Archive for the 'books' Category

16
Sep
13

“you must have something to say about the world” ~ Paul Strand

When I teach I tell my students that in order to have a viewer care about or become involved with their image, the photographer must care about the image they are making. But I like the way Paul Strand says it, that we must have something to say about the world if we are to create photographs.  In other words, what are we trying to communicate? What do you want the viewer to know, to feel, to ASK? What implications are there in your photographs? Is your photograph suggestive, documentary, or literal. A combination of these? Perhaps all three?

I think about these questions unceasingly. I have come to the realization that I want to create photographs that transcend the literal, yet do not deny it. (borrowed from Sam Abell). What does this mean?

Consider the photo below of the sea stacks off First Beach on the Olympic Peninsula. It’s a straightforward photograph of a landscape, yet, it is suggestive of the eternal. The sea, the fog, a voyage to an unknown land, all evoke timeless existence, timeless desire. So, yes, it is a photograph of a seascape, but it communicates more because we, as humans, are wired in our DNA to look at the ocean with a sense of wonder. Where does the wonder come from? From a time when anything apart from the land was unknown, mysterious and dangerous? Perhaps from a time when a journey across the water meant freedom or opportunity…even servitude. Certainly it meant danger, but an ocean voyage could mean riches and fame as well.

James Island and sea stack, Olympic Peninsula

James Island and sea stack, Olympic Peninsula

Consider the image below….far different than the peaceful contemplative issue of the sea.  But look deeper…there is solitude, and the image of a single candle to light the darkness. The eternal flame. It is a simple image of an interior, even a detail of an interior, but it is evocative of consciousness, thought, searching, and for me, hope.

Convento dos Capuchos, interior

Convento dos Capuchos, interior

For thought and discussion far more cogent than mine, check out the video. It’s part one of six on Paul Strand. It’s worth the time to hear the great master in his own words. And the catalog/book from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s show Stieglitz Steichen Strand is a revelation.

The book that was published for the exhibition of masterworks by the photographers at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The book that was published for the exhibition of masterworks by the photographers at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Here’s a review of the show. Sadly, I missed it, but now I have the catalog to bring the imagery even closer. http://www.photography-collection.com/exhibitions/alfred-stieglitz-edward-steichen-and-paul-strand-at-the-metropolitan-museum/

15
Sep
13

favorite books from childhood

Picking up on the theme of important books (a’ la Robert Frank’s The Americans)I have been thinking of the books from my childhood that live strongly in my memories.

There are books that mirror and strengthen experiences. There are books that supported my passion for horses and there are books that helped shape who I am. But there was one book that spoke to me about what was important in life.  First the books that paralleled my life at the time: From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and Harriet the Spy.

My Mother took me to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York when I was 12 years old. I had read the book by E. L. Konigsburg (…Files…) and was excited to visit the very place where two children had their adventures. I saw the bed that they slept in, the armor and paintings that impressed them so much, and the fountain where they gathered coins to buy food. The book had the effect of engaging me in a museum that otherwise would have been challenging for a twelve-year-old tomboy from the countryside of West Virginia.

Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh, is a story about an introverted young girl that ‘spies’ on her friends and family. It wasn’t so much a parallel (I wasn’t a spy) as it was a book that made it ok to be the introverted and introspective girl that I was/am. I was always shy, but my mind was never quiet. It was challenging to fit in, but Harriet made it a little easier. I suppose it’s that ages-old story of a child seeking affirmation.

The books that supported my passion for horses were all of Marguerite Henry’s books along with Walter Chandoha’s A Foal is for You, and Mary O’Hara’s My Friend Flicka. A Foal is Born was a gift from a great-aunt who was loved, but feared. In addition to being a tender, loving book about a baby horse, the gift of this book showed me she had a softer side and that she cared for ME. My Friend Flicka opened up a world of adventure and emotion for me. The Wyoming ranges and meadows came to life, just as the possibility of loving something, someone, so fiercely that you would give up your life to care for them. This resonated so strongly with me…especially as it was about a horse! But throughout the book danger and beauty were intertwined. The lesson I took from that was to seek beauty, to value beauty and love and caring, but to understand that you must hold these things lightly. They are fleeting and delicate.

Finally, the most important book I had was Frederick by Leo Lionni.  This slender book was filled with beautiful images of a humble field mouse in his home. His stone wall, the meadows and fields around it with their wildflowers and bounty, the blue sky above and the warmth of the sun were food for Frederick’s imagination, for his soul. In the dark days of winter while his family and friends were huddled deep in the stones, seeking shelter, warmth, and nourishment where there was little to be had, Frederick recounted his impressions, the things that filled his senses and gave him sustenance. The other mice realized that when they thought Frederick had been daydreaming rather than gathering corn, he was seeking, and storing, strength and inspiration. The entire mouse community was inspired and ‘fed’ by Frederick’s quiet introspection and subsequent offering of his feast of the senses. At eight or nine years old the message in this book was shockingly, deeply resonant. There was no one in my world to tell me that this was a way “to be”. The possibility that value could be placed on the thoughts that swirled around in my head was profoundly encouraging.

My path to becoming a photographer and writer was circuitous in the extreme, but Frederick was always there to light the path. Even when my feet were planted firmly on another road, on tiny mouse tiptoes he would slip quietly into my consciousness to remind me to sit and feel the warmth and color around me. His enormously round liquid eyes would look into mine and say “see the world around you”.

Look quietly, and deeply.  And read good books.

 

25
Aug
13

Robert Frank’s French First Edition ‘Les Americains’!!!!

It’s not often that I get to touch an important piece of Photographic History.  But two weeks ago, during the Sam Abell workshop with the Pacific Northwest Arts School I did just that. We took our class to Port Townsend for an excursion and Sam spied in the case of a bookstore a hand-lettered sign that said they had the Robert Frank French Edition of The Americans (Les Americains).

In the eyes of many photographers, this book IS the Holy Grail of photography, even more so than Henri Cartier-Bresson’s The Decisive Moment.  Paul Stafford, gentleman proprietor of William James Books, offered to show us the copy (as we had met him on a previous trip and he knew that Sam had a serious interest in the title).

We threaded our way through tall stacks and shelves to reach the back of the store. After four locked doors on various levels, steps in between, we arrived at the sanctum sanctorum.  Paul placed the bubble wrapped package on a table and invited us to open the book. But first we had to get over the cover! A Saul Steinberg drawing??? This is a photography book….what’s happening? And then to open the book and discover so much narrative, in French? There is so little in the English edition that came later. But the images? The same photographic erudition, the same searching, frank observations, the same humanity. Indeed the images are mostly the same as in the later English edition.

It was a thrilling moment for me in several ways. I was there with my mentor, Sam Abell, who has his own richly deserved spot in photographic history, and I was seeing this book in its original state, its first incarnation…and in near pristine condition. As a book lover, this is a high-water mark for me! But then I had the opportunity to return with my other beloved mentor, Arthur Meyerson, during our class that took place just last week.

Again, Paul Stafford was tremendously kind and offered to show Arthur the copy immediately. I think Arthur was even a little nervous to be handling it! To my great joy, I photographed Arthur with Paul, and listened, as I had with Sam, to him recount why this book was so important to him.  Personally, there were favorite images for Sam and Arthur…different images for different reasons. But they were also generous in their discussions with Paul about why the book was so revered and how much it influenced the world of photography after its publication.

Never before had people thought to make a lunch counter a photographic subject, or a funeral for a black man, or an afternoon picnic in a park with cars, blankets and young people making out. It wasn’t ‘done’ to photograph a black nanny with her white child. He broke the taboos and barriers, and expanded the consciousness for what could be considered art in photography. The tension, nuance, and cultural sensitivity that exists in his photographs was a clear contrast to what other contemporary photographers were doing. Low light, unusual focus, and cropping were all in contravention to the accepted photographic technique of the time. But the work produced a reflection of life in America in the 1950’s…not the world of Ward and June Cleaver, but the world of factory workers, transvestites, and segregation.

The art world was slow to embrace the imagery, even reviled it, but young people saw the worth of it…as did other street photographers. It energized the medium and changed it forever. Few works of art in any medium have had that effect. The Americans did.

There are far more sophisticated reviews of his work available than what I can offer. Here is one, a link to a story by National Public Radio. It’s worth the time! http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=100688154

Once again I must thank my dear friends and teachers, Sam Abell and Arthur Meyerson, for lighting my photographic world and path. We do have the best times together and I know there will be many more.

28
Aug
12

Cover! Abell! Meyerson!

One of my photos from my trip to Interagro (fabulous Lusitano breeding farm in Brasil) is the cover of the September issue of Dressage Today!  I’m so tickled that they chose this image as it is a favorite of mine and the favorite horse of Dr. Paulo Gonzaga, founder of Interagro Lusitanos. Also in the issue are other images from that trip, included in a story about Dr. Hilary Clayton. And….there is an interview and photo essay that I did with Mestre Luis Valença.  So I am pretty psyched about it. Now, to grab some copies for the archive!

I have just completed my annual two week stay on Whidbey Island. I had the very great honor to be assisting Sam Abell and Arthur Meyerson in their respective workshops. As always, the students were fantastic and set the bar high for each class.  The work produced was super and in every instance each student pushed their own work forward. This is incredibly gratifying for a teacher. Each class excelled in their attitudes and willingness to create new work and to try to see in an expanded manner. So congratulations to the participants….and big gratitude to Lisa and Karen at the Pacific Northwest Art School for promoting these two Masters and their classes.  It doesn’t get any better, ANYWHERE!

03
Jul
12

more good news!

I continue to be delighted by great reviews for Meditation for Two, my book with Mestre Dominique Barbier. Here is the link for one from Patty Lasko, Editor of Dressage Today: http://broadcaster.aimmedia.com/dm?id=7BE80CE7103D774A158CFCBAFC4638F1

And we also received a wonderful notice in the USDF Connections Newsletter:

A LOVE LETTER TO THE HORSE….Sometimes we get consumed by the extrinsics of riding — this aid, that aid, this competition, that award. We lose sight of why we fell in love with horses and dresssage in the first place. In a pretty little book they call Meditation for Two: Searching for and Finding Communion with Your Horse (Trafalgar Square, 72 pp., $24.95), French-born classical master Dominique Barbier (Dressage for the New Age) and photographer Keron Psillas bring us poetry and flowers and flowing manes and Iberian horses in stunning seascapes. Musings on the nature of horses and horsemanship. Even a training tidbit here and there. Meditation for Two begs to be given as a gift or to be enjoyed in a quiet moment in your favorite sun-splashed nook. 

It is so gratifying to know that people are enjoying the book. And it has really ignited a fire in me to get the next book underway!  Stay tuned for that news.  You can click on the link above in the site header (Meditation for Two) to order the book from me. Thank you!

 

29
Dec
11

What a note to end the year on!

I’ve just received a copy of the latest review for Meditation for Two…..I can hardly believe that it is as glowing as the previous one.  I had to post it and offer my thanks to Mary Daniels for her thoughtful, generous remarks. It’s going to be published in the February Issue of Dressage Today, available January 2, and on DressageToday.com.   Dressage Today????  How cool is that for an equine photographer/writer? Pinch me. Again.  (You can have your very own copy by clicking on the tab above!)

The review:

by Mary Daniels

As the title might offer a clue, this is not a how-to book about how to train horses, but one about a very personal and unique philosophy—“Because the nature of the horse demands it, this is a mystical, metaphysical book,” says Barbier. He writes about “allowing our thoughts to be happy ones, finding our smile and learning to use it through discipline, meditation, visualization and love.

“This book is a reflection about the love of horses and how much they care and want us to be better. It is my belief that were we to allow ourselves to listen, were we to allow them to speak, they would surely have offered such a book to us.”

I agree with what Psillas says in her introduction to this book. That “we ride as we are,” which is true, and “what better purpose for a life than to hold the space for beauty.” To me, horses are a thing of beauty. A joy forever as a great poet once said, and beauty is medicine.

Perhaps I am not mystically inclined enough to understand all of the text, such as the preceding idea that were they allowed to speak horses would offer such a book to us. The ones I know might just ask for a charge card to the nearest greengrocer, or a romp in the hayfield. It may be one must belong to the Inner Circle of this following to be able to absorb the more esoteric aspects of this philosophy.

But there were parts I liked very much and here are a few from Barbier: “Horses and humans: the idea of separation first and then a coming together when mutual respect and understanding are attained is too simplistic, though not to be ignored. Rather, if I can say, it is the sense of oneness first, and then how to remain in that oneness that I believe is the essence of successful and symbiotic interaction between human and horse.

“The horse must trust the student. He must accept and enjoy a comfortable position, something that does not always come naturally. In turn, the student must trust the horse, both physically and mentally. If your riding mentality is based in fear, the horse cannot believe, understand or feel comfortable with you. Panic and evasions follow. A void in the student creates a void in the horse. Horses are the mirror of your soul.”

“The attitude that we are the only or best conduit of energy is a limiting one. The horse is already here.  We must learn to be here. Our undisciplined minds and our egos cause us to live in the past or in the future and we must remind ourselves constantly of the goal of self-realization. Unlike the horse, we are so busy doing, we forget simply to be, we are so busy working, we forget to enjoy. Horses demand our presence, and this mental discipline in turn allows communication and oneness to happen. They teach us to be in and stay in the present, to share the same vibrations, the same space, the same energy. They teach us to replace organized unhappiness, unfulfilled dreams and expectation with the attachment and appreciation of the very moment. When acceptance and grace flow between horse and rider, the centaur can exist.

“An undisciplined mind is like a young green horse—full of life, scattered and uncensored. All manner of achievement is possible when the horse, like your mind, comes to the calm knowledge of self and respect of others. Together these notions bring harmony and joy. Gratitude and reverence allow us to be and feel that there is nothing we cannot do. Remember then, to say thank you. The open mind and the readiness for the path to further enlightenment will create real-life miracles.”

And my favorite: “I consider the shoulder-in the miracle movement. But I prefer to call it shoulders-in. The outside shoulder must be included in the movement, in our feeling of the movement. From the daily work for the original work-in-hand around one pillar, a technique centuries old, we need to understand why this is such a revealing movement, why it is such a powerful tool. The simplest answer is that it gives the horse a feeling of togetherness, then of independence. He learns where his legs and his body are in relation to himself and to the rider. This knowledge offers security to him and in turn, imparts an additional, undeniable mental strength, as any successful human athlete can attest,” he writes.

That said about the text, one must remark that the accompanying photos are lovely. Many of the subjects are of the Portuguese Lusitano breed, one of the world’s most striking and handsome. But there are also photographs of natural and man-made wonders, from the floral to the architectural, which make you pause and reflect.

The design of the book, by Psillas, is elegant and pleasing to the eye. “The display type of this edition of Meditation for Two is Cezanne with a nod to Dominique’s French heritage and to link and respect the arts of handwriting, photography and bookmaking, as well as the influence of the painting Masters on the history of photography,” she writes. The Old World sensibility in its creation makes this book a keepsake, a gift book bound to be appreciated by the receiver.


15
Dec
11

the importance of a message

I had such a wonderful surprise yesterday when I opened an email message from my publisher. She wrote to tell me about a great review in an important online journal for my book, Meditation For Two.  Happy as I was to read such nice comments, I realized that this was much more than a book review.

The words written by Cindy Foley were an affirmation on so many levels. First, people are searching for a deeper, more meaningful relationship with their horses. Dominique eloquently speaks to this throughout the book, and in the life he has led for the last forty years. Second, the power of the written word to reach people is magnified when you hold a book in your hands and immerse yourself in it. And third, the photographic image, when made with love and layered thoughtfully into an essay, can facilitate and amplify the connection. In Dominique’s words, it can “…create a greater molecular change”.

Cindy “got it”. I am grateful that an even greater number of readers will have the opportunity to experience the transformative nature of the book because of her generous review.  The most important thing about the book is its message; not the photographs, or design, though I am happy to have created them; not the number of books sold (though greater numbers would be super).

From the review: “The photos are misty, blurred…chosen because they speak without the need for a caption. They’re soulful, matching the words.”

If you are a photographer, consider your message. Work to find ways to incorporate your images with thought-provoking texts. I’m happy that Cindy understood why my photographs lacked captions in the book. I work hard to create images that speak by themselves or rest easily but meaningfully alongside a considered text. I believe it has made me a better photographer.

Thank you for finding and reading the blog.  Click HERE to see the entire review on Horse Journal.  You can order Meditation For Two directly from me by clicking HERE.

One last ‘message’…..my life works because I am surrounded by loving, kind people on every side. I have to take a moment and say thank you to Debra, Lisa, Chaya, and Alea for taking such wonderful care of my horse. Fol Amour is 29 now but thinks he is 5, still a stallion (and knows it), but has a good life because he is worked and cared for daily. I am on and off planes and zipping across continents, but my heart is at ease because I know he’s right where he should be. Here’s a picture of Chaya with her boy, Winston, taken just yesterday at Barbier Farms in Healdsburg, California.  Thank you, Chaya!

15
Oct
11

“…the rhythm comes back” ~ Bruce Davidson

The Widow of Montmarte, Mme Fauche ©Bruce Davidson/Magnum Photos

Wow. Sometimes the synchronicity of existence stuns me. This morning I was reading my favorite photography blog (Lens, NYTimes) and the words of Bruce Davidson jumped off the page. While speaking of making a group of photographs nearly forty years ago, he said  “What’s great about looking at your work is the emotion comes back. The emotion comes back. The rhythm of what you were photographing comes back. It’s almost like a musical score.”

I had just come in from photographing the actual harvest of the grapes and was considering an edit to yesterday’s post on rhythm. Before I jumped into the edit I decided to stop and breathe a bit and open up the NYTimes Lens blog. There it was, my thought and emotion, my INTENT reflected in Mr. Davidson’s words. To celebrate the publishing of his retrospective, (“Outside Inside,” a three-volume, boxed set — published by the master printer Gerhard Steidl.) James Estrin and Josh Haner conducted this deeply thoughtful interview at Mr. Davidson’s home.

There is no way I could/would ever compare my work to Bruce Davidson’s, but I recognize the similarity in how we work and how we feel about what we do. This is incredibly affirming to me. I’ve always been grateful for the artistry and humanity of his work, now I feel just a little closer to it. Thank you, Bruce Davidson, for the images, your humility, and your thought.

Click here to read the entire interview and see a bit of his stunning imagery. http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/28/showcase-177/ It is a bounteous harvest.

Outside Inside, ©Bruce Davidson, 2011

27
Aug
11

A few more thoughts about Sam Abell’s workshop

If we are lucky, we get to experience an event that stays with us and molds us for the rest of our lives. I have had many blessings of this nature, but this last week reminded me of the importance of that initial experience.

In the late fall of 2005, I had the good fortune to take a workshop with Sam Abell on the mid-coast of Maine. The first night of the class offered us the opportunity to hear a lecture by Sam titled “The Photographic Life”. Sam’s sonorous story-telling style had the audience rapt, but I was struck by the deep humanity in the images as well as the personal stories of a life well-lived. Since that week I have worked hard to embody Sam’s advice of making the best picture in any situation and I have been helped by the voice that I hear while composing. It comes in from over my right shoulder and says things like this: check your edges; are the elements separated?; do they exist in their own world?; is it involving?; are there layers in the image?; setting, expression, gesture.

I’ve been assisting Sam in classes and with lectures for more than five years now. This past week I encouraged a number of good friends from all over the country to come to Whidbey Island for at least the lecture, if not the entire class. A number of (very intelligent) people took me up on the invitation. I heard from them the exact remarks that I made six years ago: It was wonderful; The sensitivity and depth of emotion in the images and the stories is deeply moving; it gives us a totally new way to see images and to think about our own photography.

Thankfully there are many wonderful teachers and mentors in the world. I’ve had several in different areas of my life. I suppose what I want to say with this blog post is this: Find a mentor or teacher whose vision and life you respect and emulate them. Make your own path, but hold on to the tenets they have lived by and see where it will lead you. The photographic life is just one life among millions of choices, but as Sam said, “it is the right life for me”. Building layers of depth and breadth in my life as well as my photographs has brought me to a place of deep appreciation and offered many moments of joy.

This state of being is open to us all but if you want to ignite a fire, take a Sam Abell course or at least experience a lecture he’s offering. Next up: Sam will be appearing at the INVision Photo Festival in Bethlehem, PA ( http://www.artsquest.org/invision/ ) Prior to that he is teaching at the Santa Fe Workshops in early October. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Here’s a gallery of images I’ve made over the years on Whidbey Island and around Seattle. I vow each year during the class to spend more time photographing…this time I made it happen.  You can too.

29
Jan
11

Published!

I’ve been neglecting the blog lately.  Bad form. One might think I’ve been enjoying a winter’s rest, but that hasn’t been the case.

I do have some wonderful news to share….news that I’ve been guarding for a while. Meditation For Two is going to be published in the United States by Trafalgar Square’s Horse and Rider Books! I couldn’t be happier about the whole experience.  The people at Trafalgar are marvelous to work with and I have only optimism and hope for continued collaboration.  None of this would have happened were it not for two people: Dominique Barbier and Sam Abell.  Dominique has had an illustrious career as one of our finest living Masters of Classical Dressage and has a number of publishing successes to his name as well.  This smoothed the way for me…..the newbie….to have a book published with such a respected organization.  Thank you, Dominique.  And to Sam Abell I offer thanks for the belief in the work, the encouragement to pursue a dream, and the tools to design and create a humble, meaning filled book.

And before the release in the US, the book will be available in Germany and Switzerland on March 1st.  The title has been changed for the German edition. It will be published as: The True Nature of the Horse, and what it teaches those who love.  It’s a mouthful for sure, but one of cultural nuance.  And herein lies a lesson. The book is in the incredibly capable hands of the team at Wu-Wei Verlag. I had to keep telling myself that when the design was completely changed, when the title was changed, indeed even the shape of the book was changed.  So authors and photographers beware: it is often the case that when your work is handed over your ability to control your product ceases.

Trafalgar Square has chosen to keep the original design, completely.  It will be interesting to see how each volume performs in the marketplace, how each book is promoted, what the differences will be and how the public will perceive it.  I’m looking forward to the journey.

As I have received a great deal of encouragement about my photography, my poetry in the book and my writing on the blog, I am now working on a book that combines the three. I’ll post excerpts from time to time here and invite comment.  I thank you in advance for your participation in the discussion.

18
Sep
10

Way out West, fraternity and collaboration

“The greatness of a craft consists firstly in how it brings comradeship to men.” ~Antoine de St. Exupery

The last 30 days have been a whirlwind of teaching, travel, and photography.  It was my great pleasure (as it is each year) to assist Sam Abell on Whidbey Island at the Pacific Northwest Art School in Coupeville.  The class this year was built around creating a book of Whidbey Island.  Books are dear to Sam and dear to me. For this reason we were excited to offer the class the opportunity to develop an essay on a topic of their choosing about Whidbey Island. The assembly of these essays created our book.  It will soon be available on Blurb for all the students. By all reports, the workshop was a great success and we will be doing the same thing again next year with a few minor adjustments.

Following the workshop I flew immediately to California to photograph participants in a clinic at Debra and Dominique Barbier’s farm in Healdsburg.  Thirty or more people enjoyed participating in the first ever formal clinic at Batbier Farm…..riding their horses, learning from both Dominique and Debra, hearing Dominique’s Meditation for Two lecture, and enjoying great food, conversation, and wine.  The group, though diverse, came together easily because of the common love of the horse and their dedication to classical teaching and the compassionate training of the horse.

After a few days back in Seattle I was off to the East Coast to visit family and collaborate with Linda Bertschinger of Classicus Farm on her new book: Alchemy, Transforming Your Horse in Lightness.   After 30 hours non-stop work, we declared the book designed and well on its way to completion.  It was a pleasure to put in this time as the book is a gentle recitation of Linda’s experiences with different horses, each illustrating a pillar of classical training.  I will have an announcement on this blog when it is available.  (Soon!)

And then I was off to Wyoming.  I was a sheer delight to accompany Sam Abell and make a pilgrimage of sorts to a little town in Wyoming, prior to giving a lecture at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming.  Our good friend, Anthony Polvere, had arranged for the talk after we all met the previous year at the workshop on Whidbey Island.  The talk was the finest I’ve heard Sam give in the last five years.  The students of Northwest College and the citizens of Powell, Cody, Billings, and points in between, were given a talk that illustrated Sam’s practice and philosophy of photography.  Even more importantly, they walked away having witnessed a man that has examined life, a life in photography and from photography, a life writ large but lived humbly.  It’s a stunning combination: inspiring, uplifting, whole.   And then….off we went to Yellowstone National Park with the photography faculty from Northwest College!  There was such great fun, laughter, joy, remarkable story-telling, in short, camaraderie.  With the majesty of Yellowstone as our backdrop and great cowboy songs for our soundtrack, we toured, photographed, and enjoyed much of the Park.

And now I am just back from Santa Fe, having photographed participants there in a clinic with Dominique.  The very talented Lynn Clifford was the organizer of the clinic and our gracious hostess.  Again, a diverse group met for three days, enjoyed each other’s company, and shared their lives and experience with one another….all from their love of the horse.

In thinking about this whirlwind 30 days, the experience of fraternity and the spirit of collaboration are the thoughts that keep rising up. Friendship built on common interest, but friendship that respects each other’s vision and tradition creates an easy but deep and lasting bond.  The experience of collaboration, whether creating a book, editing a slideshow, shooting a video, or just exploring somewhere new, provides a foundation for each person to offer their insight and their strengths to the completion of a project.  With this collaboration, the project has a greater chance of having more depth and lasting meaning.

I have seen this with other book projects, I have experienced it with my own, and I have been honored to collaborate with and assist Sam and other teachers and photographers in many different ways.  So for photographers, horsemen and horsewomen, and all the readers of my blog, I say this: find a collaborator or teacher, join a group of friends and make new ones, and navigate to a place of joy and meaning.

“Friendship is borne from an identity of spiritual goals ~ From common navigation toward a star.”  A. de S. E.

Here’s a gallery, including friends and collaborators, from recent travels.

 

25
Aug
10

A really big announcement and a wrap up from Whidbey Island

I’m delighted to tell all my readers that Meditation for Two is going to be published in Germany, Switzerland, and Brazil!  I’m so excited and deeply gratified.  All the thanks goes to Dominique for without his tremendous success with Dressage for the New Age (published in 5 countries and in its third edition in the US) this would not have happened.  I’m working now on finalizing a publisher in France and the US and hope to announce the details quickly.  The message here:  Dreams do come true.  Of course, the book is still available on Blurb.com (and would make a GREAT gift at Christmas for Zen-leaning equestrian enthusiasts).

I’m hard at work completing the book project that the class from the Pacific Northwest Arts School created during their week-long course with Sam Abell.  The book title is Portrait of Whidbey Island. I had the great pleasure to assist this class for the fourth year in a row and am already looking ahead to a reunion next August.  The level of engagement on behalf of the students was extraordinary and surpassed only by the generosity and quality of Sam’s instruction. His alumni know that the discussions during the week will be thought provoking and erudite. That is why they return each year. New students are treated to original thought and genuine care about their work and progress. Sam is unparalleled as an instructor. It is my great honor to have assisted him on so many occasions.  In addition to the week-long course in Coupeville, area residents had the opportunity to hear Sam speak. The Life of A Photograph was the topic, to be followed next year with the second half of the lecture, The Photographic Life.  I’m certain that every person present last week will return and bring a friend.  It was THAT good.  Thank you, Lisa, Karen, and Sue, for all your hard work and dedication.  PNAS adds so much to the quality of life on Whidbey Island.

As soon as I finished on Whidbey Island last Friday night I zipped down to Healdsburg, CA, to photograph the clinic at Dominique’s farm.  This was the first time a formal clinic was held there and it was incredibly well-attended.  The organization, Shanna, Meredith, Beth, and Linda’s help, and of course Debra and Dominique’s instruction made for fun-filled days that were packed with information and philosophy…all with the benefit of the horse as the focus.  Riders and auditors alike went away with a renewed dedication to communicate with and learn from their horses. If you are a rider you’ll want to attend the next clinic at their home in January 2011….the 5th thru the 11th.  Reserve your spot quickly as space is limited and the August clinic was over-subscribed.

Here are recent images of several of my favorite equestrian subjects.  Enjoy!

29
Jul
10

Meditation for Two now available on Blurb

Just a quick post to let you know that our book, MEDITATION FOR TWO,  is now available on Blurb (in case you really don’t want the gorgeous hand-printed, hand-bound volume with six limited edition prints….)….

I’ll be back later today with a regular post.  I’ve been traveling (and photographing) for a solid three months and am ready to sit and write.

Follow the link….

http://www.blurb.com/books/1432930

23
Feb
10

lunch with a friend and the business of photography

I had lunch today with Tim Grey, friend, author of many great books on image editing, creator of wonderful instructional DVD’s, and the Ask Tim Grey newsletter.  As always, it was great fun catching up and exchanging stories, but the crux of the conversation was this:  How does a freelance photographer/writer/educator make their way in today’s economy?  Most of the professionals I know have income streams in several areas.  These almost always include workshops, lectures, and product sales, either of their own, or a percentage of sales with sponsors whose products they use.  But our conversation kept drilling down to how best to allocate time.  As a former owner of a business (over 100 employees) I confronted this issue daily.  When we were terribly busy in the plant I would jump in to add my labor to make a deadline ~ but was it the best use of my time?  Tim’s confronting the same issues….as am I now, as a photographer.  Where is the balance between self promotion, shooting, teaching, keywording, stock submissions or making prints/books/dvds.

After thinking about the two photographers I know personally that are still thriving in this economy, I think the answer must be that more time is needed in self promotion.  Alain Briot and Tony Sweet have maintained their workshops, their product sales, and private teaching in a continually contracting market.  How did they do it?  Continual self promotion and of course, huge amounts of hard work…..all geared to offering a product (their knowledge) that has real value.  When I applied this thought to my own work as I am clearly not a photoshop Dream Team member (Tim) or a landscape photography master (Alain) or a Nikon Legend (Tony), I had to distill what it is that I know that may have value for someone else.  So here’s my self promotion:

I know books.  I know bookbinding, a fair amount about book design, I know about printing, both offset and fine art inkjet, and I know about publishing and distribution.  All of this came from nearly 20 years in the printing and binding industries in the Mid-Atlantic states and with several years now of producing fine art prints and books for consulting clients and for myself.   I have created a book in collaboration with Dominique Barbier of which I am very proud.  It is titled MEDITATION FOR TWO and is available on Dominique’s website.  From this book I have received several commissions for shoots and am anticipating that this market will grow as the book garners a wider distribution.   But I have also received inquiries about helping people put together their own books and assisting them through the process from concept to distribution.  I’m writing all this to illustrate how one endeavor can create avenues of work and further recognition.  Next time, when you are thinking about a project, try to envision the other areas that it could impact your work and hopefully, your income stream.  If the project is created from deep knowledge and love of your subject, coupled with a precise plan for getting the work seen, your likelihood of success is virtually assured.

Here’s an illustration of the front and back covers…and a few shots from inside.

10
Jan
10

words and photography, initial thoughts on bookmaking

I generally prefer to look at photographs without any distraction on the page.  I enjoy clean lay-outs, devoid of the mark of the designer (though it was probably well designed if there are no distractions from the image). However, just as a good musical selection can add layering and fullness to a slide show, some texts compliment photographs so perfectly that the sum is greater than the parts.  This is a difficult thing to achieve so I have set myself the task of doing just that.  In addition to the projects that I have working currently, I am creating a book of the poems I have written that were inspired by photographs.  I have often had the experience where words or a phrase will rise up from an image and will not go away until I’ve written them down, or worked out a poem from those initial sparks.  It’s a very scary prospect, but I will be posting a few images and poems here on the blog.  Allow me to say this: I know NOTHING about poetry other than what I like…..so please don’t recommend this blog to a poetry professor!  (Or if so, find one capable of compassionate criticism?)  I did include several poems in the book I collaborated on with Dominique Barbier, Meditation for Two.  The response has been remarkably positive and I am encouraged to develop the work.

Here are a couple of  images and excerpts of poems; the first from The Chapel of St. John in the Tower of London, circa 1080, and the second from the Dunker Church on Antietam Battlefield, Sharpsburg, Maryland, circa 1852.

….Cries of Princes, wail of lovers,
thoughts of Saints, and many others…
All these you´ve heard and sealed in stone.
Held in that light, that
glorious, golden tone.

SILENCE
No blast of rifles or
burst of cannons
No shouted orders or
pleas in desperation
pleas for life and for home

SILENCE
No clattering of wagon´s wheels
bearing shattered young men
No drips or splatters from the
surgeon´s work…the
rasp of steel on bone

SILENCE
No cries of mothers or daughters
of fathers and sons or wives in agonizing
frenzied search.

blessed silence

in this humble church.




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