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Follow, not Chase

I’m so impatient by nature. In February I created my online photo gallery, in March I ran some banner ads on Google and Yahoo, and I figured by now I’d have a thriving fine art business. I’d be featured in magazine articles about pursuing one’s real passions. My work would be displayed in prominent places. I’d be the poster child for breaking free creatively. I mean, really, it’s MAY already. Three months since I started.

I know, I know… it sounds ridiculous even as I write it. I guess there’s always a little flicker of hope that I’ll get “discovered” and catapult to overnight fame. But I realize that the real pride in accomplishing something like this, is being able to look back at the effort, the blood sweat and tears that went into the success.

My good friend and life coach Bruno LoGreco advised me to be conscious of  “following” my passion, versus “chasing” it. Very powerful concepts there. Subtle, too. I realize I’ve been chasing it.  Which makes each disappointment a setback, a failure, instead of what it should be–  scenery on the journey. No, I didn’t win the Frommers.com cover photo contest. Neither did a couple thousand other people who entered. And honestly, the winning photo really ROCKS. But man, I was so bummed. I felt like my big shot at fame, it could have been right there. Chasing… not following. I got “thanks but no thanks” responses from a few firms that purchase art for corporate clients. Crushed! Again, chasing, not following.

In a short period of time, I’ve allowed this pursuit to become about selling pictures, rather that the original pure concept of creating art for art’s sake, of capturing images that say “wow” to me– and follow where that goes. And so I’m getting back on the path, following the butterfly without trying to capture it. (except maybe on film…)

What keeps you creatively inspired? How do you handle “rejection” of something so personal as your artwork? I’m interested in thoughts from those who’ve followed their paths.

Developing Your Photographic Style.

Quite a Nor’easter last weekend.  (“Nor’easter“– I love that word, it makes me feel like New England.) Power outages, downed trees, damaged homes and cars. Considering that we escaped relatively unscathed, I really can’t complain. But I will anyway.

We lost electricity around 4:00 p.m. on Saturday… as I was cooking for dinner guests. I had practically a side of corned beef jammed into a huge stock pot, with two hours cooking time left. I finished it by flashlight as the night closed in. Dinner by candlelight seemed appealing until I connected the dots… no power = no well pump = no running water = no flushing toilets = very awkward dinner party.

Our guests chose wisely and agreed to host at their place. So we packed up a ton of corned beef-n-cabbage and made our way through the deluge of water and falling tree branches. The rest of that evening is your typical get-wasted-with good friends-and-pig-out story. Our 10 year old daughter also made a wise choice and decided to sleep over with our friends, while hubby and I went back to the cold, dark homestead to snuggle with the dog.

Sunday morning, no power, no shower. Electric company predicting 2 – 3 days outage. Hung over and stinky, we dragged our asses out in the pouring rain to nab a hotel room before they were all gone, dropped the dog off at the kennel, retrieved our child, went back home to pack, got breakfast, and then headed back to the hotel. (The soundtrack to this section would be called “Bedraggled, Annoyed, and Tired.”) And then there was… just hanging out all day in a small room with a bored kid. I was crawling the walls, staring out the large plate glass window, when I noticed it. Just like that, a fabulous shot dropped right into my lap. Boom boom pow!

There’s some pithy moral to this story, and let’s see if I can pull it out. “When life gives you darkness, make corned beef?”  Ummm, no….. “When life gives you a power outage, get your ass to a hotel?” Maybe…. but I really think it’s “When you quit ‘yer damned complaining, you might just notice something beautiful.” Yup, something like that.

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Extreme Closeup

Stormy WeatherIf you could go anywhere in the world and photograph anything you want, what would it be? Quite a dilemma, and one I face right now. I have time-limited amazing offer to take a junket with my camera. As an art photographer, I’m drawn to geometry, texture, and beauty. Any yet when faced with this choice, my brain strobe keeps flashing images of me in some remote village in (insert name of impoverished country here) working to improve their situation and shooting a photo diary of the experience. The thought is both exhilarating and, if I’m honest, somewhat embarrassing. Photojournalism can rally compassion by bringing us visual, visceral  connections to others’ realities. But when does it cross the line into voyeurism? How does one go into a village of not-shiny not-happy people and say “cheese”? The line between altruism and exploitation is fuzzy here. I’m interested in your thoughts.

Do Men and Women Take Different Photos? | Photography – PopPhoto.com Offers Camera Reviews and Exclusive Photo Tips

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Cut Off My Ear?

Vincent Van Gogh had it made. Act all freakin’ crazy, cut off your ear, get committed to an asylum, and then paint like a mo’fo. He wasn’t worried about selling his art– heck, it never occurred to him. He painted for the sake of the art, for self-expression, and just because he just HAD to. Passion, pure and simple.

OK, so I’m oversimplifying, and as for poor VVG, the guy led a tortured life. I’d like to skip the asylum and missing ear part. I’d also like to sell my art before I die.

But as I get into the marketing side of my photography, I’m learning that creating great art isn’t even a start. There’s so much to learn about online selling… banner ads, cost-per-click, bounce rates, email opt-in, social networking… aaaargh! And that’s just the web stuff.

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WTF is Dodge & Burn?

So, about the name of this blog…  let’s ask the smart people at Wikipedia–

Dodging and burning are techniques used during the photographic printing process to manipulate the  exposure of a selected area(s). Dodging decreases the exposure for areas of the print that the photographer wishes to be lighter, while Burning increases the exposure to areas of the print that should be darker.

Yes, Virginia, there is a method to my madness.  I wanted a name to symbolize the life journey upon which I embark. My initial foray is commercializing my art photography, and well, there you go. Trust me, all the obvious names like “Point and Shoot” and “Extreme Closeup” were taken. But this one, Dodge & Burn, well I kinda like that. Manipulating the exposure of selected areas. Keeping the basic concept intact, while making some areas more prominent, and having some fade to black. Now tell me THAT’s not deep and symbolic. Are you feeling it?

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