Friday, March 27, 2009

New Book - Fluidity

Sometimes it takes time away from something to realize just what you have. A poet once said "Absence makes the heart grow fonder", he or she was talking about love and a relationship but I think it is sometimes the same with art. Whether it's your own collection of artwork that you have purchased or the work you produce yourself, sometimes you just need to get away from it to appreciate exactly what you have.
Thus is the case with my new book, "Fluidity, the strength and beauty of dance".
In November 2007, I had the opportunity to photograph Jackie Starner who was studying dance in Muhlenberg college. When the shoot started I was trying to pose her as she posed for a figure drawing workshop a few weeks early. This really didn't work, so I told her to just dance. Using my typical black background as a blank canvas, Jackie glided through this space with grace, beauty and strength all for my eye to soak in. I photographed over 400 images that day all in a span of about 90 minutes. Anyone who knows me, knows that about 90 minutes is about all I can do before I just get a bit tired of shooting.
So the next day I looked at the images and pulled out one shot that jumped out to me. I printed and framed it and actually had it in an exhibition. I then proceeded to forget about the shoot and got on with other things.
It wasn't until late in February that I was cleaning out my hard drive in my computer, archiving images to make room for new ones when I rediscovered this shoot. As I looked through them, now with fresh eyes, I realized how beautiful the strength of Jackie's poses actually were. It seems I missed the subtle muscle tone that softly let light slide from light to dark along her back. I missed the subtleties of her poses and the emotion they showed. I just missed it, I mean I shot it, but I really didn't see what I had actually shot.
Sometimes you really get too close to a thing and have to step back, take a second look and actually "see" what is there.
"Fluidity" represents not just Jackie doing what she loves to do, dance, but also represents to me at least, that sometimes we really don't see what is right in front of our eyes. Whether in art, or a relationship, we all sometimes take for granted the beauty that is right in front of us, if we would only pay attention and really look.

"Fluidity" can be found on

Monday, March 23, 2009

You know your getting old when...

My post today really isn't about art, it's about getting older. It's something that we can't avoid and is inevitable. Even thought all the commercial enterprises that sell all the creams, potions and pills think otherwise, we all will get old. Personally I don't really mind it and normally don't think about it much.
In just under 2 weeks I am turning 47 and besides the aches in the morning, a couple of medications I take daily and having to read a restaurant menu at arms length, I feel pretty good about it. But this weekend I actually felt old.
I have to preface this by saying I love my friends. My wife and I are lucky to have close friends who are not judgmental, who are warm, intelligent, creative and fun. The kind of people you want to be around.
We went to a dinner Saturday night and were happy to be getting together with them. Good food, good wine and wonderful company is always a great way to spend the evening especially with this group. But for part of the night, the conversation was about things I had no frame of reference to, no concept of what it was, why it was interesting or why it was funny. There was a lot of talk about gaming and "cons" that I really am not sure what the appeal is but I am happy that my friends are into it. Then as they were talking I was just thinking that my 16 year old son would love this conversation. The "Old Button" was hit.
There were spoofs on Star Wars, that they played on a laptop that everyone thought was really funny, except me. All I could think about was how I saw it opening weekend back in the 1977. I was in high school. I think most of our friends have only seen it on video or the new released version. Again, the "OLD Button" was hit.
Even though I was born really before computers and calculators were household items, I really am not that old, but for some reason for the first time I really felt it. I felt the age gap widening. It's no ones fault, and I guess it's a natural progression, but it really seems that the progression is speeding up. I now have my "cheater" glasses at my studio, my house, and in my purse. (Yes, I carry a man purse).
In my professional life, I am constantly hit with the age gap and I am used to it. I photograph models who are my daughter's age, who think that a Playstation game system is "retro" and who really can't tell you what band Paul McCartney was in before now. But again, I expect this and this really never bothers me, in fact it really is humorous. Last weekend wasn't so humorous, it left me thinking about the past and about what have I done with my life. Your middle aged and still trying to figure out what to do when you grow up.
I love my friends and am very thankful that I have them, I am just scared that the gap is widening and I just might fall in.
Luckily I have a wife who is very close to my age and who understands that sitting on a porch with a bottle of wine, me painting or shooting, her knitting, is a really nice way to spend an afternoon. And we'll get them up on the porch with us... sooner than they think.

Post script: If your curious about the image, it was one of my first photos exhibited. I shot it on film and developed it myself in 1982, 27 years ago. I think it is actually older than a few of my friends!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Economic Hard Times Hits Art World

Last Sunday my wife and I were watching "Sunday Morning" a informational program on CBS that touches on news, human interest stores, some sports and the arts. I was struck by a story they reported about Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. It seems because of a huge deficit and the current economic issues that are shaking everyone Brandeis University was thinking about closing its Rose Art Museum and sell off their collection that includes work by such contemporary masters as Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol. It seems that when any school or university be it a local municipal school board or a major university, have a budget crisis, the arts are always the first to go.
“Clearly, what’s happening with Brandeis now is that they decided the easiest way is to look around the campus and find things that can be capitalized,” said David Robertson, a Northwestern University professor who is president of the Association of College and Univertsity Museums and Galleries. “It’s always art that goes first.”

When my daughter started college she attended the University of Florida, a school famous for "Gator Aid". So when I saw the huge football stadium, next to the huge basketball stadium, which was across the road from the baseball stadium, I wasn't that surprised. They are known for their sports and yes sports revenues for a college can be quite hefty as are the salaries in which they pay their coaches. There are over a dozen college football coaches making over $1 Million dollars a year. College Football Compensation Even colleges with these huge sports programs are looking to the arts to cut first before they even think about denting the huge budgets they have allotted their sports programs. Now Brandeis does not have a huge football program, but why would it look to sell of it's wonderful collection of art to balance their budget. The reason I fear is that art isn't important, it isn't needed, it's a luxury. The dean of the collage doesn't see the invaluable resource that they have. The arts are always the first thing that is cut. They are cut from the school curriculum so that some art teachers don't even have a classroom, just a cart they roll around. They are cut from states and federal budgets seriously decreasing the funding that is so needed, and art spending is cut or non-existent in personal budgets. To most people purchasing original art is not even something they think about let alone budget for.
Without art, what do we have. When things get tough, a performance, concert or gallery is a great place to reconnect, a place to have your spirits lifted. Try to imagine a world without art. It's not a pretty place. I know times are tough, I have a hard time producing art let alone selling any, but we can't looking to the arts as the first place to cut to balance a budget. We need to promote, encourage and protect the arts because without them, we really have nothing.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Photographer & the Model

There are many things that effect the outcome of a solid art photograph but nothing more directly than the model. Whether it's an artistic image where I am trying to portray a specific feeling, or a commercial image where the model becomes the "face" of the product, the model can really make or break the shoot. A good model is one who trusts the photographer's eye but can also bring some life to the photographer's vision. This might sound like a DUH moment, but the model is so much more important than a lot of photographers want to admit. I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with hundred's of models from amateur to professional and have really only had a hand full totally not be in sync with my vision. On the other hand, the correct model has been able to transform the scribbles in my sketch book and add life and emotion to them.
There are times,especially when dealing with new model's that a shoot never occurs because well they just don't show up. That is kind of the reason I am writing my blog today. A shoot was schedule for a commercial client and the models got back to us at the last minute saying they couldn't make it. So not only do I have an upset client, but I am out money and time that I can't get back. I really wish that more of these "new" faces really take this seriously and realize what is at stake. being a professional photographer, I rely on serious professional model's to help my ideas take flight.
Anyone interested in modeling? drop me a line, I am ALWAYS looking for new people.

Thursday, March 5, 2009