Sunday, December 28, 2008

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime

“They used to tell me I was building a dream, and so I followed the mob, When there was earth to plow, or guns to bear, I was always there right on the job. They used to tell me I was building a dream, with peace and glory ahead, why should I be standing in line, just waiting for bread?” ~ lyrics by Yip Harburg, music by Jay Gorney (1931)

As the beginning of a new year approaches the world slides deeper into economic chaos and December 21st 2012, end of the Mayan calendar looms four years away. The United States has their first black President while the nation contends with wars and threats abroad. What lies ahead is anyone’s guess; the future could hold a year of great expansion or dire consequence.

Business owners and executives will be facing some of the biggest challenges in the coming year as ever before. New markets and industries will emerge as others shrink or vanish entirely. Those who are creative and flexible may be poised for the greatest success as others with old or rigid ideals may end up “just waiting for bread.”

Be diverse, expand the products or services you offer, consider joint ventures that can showcase your brand with other businesses that compliment your own. Collaborate on resources, networks, information and tools that can benefit your partners and associates as well as you. Do not depend on the same widget product or market approach that has been used for years, be prepared to rethink, redesign or upgrade.

Keep things focused and know what your goals are, projects or ideas can take on a life of their own. Overcome and move on, be careful that concepts, details or disagreements don’t overwhelm you and become projects of their own. It is easy to get side tracked or distracted by sub-projects and “great ideas,” don’t allow numerous possibilities to keep you from finishing one.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

White Christmas; Photographs from Vancouver, WA, winter storm 2008.

While a snowstorm can cause head aches and sore backs it can also bring some wonderful winter images. Braving the chill I took a short walk around our neighborhood snapping a few photographs along the way, from near to far the world was covered in white.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Visit With A Friend

Recently, my wife and I scheduled a photo session with Tony, a friend of ours. Initially we planned on doing a kitchen set with food preparation images, since Tony was a chef years ago. We arrived, bags and cases full of lights, umbrellas, cameras and meters, eager and ready to get some great food shots. We had been discussing the possibilities of peppers and other vegetables that had been recently harvested from his backyard garden. Beautiful colorful food, clean prep shots, chopping and dicing, the potential was exciting.

Barely awake, Tony invited us in. It was morning and there was a slight chill in the house. We got to the kitchen and set down our equipment as Tony quickly passed out steaming hot cups of rich coffee.

“Let me get a cup down, and I’ll get a fire going to warm up the place.” We moved to the living room, Tony in front of the fireplace, slowly sipping coffee and clearing the pit. The conversation was jovial, good friends catching up on the past week’s events. This was a shoot for our stock portfolios and we set aside the entire day for the visit. We sipped at our coffee over the next half hour, then Tony grabbed his boots, jacket and gloves, and went outside to grab some wood. He came back, arms full, and started stacking them into the fireplace. Then he grabbed a small hatchet and split off a few pieces for kindling. As the fire started to spread, he sat back on the hearth and sighed, contented. I cannot remember what our conversation had been about, but looking up from my steaming mug, I knew there would be no food in the pictures we shot today.

“What’s up?” Tony looked confused as I went to the kitchen for my equipment and started setting up my light stand. My wife giggled and said, “I think he’s inspired! Just keep talking and pretend he’s not here.” I grinned as I pulled the lens cover off of my camera.

Our cups were emptied and filled several times, the conversation continued as the fire burned brightly. Morning faded to afternoon as I held my camera and snapped off shot after shot. We all had a great visit and the images that were created captured moments in time that are very real. The reflected emotions and thought in a man’s face carry far more impact than the commercial-style session we had planned.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Brush and Canvas to Drag and Drop (Old School to New School)

Once upon a time, before the age of Photoshop and Illustrator, photographs were taken on film and developed in a darkroom, designs drawn on a sketch pad and the whole mess came together taped to some editors art board. There is and always will be a conflict between tradition and innovation. I can imagine how hard it must have been for the inventor of the pen to convince a population of quill users how wonderful and useful this strange new, unproven, device would be.

My first formal training was in High School, about 25 years ago. I took Art, Drafting and Photography. This was a natural choice since I had been sketching and painting almost obsessively for as long as I can remember. My teachers, both masters and freelance professionals in their fields, took an interest in me and I was soon stumbling along after them as an assistant from fashion shoot to Designers studios. For the next three years I followed my mentors on every job and assignment I could.

From the master photographer I learned how to take photographs on a variety of manual film cameras. Trained to develop those images in a dark room and perform techniques like dodging and burning and masking, old school. My mentor explained every philosophy and technique he could, often referencing detailed outdated methods we ourselves never used.

From the artist and designer I learned to appreciate Da Vinci, Van Gogh and Warhol while painting signs, creating P.O.P. displays and designing “Wine of the Month” circulars. Schooled in pre-press paste up board layouts and photo plate printing while I painted with pallet, brush and canvas.

Today I shoot on an Olympus D.S.L.R., manual mode with all the bells and whistles turned off in RAW format. The photographs are processed in my computer darkroom with only the slightest tone or exposure adjustment, and saved in the proper format and manner for its intended use. My illustrations sketched out on paper, scanned and redrawn in illustrator creating the sharp clean lines needed for the commercial market. I still sketch on paper, paint with brush and canvas and airbrush creations on a variety of mediums.

Creation and the Creative Process should be about respecting and appreciating the classics, those who have traveled before us. Explore and embrace the new, find the style of expression that fits the Artist that you are. Develop your own methods in the mediums that suit you. Find your place and grow!