Posts Tagged ‘Sam Abell

28
Nov
14

Cuba, part three of three

I’ve been back from Cuba for a little over a week though I am still living in a bit of a reverie. Time there had a different dimension. Spending 8 days completely unplugged from the cell phone and internet was a wonderful way to decompress. I was able to give myself the luxury of being taken over by pure photography. And yet, I am left with a feeling of sadness and frustration from what I witnessed. It is not for me to speak about the situation in Cuba from a political standpoint. I must leave that to others. But I can speak about what I saw as a woman and a mother.

Before I left for Cuba, I had many friends who had visited speak forcefully about the beauty and spirit of the Cuban people. While I did see this fully expressed I also saw sadness, resignation, frustration, suffering, and even boredom. I saw children trying to learn in schools open to all the noise and confusion of the streets. I saw elderly citizens in a daycare with no medicines and people everywhere surviving on their wits and little else. I searched for stores to purchase food and basic necessities. There are none. I was told about the monthly ration stores and even visited one. But there was nothing to ‘purchase’. Deliveries are unpredictable. I have no knowledge of the quality of health care. But I do know that you can not drink the water or brush your teeth with it. Here as in other developing nations, waterborne illnesses are prevalent and serious. Even walking on the streets becomes an exercise in self-preservation. Gaping holes, broken pipe, garbage and sewage, unearthed cobblestones and refuse from crumbling buildings make navigation an art form.

But there was progress to be seen as well. Crews worked nearly around the clock to build a new hotel beside the Parque Centrale, one of the main tourist hotels. Streets that had been unearthed were re-paved with all new piping installed for water, sewer, gas, and electricity. But these things are works in progress. One morning, while visiting an elderly woman living alone in Vedado, the electricity was off. I asked “is this normal”? (As it was 9:30 in the morning and not a particularly ‘high demand’ day.) The reply: “Everything is normal in Cuba.”

So, ten days later, I am reliving my journey, searching for a deeper understanding of all I experienced. It is true that music and laughter were prevalent and beautifully expressed. But sadness and lack and a certain heaviness of spirit were just as prevalent. The Cuban people survive by their wits and generosity with each other. But to thrive, they will need access to clean water, educational and economic opportunity. There is hope for the coming years, but also a resignation to wait and see. I will be watching, and waiting to return. There is hope and deep beauty there amongst the decay and ruin. Walker Evans saw and photographed it 80 years ago. I will be forever grateful for my experience but will be wondering ‘how long will it survive?’

I hope you’ll take a moment to click through the slide show. There is more information to accompany the captions. As always, with gratitude for your time and interest. (Please share!).

 

 

 

 

23
Nov
14

Cuba, part two of three

When faced with all new sights, sounds, and scents, it is easy to be overwhelmed and lose our way creating images. During my time in Cuba I had the immense good fortune to be traveling with world class photographers including my friend and mentor, Sam Abell. Perhaps the living, breathing presence of the words I hear when I’m out photographing (find your setting, your backdrop, and let the life unfold, come into it), allowed me to be more settled than I normally would be in such an exciting situation. Perhaps I was afraid that I would create just mediocre images? But in nearly each moment, I was composed….and waiting. Cuba unfolded before me offering color and gesture, movement and stillness, and in the best moments, metaphors for the fullness and poignancy of life.

My stated goal at the beginning of the trip was to make one meaningful image. I did that…for myself. It’s up to the audience to decide if my vision translates into something of value. Was I walking in the footsteps of Walker Evans? I think so. He found value in the everyday, in the mundane, in the quiet moments of life.

 

22
Nov
14

Cuba and community

I’ve been writing about community now for the last several posts. This past 10 days I have seen community in action on a grand scale. I’ve just returned from a photo odyssey in Cuba, where I was part of an amazing group of photographers participating in a marvelous project: In the Footsteps of Walker Evans. We were commemorating his trip there in 1933 to create images for the book The Crime of Cuba. This project is the brainchild of my friend, and  a great friend to photography, Skip Klein. Once again, Skip…hats off to you!

We had wonderful Cuban guides for our time there. By the second day, Grency and others were happy to talk to us about what life was really like in Havana and in the countryside. For example, most transport for medium and long distance happens by hitchhiking. It is completely safe and everybody does it. Everybody. Havana is a study in circumvention and ingenuity. If you need a different house or apartment (say you switched jobs and locations in the city), well you go to the Swap meet for apartments. Everyone knows it is on Friday morning on a corner beside the Prado. Ownership is unusual in Cuba…but there is no rent, either. Perhaps you need to call the US? Well, it’s illegal, but you can call Toronto and have the operator transfer you.

Windows and doors are apparently optional in Havana. It seems that all life takes place on the street, or inches from the street in the living room that is open to all passersby. I suppose this helps to support the idea of community…and the “we’re all in this together” attitude.

One last example: traveling back to Havana from Vinales in an early morning cab ride, we had a flat tire. The driver simply hailed a horse and cart passing by (on a 4 lane highway) and asked the driver and his companion to take the tire to their house. He indicated that he would pick it up on the return trip. We asked ‘did you know that man?’ He replied ‘no, but it’s no problem, he told me where he lives, I’ll just stop by on the way back to Vinales and pick it up.’

Community. Everybody helps everybody at seemingly every turn. It’s true that it’s a survival mechanism in Cuba. But how nice is it? It was an eye-opening experience.

Here’s the first set of images…there will be several. As always, comments are most welcome and sharing with your friends (in the spirit of community) is a great thing to do!

18
Sep
13

considering the portrait

I visit the Whidbey Island County Fair each year during my week with Sam Abell at Pacific Northwest Art School. It’s a highlight for our students and a highlight for us. It is a place that is familiar, but full of surprises each time we go. This year, I fulfilled a promise that I make to myself each year. I went back to the fair after class was finished. That’s a luxury for photographers…the go-back. I am always so inspired by the work that the students produce, and this year was no exception. I was filled with ideas and creative fire, so off I went.

After photographing a number of subjects that were on my list I took a walk through the animal barns. I found this little girl, sitting in the pen with her pygmy goats, with no sign of parents or relatives nearby. I stayed for a while and made a number of images, trying to talk with her a little, offering to show her the picture on the back of my camera, but she remained in her own world. I thanked her and walked away. About twenty minutes later I decided to go back and see if she was still sitting all alone. She was. I asked her if I could make a few more pictures, to which she nodded her assent. That was the only interaction she offered the entire time.

So my thought process in making the images became this: how can I show her in the isolation and detachment that I feel? It’s not that she wasn’t animated, she was quite involved in her own story….talking on a (pinecone) cell phone, acting out the entire conversation, and alternately hugging and scolding her goats. But she was totally detached from the adults, adolescents and children walking past, some trying to talk to her, others reaching to pet her goats. It was unsettling.

Here is a small selection of images…the last being the one I chose to pull as THE portrait. Now I am undecided. I’ll come back another month from now and look at the images. Emotional detachment in the editing process is a good thing.  Emotional detachment at a fair? Well, it was certainly photographically intriguing for me.

Comments, as always, welcome and appreciated. And if you like this post (or others) how about sharing the blog with friends? Thank you!

05
Sep
13

great interviews: Sam Abell and David Alan Harvey

Click on this link for a great interview with my friend and mentor, Sam Abell.  And here’s another: Story Matters. Thank you to Jonathan Blaustein and Story Matters for the interviews. And thank you to Honey Lazar (click this link to see her amazing project, Loving Aunt Ruth, along with a stunning body of work) for bringing the first to my attention.

I continue to be inspired and stunned by the creativity and quality of photography being produced around the globe. This week I came across a great Street Photography site (on Facebook) that has me itching to shoot in Lisbon. My biggest question is how do I fit it in to an already overloaded schedule? I struggle with this each day while remaining grateful for all the opportunities that stretch out before me.

Enjoy these links…I’ll be back in a few days with a discussion about a portrait series….stay tuned…and go make some photographs!

Oh! one last one: David Alan Harvey interview in Vice. Here’s the link to David’s burn. online magazine.

new work from Sam Abell

new work from Sam Abell

 

an old favorite

an old favorite

 

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Filipe Correia, Portugal, from Streetview

David Alan Harvey from Visura Magazine

One of my favorites from Honey Lazar's Loving Aunt Ruth project.

One of my favorites from Honey Lazar’s Loving Aunt Ruth project.

 

31
Aug
13

Whidbey Island Sojourn

The subject today: photography. The location: Whidbey Island. I’m delighted to be posting a gallery of images made during my three weeks at Pacific Northwest Art School assisting Arthur Meyerson and Sam Abell.

The surroundings are always inspiring, but the work and engagement from our students, along with the masterful imagery from Arthur and Sam, energizes my creative fire. So off I went to the Island County Fair and to haunt the shoreline. Some evenings I walked through town, some I walked the prairie. I just wanted to be open to light, color, and gesture…layers, refinement, and the concepts of eternity and impermanence. As always, the full expression of my intent is my personal benchmark for a successful photo. I realize that this is an entirely personal, subjective judgement. But it is the one most fully in alignment with my philosophy of living.

I’m so happy to announce that I will be teaching and assisting again next year for Pacific Northwest Art School, beginning August 4th for my four day class and then rolling into the next two weeks for Sam and Arthur! Stay tuned to the blog about other teaching venues and more opportunities for study, both in the US and abroad. Thanks for checking the blog….I hope you enjoy the images. Comments most welcome, as always!

 

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.

05
May
13

Another (fantastic) Sam Abell Workshop

Friends and readers of this blog know that I am indebted to Sam Abell for his mentorship and aesthetic. I have just finished assisting Sam in his private workshop in Shepherdstown with a group of great photographers. We had four days of fellowship and fine photography, kicked off by a wonderful dinner hosted and prepared by Dianne and Paul Chalfant. (to continue the alliteration…..fabulous family festivities!)

Seriously, we spent each day engaged in conversation and creation of photography on a very high level. I’m posting a sampling of great images made during our time together, but they don’t illustrate the willingness to engage and stretch creatively that each of the photographers brought to the workshop. The thing that sets a workshop above another is not the instruction or the work produced, but the enthusiasm the participants bring to their work and to the conversation. Because of that, this workshop achieved a high water mark for earnest, thoughtful work.

Sam and I thank each of you for your spirit and your work. I am energized by your devotion to your craft and am carrying that force with me into my next project now that I am back in Portugal. Soon I’ll be on Whidbey Island for Sam’s first of two workshops with the Pacific Northwest Art School. Then I will be preparing for my own workshop there! I hope you’ll think of joining me.  Later, in August, I’ll return to assist both Sam Abell and Arthur Meyerson! August is always a high point in my year. The students that come to the workshops are inspiring and marvelously creative….but they’ll have a long way to go to top our Shepherdstown Group!

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!

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.

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.

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.

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/

25
Sep
10

Photographers and philosophers…follow this link

http://powelltribune.com/index.php/content/view/3700/58/

Clicking on the link above will take you to an article written about Sam Abell in the Powell Tribune.  It’s worth the time to read the entire article.  I promise.

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!

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.

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”.




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