Friday, January 31, 2014

Organization and Ready to Show

My big goal, and the one that I’ve been struggling with for years, is in organization. I make many attempts then get distracted by other projects. However, to become a good business person, it is imperative that I get my files in order. It is annoying to need a particular piece of paper and not know where I put it. The project gets a bit overwhelming.

What came to mind this morning was that I need to keep better track of which shows I entered which pictures. It would be embarrassing to bring a picture that had already been displayed or has been seen before. It’s not an issue if I am constantly doing new ones, but there are times when what I have ready has been shown in at least one place. Plus, when I am in the middle of a different project, it’s not so easy to take the time to print, mat, and frame a new photo.

As everything ends up taking longer than expected, I want to look at alternatives for printing and having the pictures ready to hang. Today one of my goals is to have a couple of my photos printed at an online company and also to have them printed in a different format than I do myself.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Being Noticed

A year ago today, I made my second visit to Magnolia Gardens just outside of Charleston, S.C. This is another plantation area with wonderful gardens, trails, and old plantation house. On that second day, I spent time along the Audubon Swamp Trail following the board walk out through the swamp. I got a close-up look of duck weed which is one of the attractants for winter-migrating birds. I saw huge great blue heron nests high up in the trees. Wow, hard to imagine that these huge birds could build nests so far up. Here in New Hampshire, we see one, maybe two, of these birds, but at Magnolia Gardens, there were flocks! Magnolia Gardens is definitely a place I want to return and one of those places where you could spend three or four days taking it all in. I never did see everything.

This morning the thought most on my mind is:

“I want to be noticed more – in my writing, photography, and art.”

I never thought I would ever be saying anything like this! When I first took Tai Chi and the teacher would have ME in front of the class, I thought I would die of embarrassment. I was overweight by that time and very self-conscious. But it was me that the other students would come to when the teacher wasn’t available. I got it, got Tai Chi and evidently, others could tell. That was my first real experience that I was worthy; that I had something to offer. I wasn’t allowed to hide in the back of the class.

Even later in leading creativity groups, occasional adult-ed courses, and participating in open-mike poetry readings, I still was self conscious being in front of a crowd. I enjoyed it and was passionate about the topics I took on recognizing that we all have life experience to share. However, I still struggled with “putting myself out there.”

Since moving to Bradford and becoming a full-time artist, I have had to push myself forward. Yes, it’s very much a struggle. There’s a part of me that feels that promoting oneself is being arrogant. And yet, if I am to sell my work and make a living, I do have to push… a little… a lot… No, it isn’t easy, especially being super-shy and afraid of strangers and crowds. (That probably comes from my younger years when I was always ridiculed and put down.)

I used to be satisfied when one or two people would say they liked my work. I would feel good when someone said that something I wrote helped them with an issue they were dealing with. Yes, that pleases me, but one or two is no longer enough. Now that I am making (trying to) a living with my art, it is imperative that I improve with marketing.

This year I am determined to make a better effort. I want to be more comfortable around people. I want to learn how to deal with customers without seeming too pushy or that I don’t care. I want people to LIKE me! I want people to like my work and buy it. I love what I do! How many people can say that? Whether it is writing stories, writing about people I interview, taking pictures and putting the images on cards or making prints, knitting scarves, or drawing charcoal landscapes, I am extremely excited. I want to share the joy.

To see my latest efforts, visit my newly updated website. It now includes a gallery (which I will be adding to more often,) how to purchase section and a poetry page. Visit, Thank-you. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Growing My Photography, Part 3: Covering Events

A year ago today, I visited Fort Sumter in Charleston, S.C. Fort Sumter is on a small island in the middle of the harbor which meant a boat ride. It was cold. I didn’t expect it to be so cold that far south. Still, being some place different from home, the feelings of cold were easily put aside to take in the sights and history.

I loved the traveling and seeing new sights. I loved the driving. I want to do more traveling, see more of our country, and yes, I do want to re-visit some of the places I went to last year.

Part 3 of my writing about photography is covering events which most often start out as work for the newspaper. The shooting may begin as all-over views catching wide angles and encompassing crowds. My mind set is more open, the shots random, and I don’t have to get permission from people as they are seldom recognizable in these pictures. The photos are more about the scene than particular people.

I don a different hat as my focus becomes more about specific booths or displays. There are group shots, individual shots, and interviews. For instance, during Muster Field Farm Days, there were four people sitting near logs and pounding the bark into strips from which baskets would be made.  For these small-group settings, I am still standing back and yet, I do have to talk to these people to get names and permissions.

Another hat comes out when I am doing a one on one interview. While covering the Artists Weekend at The Fells, I spoke with each participating artist individually about their work. I also took photos. I am so inspired and intrigued by these artists and craftspeople (like those at Muster Field Farm.) Unfortunately, very little makes it into the newspaper. I collect all these stories and photos, then what?

I often get side-tracked as I see things that I want to photograph from an artist’s point of view. There’s scenery, old vehicles, flowers and plants and more. I cannot focus on one thing. I am easily distracted. So, what might seem like a “quick assignment” can turn into a few hours. But I love what I do. It’s exciting. As much as it frightens the daylights out of me to approach people and ask questions, the excitement pushes me to it.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Digitally-Submitted Photographs

This morning as I was journaling, I mentioned that I want to do a third installment on Growing My Photography. As I continued writing and was talking about the latest website adjustments, I began to wonder, what would happen if all of a sudden my website took off and I had people contacting me to make purchases? (That’s legitimate people, not all those scams that go on.)

Yes, I know, the chance that my site would be a big hit and one that a lot of people will find is not likely. It’s dreaming… or is it fear, ha ha. However, it is something to consider. It has taken me years to be comfortable with the prices I have set for prints and products (comfortable, though I still sometimes doubt.) However, the question came up about someone wanting a digital image to use on their own website or in some kind of advertising? What would I charge for that?

I’ve already had people ask me to e-mail images, people who just wanted them for personal reasons. I do have to take into consideration, though, that I am trying to eke out a living with my art. Sometimes I don’t mind sending a photo especially when people are doing volunteer publications in town.  I feel that’s one way to do my part, but how often do I do that sort of thing? I also wonder if people think that because they are receiving the image via e-mail and I’m not printing it for them, that there should be no charge.

I know what I am paid per photo used in the newspaper. Would that price also work for others? Dr. Bob, who does my website, sent me a couple of links addressing this issue. What I read was enlightening. Photographers have been dealing with price issues forever and with digital images, there are more questions and more issues to consider. There is no one real answer.

I’ve talked about my friend, Karen Winterholer, who has had her images copied from her website and used elsewhere without permission or acknowledgment, and legally, that is theft. There are sites that do “give away” photos, but if a website is copyrighted with all rights reserved, that is a totally different story.  I don’t know if there’s any way to stop this from happening. There are always those who want to take and not pay. Hey, I like to get things for free, too, but to take someone else’s images without permission is something I wouldn’t even consider.

So, perusing the two websites gave me much to consider. Simply put, it all depends on the situation, what the customer is looking for, how the image will be used, and negotiating the price. Licensing also needs to be taken into account. Is the customer looking to own the image outright? If I understand this correctly, if the customer purchases the licensing rights, you would no longer be able to sell prints or use that image yourself. In this case, you would be able to ask for a lot more money in the negotiation.

Determining and setting prices for any kind of art work entails a lot of thought and planning. I’ve been told, for the most part, that it’s important to have consistent pricing. You wouldn’t want something in a gallery or show at one price (because of commission or show fees) and charge a different price if the customer comes directly to you. Now, in reading yesterday’s material, what holds for prints and such is not necessarily true for digital submissions.

Such as life and the bottom line is that each artist needs to find their own way.

Here are the two websites:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Growing My Photography; Part 2: Photographing People

A year ago today I arrived in South Carolina and after driving through Myrtle Beach (which I did not like,) I stopped at Brookgreen Gardens in Murrell's Inlet. It was my first visit to an old plantation site. Brookgreen is one of the top gardens in the country. Paths wind amid and to various gardens. Beautiful sculptures are set at strategic points. Eventually the paths lead to trails along the river and old rice fields. There is a labyrinth by the river where I sat and wrote a poem.

Brookgreen Gardens is a wonderful place to visit and one of the places I’d like to see again. I saw, up close, my first moss-laden trees and at that point, still did not know what kind of trees they were. It was wonderful to wander the paths and trails after escaping the cold and snow of New Hampshire and even though it was winter, there were some flowers blooming. I also enjoyed that the place wasn’t crowded. I only saw half a dozen people the whole time I was there and never all in one place.

I traveled for 33 days and never took photos of people. People. I have no wish to be a portrait photographer, but there are times when I want to include humans in my works. Work cannot always be about scenery and “things.” I realized later when writing about my trip that I really missed out not having any pictures of some of the people I met. Why is it so hard for me to photograph them?

What I am finding about photography is that there are many layers. I like to use the analogy of hats. As with many aspects of life and the wearing of many hats, I also have more than one hat for photography. I look at things with a different mindset depending on what I am shooting. For instance, if I am shooting scenery to be used as prints, I am seeking certain elements; one hat. If I am considering a scene for a charcoal drawing, I have to pay attention to values and how it will transform to a drawing; a second hat.

There are other considerations in photographing people. It’s not only what I am thinking about the situation, but what they are feeling. Permissions need to be obtained. Yes, there are those out there who will take pictures anytime, anywhere, and of anybody. I personally think that’s an invasion of privacy. The only time I will consider taking a picture of someone without permission is if no one could specifically know who that person is.

Here, one hat is for my work with the InterTown Record where I am photographing people for interviews or at events. It’s important to have pictures of people in the newspaper. People like to see people in the news. There’s also the fact that people deserve to be recognized when they accomplish something or participate in an event. Most people like to have a chance to get their picture in the paper and, for the most part, newspapers are often a little grainy and the photos not real clear so any “flaws” can be blamed on the print. Usually verbal permission is okay for this and I must remember to also ask for Facebook photos as the newspaper has a page. Some people don’t mind the newspaper, but don’t want their photos on Facebook. I totally respect people’s wishes.

Hat two for portrait photography is a whole different ballgame. Permissions are given more reluctantly. “What do you want a picture of me for?” People are doubtful, leery, distrusting. My answer is, “Because someday I want to do a book of people I’ve found interesting.” Does that cut it with them? No, not really. Even in my own mind, I struggle with this, but I do find many people totally fascinating. There’s something in their demeanor, facial expressions, body language. At this part, it isn’t about them personally and that’s hard to explain without sounding insulting. It IS about them and it isn’t. And here, there could possibly be yet another hat with the second for photography of a person with a generic title like “Woman Thinking” and the third for photos with the person’s name and a bit of a story about them.

So, what’s the problem? Many don’t like photos of themselves. They think they look horrible in pictures. Granted, not everyone is movie star beautiful, but there is character and life to a person. I used to say, “If there are no photos of you, who will know you were here?” But often they stubbornly believe the picture will be awful. It’s that whole skewed notion of what we are taught about beauty. I see beauty in many things that others do not. As a matter of fact, I prefer taking pictures of older people. Yes, I’ve done some nice shots of children, especially the grandchildren, but there’s something about older people. There’s more character in their faces. There’s years of life experience. It’s also about capturing an essence… again, hard to explain.

I prefer that people not look directly at the camera nor do I like side shots. Profiles are not usually flattering.  I will hold my arm out to the side and tell them to look towards my hand. I want to capture a moment and although there is a bit of a pose because of sitting for the camera, I want a natural look. I also don’t think it necessary for the subject to always be smiling. I like the contemplative looks.

It’s important to get a good picture. If not, I will not keep it. I see people as beautiful. It’s also about accepting who we are. THIS is who I am and this is what I look like! I want to be accepted as I am and I believe in accepting others as they are.

So my goals are to:
1. Take courage and approach people; learn how to talk to them; ask to photograph them
2. Be able to explain, convince that I mean well and I am respectful
3. Allow that there will be refusals (which I am okay with and I already do this)
4. Remember to get written permissions
5. Take more people pictures for the someday book

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Growing My Photography - Part 1: Out in the Field Photography

I continue to think about how I can make myself a better person, better writer, better photographer, and better artist. I have come a long way, but there is always room to grow and improve, and because I have so many interests, it’s a little more difficult and time consuming to ever feel I’ve made accomplishments.

Of course, it’s in the small things. I make a list every day of things I have accomplished even if it’s just cleaning a bathroom. Yes, I also make To Do lists, but I would feel guilty when I wouldn’t get much crossed off the list; I get distracted and do other things. However, by keeping the running tally of what I’ve done throughout the day, I am always surprised at how much I do get accomplished.

This past week while working on website updates, (check it out at I am taking a closer look at my photographs and how I go about doing my photography. I call it “my” photography because of how I tackle photography projects. I have always been a learn-as-you-go type of person.

Since going digital, I get a little carried away with the amount of photos I take. I just get so excited when I am “out in the field.” My technique is more the “snatch and grab” type of shooting. What do I mean by that? I mean I let my little kid-like excitement take precedence over taking the time to get really good shots. I want to take pictures of everything and every angle that I can. (I can no longer lie on the ground to get angles from that view, though.) I hurry so I can move on to the next scene.

What this means is that I then have to later sort through too many images to find the ones that are really good. At that point, I delete the ones that are definitely not good. But I don’t delete enough. I save some thinking that I can do something with them later. Sometimes I do, but they seldom come out great. I have hundreds of photos saved on the computer, photos that I always say I’ll go back later to edit. Ha, who am I trying to kid?

So, what is my next step to improve my photography skills? The main thing is to be more mindful when I am out taking photos. I have to stop shooting everything that catches and actually TAKE THE TIME to consider what WILL be a good photo. (I am using capital letters to emphasize to myself what I need to do.) Some things look interesting, but are not good as pictures. I also need to be aware of how I would use the particular shot. I’ve learned the hard way that not every scene makes for good cards. Other shots are only good FOR cards while others would work for gallery exhibits, but might not be a good picture for someone to hang on their wall at home.

When it comes to editing, I need to work with the images that are good and not waste time trying to make something from one that is less than. AND I need to delete those less thans! I also want to experiment with ordering prints online to see differences in how those images would turn out compared to my own printing, plus try other sizes, papers, matting, and framing. Matting and framing is such a frustrating process for me that perhaps it would be to my benefit to try something else.

So, this is where I am at the moment in thinking about the out and about/adventure photography. Part 2 will cover the work I do for the newspaper, taking pictures at events, and of people.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Time Management and Loving What You Do

It always seems things take longer to do than I originally thought. I think to myself that such and such will only take an hour or so and the next thing it's three hours later and I'm still not done.

How often does that happen to us? Sometimes the hours turn into days. When the days turns into weeks, I can easily get bored with the project or distracted to something else. This is why I end up with too many unfinished products. I like to think I'll eventually get back to them.

The latest project was website updating which I hadn't done since last January. That interrupted organizing my files which interrupted the demolition photo project which interrupted finishing the two books which interrupted everything else for the whole of 2013. I did finally manage to finish the two scarves that I had started last January.

In talking about this the past couple weeks, I wondered if I could set up a schedule. I could work on files and business organization for the first hour or so in the morning, then I could work on a project to do with photos or editing. After lunch I could work on the book. That worked for about a day. I got so wrapped up in working on one thing that I did not do anything else. Come three o'clock in the afternoon, my brain is done.

What feels "stupid" to me is that none of this is really hard. It's just doing it and getting it done. And now that I've said that, it feels stupid. Yes, filing is not difficult, just time consuming once everything is set up. Re-designing/changing the website takes thought and planning as does photo editing. Writing takes a lot. In one aspect it comes very easy to me, but editing and tightening up the writings also takes a lot of brain work.

Maybe that's what I need to further define. Brain work compared to physical work. I think that I should do more because I am mostly sitting, but that isn't true. Thinking and mental work is just as tiring as physical labor. I put a lot of energy into what I'm working on. By the end of the day, I am mentally exhausted.

Nan and I were also talking the other day about loving your work. To be an artist, you must love what you do, and yes, I love what I do and I even sometimes call what I do play. But, it's still work. A lot of energy goes into my projects even those that haven't gone past the planning stages.

So, if we love what we do, why is it hard and tedious? Why does it FEEL like work? Okay, it IS work. Can it be play and work at the same time? If I love it so much, why is it such a struggle to finish?

Oh, these life questions. I enjoy asking and talking about things because I like hearing what other people have to say about these issues. How do you handle time? What do you see as play/work?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Celebrating the Start of the Year

I am in the process of re-vamping my website and working with Dr. Bob to help promote myself further. He set me up with a program in which I can post photos myself to the site. I've got a start on it. I have all the text updates completed and we are working on getting the right size fonts and tightening things up.

There are still a couple of issues to take care of. The first is the blog. I don't know what happened in my system, but now I have to sign out of tds and into gmail to work on the blog. I never used to go through this before. Sometimes it doesn't work. This has put a damper on my postings as I feel I have to "fight" with this all the time. I am considering another blog site, but that would mean learning another program and changing things around. (As you can see, this morning it works.)

I am also designing a Purchasing of Images and Products page for my website show that I can show everyone what I am selling. I want to take photos of what the three different types of cards that I do and supply descriptions for those of you who cannot physically look at the card ahead of time.

Besides note cards and frame cards, I'm going to do a Pick and Choose Poetry Card in which I will have some of my poems listed. You can choose a poem then go to my art gallery and choose a photo and I will print a card or cards. What's great about these cards is that these will make awesome gifts. These can be keepsake cards in that the card can be cut in half and put in one of those two-picture frames so there will be a nice photograph and the poem.

I am very excited about this year, 2014. I have many ideas and projects in the works. Some of which entails finishing the ones from 2013. Updating the website is just one of the works in progress and should be finished soon. I also need to get back to the two books that are being worked on. I have many new photographs with which to make cards and prints to build a new inventory. Yes, times are very exciting.