Posts Tagged ‘Photography’

Lets face it there are a ton of opportunities for emerging photographer/artists. I used to think that living in Cleveland would make it all but impossible to gain any recognition as an artist. Lately, I have been feeling a little different. The accessibility to like minded people and the digital studio space of a personal website opens up the art world to people living in even the most remote areas.  With that in mind I found a nice list of things an artist working in the medium of photography can do to make advancements in his/her career. It’s a extremely generous article from Amani Olu the director of the Humble Arts Foundation, an equally generous organization that offers grants to artists twice a year based on the strength of the individuals proposals. It too is a wonderful opportunity and venue to see and get involved in the fine art photography world.    The article is published here @ artlog.comemptygallery

Twelve Ways to Gain Visibility in the Fine Art Photography World

Amani Olu presents Twelve Ways to Gain Visibility in the Fine Art Photography World. Mr. Olu is a private dealer, curator, and the founder and executive director of Humble Arts Foundation.

Amani Olu presents Twelve Ways to Gain Visibility in the Fine Art Photography World. Mr. Olu is a private dealer, curator, and the founder and executive director of Humble Arts Foundation.

1. Believe in yourself If you don’t believe in yourself and your ability to succeed, then no one will believe in you. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s true. Never doubt yourself. Take your work serious, be strong and be confident.

2. Have a well-organized portfolio Your edit should consist of no more than 12 images per body of work, 15 images max. No matter how great you believe your work to be, no busy person wants to look at 30 images. Showing fewer images give you the opportunity to show more, if requested.

If you are doing a studio visit, try not to talk too much about your work. Select no more than three pictures that have an interesting story. This allows the viewer to draw his or her own conclusions about the work. If they want to know your life story, they will ask.

For a solid, custom portfolio, I recommend House of Portfolios (houseofportfolios.com) for those living in NYC.

3. Print business/promotional cards The fastest way to look like a freshman is to not have a business/promo card. If someone is interested in your work and you don’t have a card, they are going to forget about you or call the photographer with a card. Don’t get caught out there. For cards, I suggest Modern Postcards (modernpostcards.com). They do great fine art printing, the best in the industry. There is also moo.com, which I hear is a good too.

4. Build a professional website I cannot stress this enough. It is important that you have a nicely, easily navigable website. Resist the temptation to go overboard. Less is always more. Facebook and Flickr do not count as professional portfolio websites. Again, take your work serious, and build a good website so people can find you and your work.

5. Find the best venues for your work Submitting blindly to websites, blogs, print publications, galleries, museums, etc is not a strategy. Locate the best venues for your work and find out how and if they accept submissions. This will increase your chances of being shown in places that are right for you.

6. Attend portfolio reviews/apply for contests/grants Every year there are a number of portfolio reviews. Portfolio reviews and contests/grants, which can be expensive, help to get your work in front of established museum curators, gallery directors and photo editors. Here are some I recommend:

Portfolio Reviews Center formerly Santa Fe (visitcenter.org/programs.cfm?p=Review) Powerhouse (powerhousebooks.com/portfolioreview09) Critical Mass (photolucida.org/current.php)

Contests/Grants Aperture Prize (aperture.org/apertureprize) Humble Arts Foundation’s GEP (humbleartsfoundation.org/grant/guidelines.html)

7. Subscribe to photography blogs It is a good idea to subscribe to as many photo blogs as possible. This will help you to stay in the loop. Blogs I recommend are:

I Heart Photo iheartphotograph.blogspot.com

The Exposure Project theexposureproject.blogspot.com

Women in Photography wipnyc.org

Shane Lavalette’s Journal shanelavalette.com/journal/

We Can’t Paint wecantpaint.com/log/

Ground Glass caraphillips.wordpress.com/

Amy Stein’s Blog amysteinphoto.blogspot.com/

To find more blogs, visit these sites and take a look at their links.

8. Be active in the art community It is always a good idea to attend art fairs, openings, etc in your town. If you live in NYC, then you should be seeing art in all five boroughs, not just Chelsea or the Lower East Side. Be sure to have cards. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to people you want to meet. Just picture the person naked and go for it.

9. Start/join a critique group There are numerous advantages to participating in a critique group. Crit groups can help you better articulate your ideas, obtain consistent feedback and allow you to further integrate yourself in the photo community. If you don’t know of a group, start one with your photographer friends.

10. Accept rejection It will happen, and a lot. Sometimes your work is not a good fit. Sometimes the curator, director, or whoever, just doesn’t like your work. It can be a number of reasons. Grow thick skin, don’t take it personal and move on to the next opportunity.

11. Be patient If you want success, you’ll find success. If you want money, you’ll make money. It’s really that simple, but please don’t expect it to happen overnight. It will happen; just stay in the race and one day you’ll have more opportunities than you can count.

12. Keep taking pictures Never stop making work. Never.

Well, friends, I hope this helps. At the end of the day, you have to do what is best for you. Good luck.

About the author amani olu (b. 1980) is a private dealer, curator, and the founder and executive director of Humble Arts Foundation, a non-profit that works to advance the careers of emerging fine art photographers. He recently produced and designed The Collector’s Guide to Emerging Art Photography, published by Humble Arts Foundation. His most recent exhibitions include the group show Revisiting America and solo exhibition Home Theater, photographs by Bradley Peters. In March 2009 he participated as a private dealer at SCOPE Art Fair. He lives and works in Brooklyn.


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Mark Slankard @ CSU Art Gallery Aug 28th 5-8pm

School buses, crickets, dark mornings all signal one thing: summer is in the September of its years…sob.  The days will still be warm and in theory summer is still raging on, but we all know its a downward slope.  Plastic surgery couldn’t rejuvenate the wrinkled droopy skin of the always fleeting season of humid sweltering weather and long hours of light. The clock just can’t be turned back on this season.  No looking back. Summer group shows and gallery sabbaticals are gone and other than breaking out my favorite grandpa sweater and fleece slippers, the regular art season is a nice distraction to the looming grey  Alaskan cold darkness that is floating on the horizon. Okay enough of the melancholy, move to Phoenix right? Alright then on with the itinerary.

This weekend is jammed. Like a bunch of dogs at the track, the gates are open and we are chasing the rabbit.  So lets run down some of the points of interest.

090828_spiceydames_600The newly re-branded William Rupnik Gallery is presenting Mallorie Freeman: Spicy Dames and Tales of Mystery. Gritty works that are rooted in photography, mystery, myth and fiction. Mallorie’s work seems to occupy the space of kitche yet hints at the perpetuation of female myths through media and history. Fiction and non-fiction are interchangeable as we constantly balance identity with myth and expectation.  All life is drama and fiction I suppose. Located at 1667 East 40th St MF is opening Friday from 7-10 with a after party to boot. Lava Lounge is the perfect place to star in your own pulp novel.

E 40th isn’t too far from Cleveland State so why not hit up the Art Gallery on Friday too and take in  CSU’s provocative photography exhibition from its esteemed faculty member, Mark Slankard. Slankard is a well established photographer with a serious vision. I recommend checking out all of his bodies of work. The one that is being shown proves to pursued and provoke a plethora of presumptions. Too many P’s I know I was on roll. Anyways, Slankard is exploring Turkey and the extreme growth of its urban cities and suburban sprawl.  Western whiffs hang in the air with modern high rises and suffocatingly clone stamped developments rising up from the countryside. What is to be considered is  the implications of the most extreme of gentrification.  Ancient history in an all out over the top arm wrestle with the increasingly unpopular throw away press-board eyesores of sprawl.  Slankard’s works will no doubt be visually stunning. Large, and I’m talking HUGE, color photographs rendered with 8×10 large format camera precision.  The work seems to play out with the staged drama of Gregory Crewdsen only these are pulled and selected from the real world which offers to the viewer a wink as to allude to the surreal scenes of such real life tension and drama. Hot air masses mix with cold air and that can only mean one thing. For Slankard, its a culture storm or old and new. And with the ever changing world, it is a storm that almost all cultures can relate to these days.

On Friday you can hear the artist talk at 4 with the opening reception from 5-8.

More info:
CSU Art Gallery
East 23rd Street and Chester Avenue (2307 Chester Avenue).

William Rupnik Gallery is proud to present:
An exhibition by Mallorie Freeman
Spicy Dames and Tales of Mystery
August 28 – September 13, 2009
Opening reception 7-10 pm Friday, August 28, 2009

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I read an article in the New York Times recently about museum behavior.  How attendees generally breeze through galleries rarely looking anymore than the time it would take to read the label or description on the wall. It seems people subconsciously want someone to tell them what they should be looking for first, glance at the work of art second and then last bask in fulfilled glory as a person who has become enlightened. Like reading a manual or hearing a good joke with a quantitative punch line.  The problem is the best art has no punch line.

The other behavior in which I find most interesting is when patrons flutter around quickly snapping photos of the art with the intent to be viewed second hand, at a later time, and in a different location.  After all, photos provide evidence of an experience and validation of being. I’m sure I’ve said a million times, “ I’ve gotta remember this, let me get a photo.” As if the entirety of the moment wasn’t enough to remember.

Here is the disconnect I have been thinking about. While taking the photo for validation and remembrance what was sacrificed? What hit a nerve with me is, as an artist trained in the medium of photography,  how true the observation of people pillaging images is to us as a photographic culture. And how today with the proliferation of photographic digital mediums, a picture or act of photographing has replace the actual experience. Photography has become HOW we experience.  The image becomes the memory rather than the memory of the experience.  I read somewhere that this phenomenon is a “time-shifted” experience.  We go and see and take and then relive at another moment.  A byproduct of our increasingly filtered and diluted yet condensed modes of both communication and existences.   We live in a frantic society where we run from moment to moment stealing a facsimile of time that because of its visual yet 2 dimensional descriptive nature is a substitute for actually being there. Plus, it is easier to remember and recall from a photo then to have to let you self truly be in the moment.

I took some pictures this past weekend on vacation of a grove of 200 plus year old trees in a park on the coast of Georgia. The Spanish moss,  the filtered sunlight, the glow of the foliage, the heat, the smell, the air all created the moment. I snapped a picture.  When I got home to show off a handful of images I took, what I uttered was “Trust me it was gorgeous, the picture doesn’t do it justice.”

I used to take pictures constantly, I would always be out doing and going but I was always observing through my lens. I got to thinking about the experience as a personal photographer, making stories and waiting for things to happen.  It was great and I did SEE a lot.  I can tell stories of those times and I can look at the pictures. However was I really there, a part of it all, experiencing EVERY thing about the moment. I don’t think so. If I was there with out my camera perhaps I would of noticed smells or certain conversations, or other details not relevant to the image I was trying to make.  Or better yet I would have been a part of the story.  I don’t take my camera out much any more. I just don’t care to make those pictures. I’d rather be in the moment. The funny thing is that this evolution happened over time, it wasn’t a conscious decision. One day I realized I wasn’t taking my camera much with me anymore.

I remember a quote from Garry Winogrand where he was out photographing an accident or something on the street and while he was shooting he thought to himself he didn’t know if he should help or take a vertical.  As a photographer, how true is that. Talk about a mediated existence.  Contemporary society is very scary and perhaps its just an evolved way we make our way through the world. You don’t fail if you don’t try…right.  That’s why I think it is not by coincidence that we refer to the act of photography as “taking” a picture or better yet “ making” a picture because ultimately that is what photography is, making. It can never translate perfectly an experience but it can visually describe and live within itself.  But I feel it can never be a true substitute.

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Artists whose work is omnipotent, in magazines, proliferated over the Internet and art magazines are sometimes larger than life. The images become icons and then the often man behind the man behind the man, the puppet master, the face in the shadows pulling the strings is like the mystery of the person in the limo.  All this mystique hides the fact that artist’s are just regular people.  And the work is not conjured up in some elaborate shaman-esque ritual, its made in studios, in rented spaces, sometimes small and cramped and loaded with stuff. Some even are quite humble, even for successful creators.  I love the studio, I have since art school and it is funny to see how studios are all really pretty similar.  The obligatory mid century chair or dirty old couch or 60’s tweed lounge chair. Cheap thrift furniture held to the utmost of functional standards. They all have a certain feel to them. I’m romantic of course because of what the studio is to me, but I think objectively it’s true, The studio is the inner sanctum, the war room where strategies are hammered out and armies are built.

So check it out, I stumbled upon during one of my Internet link benders, www.studioreport.com which takes us on a virtual tour of 8 ( I think ) New York studios of such acclaimed artists as Ryan McGinley and Dan Colens studios.  Its a simple site with some simple descriptions and a handful of picts. Very cool insight into the work space of artists.  Most artists hold open studios or entertain studio visits if asked but in case your shy or have an adverse liking to turpentine or large bookshelves filled with source materials and supplies then check out the website.

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Picture 036

I heard before that photography is referred to as the great equalizer.  That even with out formal training or in-depth knowledge of color, composition, texture, balance, etc a user still can create a meaningful image from reaction or feeling of a situation.  I think trained users have a better success rate at creating a universal image than a “enthusiast” does since most casual photographers are just looking to record a personal event or moment. However just by randomly browsing Flickr you will find art that was never meant to be created as such. An art that is exciting and honest. Kind of like the poetics of a journal entry, never meant for eyes other than those of the author.
With that in mind, I am so drawn to this photograph given to me by a friend. He emailed me a handful of photos taken the previous weekend at his friends sugar house. It is a scene of camaraderie and honesty.  A whole story is told in just one 500K digital file. The photo is a rare magical moment that captures lives and stories with out the pretense of intention.  All of the photographers experience of that evening culminates in this photo. You can smell it and feel it. Its cold outside in the blue and black shadows of the set sun and the forest trees. Then you want so bad to be inside of the warm maple sugaring hut, joining in on the stories and music and I’m sure ribbing of the folks who maybe ritualistically gather to celebrate the yearly activity. I think it has real power. And now, I want some pancakes.

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As if we needed another sign to tell us that the history  we have been trying so hard to hold on to and bring back in the form of politics, nostolgic TV shows and well frankly our collective youths, Kodak is ditching Kodachrome. I think they announced it last week but I stumbled on something wonderful from an unlikely source, Fortune magazine.  Not sure why I was there, perhaps I was trying to figure out how to turn the 20 bucks I have in my bank account to maybe 40? Anyways, the revival of Paul Simon’s homage to wunder-lust can mean in this day and age only one thing, either another attempt at a Simon and Garfunkel reunion or the swan song funeral procession for the great saturational era defining cellulose recorder.  Indeed Kodachrome is going to the great processing lab in the sky. Only this time it won’t be returning to the photo-mat in 24-48 hours.  But as the doctors read the DNR tag on the metal can Fortune gives one last chance to see the great films life flash before all our eyes. They have put together a 20 slide salute picked form the archives of the magazine.

What is interesting above the hyper real, period peice movie-esque because of the clarity and detail rarely seen in color from these times ( 30/40/50’s), is the cast of greats who have shot commercially for the magazine. Scroll through and there is a who’s who of American photographic greats, Ansel Adams, W. Eugene Smith, Walker Evans, and Robert Doisneau among others. The pictures bring to life our history in a time where we as a nation are struggling with moving forward.

But I will say I am a little nervous since I am on the eve of getting my new/old camerea in the mail, a Pentax 67. Kodachrome, Polaroid, I hope I can still get film, there is nothing like it. Ultimately, I’m not worried. We move forward.  And as much as I love the Sham-Wow guy, he could never sell OxyClean quite like Billy Mays.

Rest in Peace

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My father worked for National City Bank for over 40 years. He retired about a year before the big collapse.  I think about what he must feel or take away from a company that he gave his entire working career too and then see it fold and be pawned off over night.  For the owners and CEO’s of corporation who leverage and “play” with huge companies as if it were a real life game of Risk, the real drama is in the history and meaning places like that have on its workers and the community. I remember family open houses, outings to Geauga Lake and the charity bike-a-thons that we so proudly participated in.  Business’s seemed to actually want to play a roll in the community on a level more personal than just sponsoring a play here or a sporting event there. Community involvement now is relegated to the calculated placement of a logo as to heighten awareness and brand recognition with a key demographic.  Business of course is all about money but the levels in which corporations act with in the community now is as shallow as an episode of Gossip Girl.  They have gone from a loving nurturing teet to a hose that dribbles water into a cold metal bowl. A hose that can just as easily be switched from quench to soak as it’s turned on employees when the stock holders need to see more profits.
With all that in mind I found Leslie Grant and Nina Pessin-Whedbee’s installation at MOCA to be so heartfelt and full of meaning and nuanced depiction of a changing America.  The collection of artifacts, photographs and oral history recollection from employees at the Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg Brooklyn  has subtle tones of nostalgia evoking memories of past values that are never found any more in contemporary business priorities.  I found the relics in the glass cases to be moving. Picture albums of events at the plants, newsletters that chronicled important happenings both at work and perhaps celebrating milestones of employees. There are notes on ruled paper and drawings perhaps done while describing or remembering things that happened at work and of course my favorite the commemorative pen given to mark years of service. As trite as gesture as it is, it means so much to have an employee be honored in anyway.
Having grown up in a time when companies still played a roll in peoples lives above being the paycheck provider that could be taken away at anytime. A dark overlord that constantly hangs the other shoe over all employees. Loyalty is hard to find now.  I can really connect with the way companies use to impact a community. And I find Grant and Pessin-Whedbee’s art at MOCA to be a great homage and metaphor to the realty of the cross-roads we here in America are at in regards to how we make a living and just how far we’ve strayed from the ethics and obligations of companies and communities.

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