Sometimes things don't go according to plan
. but the outcome can still be a pleasant one. I like to call these "happy accidents." These cute little turtles illustrate what can happen when you have an open mind.
My husband accompanied me recently on a visit to the Crabtree Nature Center
in Barrington, part of the Cook County Forest Preserve. Able assistant that he is, his job is to carry the tripod, "hold this" and keep an eye out for anything interesting. There were lots of seagulls, ducks, and geese; but no egrets to be found. He was the first to spot the turtles, and I chose these two, who seemed engaged in private conversation.
So, fellow photographers, when you go out on a photo shoot, do you have a specific subject, mood, or setting in mind? Or do you just go exploring, to see what is out there? How often do you find something unexpected that you like, perhaps, even more than your original concept?
I am very excited to be a part of this year's Art in the Barn Juried Fine Art Show. This is the 39th year that Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital has held this event. In addition to the fine art, there is great entertainment, food, and children's activities. Bonus: 20% of sales are donated to the Hospital, so in addition to a fun event and great art work, your purchases will assist a worthy cause.
So come on out, browse through the barns and outside tents; and don't forget to stop and say hello. I will be in Tent #19, just outside the north end of the lower barn. As always, I will have a few new pieces, as well as many old favorites. Hope to see you there - this is my final Art Fair of the season.
I am pleased and honored to be participating in several Photography Exhibits this spring. Each has its own ‘flavor’ and there will be Artist(s) Receptions. I would love to see my friends and followers at any one of these shows. Here are the details:
1. My Solo Exhibit “Flowers with Attitude” is currently on display at The Photo-Four Gallery, located on the South Suburban College Campus, 15800 South State Street, South Holland, IL.
The Artist’s Reception is on the closing date, Tuesday, March 26 at 12:30.
2. “As We See It”, the collective vision of the College of DuPage Photo Ex Club (www.facebook.com/photoexclub), will be the “Featured Artist” exhibit at Gallery 200 at 200 Main Street in West Chicago from April 4 through April 28. This collection features over fifty current works of fourteen students, former students, and COD residents.
Opening Reception is on Friday, April 5 from 6 - 9 pm.
3. The fotoMuses (www.fotoMuses.com) are currently working on their upcoming exhibit “The Individual Photograph.” This exhibit of approximately fifty images will be on display from May 11 through June 22 at the Bloomingdale Park District Museum. The Museum is located at 108 S. Bloomingdale Road in Blooomingdale, IL.
The Artists Reception will be on Sunday, May 19 from 2 - 4 pm.
I am proud to be part of these three very different exhibits, each with a unique theme, each showcasing the photography of my friends and colleagues as well as my own works.
Now that I am on my way to being organized (more about that later), it is time to move on to the business of being a photographer. This is probably the most difficult aspect of transitioning from hobbyist to professional, but it is essential. There is so much to learn and think about: marketing, promotional materials, website building and management, financial, taxes, and more. While it is challenging, it can also be fun and creative. Did I really say that? Yes, I did; and here are a few examples. Check them out for yourself, and let me know if you did or did not find them to be informative, inspirational, and helpful in any way. Online Webinars / Seminars / Podcasts / Audio Resources
Creative Live - One of my favorites. They have a regular schedule covering a variety of topics relative to photography, business start-ups, and other peripheral topics of interest to entrepreneurs, artists, and others. Recently they have completed or scheduled several topics related to startups. They deliver live content, with interactive chat rooms; all free for the watching. If you missed it, they will do free re-watches. People from all around the world are listening in and participating. The courses can also be purchased, usually for under $150, some as low as $29. Discounts are given if you purchase during the live broadcast and for a short time after. Courses usually last anywhere from 1 to 3 days.
For example, Jasmine Star ReSTARt http://www.creativelive.com/courses/restart-jasmine-star
(3rd and final session will be on March 6).
In January, Creative Live topics included Building a Profitable Portrait Studio with Bambi Cantrell, the Right-Brain Business Plan with Jennefer Lee, and many others.
Kristen Kalp Brand Camp http://www.brandcampblog.com
I just started following this, seems there are a lot of spin-offs with good information.
Sarah Petty’s The Joy of Marketing http://www.thejoyofmarketing.com
Sarah Petty has great ideas and her enthusiasm level is tremendously uplifting.
There are lots of resources available on the internet, facebook, Youtube, etc. Many of them can be found just by checking out the three examples above. Hands-on / in person
If you prefer hands on, in-person, there are lots of opportunities in the local Chicago area.
Local Colleges: Chicago has many of these, with some great photography programs. I am currently taking classes at the College of DuPage. (A great bargain tuition-wise, and a great staff in the Photography Department). Here is a starting point: http://www.cod.edu/photo/
In addition to a variety of technical courses, there is the Professional Practices course for Photographers. This semester, there is a Career Boot Camp, a 5-week intensive class jointly sponsored by the Photography, MPTV departments. These classes include guest speakers, many of them alumni of the program, and always actively pursuing their craft. There are field trips, lots of homework assignments with specific and practical applications, and great networking opportunities. Conferences Self Employment in the Arts (SEA)
This weekend, February 22 and 23, is the 13th Annual SEA Conference. Hands-on practitioners in Performing, Literary, Media and Visual Arts fields will share their knowledge and experience during this 2-day jam-packed conference. Topics include finding clients, alternative income options, crowdfunding, networking, financial management, and many other subjects of interest to those wishing to pursue a career in photography or other artistic areas. SPE (Society for Photographic Education)
This year’s SPE conference, the 50th, is being held in Chicago, at the Palmer House, from March 7 - 10. https://www.spenational.org/conference
. While the focus is not on the business aspects of photography per se, this is a great place to network, meet other professionals and students, and learn from many educator/practitioners. In addition to individual presentations, panel discussions, and caucuses, there are exhibits and portfolio reviews. Filter Photo Festival
The Filter Photo Festival http://www.filterfestival.com
/ also deserves mention here, since it provides a connection point between producing art and presenting it in a public way. This is a ‘community’ whose mission is to “connect emerging, mid-level, and professional photographers from across the country with gallerists, educators, curators, editors, and other elite photo professionals, focusing particularly on those of the Midwest.”
Coinciding with the SPE conference, the Filter Festival is running the exhibit Archetype Drift, from March 6 - 23; opening reception on March 6. Covering new methods of photography-making, the exhibit is held at Johalla Projects on Hubbard Street in Chicago. The Filter Festival website explains “Johalla Projects was established in the fall of 2009 by Anna Cerniglia as a venue for emerging and mid-career artists.”
This weekend, offerings include Thursday, February 21, at the Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP) where Curator Allison Grant will give a guided tour of original landscape photography from the MoCP permanent collection; including works from Ansel Adams, Robert Adams, Terry Evans, Mark Klett, An-My Le, Richard Misrach, and Eliot Porter. Other events include exhibition talks on Friday, February 22, at the Milwaukee Art Museum and reception for “Subway” series at the Kasia Kay Art Projects on Aberdeen Street in Chicago.
If these are too ‘short-notice’ for you to participate, mark your calendar for the annual Filter Photo Festival event in downtown Chicago on September 25 - 29. This includes workshops, lectures, tours, panel discussions, networking events, and portfolio reviews - all designed to help emerging photographers get to the next level.
One final thought - there are many ways to learn about photography and the business of photography. Just as we can learn from teachers, peers, professionals, and others about what makes a “successful” image, we can learn from associates, professionals, entrepreneurs, and even clients about what makes a successful photography business. What worked for someone else may not be the thing that works for you, but there are plenty of ideas and techniques out there to choose from; and there are plenty of generous people in all of those categories who are willing to share what they know and have learned.
How about you? What are some of your favorite resources for getting your photography business on a path towards success?
The accompanying photo was taken by my husband. I was busy putting on vision-distorting glasses so I could ‘see’ what it is like for a vision-impaired person to bowl. Not only was it was very enlightening, I think it actually improved my game. I am sure there is a lesson in there that pertains to photography as well.
But first, let me explain that I don’t really bowl. Once a year I join other local Lions for the District 1-J Bowling event. In my case, that entails launching a heavy cylindrical object down a narrow alley, with the intent of knocking down a set of ten oddly-shaped wooden things called ‘pins.’ On either side of the alley are two gutters. Unfortunately, my bowling ball spent more time in the gutters than it did impacting the bowling pins. As much as my brain says to throw the ball straight down the alley, I end up throwing across my body with the unhappy result of the ball heading for the gutter on the left hand side. When I try to compensate, the ball ends up in the gutter on the right hand side.
And so it went for the first two games - at one point, I may have set a record of six gutter balls in a row. Then I took a trip to the other end of the bowling alley, where they had the vision-impaired bowling set up. They put rails to hold onto and to guide your approach; and they put bumpers up on either side of the alley, taking the place of the gutters.
A friendly lady offered me the choice of either blind-fold or heavy vision-distorting glasses. I chose the glasses. Then she took my arm and guided me over to the bowling balls. I chose the most colorful one, a task that proved easier than finding the finger holes. Then she put my hand on the railing and left me on my own. I looked down towards the pins. I could see the light wood color of the floor, and at the end of the alley some white linear shapes that I assumed were the pins. Instead of trying to be so perfect, worrying about form, finding the little arrows on the floor and such, I just aimed the ball as straight as I could towards the white shapes that were about 60 feet away. No pressure, just relax, and let it go. The bumpers would protect me. And others.
To my surprise and delight, I ended up with a spare - much better results than when I could actually see what I was doing. Even better, once we returned to our normal lane, with normal bowling conditions, and without the vision-distorting glasses, my third game was much improved. One theory says I just got better with practice. Another theory says that I needed a break. A third theory says that the vision-impaired bowling results gave me the confidence that I could do it. Whatever the reason, with a little coaching from some Lions who really know how to bowl, and my new-found confidence, I ended up with a strike and a spare or two, and a much higher score than the first two games. Yes, I still fell back into the gutter a couple of times, but nowhere near the extent as the earlier games.
So, what does this have to do with photography? I think that sometimes we just need to step back, stop trying so hard to be perfect, and enjoy the moment. Try something new. Look at things with a different set of eyes. Get out of your comfort zone and just see what happens. You might be pleasantly surprised.
I would love to hear about your eye-opening experiences, either in the new year or years gone by.
Not only is “Focus” the title of the group photography exhibition opening this month at the Bloomingdale Park District Museum, but I have chosen this word as my mantra for 2013. Yes, I have a mantra. I like that idea better than making resolutions that will most likely be broken before the first full moon of the chilly night time sky.
Before I get too far, the word “mantra” as defined by Wikipedia means “a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation." So, this year I will focus on transformation. Specifically I am going to focus on the business aspect of my photographic life. For the past two years I have studied, learned, practiced, improved my technical skills - color, printing, lighting, studio, post-production, work-flow, editing, critiques; in sum, creating works of art that I like enough to share with other people.
Now it is time to get serious, to transform my hobby into a business that can be financially rewarding as well as artistically satisfying. My goal (yes I will still have goals) is to avoid spreading myself too thin. If I try to do too much, then I will accomplish nothing. I will take it one step at a time, baby steps if I have to, or “umbrella steps” to get a little creative. Anyone who played “Captain May I?” will understand umbrella steps - those kind of whirly, fun, free-for-all movements that can advance you beyond the limitations of silly rules.
Step 1 is to Get Organized. This has been my focus for the last few weeks, and will continue to be my focus for the month of January. Empty out the closets, throw out all that stuff that I haven’t worn, used, or seen in the last two years. Oh, do I still have that pink sweater? Why? I will never wear it - out it goes. Salvation Army, Goodwill, Cancer Federation, have at it. Organize that pile of papers and either file them in labeled folders, or throw them out as unnecessary clutter. Now I have room to store my newly acquired gear, props, and accessories. Wicker baskets are great. They look good, they are trendy, and most importantly, they hide the stuff. Less clutter equates to calmer state of mind, which translates to ability to focus.
Step 2. There is no step 2. Not until February. Remember? One step at a time. Oh, I know what it is, I am just not telling. You will have to tune in next month to find out.
The accompanying image “Incapsulation” is one of the framed images I have on display as part of the “Focus” exhibit. The underlying images were taken on my recent trip to Austin and San Antonio, Texas. If you have a chance, please stop by to see me and many other local photographers at the Artist’s Reception on Friday, January 18 from 6 - 8 pm. Complimentary/refreshments will be served. For more information, go to Bloomingdale Park District Museum, 108 S Bloomingdale Road, Bloomingdale, IL.
I have this fascination with shooting the moon; specifically the full moon. My vision is this outsized orange globe emerging from the horizon, complete with craters and pock-marks that suggest the “man in the moon” face. I want the scene that takes my breath away; the one that makes all other moon shots pale in comparison.
Unfortunately, reality is a far cry from the vision. My plan requires the perfect location + perfect weather conditions + my availability during that half-hour period between sunset and moonrise on the night of the full moon. Despite some careful location-scouting, I have not found that ‘perfect’ location - the one with an unobstructed view of the horizon, which has an interesting compositional element, and one that allows access after dark.
Having missed several full moon events due to cloudy weather or afternoon/evening meetings, November 28, 2012 seemed to be my best opportunity in quite a while - I decided that one of the local forest preserves would do. My target shooting location was close to the parking area, which was close to the exit; essential criteria considering that closing time is an hour after sunset. That should provide plenty of time to see the moon rise, get my images, and get out before the gates closed.
At this location, I liked the unobstructed sight lines and the possibility of reflection off the water. The landscape was pretty wide open, giving lots of room for error in judging where the moon would emerge (one of my weaknesses in prior attempts).
The first hint of the rising moon was a very deep orange, large in size; but hidden behind the stand of trees off in the distance. By the time it cleared the trees, it was considerably less orange and somewhat diminished in size.
Shooting on a tripod, I was taking bracketed images that included 30-second exposures on the long end. I selected two of the final images of the shoot - before the moon rose high enough to cast its reflection on the water, and just as I was being asked to leave (a good twenty minutes before the official closing time). With some post-production compositing to merge the two exposures, further adjustments to enhance the mood, and with a little help from another of my many moon images, I came up with the result shown above. Not what I envisioned, but I kind of like it. Needless to say, there will be more scouting for locations, and definitely more attempts to shoot the moon. Any takers?
Depending upon the context, "shooting from the hip" can take on one of several meanings. In my case, it refers to the practice of taking photographs while your camera dangles from your hip. Or in front of you. The main point is that you don't hold your camera up to your eye, carefully compose your shot, or check the results. You just randomly click the shutter button and take what you get.
Shooting from the hip is pretty spontaneous, which is not my style - I usually like to everything organized and planned out ahead of time. Normally I shoot in manual mode, which involves checking exposure and adjusting as needed. Street photography (not my style either) is particularly suited to shooting from the hip because of the variety of scenes that present themselves and the constant change in what comes into view. There is a surprise factor in letting the camera capture the randomness of people, scenes, shadows, and random objects that one would not normally notice.
So, last October, when I was in downtown Chicago for the Filter Photo Festival, I decided to try my hand at shooting from the hip. It was fairly early on a Sunday morning, and at first there wasn't a lot of activity, not even from the picketers in front of the Sheraton Hotel on Michigan Avenue. But then, there appeared a trickle of people in all manner of costumes, moving towards Grant Park for the Chicago Monster Dash. The idea is to run either a 5K or half-marathon in your favorite costume. If you don't do well on the racing part, there are prizes for best costume based on originality, execution, wearability and overall effect.
Perfect! Early morning sunny day, fresh and crisp, a fun atmosphere, and unusual subjects. Set the camera to aperture priority, let the camera hang at an angle at the hip, and click away.
Photo courtesy of Paul Shukin and Tom Phelan
In this month of giving thanks, I would like to thank friends and family for their support in my photographic endeavors. A special thanks goes out to all those who braved the elements to attend my Artist’s Reception on Sunday, as well as to those who could not attend but sent warm wishes, thoughts and praise for “Flowers with Attitude.” This solo exhibit continues its run at the Calmer House Gallery in Joliet through the end of November.
Thank you to the Roach Family for opening their historic home, for promoting the arts in general and this exhibit in particular. The post-reception house tour was a surprise and delight - a fascinating glimpse into what it is like to live in a circa 1880’s house and the challenges presented by a never-ending series of fix-up projects.
Finally, I would like to thank my wonderful husband, John, for his continued support and understanding of all my projects, photographic and otherwise. It is truly above and beyond the normal realm of expectations. By the way, once again he outdid himself with an incredible spread of culinary delights, proving his motto that “nothing succeeds like excess.” I am very fortunate and thankful to have him as my friend and partner, and assistant extraordinaire. ~ Joanne
Dried Flowers at Cantigny, Wheaton Illinois
Over the weekend, most of us in North America, Europe, and a few other areas of the world received a gift of an extra hour of time as a result of falling back from Daily Savings Time to Standard Time. So, did we really get an extra hour of time? And just exactly where did we get it - e.g. staying up an extra hour on Saturday night, getting an extra hour of sleep, or having an extra hour to do things on Sunday? Come Monday morning, did we still benefit from that extra hour, or are we just as confused as my dogs are about what time it really is?
My personal opinion is that the hour is more psychological than real, in that I know I have an extra hour so I will use it well. I did stay up Saturday night longer than I normally would have, and I did get up on Sunday morning earlier than normal; but most importantly I was determined to make the best use of that extra hour. So the time switch was a mental booster to get organized and get things done. Ripping through my To Do List, here are some of the things I accomplished:
- Photo Shoot at Cantigny in Wheaton, looking for dried plants and flowers, anything textured that I might use for future experiments with Displacement Mapping.
- Download of images from two cameras, including a group that I had missed previously
- Press Releases for Flowers with Attitude Exhibit at the Calmer House Gallery
- Thank you notes to my Portfolio Reviewers at Filter Photo Festival
- Homework for Professional Practices Class
- Renewed commitment to my Blog, including list of ideas for future posts
While it is possible that the extra hour was taken up by changing all the clocks back, I prefer to think I used it to get organized, be more productive, and renew my energy to focus on my photography. Now if only I can figure out what happened to October...
What about the rest of you - how did you spend your extra hour?