365

http://www.flickr.com/vit-photo

It has been a while since my last post. I’ve been busy, very busy. That sounds like a typical excuse. At the same time it is an explanation too. I’ve had several art fairs which turned out very successful, more successful than I expected. Just like the last year I was not prepared enough for success and had to actively print, varnish, stretch, mount, frame, in between art fairs. Then I tried to catch up on photographic opportunities of the summer that was quickly running away. Now I’m trying to catch up on post-processing of those images, while preparing for the fall season of art fairs. How’s that for explanation? Not enough? Well, I’ve also update my website, both the look and the content. And I started a couple of new projects – and that’s what I want to talk about.

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365 – that’s how many days in a year, in a typical year. Among photographers Project 365 also refers to a photographer’s personal project where he/she makes one photograph every day for a year. That’s what I started to do.

I don’t adhere to the strict rules of Project 365. I’ve relaxed them for myself a little bit to make it more enjoyable. I don’t force myself to post a new image every day. Sometimes I have bad days when I don’t feel like making a photo. And then there are good days when I post more than one. All the images are taking with my smartphone and posted directly from it without post-processing. See, I’m trying to make it simple for myself.

It is a good [almost] daily exercise. Just like athletes need to flex their muscles every day I need to flex my creativity. It has been both enjoyable and beneficial for me. My daily world now has a lot of images in it. I see more and more images along the path which I’ve worked thousands times before. The world is now filled with lines texture, shapes, patterns and colors.

I hope that it will last longer than a year. So, rather than referring to it as Project 365 I refer to it as “Daily Impressions”. I don’t seek fame and glory with it but some of you may find it entertaining.

Enough talk. Here is the link: http://www.flickr.com/vit-photo. (Finally, I found some use for my Flickr account which was sitting untouched for ages.) Oh, well, I’ve copied the link to beginning of the post for those who won’t read all my scribbling. 🙂 And you don’t have to remember it. It is on my website under “Social”.

Magic of a Print

The Bellevue art fair is behind me now. Thanks to everyone who stopped by, said hi, bought some or ordered. Thanks to you it has been very successful for me. Now I have a lot of orders and a lot of new prints to make – and I enjoyed it very much.

There is some magic in a print slowly coming out of a printer, another world appearing out of thin air. I’m wondering if it is the main reason why I do my own printing: to see it happening.

Next is varnishing. That’s pouring milky acrylic on the print and spreading it equally to the whole print. This make the print foggy, it hides it again from this world. I typically do this at night, so it can dry over night. When acrylic dries out it becomes transparent and the image becomes crisp, contrasty and full of color.

The first thing I do when I wake up is to go see the print – my baby. This is how it is going to look. There is still stretching, mounting, framing ahead but that won’t change the look of the image.

What’s left is to do stretching or mounting and then framing.

And that’s what I’m going to do for the next two weeks. Thanks to all who bought or ordered prints for giving me such an opportunity.

Photographic Style

There is certain set of topics that popular on photographic blogs. Style is one of them: what it is, how to get your own style, etc.

I typically stay away from repeating what has been said already but I have something to add to a conversation about photographic style. I’ve seen a style is often being confused with consistent look, subject or concept.

I can make my images look certain way and say that is my style. Think of Instagram and applying the same filter or set of filters to all your images, or making only HDR, tin type, etc. Can it be my style style? What make it mine?

Once, I remember, I asked a fellow photographer what kind of photography he does and his response was "I do HDR photography". I thought it was an odd way to define your own photography. HDR is just a tool, a software. Defining yourself as HDR photographer is like saying I’m feeding images into this tool and like all that comes out on the other end.

Let’s say I found my own secret recipe to make my photos look unique. Well, it will be unique just for a short while before someone figures out how to reproduce it. Second, I refuse to believe that the sole purpose of a photographer is to feed images into a tool that produces consistent look and the same look can look good on all photos.

Next thing that is often misinterpreted as style is concept, an idea that is implemented in all photos, a subject or set of subjects photographed in a certain way. For example, photos of Lego figurines repeating compositions of famous photos. Or photographing monkeys with interpreted-by-people-as-smile expressions on their faces. Or light painting.

Can the concept be your style? I feel it is much closer to style than image look itself. I’ve seen some amazing photos of water drops with interesting lighting that produced surrealistic images. Concept can be certainly more unique and harder to reproduce than look alone.

The danger though is in getting stuck with one concept and becoming repetitive. There is also a risk of focusing too much on concept and forgetting about other aspects of photography. For example, you’ve come up with a concept of photographing certain subject in a landscape. Make sure that it is a decent landscape, horizon is leveled and light is good.

Somewhat close to concept consistent subject is sometimes referred to as style. Let’s say I photograph only flowers, or waterfalls, or sunsets and call it my style. Same question comes to mind – how this can be my style, what makes it mine? Many other photographers might be photographing exactly the same subject.

So if we put consistent look, subject or concept aside what is left to define style? Style is my unique perception of the world I photograph. There is something ephemeral about images that is common thru all the photos and reveal photographer’s soul. It exposes my personality. It is self expression.

I struggled for a long time to have a style, just like many other photographers did, until someone else defined it for me. After looking at my images that person said that they all look “dreamy like fairy-tale”. That’s exactly how I feel when photographing and it comes thru in my photos.

Now a few years later I realized that the reason I’ve struggled to find my style was that I was looking for the wrong things. I don’t have consistent look, subject or concept. I like to experiment, try something new. Photographing the same makes me bored. It puts my mind in an artificial box and my mind starts a rebellion.

If you struggle to find your style, feel unhappy about what you photograph, may be you should try something new. Maybe you’ve put yourself in an artificial box while your style is outside of that box?

Strawberry and Art

Random line of thought…

Why don’t I print some of my images on glossy paper? I’d like to make some of my work on a glossy surface. Some of the images would look great on super glossy paper face mounted to plexiglass. Way too expensive to make. Nobody will buy at that price. Average consumer buys good enough at the lowest price.

Stop. This line of thought reminds me another one I had a while ago…

Why there is no good strawberry in grocery stores? Good one is much harder to grow, transport and perishes quickly. It would cost much higher. The average consumer hunts for a best price for a good enough product. What used to be good enough yesterday, becomes a base line today and good enough can be lowered further. In the end all we are left with is strawberry that does not smell like strawberry, does not taste like strawberry and looks as if it is made of plastic. And it keeps that look for many, many days…

Art Fair: My Experience

This year I tried something new – selling canvases with my photographs at art fairs. I’ve been to two art fairs: Kirkland Uncorked and 6th Street in Bellevue. A few weeks passed since the last one. I had time to recover and reflect on this new for me experience.

The Most Important Takeaway

The most important takeaway – my audience. I found more people who like my work and keep in touch with me. Talking to people gave me insights and unusual perspectives on my photography.

Thanks to all who stopped by my booth on either of the art fairs, talked to me, purchased my work – you’re my audience and I love you all.

The Best Encouragement

I got encouraging response to my photo impressionism work. This was very surprising. This is something that I like to do a lot and at the same time I thought people would not accept. Well, I was wrong, people loved it.

The Best Moment

When someone passing by would suddenly freeze seeing my work and in a few seconds after catching a breath slowly say “wow!”.

The Worst Moment

Pouring rain on the first day of the art fair in Kirkland. Everyone simple disappeared from art fair. Staying alone in a booth without anyone even passing by is the worst.

The Funniest Moment

When a woman passing by saw my photo with a boat Stillness and said “I love this image but I’m done with color blue”. Should I have offered it to her in some other color?

Kirkland Uncorked

Last month I have been extremely busy printing a lot of my images preparing for Kirkland Uncorked – an art fair in downtown Kirkland. The art fair is at the end of this week July 15-17.

50 canvases are ready to be hung. Today we did a “dry run” of the art fair. We’ve raised the tent, assembled grid walls, hung a few canvases.

Below is the result of the test. It will be even prettier at the art fair. I hope to see some of you there. I’ll post booth number and location once I have it.

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Naïve and Romantic

Recently I got a link to a somewhat interesting article Preparation In Fine Art Landscape Photography. While I found it interesting (I do myself lots of the things listed in the article and find them useful), at the same time I thought it is too simplistic and pragmatic.

The most important thing I do in the field is missing from the article’s list: connecting with a landscape. Before I even take my camera out of a bag I spend time observing landscape that surround me – from tiny flowers to tall mountains to high sky up above. What’s interesting in it, how do I feel about it, is it a happy place or a sad place, is it powerful or weak? I spend as much time as I need to feel the things that surround me, walking around or simply sitting. I may even close my eyes and focus on scents or sounds of birds singing or waves crashing onto the shore. Can you imagine that – a photographer with his eyes closed?

Call me naïve and romantic – because quite frankly that who I am – but when I photograph I don’t follow any specific list of steps, I follow my emotions.

Two Trees on a Hill at Sunset
Two Trees on a Hill at Sunset