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the Now

I am slowly emerging from a dark space. To make art and to live Now are the only escapes really.  A friend wrote that “life has a delicate beauty that can inspire and destroy.” Indeed.

I have never learned to live Now very well. It is the past that occupies so much of my mental space. Not the painful past, mind you, just visual memories that come and go. Our minds are so curious.

That is what draws me to the photograph: the fleeting moment caught in time, a fugitive memory made permanent. And, then, if that were not miracle enough, we can view the illusion of three dimensions on a flat surface. One can return to a piece of paper that defies and transcends time and space. Such magic.

I really love snapshots. There is a freshness and honesty that lightens my spirit. I will leave you with a few I found that make me feel good. They are so Now.

Womanditchsmaller

FishingNetgirl

HappyCleaners

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01.02.14

So odd how photographs of winter and snow can be so appealing especially during the summer, and less so in winter.

This leads me to think about types of pictures I do not like:

  • Pictures of naked people in bed. If that is the cover image for a film, it will never make it to my queue.
  • Nudes in general. I am not prudish but I do not like seeing the idealized human figure unclothed, be it female or male
  • Boring images that look very good
  • Boring pictures that look bad
  • Abstract images, unless the photographer has been very clever and non-imitative
  • Photographs that reveal nothing about the photographer

Picture types I do like:

  • “Snapshot Aesthetic” street images, if the composition and dynamics are perfect
  • Images from extreme angles and perspectives
  • Images with unusual composition, that at the same time, have a deeper meaning or context
  • Images with different kinds of humor, dry, ironic, etc.
  • Boring pictures that look very bad
  • New approaches to the usual, showing me things in ways I have never seen before

Mind you, these are just broad categories.  Do not attempt to see if your work fits in one or the other because I may love your image or hate it, despite what I said above.

 

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The good and the bad

The good news first. The new issue of PH magazine, a Canadian photography publication, came out today with the January 2014 issue featuring my work. I am happy to be alongside some wonderful photographers and hope you take the time to take a look. I love that it is a free download so people can take their time to read and view, as well as share it with students.

Here is the link:

http://www.phmag.ca/magazine/happy-new-year-2/

This aspect of digital information sharing is potent. One reason I take photographs is to share a real moment past with others. The ability of a two dimensional image on paper to move another to feel something from a different space and time is remarkable.  It is the abfab best. I can have a momentary intimacy with a total stranger with a camera between us, and the photograph allows another to be there with me, even decades and decades later.

Being able to communicate with another drives me, makes me feel it is all worth it, even the inevitable rejection and solitude.

I hardly ever sell my work. That does not bother me. It is the reality of my personal situation. If I were to depend on photography to bring me money, it would ruin everything. Of that I am sure. Perhaps it is foolish, or superstitious, but I need to make photographs from a simpler place. Thoughts of money or success are hindrances to me. Do not be offended if your situation is a different one. There are those who do brilliant work and can make a living from it. Just not me.

Which brings me to an entry by Frank Rodick on his blog:

http://frankrodickblog.com/2013/08/13/on-making-art-and-feeling-like-shit/ – more-398

Sometimes it does make me feel like shit. I am not alone and feeling like shit might actually impel me forward as an artist, Mr Rodick says. I believe he has something there.

Okay, now the bad news. About a week ago, the IRS sent me a notice that I owe them lots of money from back taxes for 2011. I was shocked. I always pay my taxes and am scared shitless of the IRS. So, I immediately wrote them a letter with copies of all the information I could, decrying my innocence.

Long story short, I was wrong. The information I had relied on from the accounting firm and an executor was inaccurate. I do owe the money.  I don’t care about money, (the root of most problems, along with religion) and I am sure I can work it out with the Feds but, in the process of figuring this out, I discussed the mess with two people whom I trusted, and they refused to take responsibility for giving me the wrong information.

I went to bed sick. Firecrackers at midnight did not help. This is a very personal blog, as you can see. Time for the Serenity Prayer, a wise mantra for many of us who know.

So goods news and bad news, readers. Happy New Year.

 
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Happy Birthday to me. At 8:52am I turn 65. I am a senior citizen. I can get Medicare. I am retirement age. All of those facts could depress the bejeezus out of me, were I not so happy.

I have nothing but gratitude to the Graces for my life and good fortune. Not material fortune, mind you; my credit score bites. My family, friends, students, and photography bring me vast joy.

My husband and I have the honor of caring for our two doggos, Mango and Blue. They are siblings but oh, so different. Mango, the female, is alpha, and reacts more aggressively to everything. Blue is a slow poke, physically as malleable as putty, double jointed, and has a jealous streak. They are Jack Russell mixes and are rescues.

They have become my furry muses when neither my camera nor I can bear to brave the bitter winter winds.

I photograph them and invent stories about them. I will share one of a series I am working on. They possess a magical ability to enter works of art and return, telling wondrous tales. Here is the most recent image, called Blue and Mr Rothko Get on Famously and Discuss Friedrich Nietzsche and Things.

I will work on these images with the intention of writing and publishing a small book. I have gone so far as to purchase the ISBN and rights to an eBook. Such is the plan.

BlueupsidedownMoving2 copy

For those of you who may think I hate digital photos, you are wrong, wrong, wrong. I even like taking pictures with my iPad Air. Any and all ways of making pictures are swell.

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Gag me with a Spoon

What are the criteria we accept for discerning photography now?

The work I see in many galleries, both bricks and mortar and the more recognized online ones, leans heavily toward generic images: landscape, documentary, and portrait. Ninety nine percent of the work is digital color. It is easy on the eyes, bland, and bankrupt. Cloud and sunsets, numb portraits, well-lit domestic scenarios of upper middle class spaces, vacant landscapes. Mute and Large. They are like travel pix, plain mug shots, stock photos. They challenge nothing, stimulate nothing more than the eye at best.

What is the purpose of these images?

I am going to grab four random free stock photos and show you some examples of what I am talking about.

generic2

generic1

generic3

generic4   

These are nice pictures. They are available for download for .99 cents. They look like what win Emerging Artist Competitions. Gag me with a spoon. Now.

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After nearly 200 years of a rich and fascinating history, Photography is challenged at its core.

 What has been the direct capture of light onto a surface is now referred to as “analog,” that signifying, a light ray recorded or used in its original form.

In digital technology, the analog ray is sampled at some interval, and then turned into numbers that are stored in the digital device. 

Many see these two distinct forms of making images as mutually exclusive. One should, some think, replace one with the other, the old with the new.  “Move on,” they say, “look to the future. Dump analog, make images more easily without the mess, fuss, and icky cleanup.”

 I am not one of those individuals.

Photography, and the teaching of it, needs to be inclusive. My argument would be the same for any medium. Because of invention of the Wacom tablet, the pencil did not go into hiding. Because of the eBook, the book did not disappear. Because of calculators, one still must know how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide.

Reliance on computer data, storage, and dissemination of fact, is sketchy. How can one trust what is sampled? Over time, computer usage will create stiff knees and large behinds. My students, new to photo, engaged with the computer screen for hours on end, have no clue. Photographers who once had to make physical images can leave them on their smart cards and post to Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr or whatever, with no challenge to the image as art, with no object ever produced.

In educational institutions, there is the need to justify the continued teaching of direct photography, the original magic of the capture of light and made into image. Forget history, forget science, forget understanding the beginnings of our medium.

Has there ever been a time when you knew something would go sour? I remember thinking NAFTA was a disaster for our country but most fellow liberals thought I was totally misguided.  The rush to dump direct photography is misguided and will be no less than calamitous.

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December 23, 2013

Welcome to this reconditioned space, like a freshly painted living room, for my thoughts about photography, random images that have no place on my website, fun things I find, and whatever I want to share with you.

It is also a space for me to write. I love to write. Stories come to my head and I let them free before committing them to text; they are like hummingbirds flying to the shiny red feeder on my porch, here and then gone.

Aging is on my mind these days. I will turn 65 in one week. My Dad turned 98 two days ago. He looked at me, as he was about to blow out the candles on his birthday cake. Straining forward, he exclaimed in awe, “Ninety eight! How can that be?”  I could not answer him. I feel that way and I am 33 years his junior. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I see myself as I think I look. Other times, I see something quite different. Photographs of me are horrific. FaceTime on my iPad is great to use with close family but I feel so self-conscious with others. The screen does not do me justice and I am not ready for my close up, not ready at all.

Every time I see myself it stuns me. That is a considerable amount of stunning going on throughout the day; like being shell-shocked, each time my reflection blasts my view of myself to pieces. I am not particularly vain, but if Obamacare could kindly take care of non essentials, I think I would like a LifeLift, my lips done, some liposuction and a personal trainer, preferable a cranky woman in her 30’s. In the meantime, I will content myself with getting my hair colored, my handy nono hair remover, an occasional facial, and comfy flannel nightgowns.

Until later.

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