Thursday, January 28, 2010

Who Are We?

---Winter Ornaments ---

Should we be thought of by the subject matter we choose to photograph or paint?  No! But, we always will be. Simply because it is an easy system of classification that has been around since our ancestors first drew on the walls of their cave.
It is a workable and well respected system. Which, to some degree inhibits our creativity. When we become known for a certain subject matter and/or style it is sometimes difficult for our collectors to move along with us if we start to explore new and different ideas. So the financial pressure to stay where the $$'s are is certainly a consideration if not a hindrance to artistic growth.

On the plus side, it tends to narrow our focus and refine our ideas and techniques. If something is popular and selling well, we want to keep doing it. At least until we have enough financial stability to allow us to experiment with other ideas.

I have approached the question in my usual pragmatic manner.  I re-prioritized my time. I usually spend 40 -50 hours a week at my work. Of that time: 75% is spent producing my best selling work. This was a natural evolution due to the fact that when a  image or a group of images is selling well I need to take the time to produce those images. That has always amounted to around 50% of my time. So. it was an easy step for me to allot more time to the production of my best selling group of work.  The remaining 25% is allocated to the creation of images that are outside of my "established" norm. They are the play images that I love to do but usually do not sell as well.
The interesting thing  is that as I do more of them, they are beginning to get collectors of their own. People who would not purchase my more traditional work, but just love my experimental things.
This world is a funny place.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Gear Or Not The Gear?


It is snowing here today. This was the view early this morning.  A good day to stay warm and dry.
This afternoon I go and teach. The class started last Tuesday.  A day time class for a change.
Today we will talk about White Balance, a good topic with all the snow.

Being inside most of the day has given me the opportunity to catch up on my fellow bloggers.
Have you ever wondered why some photographers obsess over gear?  Several folks have said that the most popular blog entries over the last year were the ones on gear. It is well known that the most popular photo blogs are the ones that are equipment orientated. If you have an "Photo Art Blog" like I do you are not going to get huge amounts of hits on your site.
Interestingly enough: the majority of technical interest comes from men and the majority of Art interest comes from women. This reflects my ad hoc observations when selling in art shows and galleries.

The men ask technical questions and mostly do not purchase prints. The women see the image, enjoy it and purchase it. (thank goodness).  The men look at the image and see it in terms of: how to do that, what gear do I need to make that, Oh, he was just there at the right time, if I lived there I could do that, and Wow, he must have a great camera!
Women see the image, and a bit more, they mostly are able to read the message in the medium. They usually do not care how it was made. To them, the image, not the process is the important thing. Amen!

It has been my experience, over years of being a working photographer, that the gear does NOT make a good photograph. Yes, the equipment is necessary in order to create an image. But, the worlds best gear will not create anything by itself. It need the heart and mind of the artist behind the lens to make anything worth looking at for more than a glance. A typewriter was helpful a few years ago if you wanted to be a writer, but I will bet that no one ask Robert Frost what make and model typewriter he used.
Whatever you have now, learn to use it, to get the most out of it, to make say say what you want to say.
That message is what I will try to get across to my students this term. We shall see how that works out.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

New Year

---Frosted Forest---

So, it's a new year and I'm not even going to try to look at my 2009 goals to see how I did. It would be pointless since all that went up in smoke with illness and personal situations which required a great amount of my time and energy. Nothing would be served by my  beating myself up about what did not happen this year!  (although, I know I will be doing it anyway, at least inside, workaholics do that sort of thing)
So, just to make myself feel better, I made a list of those things that I did get done:
*  Two major photo trips covering 7 States
*  Three one person shows, each with 20 + images (all new images)
*   Managed to spend some time house hunting in Tennessee (not  moving yet, just looking)
*   Had my work used as a cover page by the US GAO  
*   Sold 20% more work than last year (but had to work much harder to do it) (darn economy)
 There were a lot of things that I did not get done. Mostly due to the above personal situations, but, all things considered, it turned out good enough. I am just happy to be able to do what I love for a living. When you can do that it is not work.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A New Year

From last week when we had the frozen fog.
After 2 weeks in bed with some illness or other I
am finally back at my computer.

I found this posted by that great author: Anonymous  

New Year:

I am the new year.
I am an unspoiled page in your book of time.
I am your next chance at the art of living.
I am your opportunity to practice what you have learned during the last twelve months of your life.
All that you sought the past year and failed to find is hidden in me;
I am waiting for you to search it out again and, this time, with more determination.
All the good that you tried to do and didn’t achieve last year is mine to grant --
providing you have clearer intention and fewer conflicting beliefs.
In me lies the potential of all that you dreamed but didn’t dare to do,
all that you hoped but did not perform, all that you prayed for and did not yet experience.
These dreams slumber lightly, waiting to be awakened by the touch of an enduring purpose.
Yes, I am the new year.