Business of Photography

This weekend I attended the I am an Artist workshop at Photo Center NW, a class focusing on the business of being an artist. The course was instructed by Mirium Works, a local businesswoman and artist. We covered such practical information as what an artist resume looks like, how to set up a website, and where to find opportunities for displaying and funding our art work. We talked about our goals, created an “elevator speech”, and laid out time lines for moving forward. The weekend culminated with a networking event where we each showed 10 of our images and spoke about our current projects.

The class was made up of 6 ladies, including myself. One woman’s focus was the darkroom, making beautiful black and white prints. She enjoys her career as an accountant, and sees photography as something to do on the side. After completing the course her goal has become to set up her own website, so others can enjoy her work, too!

Another photographer takes portraits of the kids she works with at a daycare. She recently shot her first wedding, and is booked for another this fall. She is also interested in archiving her photographs. He work reminded me of Alec Soth, maybe because a lot of her pictures were shot in the northeastern US using diffused light. They had a quality of fleeting history, moments that become special because they were captured on film.

We had a photographer who simply loved to shoot. She would shoot anything, and didn’t care if she got paid. Her images were of very unusual angles, and all very balanced. I would love to have those kinds of edges in my photographs- where nothing is ever cut off and the subject has just enough room. Unfortunately, she is afraid to take herself seriously because of some major technical blunders in her past. We encouraged her to check out The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. Hopefully she does, because the community needs her!

There was an older woman who lives in Sitka, Alaska. Her and her husband snowbird in Seattle. She is on career number three, and has experience running a small business. Her images were of fishing, Alaskan wildlife, and her travels. She brought her business expertise to the table; such as making sure you know your market. Once you have your target audience figured out, how to sell your product will become more clear.

The networking expert of the group was new to PCNW. She had recently quite her day job and was going to back to school to give photography a real chance. Also, recently married she was able to give insight in what people are looking for when they are choosing a wedding photographer.

My claim to fame in the class was writing the perfect artist statement. Miriam told me I was a “very good writer”. Over the last few months I have been coming back to the idea of making writing part of my storytelling process. This workshop has made me think about how I want to incorporate writing into my work.

We built up a lot of momentum over the weekend talking about our goals, and getting ideas of where to take the next steps. I hope that we can stay in touch, to inspire and hold each other accountable. One of the most important things I took away from this weekend is that the artists are they key to the art world. If you are surrounded and inspired by your peers, you have the opportunity to go far.

Tor Challenge Complete

The Tor Challenge has opened me up to my photographic fears and preferences. I now see fears as that, and feel more capable of photographic challenges. I still have my favorite things to photograph- food people and abstract. Yet, how I approach them is changing. The challenge was most important in giving me a reason to try new things. It was also an excuse to make photographs everyday, something I wasn’t making enough time for. The Tor Challenge gave me the excuse to take my camera, when before I would have just left it at home.

I think the thing that made the Challenge effective was the writing down of goals. Making a list of things that need to be photographed made it much easier for me to make photographs. I love cupcakes; they are cute, sweet and edible. If I want to be taken seriously as a food and desserts photographer I should have pictures of these delicious pastries in my portfolio. Because one of the assignments in the Challenge was to photograph cupcakes I now have some images, as well as ideas for where to go next time I shoot cupcakes.

I also found that I don’t really want to be taking photographs everyday. The process of going through my images, and editing the ones I like gives me the same adreniline rush and fills my creative needs. While I have found it important to be taking a lot of images, it is the working with those images that really completes the creative process.

Aurora: Summer’s End

Ish and I drove up to Aurora last week to take pictures. I love shooting with Ish because she makes her subjects feel so comfortable. I feed off her energy, as the subjects let their guard down to her I am able to take advantage and open up myself. I talk to people I never would have approached, making street photographs I would have felt to shy to create on my own.

Our first stop was the Way West. We had talked about going there last time, and as the sign approached I pulled in. We were looking for Drunk Dave, whom we had met back in 2009 during the Aurora Motels class where this whole project was started. Dave was no longer there, but we did see another man we had met years before. He was originally from Los Angeles, but had been living in Washington for many years. He told us about his crazy neighbors beating up on their girlfriends, over-dosing on crack, and killing each other. Apartment #11 was cursed. It wouldn’t matter if you tore the whole building down and started over, the curse would still be in that same spot.

Paper Art

A new neighbor came out to visit, giving our friend a sponge. “I bought a pack of 3, you can have one,” she told him. “He-she” he called her. She wore a bright blue skirt showing off her little bird legs. She was also from California, and told us a crazy story about driving old cars drunk off her ass. The conversation slowly turned to the weather, and the “he-she” went inside to have a beer.

For images of our friends at the Way West visit Ish’s blog at Ish’s Street.

As we climbed back into the car we spotted this beautiful beast sitting in the windowsill. I love cats, and totally flipped out! I started talking to the kitty, telling it how beautiful it was and in the process scarring Ish just a little.

Kitty Cat!

After shooting and chatting at the Way West, we made our way up the road in search of a soda. Wondering around the front of Aurora Family Market we came upon the Fremont Fellowship. An AA group that holds meetings there regularly. A meeting was going on inside, but there was a small group outside chatting, smoking and snacking. They were happy to have their pictures taken! Except maybe that guy in the stripped shirt. I think he has that look on his face at all times. He was giving us the evil eyes earlier when were were in the back parking lot shooting pictures of the building. I usually don’t like to photograph people who don’t want to be photographed. He, however, is an exception.

Fremont Fellowship

The woman photographed here has been sober 30 years. She goes to meetings every day, her sobriety is too important to compromise. She wasn’t going into the meeting today because the man leading the meeting had gotten a young woman drunk and taken advantage of her. Her foster father had taken advantage of her, and she wouldn’t support someone in that kind of behavior. She stayed outside the Fremont Fellowship eating a muffin and danish. We got to chatting about her jewelry, and she opened up her collection to show me some of the pieces she had made.

Icicle Earrings

As we were getting ready to leave she let her hair down. She told me she was 63 years old, but looked so young because natives keep their hair color.

We drove on, exchanging stories about our respective house guests. As we neared Shoreline I turned the car around. We were quickly loosing light, and I was starting to get hungry. “The Scooby-Doo van!” Ish squealed. I pulled over in front of a fire hydrant and Ish ran out to inspect the van. Turns out the Scooby-Doo van housed a very large running generator that was hooked up to the trailer parked in front of it. A prostitute walked by, and noticed our cameras. “Getting pictures of real life?” She asked. Her face was bloated and discolored, like a living dead. “We are fascinated by this generator!” I told her. “The guy who lives there is real nice,” she explained. A voice came from inside the trailer. “Looks like he’s home, ask him yourself,” and she walked on.

Attitudes are the real Disability, so true!

And he was a nice guy! Mr. Gray Cloud. He has lived on Aurora for the past 12 years, moving his trailer and van every few days in order to comply with the city laws about squatting. During the night, when no cars are around he backs his rig up the street to avoid getting a ticket. He has a great view of Mount Rainier, as well as the Seattle skyline. Originally from Shoreline, he has lived all over the United States. He visits his mom regularly at her home along the Hood Canal, helping her with yard work and house chores.

Our last stop before the light totally faded was to the Georgian Motel. I wanted to get a picture of the giant plant exploding through the window. When our class first started that window was in one piece. A few weeks in a bullet was shot through the glass. We all thought it very sad, since the community at the Georgian was so nice. We were invited to more than one BBQ in their parking lot, cooking hot dogs and marshmallows, drinking soda… Over the years the hole in the glass has grown, as has the large house plant in the lobby. This summer the plant has finally broken through the glass. I wonder who will win this battle, how far will the plant grow into the street with winter on the way???

Giant Plant

Week 3 Tor Challenge

This week has been challenging. I had a vision of what my Couples project would look like. I was imagining taking the same approach with the project, as I had the last two weeks. I wanted to go and photograph a couple in their daily life, no posing, just a document of that couple.

My first choice couple was my friend Oahn and her boyfriend Marco. Oanh is a friend from work; she is a server assistant at the Georgian Room where I serve. She is probably the smartest, and wittiest person there. She is the type of person that only needs to be shown something once, and she remembers it and performs it perfectly there after. Oanh keeps herself very busy, working full time at the Georgian Room as well as selling life insurance on the side. There wasn’t a time she had free for having her glamour shot this week.

On Thursday my mom and I took Justin down to Olympia to show him the Evergreen State College. In the car ride down mom asked me how the project was going. I explained that I was discouraged, I didn’t want to think about what angle I would take to complete the assignment. That’s when she suggested I just shoot pictures of random couples I saw out in public.

I hadn’t even thought about photographing people I didn’t know. As some of you may know, this idea is very scary to me! Strangers!!! I managed to take my camera out one night and snapped a few shots. One of the couples I got permission from, the other I just shot. I enjoyed the later much better. I was surprised that they didn’t notice me taking their picture. The over all experience defiantly wet my appetite… I look forward to documenting more couples in Seattle….

The main focus of this assignment became my best friend Gabby, and our friend Dan. Dan and Gabby have a long history together. Dan actually introduced Justin and I, back when I was the third wheel to him and Gabby. I was hesitant to use them for the Couples assignment because they are not officially a couple any more. Their continued connection and chemistry made me reconsider when shooting them for the assignment. Dan and Gabby have a natural spark together; you can see they truly care about each other and are great friends.

This assignment made me think about the different relationships couples have. In my final edit there are the images of Dan and Gabby- two great friends who are also lovers. There is a pregnant couple who are not wearing rings- the father looks so proud as he plays dominoes with his lover. The pretty young nurse with her husband, with their matching tattoos. My Chinese friend Yi with her husband of 20 years, watching as their 5 year old climbs the fence. Romance and love come in so many forms, it was fun to document a few of the ways.