill to swallow, the farm animal I needed to sacrifice or whatever, as that started working. Now, you can see the spiffy new tabs up at the top. Most have some text in there, but I'll probably be adding to them as I go along. You can see the makings of my new format, starting to take shape up at the top.

As part of this spiffy new top bar introduction, I've decided that I also wanted to clean up the right edge of my blog. It's a bit cluttered and distracts from the reading, not to mention I think it makes my site look a bit less friendly. It's not as clean as I would like so I decided to tidy up over there a bit. I also wanted to add some spiffy new contact buttons so that I have buttons for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and the like. Yes, I know, my old design made me look a bit Amish or perhaps stuck in 1997. Damn the torpedoes, social media here I come, as I've decided to add buttons for connection type information. All well and good.

It was a bit tricky adding the buttons but I managed it. I had to first find the buttons which is no small feat in and of itself. You trying making up your mind which buttons you like. Oh the horror! If making up my mind were not enough, I had to then download and resize. Being a photographer, I'm a bit used to that, still it was a bit of a chore. For a while there, I had a 500 pixel sized Twitter tweety bird on the edge of my website. In case you did not catch it, let me be the first to admit, that's one scary looking bird at 500 pixels, OK?

I wound up using a very friendly site called along with help from a website called Instructables. The Instructables people told me to basically create a "dummy" blog post and cut and paste images into it. Then, edit to add my links. Then, use this code and dump it into a template widget which could them be displayed along the edges. It worked like magic after I fought with it for about ten minutes (and made up my mind. There's still that pesky making up your mind business, which I really can't help anybody with much. Good luck to you on that front.)

Anyway, enough of the almost techno mumble bumble. This is the new template. I think it's a bit cleaner, it has tabs now, it's got spiffy new social media buttons and I think it just looks a whole buncha nicer. Now, I'm still tidying up around the edges and there are some areas with missing links, text, and the like, but I really would welcome your feedback.

Does it look like we've weathered the spring dust up OK or should I go back to the drawing board on this one?

Until next time and maybe template this time...

PS This one taken with the Canon 5DS and the walkabout lens. One of the historic school tour buildings in splendor of decay.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Abstraction aka Attack of the Meh

Is it really so difficult to do abstract photography? I mean, on the one hand, it seems like it should be really easy but then...go ahead and try it, I dare you. For some reason, it never seems like I like my abstracts. Now, don't get me wrong. I look at a lot of abstract art and some of mine are not all bad but...I can't help but think they just don't stack up. I think part of the difficulty in doing abstracts are that, since there is nothing "real" in there, you have a hard time knowing if you got what you want. At least for me anyway, they seem harder for people who can't make up their minds to do. Well, that's a good theory and I'm sticking with it even if it's not totally accurate.

I think it's also harder, much harder, to get better at doing abstracts. At least to me anyway, it seems like it's a lot harder to learn how to get better, to improve at them. They make you feel like you are stuck in neutral somehow. Like you aren't all that stranded but you would just really love a hill or maybe a good tail wind to give you that one more little push....Ah, who am I kidding? Working in abstract it can fell a whole lot like "attack of the meh" if you know what I mean. It's hard to get spectacular but all too easy to get sort of mediocre and mediocre just keeps coming.

Meh...Meh....MEH.....FREAKING MEH. I hate you MEH. There I said it. Abstracts, if I didn't love you so much, damn, I'd hate you.

Until next time...

PS This from the iPhone weather series. There was a cold front moving in and I used my fingers. I hope you like it.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Opportunity Weekend

In keeping with my new theme for end of the week, today I present you with a couple of opportunities. These are places that are looking for some work. Good luck!

  1. The Darkroom Gallery has a current call for entries with the theme of "Abstraction." You can read more about them at the link. 
  2. Rogue Community College has a call for entry. They are looking for all media for one person shows. Details at the following link. 
  3. The Royal Photographic Society International Photography Exhibit has a call for entries. The show will be held in October in London. You can find details on how to enter at the following link.
In keeping with the nature of "Opportunity Weekend" most of these calls have deadlines coming up pretty quickly. I hope you get after it and get your work submitted to some great calls this weekend, even if it's not the few I have selected to share with you here.

Go on, go out there and get after it! You know you want to.

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon 5DS. Adobe CreativeCloud is not opening for me right now so I had to pull a file down our of the archives. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Devolving Abstractly

I was asked recently, "where do you see your work going? Where do you want to move your photography?" This is an interesting question. For starters, I'm not really sure, I'm never sure how to answer such a broad open-ended question like this. There are a lot of ways it can go and a lot of things that pull me in. I'm easily fascinated, I guess you could say. But, the real issue is that I don't have a giant game plan. I don't have something akin to a scorecard that I keep which tells me, "Yup. I shot a bluebonnet today. Okay. Now, onto the next big thing." I don't work with a plan like that. I've always preferred to be the type of shooter who lets my work sort of be my guide and I follow along as a willing participant, almost a passenger on this wild ride. That's how I like to think of myself anyway. Certainly, I'm not afraid to branch off in one direction and see where it leads me.

In the moment though, when pressed, I came up with this answer. "I'm devolving into an abstract version of myself." While, on some level, this really doesn't make much sense, I'd have to admit that it's probably the closest to the truth I could come up with, especially when put on the spot like that. I really am devolving into an abstract version of myself.

When I started out as an artist, earlier in my career, my work was more concrete. I was taken in by the tyranny of the real. It was all I did. Frankly, I would not change a thing about that work either, as photography possibly at it's best combines the real and the abstract. It's what the medium is good at so why not celebrate it, right?

Lately though it seems like I'm drawn more and more into the abstract. I just don't want anything real anymore. I'm drawn to the expressive nature of the abstract, the mystery, the intrigue. I have no use for the real. You could go into a search engine, type in a name, say "mountain" and come up with a really great shot of a mountain. Why would I want to be bound by that? Why can't I just make a mountain the way I want to make it, the way I want to see it? For all you know, this image here could be a purple mountain, right? Lately anyway, it seems like I have a strong preference for the unbound. It's what I've been seeing and it's what I want to do. Guess we'll see where this one leads me, right? Here's hoping it's someplace good!

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon 5DS. No, it's not a mountain, just a purple thing. Up close and personal, as I like it.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Seven, Maybe Eight Actually, Ideas for Better Photography

Today, I present the seven, maybe eight actually, ideas for becoming a better photographer. These are not exclusively mine, although I have added my thoughts to them and punctuated them with a bit of myself. They maybe don't work for everybody and some might be hard to master. I never said it was easy, but I do think it's worth doing in the long run. These are my take on perfecting, actually maybe even honing the craft of photography. Here goes:
  1. Spend time seeing what you care about without a camera. If you want to be a better photographer, be a better person, be more involved, check out what you actually love, without the filter of a lens. 
  2. Nail technical skills. Simplify and learn the crap you really need to know, but just the crap you really need to know. Don't use program mode but don't bury yourself in technical details either. Don't be a technician, be an artist, but be able to do the work. Cut through the fluff to get to the stuff you need but only master the stuff you need. Get onto the business of actually making the work and don't get bogged down in the weeds of technical despair.
  3. Surround yourself with art. Doesn't have to be photography. Some of the best photographers I know draw inspiration from things like theater, poetry, painting, music, etc. The one thing these all have in common is that they are art. Put more art in your life to help put more life into your art. 
  4. Find a buddy. Photography can be a solitary act. We're alone a lot of the times. It's good to have a buddy that you can trust, especially one who gets your aesthetic and can tell you honestly if something is working or not. Also, just so that if you happen to fall through the floor of some old, abandoned house, you have somebody to help you call for help. Buddies are good, even if you are not the most social of people on a good day. 
  5. Find your own voice. Many people struggle with this but the real solution behind the dilemma is to actually do a lot of work. If you keep shooting, keep working, keep producing, a voice will emerge even if you didn't start out with one. Do the work, keep shooting. Be regular. Be thoughtful in your shooting, be mindful. Don't fret about finding a voice just this moment, just be mindful and work diligently. The most successful artists are able to dance between the playful and the thoughtful. 
  6. It's not for everybody...some don't but...when the time is right, find a project. Or, rather, let a project find you. Projects should be doable and make you want to wake up excited. Photography when crafted as part of a larger, overall project really soars so don't knock out the idea of a personal project. Dig deep, commit, and follow through on your project but above all be excited about it. It should be your opportunity to soar and really dive into the meat that is photography. 
  7. Enjoy the journey. Connect to the thing itself. Don't be the guy who goes to the rock concert and spends the entire time staring at the back of his phone. Live a little, connect, make connections, enjoy the process. Don't look for quick results or even a quick buck. It's a path so follow it and see where it leads. 
  8. Do something with your work. Get your work out there. You don't have to go far, just push yourself to take a few little steps. Print your images. Hang them up on your own walls. Live with them, look at them, share them when possible, but don't inflict your art onto people. Welcome feedback when it comes and continue on your path, your journey, towards better image-making and perfecting the craft. 
 I hope these help you as much as they have helped me over the years. We're all on this wonderful journey into image-making and art together so I hope this is as useful to you as it was for me. 

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon5DS and the walkabout lens. Just a blooming tree for springtime.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Opportunity Weekend

I'm starting a new feature on my site called "Opportunity Weekend" where I kick the weekend off by sharing a few opportunities for artists and photographers. These are essentially places that are looking for your work.

The thinking behind this is that a lot of folks work a desk job and so the prime opportunity they have to send out their work lies on the weekend. This got me to thinking that, if I could share a couple of opportunities with you maybe each weekend, it might help you along on your journey of getting your artwork out there more and participating in more shows and the like. It's my way of encouraging folks who work full time and do art on the side to go on and get after it, getting work out into the world more. I hope it flies.

So, to start things off, here are a few opportunities for you this weekend:
Please let me know if you find this a useful feature and I will try to make it a regular habit to share calls for entries, especially ones with upcoming deadlines so that you can get your work out there more.

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon 5DS over at the Brushy Creek Park.