Posts Tagged ‘photography

23
Oct
14

How we craft our lives, part 1

I have a few excuses for not blogging for such a long time. (Teaching, leading tours, working, writing, too much time on airplanes, LIFE.) None of them is sufficient. But I’ve also been at a loss for a meaningful subject. It hit me three days ago at the end of an equine photography workshop that I taught in California: community.

I have a mentoring client that has shaped her whole life around the idea of community. That has always seemed perfect to me for her photo work and projects….but I hadn’t thought about the concept in relationship to what I’ve been building. What else am I doing but that when we are gathered together to learn, to create and explore? And then that idea is compounded when I hear my students say “well let’s get together in Seattle and….” and “I’ve created a Facebook page to post images each month and you’re all invited”.

When a class comes together and builds on the friendships and community created during the workshop and extends that into their everyday lives, for a teacher, it is the most gratifying thing to behold.

It happened as well with a group that was traveling with me (and my co-leader, the indefatigable Arthur Meyerson!) in Portugal. They enjoyed each other’s company during the trip and have continued their dialogue after their long journeys back to real life.

I have my own community too, well, communities. My mentoring students keep me in touch with other work and other inspirations. They push me as much as I encourage them! And my own mentors are generous with their time and conversations. But this summer I’ve seen that I need to nurture my communities a little more. My students (they are always teaching me!) have shown me the value and I am grateful for the strong reminder.

So though photography is a solitary pursuit, demanding quiet, thoughtful intention, we can be part of a raucous, joyful bunch! I’m going to craft more time in my life for these days of joyful sharing.

Here are some images from Portugal, from California, and from Whidbey Island. All created this summer, in a community of friendship, photography, and inquiry. More to come in part two.

And for those thinking of returning or coming to the next equine workshop at Barbier Farms in June….OR on a trip to Portugal with me in 2015….here is some food for thought. My thanks to John Paul Caponigro for writing about his experience in a most elegant way.

http://www.johnpaulcaponigro.com/blog/12327/return-to-the-same-well/

 

23
Aug
11

Sam Abell Interview

First Drafts: How Sam Abell Makes a Photograph, Alex Hoyt and Ross McDermott

I’m busy finishing the book layout that was created in our week-long workshop at the Pacific Northwest Art School in Coupeville, Washington.  The layered life on Whidbey Island, as it is everywhere, became the backdrop for Sam to teach his method of photography, one of layers, of “compose and wait” and one of still life scenes that have a life or incorporate life. This interview encapsulates that teaching in a marvelous 10 minutes of a deeply considered philosophy and lifelong process of making photographs. Take the time to view it and you’ll have the outline of  our workshop and a sense of the meticulous care that Sam takes to create Life in a Still Life.

Next post:more thoughts and favorites images from Coupeville over the years of (gratefully) assisting Sam.

14
Feb
11

Spring on my mind

Generally, I prefer to stay “in the moment”. But looking through my photos and finding this wild plum branch in full bloom has me looking ahead to spring. Yes, I have textured the image (with two of my favorite textures from Fly Paper…hint….see button at right!) but very lightly. Most of the softness and mottling in the image comes from a very shallow depth of field and a pretty strong backlight.  So think sunshine, warmth, and softness. Make the sun your friend, break some rules and shoot into it!

01
Feb
11

Push My Button!

I have a “button” on my blog.  It’s a first.  It’s big. I’m excited.  (Ok, maybe it’s not really big, but it feels big to me.)  The fine folks at Fly Paper Textures have asked me to pop on their link from my site.  I agreed readily and presto, there it is. Look over on the links side and you’ll see the cool textured image with the blueberries.  I’m enjoying the easy back and forth, the quid pro quo, that the internet allows.  Fly Paper Textures has been sending readers to my blog every single day since late November.  I’m delighted to be associated with them, and in turn, send them potential texturing newbies or old hands looking for new textures.  So, push my button, please!

Here’s a new image, textured, from a local landscape that I know very very well.  My goal was to create a universal image that had the feeling of a solitary journey. The little rise and bend to the left (with the tree doing the same) suggests that we don’t know what might be ahead, where each turn will lead.

Late afternoon in winter, Antietam National Battlefield, Sharpsburg, Maryland

The recipe was simple, the finishing was one of nuance. I used two textures, in overlay mode at different opacities, but then masked out some of the effect in certain areas.  I smoothed out the texture on the road a little bit and blocked out some of the darkening of the tree to bring out the ochre tones and keep the detail. This image works well cropped square or cropped in vertical format with the tree being the focal point. When making images these days I try to remember to frame them, or take alternate images, so that they can work in any format and lend themselves for stock sales. In six months or so I’ll let you know how successful my thinking is.

In the end the feeling that remains and is “enough” is the feeling of satisfaction. I saw the scene, I felt the potential, and I made the image. I am grateful.

29
Jan
11

“We see things not as they are. We see things as we are.” — Anais Nin

I am often thinking about this premise. Whether it’s a question of a family dynamic, a discussion with a collaborator, or simply reading a news item, I find myself wondering what filter I am placing on a discussion or opinion.  But lately, photographically, I’ve been working at seeing things NOT as they are.  I want to see what they could be.  I want to visualize how an image could evolve. I want to be able to see the geometrics and dimensionality of a scene and take that and layer upon it a different reality.  This is what I perceive could happen if I were a painter.  I am not a painter, but I am really enjoying the ability to use a different technology to effect a painterly image. By creating something that was suggested by a three dimensional scene and translating that into a purely personal vision, I think I am truly photographing, and seeing, as I am.

Here is my workflow for an image I made on Wednesday evening at the height of  a snowstorm:

The atmospherics of the scene are important in this image. The white vertical lines are not blown out highlights, it is snow plastered on the northwest side of the tree trunk. The image was fully focused, but the foggy nature is the blizzard effect of the heavy snowfall. I made the photograph about 5 pm with just enough light left to reveal the light and dark patterning. Image capture  with swipe technique as a raw file (1DS Mk3, 24-70 2.8L, f22, 1 second exposure, ISO 160, 1.5+ stops exposure compensation (usually needed when photographing snow), then into Lightroom 3 to adjust exposure ( a touch lighter, with a bit of added contrast from default 25% to 31%), then crop to panoramic.  The top was cropped out as the bottom of the photo is most important to me.  I was keenly aware of the far right grouping while photographing, to be sure the transition from the tree trunks into the ground was smooth, and to be certain I had separation between all the tree trunks as they dance along the back layer of the photo.

Choose Edit photo in photoshop from Lightroom (Edit a copy) to add layers of texture.  I chose two textures from FlyPaper Textures to add dreaminess and a hint of color to a black and white scene.

What you see above is the original file, out of Lightroom, cropped.  Next I opened the two Flypaper Textures, Serafina Sky and Europium from Lightroom (Edit a copy in Photoshop).

 

When I opened Serafina Sky I needed to rotate the image 180 degrees, so the clouds would be in the top of my image.  I was after a mistier look than what was in the original capture. Further, I wanted the slight blue-ish tone to add a bit of dreaminess to the straight black and white capture.  So I put the image on top of the original as a separate layer in Photoshop CS4. I changed the blending mode to Overlay and dialed the opacity back to suit me.  Then I added Europium in the same manner (separate layer, blending mode on overlay, then dial in the opacity to suit). With the Europium layer I was looking for a bit of the vignette effect and the added textures.

You will notice that the textures are SQUARE images and my image is a panoramic format.  When you lay your texture over your image, choose EDIT>Transform>Scale and drag your sides to conform to the shape of your image.  When you are satisfied (and you can move it around in the image with the move tool too) you hit the checkmark to okay the transformation and then go to your layer and work with your blending mode and opacity.

 

 

The image above is the initial image with Serafina Sky overlaid.  I pulled the opacity back to 53% and then I used an HSL layer to take the cyan to a more purple-y blue. Just slightly.  The key with each of these decisions is subtlety.  Then, to add the mistier look  (image below) I overlaid the Europium layer.  I pulled the opacity to 74%. The Europium texture is one of my favorites for adding slight vignetting and mystery.  It interacts with colors nicely and adds a touch of color in neutral images.  This is my final image.

As I mentioned above, I believe that subtlety is the key in working with this type of processing. I want the viewer to become involved with the photograph, not to say “WOW…that’s intense processing”.  I’d like my photographs to reveal a little about me, or even deepen the mystery.  As always, comments welcome and deeply appreciated.  For now, the forecast is for more snow on Tuesday.  Can’t wait!  And once again, my gratitude to Freeman Patterson and Tony Sweet for the inspiration, for lighting the path and to Fly Paper Textures for such a great product. They are tops to deal with and generous with their expertise.

 

 

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.

29
Dec
10

defining moments

A friend just asked me if I feel settled in West Virginia yet. The short answer: No. The longer answer is that I don’t think I will, as I believe I will be traveling more than ever and therefore unable to nest properly. I’ll be testing my ability to feel at home in the world. The future holds travel for months on end in vastly different locations.

I am on the cusp of what could be a defining moment. The lead up has been exciting, excruciating, full of twists, with a few disappointments, but the forward momentum has held. As this has been a protracted process I have had plenty of time to consider the nuance and flow of this period.  The moments that stick with me are the moments that I have been able to stop and make a photograph.  I don’t mean click the shutter, I mean stop and see something that may have lasting value as a photograph. These are the nuances that give fullness to this experience of waiting, of being on the verge. It’s a prickly spot for me to endure as I am generally fond of action and clicking off items on the agenda.  Yes, I often procrastinate, horribly, but once in motion I can be tough to rein in. So this limbo experience is uncomfortable and forces me to look to things that make it less so.

I’ve chosen these images for two reasons: they have all been made since I have been in West Virginia these last four weeks, and they speak to me of waiting with a feeling of motion, transition or impermance in the waiting. The train is moving in the shot, the rain drops are falling, I am still for 5 minutes. The snow has fallen in the river scene, lightly, ice remains on the sycamores to highlight its structure. But the river moves, unceasing, and the ice will melt to become the river. The apples have fallen, defiantly holding their cheeky color in the face of decay and blanketing snow. The tumbling weed is still, for a moment, in a landscape that has changed greatly in the years I have been away. The snow creates a quiet resting place, a backdrop of calm and quiet. It is, in fact, an intersection leading to a fast food restaurant.

In this flow…in all this motion, change, and possibility, I am still, Keron.

26
Nov
10

21 states of mind

Here’s a long list of numbers to contemplate: 4925 (miles), 182 (gallons of gas), 21 (states), 6 (liters of Iced Tea), 4 (lemons), 1 (world’s largest cross…of this I am dubious), 1,000,000 (pictures seen and not taken).

A couple of posts ago I commented on the journey I was about to undertake and my feeling of sadness for the images I wouldn’t be able to make. The experience was far more frustrating than I imagined. So instead of simply looking for images I couldn’t make, I started to try to feel the culture and the state of mind for each state I was passing through.

Reading the billboards proclaiming “The Land of Enchantment”, “Find Yourself Here”, and “It’s Like a Whole Other Country”, gave me the first impression of uncharted territory. Then I began to notice the structures, new and old, the way we have imprinted our values on the land by erecting modest farmsteads or garish strip malls. I noticed what the states were most proud of….”Home of Garth Brooks”….”Home of Tyler Hicks”…and then I began to see evidence of history and warnings of the future. The dust bowl of the 1930’s was not hard to imagine in the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, and all down I-5 South in California there were proclamations of a current dust bowl, created by Congress and Diane Feinstein apparently. The sign for The Chisolm Trail created images of calling cattle and weathered cowhands with dust-encrusted faces, but I was met with asphalt, a decrepit gas station, and a deep-fried menu.

Yet underlying all of these images was an eternal dynamic landscape. Altitude changes brought different vegetation and geology. The wind and water have created patterns in the land as well as patterns of habitation. The stark surreal beauty of hoodoos gave way to gently sloping hills and meadows with aging cottonwoods in the washes. Wide rivers with flood plains are still flanked by cotton fields….so many spindly dry stalks with puffy white marshmallow tops. Red clay roads are cloaked in kudzu and draping moss, the stars in the night sky and the moonlight through the pines (Thank you Ray Charles) the only relief from growing claustrophobia.

Our interaction with this earth, our home, reveals so much about us. Rolling across 21 states in four days has left my mind spinning….and working to find ways to return to each of them and discover the Enchantment, the Smiling Faces, and The South’s Warmest Welcome. I can’t wait to photograph as I am in these places.

Here’s a selection of photos from my phone, using a couple of applications from Best Camera and Hipstamatic. Fun.

25
Nov
10

Gratitude

This is a quick post….with more to come tonight.  The link I’m sharing is all about gratitude and synchronicity.  I was thinking of all the wonderful teaching that I have had over the last five years and how to express my thoughts about it when I clicked on my favorite blog and found a photo that has meant more to me than almost any other.  It’s from my teacher, Sam Abell, and was taken during his first formal assignment for National Geographic. So my blog post is about another blog post, written by another grateful photographer from a cast of many thousands.  Enjoy.

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/24/close-your-eyes-and-see-with-your-heart/

15
Oct
10

“…the man who has seen Prague might tell us something.” Dr. Johnson

What can I tell you about Prague?  My strongest impression: Prague is a powerful juxtaposition of new and old. After elbowing through a crowd of tourists navigating narrow lanes, you can discover restaurants in ancient vaulted spaces proclaiming “Slow Food Prague Approved”. You can see the Old Jewish Cemetery (with 12,000 tombstones succumbing to gravity and erosion) or new works by inspiring artists in galleries on every block. You can watch a new beginning take place on the steps of a centuries old castle……or turn the corner and have a meal and a beer at the oldest medieval pub in Prague while you put up your latest blog post (they have wifi). Tour St. Vitus’ Cathedral and discover a distinctly Czech color palette and style in new stained glass that coexists with an artisan’s window from the 14th century.

Though I have seen Prague, I feel like there is so much more to see.  It is, in this way, very much like London, Paris, Florence, or Rome…..it is nearly unknowable.  The pace of the change feels like it could be faster than the cities I’ve mentioned. Prague has long been a center of learning and expression in art, literature, science and music….but the desire to “catch up” since the fall of the Iron Curtain is manifested in the street scene and in the vibrancy of a very young population.

I think that it will soon be very difficult to find vestiges of mid-20th century Prague. Sophisticated architecture, fashion, cuisine, and a heavily centered tourist economy will erase what is left from this time. But the best parts will certainly remain.  See Prague and you will see the height of Baroque (and earlier) European culture displayed in the churches, in the music, and the glorious decorated architecture. See Prague and you will see a populace alive with possibility while preserving its storied intellectual and social awareness. See Prague and you will see heart-rending evidence of loss and the annihilation of a population that gave so much to the life blood of a great city.

See Prague.

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!

01
Aug
10

Gallery of images from recent travel

This is a gallery of images from my trip to Germany, England, and Holland.  It’s random, but the intent is always the same: to create an image that engages.  I had the great pleasure to travel with my Mother for part of the trip (in England). Mom introduced me to European travel many years ago and we enjoy many of the same things (in England a good cream scone with jam and Devonshire cream)….and lately she has taken up photography, so now we share that.  Pictures of swans are ubiquitous, I know, but the light and color called…..and I shot.  This gallery is more personal remembrance than capital P-photography, but we forget to make those shots sometimes.  Try not to.

29
Jul
10

Please remove your shoes (I’m not talking about airline travel)

“Earth is crammed with heaven, Every common bush afire with God:

But only he who sees takes off his shoes.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

After three months of near constant travel and work I am back in Seattle for a week to catch my breath. I have a lot of work to complete and great events on the horizon, but I am going to stop for a bit and reflect on the heaven and bushes afire that I have seen during my latest travels.

The heaven brought forth was the meeting of dear friends in several spots in Europe.  I am so fortunate to have met and come to care deeply for people in many different places. Traveling to see them along familiar rail lines or unfamiliar highways through ripening summer fields was a source of great joy to me. Creating new memories while laughing, dining, or walking together will keep  us in an embrace until our next meeting or even if we are never to meet again. This, along with a few photographs, is my sustenance. The heart holds joy and after a while, will release suffering.

I often visit museums to see the same paintings time and time again. Viewing The Sower and the Place du Forum and one of Vincent’s self portraits with those piercing blue eyes felt just like greeting old friends, or perhaps the echo of those meetings…with a touch of wistfulness and the longing to talk again.

Van Gogh's self portrait from 1887

I had the great pleasure to see several really fine exhibits and one new (to me) museum.  In London I went to the brand new show at the Royal Academy titled Sargent and the Sea, and saw the Renaissance Drawings exhibit at the British Museum. Sargent and the Sea was a particular joy as it showed the artist in the beginning of his career, with paintings that exhibited vigor and freedom, what one might expect from a young man visiting seaside resorts around Europe. What was entirely unexpected was the quality and maturity of the work.  While we might be familiar with the glory of Sargent portraiture, the mastery of his early compositions is stunning.  The texture of and reflections in the wet sand that he created made me want to take off my shoes and wade into the painting. The side-light creating a corona around a child’s head made you feel the late afternoon sun, a feeling that you are caught between wanting to stay on the shore to take in the last rays of sun and warmth while beginning to think about dinner and rest.

Setting out to Fish, 1878, Corcoran Gallery of Art

The Renaissance Drawings exhibit at the British Museum was familiar territory for me as I have spent many hours in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. But there were delights: The painting of two cheetahs from about 1410 was a real surprise and it was eye opening to see the freedom of expression in the preparatory drawings that was rarely seen in a finished work. But to see the evolution of drawing from the early 1400’s to the height of the Renaissance was revelatory. The progressive refinement and use of perspective, texture, detail, and expression of movement and emotion all culminated in the masterpieces by Da Vinci, Titian, and Michelangelo that we revere.

Drawing/painting on vellum, c. 1410, Workshop of Giovannino de'Grassi

Where is the photography in all this? It’s in our awareness of every sight, every step, every line, every shadow, every bush afire. While looking at a canvas by Seurat at the Kroller-Muller museum I was thrilled to see three distinct compositions in one painting. While talking with my mother about the Sargent works I could see clearly the use of negative space, separation of elements, and side-light to highlight portions of the composition. This charged me, energetically, to go out and SEE more deeply. The inspiration I derive from the Masters of Painting and Sculpture feeds me and helps me to refine my ability to create whole engaging images. Having that experience while preparing for a camera club lecture provided great examples and re-ignited my passion for describing how we can expand our awareness by feeding our brains and our souls with the best imagery available to us.

The gift of awareness is the greatest gift we can offer ourselves.  Cultivate it.  Take off your shoes and touch the warmth of the soil and surf. You will reap an earth crammed with Heaven.

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

30
Mar
10

web of life, rebirth

©Marty Lederhandler

Yes, it’s strange that I would have a boxing picture (of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter) on my blog.  I don’t enjoy violence or violence as sport…..but here are the reasons that it appears.

While reading the NYTimes Lens blog (my favorite photography blog) I saw that Marty Lederhandler had passed at age 92.  He’s an AP Legend and I wanted to spend some time with his work….so I came across this photo.  A very few close friends know that I had the nickname “Lil Larry” as a teenager.  It was more of an endearment, but there it is.  Why “Lil Larry”?  Because my boyfriend at the time playfully said that I was always ready to fight about something.  I think he meant that in a good way…..that I was strong willed.  I looked at the photo and recalled that time and smiled.  Then I looked at the caption on the photo and was very surprised to see that it was taken on October 27, 1962, the night of my birth.  It could have been the instant of my birth for all I know, as I was born at 10:25 pm.

I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed lately with many personal projects, change, mundane complications with computer and car, care and concern for aging family members, larger issues of the political climate and rancor, the lack of meaningful progress in so many issues that matter to me, and the unrelenting pace of activity in the world….so I’ve been walling myself off a bit.  At the same time, I’ve been kicking myself about it.  Now I have a new perspective and the inspiration is that boxing photograph.

Spring is a time of rebirth, the time after the quiet of winter when new shoots seek the sun and the pulse and purity of life glistens.  Winter and introspection give way to the body’s desire to rouse itself and seek warmth.  So “Lil Larry” is back! I’ve arrived in California to work with Dominique and Debra Barbier and bask in the warmth of friendship, common purpose, and California sunshine.  I’ll suffer through the first three days of accomodating my seatbones to a saddle and smile all the way through it.  There is work to be done and new growth to be nurtured, maybe even change to be effected.

I won’t be taking any photos of boxing, but I will continue to explore new avenues of growth.  I can only hope that one day someone will see a photo of mine and be encouraged to press on, to gather up their strength, tap into all the swirling pace of the world and make their voice heard. Thank you, Marty Lederhandler, for the inspiration and the reminder that there’s a huge world out there….moving along at a furious pace.  After a time of rest and contemplation, all we can do is jump in and start swinging.

Click here for more about Marty Lederhandler:  http://digitaljournalist.org/issue0202/ml03.htm

27
Mar
10

A new opportunity ~ Commissioned work

Readers of this blog know that I do a great deal of work with horses.  I’m expanding that  by offering horse owners, breeders, and barn owners the opportunity to have a custom portfolio made that expresses the love and passion you have for your horses and farm.  This offer is fully custom tailored. After talking with you, I will propose an outline for your shoot.  I’m most interested in learning your desires and what you envision for your portfolio, including the following:  how the work will be used, is it a treasured volume to hold memories, would you like to create  a portrait of the farm or barn, not just the horses, would you like to use images to develop or enhance a website, would you like to enhance or create a blog or newsletter campaign, would you like to include video portraits, or perhaps you would like to create a custom book to offer clients, barn mates, or prospective buyers.

I am able to provide all the services above, including the consulting and implementation to create or enhance your website, blog, or newsletter campaign and the design and production of a fully custom book for your farm or operation.  I’m pleased to note that I’ll be working closely with Rick Holt, teacher/writer/photographer/digital darkroom expert, and with Tim Feather of 110 Front Communications for web implementation, all on an as needed basis.  Rick and Tim have years of experience and the up-to-date knowledge to insure seamless transitions for your internet communications.

The most important ingredient for a successful shoot is a knowledge of and passion for the horse.  I bring along over 25 years of horsemanship to supplement my experience behind the lens.  As a farm owner I know the long hours of labor that goes into creating a haven that exhibits your care for the horse’s well-being.  I’ll work hard to reflect all these attributes in your portfolio.  I look forward to helping you portray and capture the unique qualities of your horses and their home.

Spring is upon us and the horses will be shedding their furriness…..contact me!  keron@tanatyva.com

Here’s an eclectic mix from farms and events around the world.  I hope you enjoy…..and please, explore the rest of the blog for other equestrian images.  You might like to visit Dominique Barbier’s blog  as well: www.dominiqueanddebrabarbier.wordpress.com

15
Mar
10

Mirroring

It’s been too long since I’ve been able to put up a blog post.  My apologies.  I’ve been thinking about it nearly every day though and until yesterday I hadn’t a clear idea of what I wanted to say.

One of my favorite concepts in relationship (any kind of relationship….friend, child, parent, employer, among many) is mirroring.  That is, when you are engaged with someone in a conversation you might consider that you are talking to yourself, or that the issues that arise between you are really your own issues.  Bear with me,  this does relate to photography. If you find yourself, like me, in a bit of  a rut or just working on too many other projects to clear some time for introspection, try this idea:  Reach out to a friend working on a project and listen to what they are doing, what they might need, or some area of struggle for them.  Chances are, if you have listened deeply and begin to create a response from the heart, those words will be meant for you as well.  In the middle of my conversation with my marvelous friend Honey, I heard myself saying to her just exactly what I needed to hear as well.  It was one of those great AHA moments.

What were the words?  “When you are clear in yourself about the value of your work, then you will speak with authority about it and the Universe will bring opportunities to demonstrate an appropriate response.”

So now I’m going to listen to that and FINISH my proposal for private shoots with horses and farms.  In April, May, and June, I’ll be traveling to photograph horses and farms in the Chicago area and in New Jersey.  I’m excited to begin this new endeavor and will post some of the results upon completion.  Until then, here are a couple of photographs that pop into my mind when thinking of mirroring.  Mirroring is not simply reflection…..for me, it is seeing something that reflects a state of mind or contemplation, and even communication.

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.

14
Feb
10

glow….and Happy Valentine’s Day

As I type this I am struck by how awkward the word glow looks.  Yet the quality or attribute of glowing in a photograph is anything but awkward.  I’m talking about subtlety…not a plug-in or technique.  I’m not anti-plug-ins, the truth is I have very little knowledge of or experience with them.  But I’m talking about recognizing something in the light and tone of shapes and moments that translate into glowing photographs. This morning, I had a wonderful breakfast with my son in a favorite spot here in Seattle.  As is my habit, I photographed the setting.  A fleeting glance at the display told me that I might have a nicely glowing photograph.  It’s not a prize winner, but it is a sweet reminder of a glowing moment, and a reminder too, of many other happy moments in this spot.  And when I started to gather a few photos for this blog post I was struck by the happy memories that each called forth.  A coincidence?  No.  I feel very strongly that when we are in a glowing mood…the energy attracts the same.  We see how we feel.  It’s just another variation of my belief that we photograph as we are.

I’ll be back this week with some ‘serious’ photographs…but for now, Happy Valentine’s Day.  Wishing you lots of glow for your day, your life, and your photographs.

27
Jan
10

a view from the Nation

The Navajo Nation.  From an outsider’s viewpoint, it seems to me that the Navajo people exist in several worlds at once, perhaps uneasily.  I’ve traveled to the Chinle, Arizona,  area many times now and have made good friends there.  On several occasions I have been taken to areas to photograph petroglyphs and pictographs that aren’t generally accessible.  I’m delighted by this as I have a deep interest in the history and cultures of the Southwest, but I am also puzzled as I know the Navajo have an incredibly strong taboo or set of behaviors around death and dying. Many of the sites I have seen incorporate death or the depiction of death/dying/suffering…but I am left with the feeling that these depictions and sites are reaching forward in time to reveal commonalities in the human experience. 

There are modern scenes there as well that offer insights and ask more pressing questions.  An American flag woven onto a fenceline signals fierce patriotism against the backdrop of appalling abuse and neglect from the U. S. Government and citizens.   Rodeos are centers of cultural activity and practice goes on year ’round in preparation for the big events in Window Rock….yet the horse and the cowboy way of life are relatively recent additions to the Dine’.  Coal and minerals mining provide jobs that are desperately needed, but these industries have pernicious effects.  The water table is dropping creating crop failure and many springs and wells are poisoned, which causes Dine’ families to drive 40, 50, even 60 miles for water for their sheep and other livestock.  Grandmothers survive in hogans miles from anyone….sometimes dependent on help from various groups… while braving cold winters with little warmth and no electricity. 

I’m humbled by the generosity of spirit shown to me by my friends in Chinle. With their assistance, beginning this spring, I’ll be visiting the area to launch a photographic project that has two phases.  I’ll create a personal body of work that I hope to have published in order to create awareness for the second part: I would like to create an ongoing project that involves the children of Chinle and other communities.  With the help of a couple of photographic “stars” my goal is to launch a program that the communities will then take over that encourages children ages 10 t0 16 to look into their lives, their culture, and express the difficulty, triumph, love, sadness, hope, and myriad challenges the Nation faces.  I’ll keep you informed of my progress.  Projects live and die by funding.  If you have contacts or ideas, please email me.  I’m on my way, but additional help is welcome.

23
Jan
10

on shepherds and breathing life into art

Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.
Winston Churchill   

Family and close friends know that I am an ardent admirer of Winston Churchill.  Aside from his magnificent careers in politics and literature and that little matter of holding the candle for the free world for a time, Mr. Churchill was  a prolific and accomplished painter.  He had the ability to stop whatever he was doing and totally focus on his painting when he felt the need to step back from his tremendous burdens.  It was a comfort and a tonic to him his entire adult life.  Photography and writing give me that gift….now I’m going to add some bubbles. 

I’ve written about the impact that painting has on my photography and the way it opens my eyes and heart to see things new.  The visual history and legacies that have been left to us by artists since time began can inform and help to shape new work.  While reading a poem by Pablo Neruda, I saw an illustration today that I liked very much.  It has triggered my desire expand my thinking when I am photographing to consider subjects for other uses; for example textures as overlays, or patterns to give structure…and images, like poetry, as allusions.  This is not revolutionary, but it will help me to widen my field of view and express something that is new to me.   With Uelsmann and Caponigro and other masters in the field as shepherds, I’ll breathe some more life into my own journey. 

These are my first attempts to see with the idea of joining elements.

20
Jan
10

carrying the water

As a photographer I have dreamed of creating the kind of work that Damon Winter, James Nachtwey, Lynsey Addario, Ron Haviv, Colin Finlay and many other amazing people do every day.  Perhaps one day I will.  But for now, these folks are carrying the water…doing the heavy lifting to show the world the indelible face of tragedy, suffering, and loss on a scale that we struggle to comprehend.  I follow this blog daily:  Lens: The New York Times Photo Blog.  Take a look.  Visit their sites.  Involve yourself in a reality far removed from our own…but in the most important way, inextricably linked, as we are all human.  Now, let’s show some humanity. 

Visit Partners in Health, Doctors without Borders,  and help, please.  It does make a difference.  And if you do, email me.  I’ll send you a 10×15 print of any image from this blog to say thank you.  I’m not a registered 501(c)3…..I just want to help in the biggest way possible.  (Empty hands, but full heart….) 

with deep respect,  Keron

keron AT tanatyva.com

17
Jan
10

the editing process

I am engaged by photographs that elicit an emotional response.  I want my own photographs to meet that standard and yet I realize that it is totally subjective.  What one viewer finds sorrowful or joyful will likely be different from another’s view.  But still, if we (as the photographer) are moved by a scene, a moment, or an event then it is likely that our audience will catch on to something that pulls them in.   So the question for me, when helping clients or friends edit their work, is this: Am I engaged?  Am I taking some extra time to really see the photograph or is it a ‘one look’ photo, a photo that might be graphically stunning but is one-dimensional? What are you trying to communicate as a photographer?  Anything? What is your point of view?  Do you have one?  Or is it simply a picture of  a pretty scene, thing, event?  What does the photograph say about you, the photographer?  Are there clues or is the mystery part of the appeal?  In short, to paraphrase Sam Abell: Is it involving? 

Of all the challenges to creating a successful or engaging photograph, among them lighting, technique, composition, setting, and gesture, the communication of feeling is for me the most important. Here is a small gallery with a wide array of subjects for you to critique. 

A note about Sam: Over 1,000 people attended the opening of his new show, Amazonia, at the University of Oregon on Saturday, January 16th.  Sam, along with the wonderful Danish photographer, Torben Nissen, spent months in the headwaters of the Amazon and came back with compelling, thoughtful images that tell the story of one of earth’s most precious resources.  I hope you’ll get to see the show.

01
Jan
10

new images from looking back

For the last couple of years I have made sure that I photograph first thing in the morning on the first day of the new year.  This morning was no exception, but it had a little twist.  I have been driving by this particular scene each day, twice a day, for over a year and today was my day to stop and photograph it.  The delay is due mostly to the fact that it is only accessible from a busy on-ramp in the Washington Park Arboretum.  But today being a holiday, and one that had many people sleeping in, I was able to park off to the side of the ramp and photograph undisturbed for long periods of time.

Tony Sweet, Eddie Soloway, and William Neill (among many) are doing marvelous impressionistic work.  It’s fresh, engaging, and their work is expanding the boundary of our vision, much as the Impressionist painters did in the 1860’s and 1870’s.  It took decades for their revolutionary way of seeing to catch on with the public and then with the art collectors.  Things haven’t changed a great deal.  During a layover in Denver International Airport on Tuesday, I looked up and saw Ernst Haas’ image of a toreador and bull in motion advertising some service or product….to which I paid no attention. But the image stuck. These were some of the first, and still most engaging, images of movement in color and they are from the 1950’s!  Freeman Patterson carried that particular baton a long way with his dedication to impressionistic vision and experimenting with layers of images and other darkroom techniques.  Tony, Bill, and Eddie are standing on his shoulders and reaching new heights and hopefully, new collectors and buyers.

Are my images radically different?  Not at all.  Then why make them, you might ask…..I make them to refine my vision, to teach me to see more deeply and to know what my camera will see when I am using a different technique.  I make them to understand what it is that is pleasing or intriguing about a given image.  In this way I might be able to teach with more clarity or to open a door to further exploration of the subject.  And finally, I make my images to know myself, to stay engaged in the conversation of living.

There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are”
Ernst Haas

 

 

29
Nov
09

thoughts of Joy

“If nature has made you a giver, your hands are born open, and so is your heart. And though there may be times when your hands are empty, your heart is always full, and you can give things out of that.”

-Frances Hodgson Burnett

I love this time of year.  I find my senses heightened and tuned to the subtle vibrations of joy.  I’m talking about a walking-around, tiny-bubbles, effervescent kind of joy ~ not the explosive noisy type.   I’ve learned that I can summon this feeling with intention and I can also create it by photographing.  One such experience happened the first time I used a Lensbaby.  I’m not a gadget/gimmick/tricky photographer….but I do enjoy creative exploration.  So I popped on a loaned lensbaby and started shooting, just to see.   I like that idea “just to see”.  How many times have we learned things that were transformative just because we were curious?  And how much joy did that bring? 

Regarding the opening quote:  it’s not unusual that as a photographer my “hands are empty” but it is true that my heart is always full.  This year I’ve been busy making prints and cards for friends and family as gifts.  Then I thought I should take that one step further.  I’m sending boxes of cards to some local nursing homes.  While the residents don’t often have the ability to shop, many still write and send cards to family and friends.  I know that you all have great ideas of your own that spread the joy of this season.  Tell me about them!  And remember:  a thing of beauty is a joy forever. 

….some lensbaby joy:

25
Nov
09

A Thanksgiving post

I’ve spoken of gratitude in previous posts and yet today it seems appropriate to give thanks to my teachers and to teachers everywhere.  I’ll take this idea a little further and give thanks to my students as well.  For they are the reason that teaching is a joy. 

The teachers I have had in my photographic life come from many different backgrounds.  The one characteristic that sets the great ones apart from the good ones is their ability to set aside their personal vision and engage in a genuine manner the student’s interests and body of work.  Simply, there is no ego in great teaching.   When we are connected to another person in this selfless way then we allow magic to happen; perhaps a clearer vision emerges for the student, or the courage to show work publicly, or to tackle a completely new technique or project.   It is likely that the teacher will not know the result of their effort or the lasting effect a conversation or workshop might  have.  But once in a while a little magic happens and we hear from a former student or see a book published or exhibit hung that allows you to think “Yes! I had a little part in that.”  And as this is so inspiring, the circle is complete.  

I had this bit of magic delivered to me last week in the form of an email from a student.  And the week before I enjoyed a break from my routine and had lunch with a former student.  In both instances I was deeply moved…and humbled…by their gracious remarks and their appropriate pride in the work they have been creating since our times together. 

Teach, tutor, or mentor….whatever you have time for!  You will see more deeply and appreciate the amazing ability of your students to see things in a way that you could never dream.  It’s just another way to say that whatever we give comes back to us in far greater measure.   Take a moment to email or write to a teacher whose efforts made a lasting impression.  The joy you will create is immeasurable.

My small gallery today comes from a time when I was challenged, intimidated, yet determined after remarks from my dearest teacher set me on a collision course with my photographic inadequacies. And so, to use a word I learned from my fellow Pilgrims on the path to Santiago de Compostela: Ultreia! (Onward, with courage!)….and I would add, gratitude.

 

17
Nov
09

knowing your subject too well?

In my last post I mentioned that in order to photograph your subject well you must know it deeply.  But knowing my subject too well became a challenge.  Upon my return from Europe in the summer of 2006 I was deeply frustrated photographically.  I had spent the previous four months photographing in France, Italy, England, and Holland, and then had a magical trip on a yacht up through the Southeast Passage in Alaska.  The visual feast of having something new and exciting to see for virtually every second of every day had dulled my senses to the familiar.   I turned back to my books for inspiration and a new subject.  This statement, from Ernst Haas, changed my thinking in an instant:  “I am not interested in shooting new things, I am interested to see things new.”  

I am not overstating it to say this sentence changed my life.  I went out that evening  to see things new; things (my home town) that I had such familiarity with that I could tell you when a certain flower or shrub would bloom in a particular back yard, or when a building was last painted, and didn’t it need painting again?  There is value in knowing something so well, I suppose it’s the meaning in the phrase “my home town”.  Shepherdstown had been my home for 44 years at this point….and with the arrival of Ian and Jessica, my family had called Shepherdstown “home” for six generations.  I never could have predicted that I would move, or move all the way across the country to Seattle…but that summer, my last summer in Shepherdstown, taught me that I can photograph wherever I am….an exotic locale or from my elevator each morning….and see things new.

13
Nov
09

The landscape of memory

Thinking of Eudora Welty’s landscape triggered thoughts of my own.  Growing up on a small farm outside of Shepherdstown, WV, shaped me in particular ways.  It was a quiet place with 40 acres to roam that was bordered by larger farms on all sides.  There was a marsh and stream on the front of the property that  would flood in the winter and spring, thereby making a long walk to the end of the lane for the bus a soggy, cold task.   There were woods at the back of the farm that remained  mysterious, there was a spring on the north side that I was convinced was a haven for cottonmouth snakes (probably not, but still scary), and we had a great old barn with a hay loft and stalls beneath.  While the memory of that landscape is clear, and dear to me in many ways, what I’ve realized is that my personality was shaped by this experience of place.  By nature I was a quiet child, content to be alone.  Having the farm to roam and explore encouraged that and it also insisted that I develop the capacity for introspection and long periods of solitary pursuits.  Walking and reading became the rhythm of my life on the farm.  Book in hand, dog at my side, off I’d go to find a place to settle for a while.   My two favorite books:  Frederick the Mouse, by Leo Lionni, and Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh.   

Frederick_cover

What does all of this have to do with photography?  I think it’s central to who I am as a photographer. Harriet was insistently curious and engaged with the world outside her, but in a stealthy, analytical way.  Frederick was consumed with “storing” the rays of the sun, the colors of the poppies, and the scents of the new-mown meadows to offer to his extended mouse family when the days of winter were long and bleak.   I believe it’s essential to know your subject deeply to photograph it well, so I put the time in to educate myself about a place or place in time (The South, or Pre-War Paris, for example).  But after all that work is done, I open my heart while photographing, to absorb the feeling and gather the sensory feast in front of me.  It can be a solitary pursuit, but offering  the harvest connects me to an ever growing community. 

Rocky Marsh evening, II

late summer evening, Rocky Marsh, near Shepherdstown, West Virginia

10
Nov
09

Eudora Welty and the photography of the South

I mentioned yesterday that I wanted to write about a literary background for photography, not just my photography, but how it shaped a landscape for others as well.  When I first picked up the book, The Well and the Mine, by Gin Phillips, I was attracted to the cover photograph.  As it was a staff pick at Elliott Bay, and a signed copy, I was happy to carry it home.  Sometime during my reading of it, I saw that the cover photograph was one by Eudora Welty.  This was a surprise to me as I was not then aware of her considerable talent and early devotion to photography.  I knew Eudora Welty only through her marvelous novels and short stories.  She makes this comment about photography: “Life doesn’t hold still……Photography taught me that to be able to capture transience, by being ready to click the shutter at the crucial moment, was the greatest need I had”.  Traveling and photographing throughout the South during the Great Depression gave Welty the time to examine the lives of others and to hold those moments still….as if to gather them for a later harvest in her stories. 

The cover photograph, along with the time and place of the story, planted a thought…..and then came the opportunity to take a road trip through Alabama by making a wide arc before my final destination in the Florida panhandle.  While driving I remembered the other great photographers of the era and decided that Hale County was my destination.  I had no particular spot that I wanted to visit, I just wanted to see the country they had seen.  This means getting off the highway and searching for ever smaller roads.  There were no interstates, shopping malls or travel plazas in 1935.  I needed to find red clay roads. 

I had only a day to wander, and I didn’t create a photographic masterpiece.  No matter…….my intention was to travel in the footsteps of the Masters for a bit….to get my own sense of Gin Phillips’ physical and emotional landscape in The Well and the Mine.   I knew, too, that Walker Evans’ masterpiece of the Fields family on their porch was photographed in Hale county.  I wanted to find those porches, the sharecropper’s shacks.  Not that porch or that shack, just a general feel for the time.  I stopped at high noon in front of a dilapidated old crossroads store to make a couple of photographs.  There were two stray dogs there and blazing light, little else.  I made the landscape shot, then went closer and photographed some details on the storefront: the narrow strips of siding with inumerable coats of paint, a shutter with a horseshoe, vines covering the sides and growing over a doorway. 

Fast forward to my return to Seattle.  While browsing through photography books in Elliott Bay, I picked up a new volume on Walker Evans.  The page fell open to a photograph titled  Sprott Store, Hale County, Alabama.   I was stunned.  There was the the building I photographed.  There was the horseshoe.  The facade had a second story at that time, but there it was…..right at the intersection of those three dirt roads.   Life did hold still for me in that moment, the intervening 80 years fell away and my heart was connected to that landscape, that time, those photographers.    The literature of place and time was the underpinning for my journey and a deeper understanding of place and subject.  That is its own reward.  All else is an embarrassment of riches.  As if to prove that point, at Christmas last year I was given an old copy of Walker Evans’ volume that accompanied his Museum of Modern Art collection  in New York.  The cover photograph:  Sprott Store.  Imagine the surprise when I recounted this story to the unsuspecting giver.

bottle_tree

Bottle Tree, Eudora Welty, a scene later depicted in her short story "Livvie".

 For additional images from Walker Evans and my photograph of Sprott Store, please click on “Walker Evans, etc.” in the menu bar under the blog title.

 

10
Nov
09

“If you want to be a better photographer….

….be a more interesting person”.   This quote is from Jay Maisel’s interview with Chris Orwig.  Here’s the link:  http://www.chrisorwig.com/flipside/2009/11/08/jay-maisel-interview/

I’ve had the pleasure of assisting Jay on a couple of occasions while he was teaching in Seattle.  The conversation that took place during the class was the best part of those weeks because of remarks like the one quoted.  It’s a marvelous affirmation of “We photograph as we are”.   Though there are few people as interesting as Jay Maisel, we can always try.  Here are a few things that have made my life more layered in the last couple of months.  Has it made me a more engaging or interesting person?  I hope so.  What I do know is that I’ve expanded my view of the world and the human condition through my inquiry.    It gives me an opportunity to think about what I want to do photographically and how that will impact my world and The World, if at all.  It’s just another layer of awareness. 

Books: Non fiction

The Long Walk, Slavomir Rawicz…the amazing endurance of the human body and spiritThe Long Walk

We Die Alone, David Howarth….endurance of the human spirit and community effortWe Die Alone

Fiction

People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks (one of my favorite authors)…a sacred book travels through history on a circuitous path7cd962f6b3f7dd2c

Edgar Sawtelle, David Wroblewski….it’s rare to find a book with this depth of emotion and beauty of phrasing.dd9095cc1a5f8ee2 

For the rest of the list, including films, please click on “Favorite Photography Books” in the bar above, then click subpages: books, film.

I’ll add some more in a couple of days.  My next post will explore a literary background to photography.  Here’s a hint:

This photo was made while driving through the South on the way to the NANPA event in Destin, Florida.Thinking of Evans

07
Nov
09

of painting and photography

A comment from a friend has encouraged me to write about my deep belief in the connection that painting has to my photography.  Though I am not a painter I am a lover and longtime collector of paintings.  Decades before I had any thought of creating a life in photography, I spent long hours with my nose buried in books about the Masters.  First, Monet, then led by a painter friend I discovered Bonnard and Cezanne and I took off from there.  I collected the finest books I could about painters and museum collections.  Then I began to travel to see shows and collections.  During that time I lived on the East Coast and had easy access to the museums in Washington, Philadelphia, and New York.  Eventually I was able to visit the museums and shows in London, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam and Florence.  Keep in mind….there was still no photography in my life. 

What I was doing, without knowing it, was creating a rich visual library; reference points or a catalog in my mind and in my heart of color, line, form, composition, light, shadow, and feeling.  I was developing a very critical eye for discerning the qualities that allowed one painting to rise up over another.  My favorite paintings are now like old friends.  I visit them and am filled with the comfort and renewed spirit that comes from sitting with a dear friend.  It’s my reassurance that there is beauty in the world to be created.  And so I am not surprised, but truly delighted when I “see” a photograph that brings forth the feeling of a favorite painter.  To be able to say to myself  “aha…this is what Kahn might have seen”  or “Oh! This is Wyeth’s palette” is gratifying and illuminating.  This visual heritage, this wealth of knowledge  is available to each of us.   As humans and as photographers, our lives are richer when we avail ourselves of this treasure.

05
Nov
09

Grace and creative inspiration

After PorterEphemeral, yet the impression is lasting and grows in strength as time passes; this is how I recall moments of Grace.  The experience of having recognized an extraordinary moment, and then created an image that communicates the essence of what I saw, fills me with the inspiration to continue to seek those moments.   Grace is subtle, fleeting.  We must cultivate awareness in order to be ready when it appears. 

In the fall of 2008, while teaching with my buddy Rick Holt in the Poconos of Eastern Pennsylvania, I created my favorite photograph from that year.  We started at 5 that morning in order to catch the mist and fog if we had a bit of photographer’s luck.  It was still quite dark upon reaching our destination but I knew there were photographs to be made in the coming pre-dawn.  Walking slowly along the lake shore I could see some outlines of slender birches and then I could make out some gleaming yellow leaves.  I walked a bit further, but within 10 minutes I had come back to that spot.  I could feel a photograph calling.  When I returned I noticed there was just enough light to refine the composition and illuminate the mist that was lying densely in the woods behind.   Stillness fell upon the scene, the leaves held their breath, and I made a number of exposures, experimenting with and refining the framing.  The whole episode might have lasted 5 minutes, but the strength of purpose, confidence, and gratitude that I experience from that time has sustained me through the last year.  

I’m anxious to write more about visual literacy and how we, as photographers, can expand our abilities by caring for the vast store of imagery that has been given to us by the Masters of painting, drawing, sculpting, and photography.  Perhaps you’ll tell me about your favorites?

28
Oct
09

Horses, photography

Ultraje

Top Iberian, a gorgeous magazine from Spain that chronicles the Lusitano and Andalusian horse, is publishing a feature story about me, including a number of the horse photos that I’ve taken in the last several years. The editor, Katharina Braren, asked me in the interview to describe my connection with horses, as a strong connection, in her words, is evident in the photographs.  This is a subject that is central to who I am as a photographer so I was happy to discuss it.  As a full answer will take more than two paragraphs I am going to post it over several days.

The quality, or act of being that is awareness is the greatest gift we can give ourselves.  I’ve written and thought about this for nearly two decades.  Curiosity at a young age is a good start, but true awareness begins with an examination of who we are.  For me, this time coincided with when I met Dominique Barbier almost 20 years ago.  Antoine de St. Exupery describes friendship in this way:  Friendship is born from an identity of spiritual goals ~ from common navigation toward a star. If that is so, Dominique and I have seen many galaxies together.  Our discussions about the horses and training quickly turned to developing awareness and knowing what energy we were bringing to the horse whenever we were in contact.  By beginning to peel away ego and expectation, I found a greater partnership and acceptance with my horses.  Please understand, this took some time and a great deal of effort.  Effort in the sense of bringing forth work from the heart…not just working AT something….it had the quality of working TO something and each step was a revelation.   This approach naturally spilled over into all the layers of a busy life (raising children, running a business) and while there were many setbacks, there were real moments, periods of peace and acceptance.   How does all this relate to photography?  That will be revealed in tomorrow’s post.

26
Oct
09

thinking of gifts today

Many early birthday wishes today (thank you!) have caused me to think about gifts.  This past summer, while enjoying a visit from my mother, we went to the Olympic coastline. I wanted to show my Mom the gorgeous reflections that wet sand can offer at sunset. The weather was perfect and we enjoyed a few stops along the way to photograph the lavender fields.  We had traveled 105 of the 109 miles to our destination when we rounded a corner, started down an incline, and ran SMACK into a fog bank. Not a wispy, oh it will blow over fog bank, an impenetrable wall of gray hanging mist.  The temperature dropped like a stone along with our hopes of photographing glorious pinks and magentas and oranges with deep blue sky and water.   We checked into our little ‘roughing-it’ cabin and decided to take a walk on the shore. 

The bracing sea air and the vibration of the surf on the shore worked on my mood and made me remember that there were photographs to be created.   I’ll let the photographic results speak to you as they will, but the most important thing I captured that night was a renewed commitment to remember a lesson I thought I knew:  a grateful heart accepts all as a gift.

24
Oct
09

Photographs in our lives

Two photos today:  the first is a much loved picture in our family album and the second is my favorite photo of all time.  I suppose it will always be.

We all keep our family photographs for the obvious reasons of nostalgia, family bonds, humor, longing, history, love.  But I think that Photographers (meaning working pros and perhaps serious amateurs) fail to recognize the importance of continuing to make these images.  I’ve been thinking of this as I have been working on a project of gathering images from family members and combining them with anecdotes into a volume that will be printed.   What has struck me so profoundly is that I can’t remember a single thing about the ACT of making the photographs that I’ve contributed.  I can’t remember the camera I used….how/when they were developed….it’s as if I was totally absent in the mechanical process.  Oddly, I can tell you everything about every image made since 2005 (when I became a ‘serious’ photographer).  Do we feel the weight of needing to make a photograph rather than just recording a moment? Are we then separated from the experience and does that separation reveal itself in our work?   Are we more or less present when recording moments in our own lives?  How do we eliminate the distinction, or should we?

A far better writer and photographer than me has lived this theme.  Sam Abell often lectures on The Photographic Life.  If the opportunity arises for  you to hear a lecture, take a class, or pick up one of his books, don’t miss it.   As that Great American, Arthur Meyerson once introduced Sam……I give you the Dalai Lama of photography:         www.samabell-thephotographiclife.com

My last point:  when I asked my now 25 year old son what he would like for his birthday, he said “a copy of that photograph of Jess, Will, and me, in Florida at Uncle Charlie’s…you know the one….it’s my favorite photograph of all time”.

22
Oct
09

Early lesson

Alain Briot, noted Southwest photographer and founder of www.beautiful-landscape.com said to me “sometimes you can make a beautiful image in this bright sunlight”.  We had been walking all over Chaco Culture National Park, in JULY, and we stopped by this doorway.  It’s not in one of the big ruins (Casa Rinconada or Pueblo Bonita) it’s an outlier, perhaps Wijiji.  The point is this:  drop your preconceptions.  Learn to see like your camera sees….and experiment.  Magic happens.

Native American culture has played a large part in my fantasy life since I was a young child.  Wearing moccasins to school in West Virginia was a little odd, but I just wanted to BE what I thought an Indian was.  For a long while my exploration was limited to reading and combing through photography books (Edward Curtis for Native Americans).  Beginning in 2004, coinciding with the first serious pursuit of photography, I went to explore the Southwest.  It turned out to be a marvelous affirmation of following your heart.  Combine bad timing (leaving a landscape business in high season), really hot weather (105 degrees in the shade), and throw in a total leap of faith to contact Alain about private study, and BINGO:  New Life Path.Portal

22
Oct
09

Why the blog when so many are available?

We photograph as we are.  If that statement is true, then I am determined to grow as a person/a soul/an individual in order to become a more engaging photographer.

I’ll post images, invite comment, and solicit your thoughts about how you are growing as a photographer and from time to time I’ll comment on all the things that help me to grow:  books, movies, music, experience, life.




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