Thursday, October 14, 2021

Showing your work

Groundless
 

As I mentioned in my previous post, I sometimes struggle with the question: how do I want to share my work?

This year I have shown my work in two solo exhibits and two group exhibits...all local venues within the province. Earlier this summer I decided to try something different and I answered an international call for a photography exhibit with the theme "Water". A Smith Gallery is located in Texas, and the exhibit was curated by Doug Beasley, co-editor of Shots Magazine.

I received notice in August that one of my images was accepted (Groundless - pictured above). There were 930 submissions and 55 of them were selected for exhibit, so I felt quite honoured. The exhibit opened on September 10th and runs until October 31st. A virtual walk through was held on September 25th, and Groundless is shown in the photos below, images that I received from the gallery owners:




As far as I know, there are no galleries in Canada that charge for submitting your work for a juried exhibit. Usually there are restrictions regarding the number of images you can submit for consideration. However, galleries in the United States seem to run differently. This particular exhibit cost $38 (US funds) for 5 entries.

So why pay to enter when there is no guarantee of being selected? Good question. 

In addition to the entry fee, if you are successful and you don't live in the area, you need to send in your framed image or pay for the gallery to print your image and rent a frame. Due to the cost of mailing a framed image, as well as the unreliability of mailing across the border, I decided to have the gallery print and frame my image. (a cost of $35 US)  

So by this time I have invested $73 US ($92.36 at today's exchange rate).  Although it's great to be able to put an international exhibit on my resumé, I really can't think of a reason to continue with this method of showing my work.

I would have loved the opportunity to meet with the other photographers by zoom and listen to everyone talk briefly about their work...that would have been a great experience. Otherwise, I can't think of a benefit to pay $100 to participate in an exhibit. Now....if my image sells I might change my mind about that. But I won't hold my breath for that to happen...lol.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Why do I create?

 

The Gift


Last year I was determined to add colour into my image making. This was a result of someone telling me that they found my images to be depressing since they were often black and white, or very muted, as well as minimal. 

So I involved myself in a few projects to get some colour into my photographic life.  I worked at these projects and started thinking...YES, I can do this! I can create with colour! And then somewhere along the way I realized that YES! I can create with colour! I can be an image maximalist! But you know what....I don't want to! 

Minimalism, subtle colour, high contrast black and white images. These are images I enjoy looking at, and these are the images I want to create, images that move me.

I love creating images and am lucky enough that I enjoy doing this in many ways. I enjoy discovering something with my eyes and capturing it with a camera. The technical aspect is not important to me. I could use a phone camera, a point and shoot, or my "good" camera. 

I also enjoy creating composited images on my computer by taking elements from several different photographs and creating something new that comes from my imagination. I have a vast library of photographs I've taken over the years...strange things that I captured without knowing why. Now I have a way to use all those elements to create something new, and I love it. I love creating something that no one else will ever be able to create because they don't have my library...and they don't have the same vision as me.

I belong to a photography club, and I have been told so many times that what I do is not photography. Why does everything need a label? Why can't I make the images I want to make without other people telling me that it doesn't fit into their notion of photography? I'm not entering into competitions with these images...I'm just creating images that I enjoy making.

Struggling artistically is something I do now and then. I go through this phase every so often when I want to throw up my hands, pull everything off social media, and beat a hasty retreat from the public eye. But I do feel the need to share my work in some way, so the question is...how should that be done? Something to ponder.

The bulletin board above my desk is filled with printed images that I have created this year. I think they are good. I think they are leaps and bounds over the images I exhibited at a gallery in January...work I created in 2019 and 2020. 

Maybe I'll share them someday. But maybe it's okay just to have them on a bulletin board for me to see.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Creating a still life

Balancing Act

I've talked now and then about generating ideas and how I get inspired. In January 2020, together with artist Helen Eaton, I created a group called Inspiration Collaboration. In a nutshell, we provide inspiration images at the first of every month and anyone interested creates any form of art using those images as their inspiration. 

This month, Helen's image was Basket of Peaches. I knew right away that I wanted to create a still life using peaches. I had two challenges...first, to wait for peaches to come into season here in Nova Scotia...and second, to think of a creative way to display my peaches. I decided that trying to stack my peaches was a good place to start...in contrast to Helen's peaches which were spilling from a basket. 

One thing I learned: I need a lot more practice in still life photography. Aside from lighting, my biggest challenge is placing the items. How many peaches should be in the bowl? How many should be on the table? What kind of background should I use? How much (if anything) should be reflected on the table? Where should the light come from? Yikes!

Here are some of the things I tried:



As you can see, many of the images are too dark. I purchased some studio lighting earlier this year, and I have yet to learn the trick of using them. Either my images are too flat, or too dark. I want them to look natural. Maybe my trick will be to go back to using only natural light...lol.

I did manage to balance five peaches (one is unseen in the sugar bowl), but I didn't like that image as well as my final selection. I want to post it here....all peaches balanced for a few seconds before falling on the table and floor.

I have been eating bruised peaches since I completed my photo shoot!

Monday, June 7, 2021

On Landscape Magazine Article

On Landscape Issue 232 - Sara Harley - The Trailings Project
I'm very honoured, excited, and basically just thrilled beyond belief to have an article published in the UK based On Landscape Magazine. You can read the complete article (including 16 photographs and approximately 2000 words) at this link:

https://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2021/06/the-trailings-project/


 



Saturday, May 1, 2021

Exhibit Catalogues

The province of Nova Scotia went into a lockdown on April 28th to try to reverse the increasing number of COVID-19 cases and only essential services are open. Our public libraries are closed, which means my Trailings exhibit is also closed. But....you can view my whole project online! 

I compiled a guide as part of my project....part exhibit guide, part project history. I created a 32 page magazine and ordered some hard copies for sale. I also put the whole magazine into pdf format and into an easily viewable online magazine. Details about the process are below...but first...here is the link to view here:  https://my.flipbookpdf.net/exxim  Just click on the arrows at the top right of your screen to page forward and back through the magazine.

Exhibit Guide Sara Harley Trailings

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Exhibit Guides - Part 4 of an ongoing series about preparing for exhibits

I have only participated in two exhibits that included an exhibit guide as part of the experience, so I have very limited knowledge about this whole subject. 

The first exhibit guide was created as part of a group exhibit that my photography club put together in 2017. I was in charge of the exhibit, and took it upon myself to create a guide. This guide was not for the general public, but the participants all ordered a copy of it as a keepsake. I created the guide using a print on demand company called Blurb Books, and I selected an 8x10 inch trade publication to reduce expenses. Each page of the exhibit guide featured one of the participants, and included the image title, large image, location and date under the image, a brief description/blurb about the image, and the photographer's name and bio at the bottom of the page. 

The second time was a 2018 exhibit at Viewpoint Gallery in Halifax, NS. A juried group exhibit called Picturing Health, it included work by 10 photographers. The cover of the guide was simple, and included the exhibit title, one line explanation "A Group Exhibition Exploring the Relationship between Wellness and Creatvity", exhibit dates, participating photographers, and gallery logo. 

The contents of the exhibit guide consisted of:

- a two page introduction to the exhibit

- a one page note from the President of the sponsoring foundation

- each of the 10 photographers had a two page spread, with their images on the left page and a brief artist statement and bio on the right page

- one page with information about the host gallery and the sponsoring foundation

Simple, straight forward, and professionally put together, the exhibit guide certainly made me feel like I was part of something special.

When I was putting together my Trailings exhibit, I was originally scheduled to show the exhibit in two locations. In the first location, I would be able to sell my work and I decided to create an exhibit guide to give people an item they could purchase at a much lower price point.  

I decided that my exhibit guide would be more than just information about the photos in the exhibit...it would include background information to explain the whole project. (In case you haven't yet taken a look....go to the top of this blog post to click on a link and view it online)  It took many hours of organizing...and reorganizing...but I finally got the document to what I wanted.

Then I found out that my first exhibit location fell through due to some unexpected renovations. I wasn't able to sell the guides at the second location, but decided to order a small batch of magazines to sell myself and then created the online magazine to share my project with everyone who was interested.

And...I'm happy to say....I have sold all but one of my hard copies.  In a non COVID world where I could have had an artist talk with the public, I'm sure I could have sold many more. 

Would I put something like this together again? In a heartbeat. I love creating books/magazines..it's one of my favourite hobbies. 

Would I recommend other exhibiting artists to spend the time putting something like this together? Only if you are creating the exhibit/project guide for YOU and your own satisfaction. It's not a big money maker and the time invested in the creation of the guide could be spent in more productive ways if you're looking at it from a financial payback point of view.

One last tip - creating online viewable books/magazines. If you create your guide using Blurb Books, you can simply select the option for the public to view your book. You can select a few pages, or the whole book, for viewing. However, I didn't want people thinking I was trying to push sales so I came up with another option. I created a pdf of my guide, and then I did a search for "free online pdf to flipbook converter". I selected FlipbookPDF.net  and chose the free version. That means they "brand" your flipbook with their logo...no big deal for me. You can easily add your project title, select the "sound" you want when the pages are flipped (I opted for no sound), and then you get a link you can share.

Easy peasy.

I hope this gives some insight into exhibit guides. There is no right or wrong. If you're part of a gallery exhibit, they will look after everything for you. If you're arranging your own exhibit, it's your choice whether to have an exhibit guide or not....and what to include or not.

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Previous articles about preparing for exhibits:

1. Exhibits - Selecting a theme

2. Exhibits - Applications and writing statements

3. Exhibits - selecting images

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Also from the Trailings Series: 

Lacework 

Barely There, Water Dance, I'll Cry if I Want To - The passage of Time

Skeleton - not everything has to be beautiful