Thursday, October 14, 2021

Showing your work


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

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 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 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 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

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:


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. 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 is the link to view here:  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


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 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/'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  and chose the free version. That means they "brand" your flipbook with their 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.


Previous articles about preparing for exhibits:

1. Exhibits - Selecting a theme

2. Exhibits - Applications and writing statements

3. Exhibits - selecting images


Also from the Trailings Series: 


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

Skeleton - not everything has to be beautiful

Friday, April 23, 2021

not everything has to be beautiful

Skeleton - Trailings Series - Sara Harley

I stumbled across this quote a few years ago, and it's still one of my favourite quotes about art:

"Art is not always about pretty things. It's about who we are, what happened to us, and how our lives are affected." 

- Elizabeth Broun, Director, Smithsonian American Art Museum 1989-2016

When I was selecting images for my Trailings exhibit, I went through many iterations. Indecision was my enemy, but I kept coming back to Skeleton. Should I include it? It wasn't the typical photograph you might see in an exhibition. But it called to me, and could not be ignored so it made the cut.

In some ways, it makes me feel uncomfortable when I look at it. It's not pretty and it's not happy, but it intrigues me. It draws me in and tells a story of vulnerability. Bare to the bones, the lack of surrounding earth strips the scene down to a sense of loss. Maybe not a happy story, but perhaps a story that needs to be talked about and shared.

People seem to be drawn to it, or repelled. That's okay! Any response is a good one.  I felt particularly gratified when someone saw the image without seeing the title and said "it looks like a skeleton". Yes! 



Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Newspaper Article - Trailings Exhibit

Trailings Exhibit Article Sara Harley
Progress Bulletin article, April 21 2021

If you click on the image above, you'll be able to read the article in a larger size format.

Free publicity is always great. I've done a few interviews over the years and it's always interesting to me how a reporter puts things together. Gayle Wilson wrote a lovely article about my exhibit, with lots of background information as well. 

And I didn't realize that I still use the word "neat", as in "it was neat"!  

From Google: What does neat mean slang?
Slang. great; wonderful; fine: What a neat car!

Monday, April 19, 2021

Answering some questions

Off on a New Adventure by Sara Harley
Off on a New Adventure

A while ago Helen Eaton mentioned in one of her blog posts that my blog is one that she follows. She was asking her favourite bloggers to answer some questions. I use this blog for writing about my photography, but I thought it might be interesting to have a blog post that is a bit more personal.  Here are Helen's questions....and my answers:

Question 1: Silence, music, podcast, or something else when you create / work?

Complete silence! I love music, but I find it distracting when I'm creating :)  I don't think I have ever listened to a podcast. I'm a visual person, so prefer YouTube where I can view and listen at the same time.

Question 2: What's your favorite part of the process as you create / write?

All my troubles retreat when I'm creating....part of the reason I love what I do. Whether I'm out and about with my camera in hand, or sitting at my desk creating something on the computer, I become completely absorbed and everything that is going on (internally and externally) fades into the background.

Question 3: Where do you do your craft, and what's that space like?

I'm either outside with my camera, or I'm in my home office. My office is very small....7 feet by 8 feet. In our original house plans, the space was actually a walk in closet by the front door. I had the plans changed and moved the closet door to a side hallway and added a smaller front hall closet by the front door. Voila, a walk in closet became my office! It's snug, but I love it. I have a desk with computer and two monitors to create with. I have an old wooden tool chest that I use as a table for my printer. There are shelves filled with family photos, favourite collectibles, books that I have made, reference books, and books from friends (I love books!). And...two large bulletin boards filled with inspiration bits and bobs, and my own works in progress. My office is one of my happy places.

Question 4: How do you choose who to follow? (Blogs, Instagram, Facebook, etc.)

I have signed up to receive a couple of blogs by email, but apparently that won't be happening after June because I just received a notice from blogger that the "follow by email" feature is going away. I have a love/hate relationship with the internet and social media. On one hand, I find it inspiring to see what other people are doing. On the other hand, I tend to feel inadequate when faced with so many inspiring people. I spend less and less time following other people, and try to focus on doing my own thing. I dislike facebook and only use it when I feel I have to share a big milestone with my family and friends. Most of my internet time is spent scrolling through my instagram feed but I'm trying to break that habit as well. I subscribe and unsubscribe to accounts quite frequently. Currently I follow some photographers and some quilters who inspire me.

Question 5: Why do you write and post on your blog?    

I started blogging in 2007 when I owned a dog biscuit company. I sold the company in 2008, retired, and moved half way across Canada but decided to continue blogging to document our new life in the country. We moved into a town in 2015 and blogging went by the way side for a couple of years. I picked it back up again a couple of years ago to document my photography. I am fickle and am not a faithful blogger, but blogging helps me gets things straight in my own mind. Basically, I use my blog to try to inspire other people...and to keep a record of things I think are of value in my photographic journey.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

The passage of time

Trailings series, continued

Barely There by Sara Harley, Trailings Series

Time can't be captured, but photos can tell the story of passing time. Photographing the same subject over months, or years, is a way for me to gain perspective. Nature has a way of teaching us that allowing time to pass can help us, and the cycles of life will ebb and flow. 

The three images in this post were all photographed in the same location, over a 2 month period. Barely There (above) was the last in the series.

The first in the series was Water Dance (below).

Water Dance by Sara Harley, Trailings Series

I stumbled on this scene by accident. I was looking for a gathering of trees with yellow fall foliage, part of a monthly project called Inspiration Collaboration that I work on with artist Helen Eaton. I wanted trees with yellow leaves as a response to her painting Aspens in Autumn. However, when I saw this scene it stopped me in my tracks and I forgot all about yellow. This photograph is full of colour and joy, a celebration of life. The leaves seemed to be drifting on the water in a silent dance, poetry in motion.

One month later, I decided to return to the same location and I photographed I'll Cry if I Want To (below). 

I'll Cry if I Want To by Sara Harley, Trailings Series
The party from Water Dance was over. The scene was more subdued but no less beautiful. The leaves had finished their dance and were submerged at the bottom of the stream. It was a grey overcast day and the rain was gently falling, nature's tears creating ripples on the water.

Three different photographs, three very different feelings, all from the same location. Some photographers search for new locations constantly, but I believe that some of my best work comes from places that I'm familiar with and can return to time and time again.


Also from the Trailings Series: 



Monday, April 12, 2021

Lacework - Trailings Series


Lacework by Sara Harley, Trailings Project
Trailings is now being exhibited, so I thought I would feature some of the photographs here.

Do you see beauty, or do you see destruction? 

I first saw these branches last year in mid August and I was fascinated with them. I thought they were beautiful and looked like delicate lace. A couple of months later, I was in the same area and took another series of photos. There were many trees in the same condition and the leaves were even more skeletal than my previous visit. 

Just a few days ago I was on the trail in the same area that I had taken Lacework. The sun was shining and the frogs were singing a beautiful chorus, but it will be a while before we have leaves on the trees. Apparently it's not too soon for the creators of the delicate lacework to be out in full force. I stopped in amazement when I saw them, not dozens, not hundreds, but thousands or millions of them!

Here are a few shots I took with my phone...the tiniest little artists you've ever seen:

Friday, April 2, 2021

Trailings Exhibit opened

Trailings Exhibit - Sara Harley
Trailings Exhibit - Margaret Hennigar Public Library

I spent part of yesterday morning hanging my Trailings exhibit at our local library. I had a few people who had asked for updates on my project (a result of asking for public involvement back in November...see this post for more info). I let them know I would be at the library, but I finished so quickly that I missed a couple of them who dropped by to see me in action. Oops. 

I had measured the space ahead of time, and had made a hanging plan of the order I wanted the images, so it was all smooth sailing to hang them. Planning ahead makes the job much easier. One thing I changed on the fly...I had planned to hang everything at the same height. I decided once I started hanging that...1. it would be very, very difficult to get them all at the same height using their wire hanging system...and 2. it would be much more visually interesting to have the images staggered. That decision made the hanging job so much easier!

Trailings Exhibit - Sara Harley
It's difficult to see in the photo, but there are a couple of things sitting on the shelves which are part of the display. I'll talk about them more in a later post....a comment book, and a couple of copies of a project guide I published that includes the images from the exhibit, as well as some details about the project.

Trailings Exhibit - Sara Harley

Friday, March 26, 2021

Here Comes the Sun

Here Comes the Sun by Sara Harley
Here Comes the Sun
I have been carrying a camera around for almost fifty years. I know. How can I be that old?

I was quite happy with my photography. I joined a photo club as a way to get to know some people after we moved half way across the country. I met some very nice people, and I learned quickly that I didn't know much about the technical aspects of photography. 

Truth be told, I am still not terribly interested in the technical side of things. I learned the "rules"...and then followed them faithfully for a while. A couple of "experts" suggested that sunrises and sunsets were unworthy of a serious photographer, and for a while I listened to them.

But wait. Why not try to capture a fleeting moment of natural beauty? I think sometimes the "experts" forget about the joy in simple things.

I live in a busy little town, on a street with very little charm. But every morning I stand at my kitchen window and look up the street. Every morning it's different and sometimes if you don't look at just the right moment, you'll miss something spectacular. 

I've been taking a series of these images since the beginning of the year....through the kitchen window with my phone. And these photos make me just as happy as the most artistic image I've been able to make.  Honestly, the simple beauty of a sunrise is a gift...and a beautiful way to start the day.

Through the kitchen window - selected dates January through March


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Creating images in unexpected places

Lines by Sara Harley
Quite often I write about creating images, and usually (for me) that involves what some people refer to as photo collage, photo manipulation, or photographic art. In a nutshell, taking a photograph and changing it so much that the original image has been lost. 

I do admit that I love creating something new using my photography as the starting point.

However...and this may surprise some people...I also enjoy straight photography...finding something interesting and capturing it. My favourite kind of image is something mundane, or simple, that a lot of people just wouldn't "see".

I found this one while waiting in the car yesterday. My husband and I had appointments for hair cuts, but due to COVID-19, we are only allowed in one at a time. Usually I read while I'm waiting somewhere. Yesterday I just sat and looked around. I saw something reflected in the passenger side mirror of the car and pulled out my phone. Click. Then I looked in my own side mirror and saw something I liked even more. You can see that one at the top of this post.

I love the organic branches of the tree contrasted with the straight lines of the wires, and dissected by the lines of the car window. Love.

And I love the fact that I am so easily amused. Who would have guessed that I would spend time taking photos while sitting behind the steering wheel of a car? I don't think I'll ever run out of things to be captivated by!

Monday, March 8, 2021

a thank you on International Women's Day

I received this lovely email this morning from PhotoED wonderful to be part of this outstanding group of women photographers!

PhotoED Magazine International Women's Day Sara Harley
recognition from PhotoED Magazine

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Where inspiration can take you

I never have trouble finding inspiration for my photography since I find the most mundane things interesting and challenging to photograph...dirty dishes, and light patterns on the walls and ceiling being a couple of examples. However, I do enjoy being "challenged" in other ways and Inspiration Collaboration is another tool in my inspiration toolbox.

February's inspiration image supplied by Helen was Pink Rose Trio. Roses are non-existent in Nova Scotia until sometime around June so I considered my options. I could create a new image by re-working some files from my photographic library, or I could shoot something new. I decided to buy some pink tulips at our grocery's the time of year that local hot house tulips arrive. The only problem was...they didn't have pink! my mind, it just had to be pink in answer to Helen's painting. So I waited...and waited. Finally, pink tulips arrived in the store at the end of February and I got to play with my camera. Helen's painting was created with a palette knife and showed lots of texture.

I started with this:

Original photo


and my end result was this:

I wanted my tulips to echo Helen's roses, so I made a lot of changes to the arrangement in post processing. I flipped the image, I straightened the background tulip at the top of the photo, I moved leaves, I added a couple of textured layers. I cropped the image to be the same aspect ratio as Helen's painting, which required more moving and extending the bottom to create longer stems. It was a lot of playing on the computer, which most photographers would scoff at. But I find it sooooo relaxing and just love recreating photo image's my way of painting.

But my story doesn't end here. I got to enjoy the tulips in my living room for a while...such a nice cheerful spot of spring during the long, never ending days of winter. And....then the tulips started to decay. And...then I got to play some more with my camera.

Tulip photo shoot

I didn't take quite as many photos as it looks like...half, in fact...there are duplicates of each image since one is a jpg format, and the other is a RAW file. RAW files contain a lot more information and are therefore better to work with when a lot of manipulation is being done. These photos were taken over two days, and four locations/different times of day. All but the last section were done with a white board in the background...which I found interesting because some of these backgrounds definitely look blue.

I can take a quick glance to see that my favourites are all minimalistic with a white or pale background. I have been working with some of the images and love the tattered, decayed look....much more interesting to me than beautiful flowers. I wonder what that says about my mind?

I'll be playing with these files for a while, but in the meantime here is Pink Tulip Trio - Part 2 (a "real" photograph with a few slight edits):

Pink Tulip Trio - Part 2

And...a good news story from a previous Inspiration Collaboration creation... I created Blueberry Love in January in response to Helen's Blueberry Muffin inspiration in January, and it sold at an exhibit called Palate, held at Round Hill Studio in Annapolis Royal.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Trailings Project - February Update

Trailings Exhibit Guides - Sara Harley
Comment Book & Exhibit Guide - Trailings Exhibit

I posted an update about my Trailings exhibit preparations at the end of January, and things were going wrong. Challenges continued through early February, but things have finally turned around and are back on the right track.

First is my good news/bad news story. I was scheduled to hang my exhibit on February 23rd, with an opening date of the 24th. On January 28th, I met with the organizer who told me they were undergoing unexpected renovations to the museum. I had been scheduled to hang the exhibit in the main exhibit area, and the revised section available was less than half the size shall I put this?...looked like a make shift corridor. I asked for some time to think about it overnight, and let her know the next day that I would prefer to wait until they finished their renovations. I guess that didn't go over well, as I was told I was welcome to apply again for exhibit space at a later date. I don't think I'll be applying again (I'm wondering why that would be necessary, as I had already been accepted?)  I still have space at the local library running from April 1st through May 31st.

I had mentioned in the aforementioned previous posting that my frame order had arrived, but the frames were poor quality and unusable. I received a replacement order in mid February, and unfortunately encountered the same problems. The company was very good to work with, and a full credit was received for the frames (just the frames, I was still able to use the other supplies from the, mats, backing, hanging wire). So here's where the good news comes in from the canceled exhibit....I had more time to figure out how to solve my frame problem since I didn't have an exhibit opening on February 24th. Every cloud has a silver lining. 

I did find a local frame maker who made the frames for me. It cost twice as much, but I have received them and they are beautifully made. Yay!  Most of my framing is now complete, with only two of fifteen left to frame. Another Yay!

The reprint of my exhibit guide arrived one week ago. I'm very happy with them! An exhibit guide is not a necessity now that I'm only showing at the library, but I'll figure out what to do with them. It was a great experience to put them together....I'll likely post about exhibit guides sometime soon.

Under advisement from a couple of experienced exhibitors, and due to lack of space at the library, I have decided to only show my photography and to leave out the story cloths (quilts) I worked on. They are part of the exhibit guide, so that will be enough for now.

I don't think I mentioned before that I created a comment book for the exhibit. In a blog post from December, I talked about getting the public involved. I have included their photographs and comments into this comment book, and there is lots of room left for anyone who sees the exhibit to leave their comments. Is there a need to have a custom made comment book? No, but I'm happy I created one!

Another good news story... four of the final images for this exhibit will be published in an upcoming issue of On Landscape magazine, a UK based online magazine.  The quality of photography they publish is top notch, and I am thrilled about this!

Despite some challenges in February, things have done a turnabout and are looking up. It's all sunshine and roses at the moment.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Flight of Fancy - Exhibit Wrap Up

Dart Gallery Newsletter Sara Harley
from the Dart Gallery's newsletter

My solo exhibit at the Dart Gallery in Dartmouth, NS is wrapping up. This six week show came as a bit of a surprise, and has been such a great experience.

Jane MacDougald, the owner of the gallery, has been encouraging me to have a solo exhibit for a while. It always just seemed too intimidating. Here's how it finally came to be...

In December 2019, I wrote a blog article called It Never Hurts to Ask. That led me to exhibiting my work at a restaurant, which was surprisingly a great source of sales until everything shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. When things shut down, my work got boxed up and sat in my garage for five months. Then the Dart Gallery sent out a call for art for their December show called Off the Wall, an opened theme exhibit. I submitted the images that I already had framed and all of them were accepted. When I dropped them off, Jane talked to me again about having a solo show.  So....some of them were shown at the group show, and many of them were held until January. I wasn't expecting much...who shops for art in January? But apparently lots of people do!

The show was mostly photographic art, with a few "real" photographs as well. Flight of Fancy celebrates my love of crows. In case you missed my 20 minutes of fame, click here to view my artist talk about the exhibit.

Sara Harley Artist Talk - Flight of Fancy at the Dart Gallery
Artist Talk - Flight of Fancy at the Dart Gallery
This series has been a watershed for my photography. It has given me the permission to play and create art, rather than just snapping a photograph. It has allowed me the freedom to making images that exist only in my imagination, brought to life by layering and combining many different photographs from my library and creating something new that no one else can reproduce. Although some photographers insist this isn't photography, and some artists say it's not art, it makes me happy and I try not to be concerned with the naysayers. 

It makes me happy that some people do love my work enough to buy it from a gallery and take it home. Here are some of the pieces that have sold:

Photographic Art Always by Sara Harley

Photographic Art Beach Bums by Sara Harley
Beach Bums
Photographic Art Emotional Refuge by Sara Harley
Emotional Refuge

Photographic Art Frozen by Sara Harley

Home for the Holidays

Photographic Art Out of Time by Sara Harley
Out of Time

Photographic Art Rest Stop by Sara Harley
Rest Stop

Photographic Art Savour by Sara Harley

Photographic Art Sunny Days by Sara Harley
Sunny Days

Photographic Art There Is No Greater Love by Sara Harley
There is no Greater Love

Friday, February 12, 2021

Exhibits - Selecting Images

Part 3: Selecting Images

I have briefly discussed image selection in a couple of updates about my upcoming Trailings exhibit, but I'll try to go into more detail here. I'm not an expert by any means, but writing about it seems to help me get things organized in my own mind.

Presumably, artists who create with paint or fabric or another medium would come up with a theme and then create their art following the theme. This might also happen in photography. But for a photographer who hasn't exhibited before, more often than not they will come up with a theme and then go through their photographs to fill out the exhibit.

I might argue that you should go through your photographs FIRST and then come up with a theme, but I didn't think about that when I was writing down my "Exhibit How To"

So...I think it's best at this point to use my own upcoming exhibit as an example. I knew my theme was "Trailings", photography inspired by walking the local trails. I had taken photographs for over one year and had accumulated over 3500 (maybe 4000) photos. Yikes. How do you organize that? 

There were obvious images to toss, and obvious images that I like more than others. I am a visual person and it helps me to actually see a collection together so I experimented in organizing the images into various books using an on demand printing company called Blurb

I tried organizing images by season, by subject matter (trees, fungi, water, leaves, reflections, etc), by style of photography (black & white, a series with white backgrounds, minimalist, etc) and just by a collection of images I liked. I had some up with a short list and asked family and a professional photographer for input. I wasn't happy with any of the combinations. 

What story was I trying to tell?

Well...I went back to a project summary that I had written when I applied for a grant, and re-read it many, many times. How did the photos I took relate to that? They didn't! That was why I wasn't satisfied with my various attempts at image selection.

Here are the first two paragraphs from my one page project summary:

Trailings creatively illustrates how trail walking can heal the mind, body, and spirit. Through observation, photographic documentation, and introspection, this project is designed to provide inspiration to others by exhibiting the project results.

Trailings strives to promote understanding of wellness through art and dialogue. Using photography and stitched art,the artist creates a visual representation of her healing journey.

My epiphany: I needed to find images that told a story of emotions.

My challenge: I wanted to accomplish this with a variety of subjects and seasons. Some summer, some winter, some water, some sky, some colour, some monochromatic...a variety.

I had printed hundreds of images, some of them pinned them to a large bulletin board. I took them all and sorted them into various piles on the floor. I sorted and resorted. I chose some images that weren't "pretty". I chose some that said "sad" to me, and some that said "happy". I believe I have pulled together a series that tells a story of emotions.

photos on the floor amidst the dog toys :)

I'm a little nervous about the exhibit, truth be told. Fingers crossed that my images convey the story I am trying to tell.

Previous Articles:

1. Selecting a theme - more difficult than it seems!

2. Applying for exhibit space - writing an exhibit statement

Monday, February 8, 2021

Palate Exhibit

image courtesy of Round Hill Studio
I am stretching my photographic wings a bit and was accepted for a group exhibit at a gallery in Annapolis Royal. This is my first time exhibiting at the Round Hill Studio. We had a wonderful day out a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed a day trip across the province with our son and daughter-in-law to deliver my pieces, have a leisurely lunch, and drive back.

Palate: Comfort Food in Art - Group Exhibit

Comfort food (definition ): Food that provides consolation or a feeling of well-being, typically any with a high sugar or other carbohydrate content and associated with childhood or home cooking.

Artists have answered the call to Palate: Comfort Food in Art. We have invited artists from across Canada to share their art inspired by food that provides nostalgic or sentimental value to them. We have a full offering of visually stimulating, art and stories inspired by food and memories associated with them. From photography, fibre art, found items and a myriad of paintings and drawings, Palate: Comfort Food in Art offers the audience a variety of yummy, aesthetically pleasing expressions.

If you'd like to see all the art in the exhibit, you can view them by clicking on this link: