Being ‘geographically restricted’ for the last 18 months or so has forced many of us to either stope making photographs or shift our thinking. For me that has been a deeper dive into subject matter that is close to home. What I have come to realize of course is that I would make the same photographs regardless of whether I had travelled 5 miles or 5,000. It’s just how I’m wired.
I’ve also been thinking about how people work close to home but make stunningly original work. One person I came across was Lori Vrba. Originally from Texas, Lori moved to North Carolina about 14 years ago. With that move came a shift in perspective and some really imaginative photographs.
I often think about the subject matter and process and how they inform one another. Does Lori make the images she makes because she uses film and traditional darkroom processes? Would she be off in a different direction if she were to switch to digital? I suspect we’re not likely to find out any time soon, the magic of film and the darkroom (her new darkroom!) pull too strongly.
Check out the flip through of Lori’s book ‘The Moth Wing Diaries’ below and see more of her work on her website here.
I’ve been off on a tangent this afternoon instead of doing what I was supposed to be doing.
I was thinking about how much fun it is to know more about things – whether it be how to read a picture or how to make and taste coffee. The more we know the richer our experience is. It reminded me of the Richard Feynman anecdote about the beauty of a flower. Check it out in the video below and in the link here.
I’m shocked to find myself in the summer holidays. Where did the year go? My kids are now rattling around the house looking for things to do. If I were them I would want to spend my time in The Music Shed with David Morgan.
Instead I’m finding myself swamped with multifarious commitments and obligations making doing the things that I want to do a challenge.
Photography seems harder in the summer, trees are less interesting when they are fully clothed and blogging is taking a back seat.
When I get the feeling that I want to run away and join the circus, something that happens once or twice a year, I start looking at artist residency opportunities. My usual preference is for something in Japan. When I was looking at available residencies earlier this week I came across the program at Tusen Takk. Which in turn led me to the architect Peter Bohlin, who designed and built the house and studio space.
I have an appreciation for the ‘art’ in all disciplines and architecture is a particular love. Reading about Tusen Takk Peter Bohlin’s resume stood out – the architect behind the apple store and Pixar’s headquarters among many other projects.
Bohlin grew up in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania where his firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson has it’s headquarters. He trained at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY and Cranbook Academy of Art in Michigan before opening his architecture firm. He came to public prominence when he had the opportunity to partner with James Cutler on the design of Bill Gates Mansion.
To learn more about Peter’s approach check out the videos below – you will have to click on the link in the second one to be transported to YouTube.
My days are packed, I’m sure yours are too, which means that I often find myself wondering is this the most important thing that I can be doing right now. Prioritization is both a chore and something that I find painfully difficult because I don’t like saying no.
I was recently reintroduced to Ikigai a Japanese term meaning ‘having a direction or purpose in life, providing a sense of fulfillment and towards which they the person may take actions, giving them satisfaction and a sense of meaning.’ Take a look at the graphic below for a sense of what were talking about but also realize that this isn’t quite ‘it’. See here for an explanation.
If you’re interested in digging into your own purpose check out this work sheet from Dandy People here.
Being clear about my sense of purpose has really helped remove some of the big items from my plate leaving me clear to focus on a smaller set of things where I can really make a difference. How about you? How do you make sense of the myriad of things that you could do?
I continue to be fascinated with how we can push photography to express our emotions and to explore our inner narrative. Mary Daniel Hobson’s work, that I recently found on the Datz Press website, resonated with this interest.
Hobson’s interest in photography started when she was 14. Like many of us, having the camera taught Hobson to see. Her undergraduate degree in art history was followed by a masters degree in photography and then time in France where she was able to dig into the work of Picasso and surrealist photographer. It was this experience that pushed her away from straight black and white photography in search of some other way to express her emotions.
Her work now combines photography with other objects to create layered collages and intimate still lifes. I found Hobson through the book ‘Offerings‘ which is a collection of 5 of her mixed media series – Evocations, Mapping the Body, Invocation, Sanctuary and Milagros – created between 1996 and 2018. Listen to Danny describe the work in the video below:
Listen to Danny describe her work and process in the interview below and learn more about her by checking our her website and instagram feed.
I’ve been exploring the world of graphic design in recent weeks as I thought about books and book design. It was not too many steps from graphic design to screen printing, which is something that I had thought about before.
I liked this intro to screen printing that I came across trawling through YouTube.
I was curious to understand how I might be able to apply this to photography. Could you? There’s a great course on Domestika that goes through how to use photoshop to make CMYK separations and then do a four color screenprint. Check out the trailer below.
Moving a step beyond photorealistic screenprinting to something more imaginative I realized that Andy Warhol had done this already.
And you can too…
I also think that Charlie Barton is doing interesting things combining screen printed photos with graphic shapes such as the Ferris wheel sunset below.
Definitely food for thought and I will certainly be exploring how I could print my photography and extend it through screen printing.
I continue to think about and torture my friends by asking them about making Art and making photographs specifically. What is it for? Who is it for?
There are so many ways that we can use our time why make art if it’s not putting food on the table? Why make art if there’s no waiting audience for it?
The answer that I keep coming back to is that for me, and I suspect many others, creating things is an internal drive. I just have to do it. The world gets out of balance without the ability to create things. Nice if there’s and audience for what we’re making but it’s not the reason for making it.
Where things get a bit wobbly is when you have expectations for what you are creating. Whether it’s the standard that you set for yourself for quality? Whether it’s the ‘likes’ on Instagram or the number of pieces sold. Focusing on these things as measures of how good the work is will inhibit your progress as an artist.
Instead it’s much better to focus on the process of creating. Thinking about how many days did I get out to photograph this week, this month, this year or how many photographs did I ‘finish’ – take through the edit process and print? Seems to me a much better way to measure our creative output.
I’ve been having fun with my printers in the last week. I made several prints of the tree in fog that I had taken recently trying out different papers.
Epson Ultrasmooth Fine Art, Epson Hot Press Natural, Epson Exhibition Fiber and Hahnemühle Fine Art Baryta. It’s hard to tell the difference between the papers in the photo above and video below.
For my prints I have previously preferred a Matte paper but for this image I really like the fiber based photo paper leaning towards the Hahnemühle Byarta. I know that there are general rules of thumb when it comes to choosing paper – glossy images do better on glossy paper – with the final choice being an aesthetic one. For me this image seems to have a bit more depth on the byarta paper, so I’m going to stick with it for now.
Are you printing your images? Do you have a favorite paper? I’d love to hear what you’re using and why.
Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you’re right!
I’ve been having one of those weeks, as I often do. I’ve had a couple of things happen that have really made me challenge my assumptions, especially about what I’m capable of.
I think what you are capable starts with what you believe. So it’s definitely worth asking the question ‘what beliefs do I hold that prevent me from achieving what I’m capable of?’
Sometimes you can’t see this for yourself and need to talk this through with others. Sometimes you’re pushed out of your comfort zone and this changes your perspective.
Obviously just believing that you can is not enough. It requires work and effort to close the gap between your current reality and what you know you can achieve. There will be frustration and disappointment along the way but you have to stay the course and keep at it.