Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Four Cliches

This lesson is especially important if you are an equine photographer and you are hoping to take your work beyond the commercial and into Fine Art. So take note! There are four image subject matter that have been done to death. All of them make for lovely greeting cards, calenders and posters to be sold to pre-teen horse obsessed girls. But if you are thinking of entering your work in a Fine Art competition or heading with it to a substantial gallery, you had better be sure that your rendition of these are so very different than everything everyone else has done. They'd better be remarkable!

1 - Eye Shots. Yes, we know how beautiful and liquid a horses eye is. We know how they can reflect the landscape if shot just right. We know that they are the "windows to the soul". We have even seen more than enough shots with that as the title.

2 - Mare and Foal Shots also grouped with Foal in Field of Flowers - The "awww" factor aside, I have rarely seen one that is truly more than cute. And cute - a fine art photo does not make.

3 - Cowboy Silhouette with Sunset - I can hear the theme song to Bonanza in my head....but I have rarely if ever thought "art" when seeing one of these.

The newest addition to the cliche category comes right from the headlines. And I am wholly supportive of all of the wonderful photographers who are using their images to influence the anti-Wild horse roundup efforts. But......

4 - Wild Horses Running Free or Wild Stallions Fighting or the ubiquitous Wild Horse with Blowing Mane shot does not automatically make it a Fine Art image! Good politics must learn to separate the surface emotion enough from a photograph to understand if it makes for a shot that can stand on it's own without the sentiment of politics. Fierce Grace by Tony Stromberg and many of the shots by Dutesco do....but very few that have been done since. They make for beautiful and important photographs, but they are not art.

Any subject that gets over done, loses it's impact and becomes a huge challenge to those trying to create art from it. That does not mean that it is not possible to do. But it does mean that very, very few will be able to do it in a unique enough way to capture the attention of the savvy Fine Art viewer.

Oh and by the own close-up body shots are getting to cliche status now too with the incredible number of photographers now doing their own version of them. So as you might own work will have to evolve now. Time to go beyond the cliche and explore the unknown. Who will join me?

Juliet (and my photo above, does not make the cut either. It is just another nice eye shot.)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Wishes and New Year's Cheer

A Light Dusting

May your Holiday season be filled with warmth and joy.
For me, it will be strange this year. My son is far from home and I am trying to figure out what the Holiday’s are all about without a kid in the house. So the decorating is down to a minimum and the meals will be a bit more simple. But I have to admit that with him not here this fall and winter, I have been getting a lot done!

The Track Life in Saratoga Springs book has been so very well received. I only have 7 more copies left that qualify for the bonus signed Limited Edition giclee print. So let me know as soon as possible if you are still hoping to order one of those. And you can still see the preview of the book here - . Thanks to how well the book has done, with reviews and the press, there may be more Thoroughbred racing images coming on new projects in the future. Stay tuned.

I have made some changes on my website. So take a look. There is a new gallery up for the ordering of giclee prints from images that I have not worked with yet in the darkroom. These will be printed from scanned negatives and are archival open editions. Many sizes are available for you to choose from. I have listed the price for an image of about 8 ½” x 13” on 11x14” paper to give you an example of how the prices run for these. As always, any image on my website can be ordered as a giclee print. Just let me know a relative size you are thinking of and I can get you a price. Giclee prints need a bit of a lead time to fill the order. Many more images will be added in the next month as I keep scanning from all that I shot this past year. Dresage images are next.

Take a bit of time and read this fantastic review of my work by Cali Tatum. I was so honored that she wrote this wonderful piece.

Lastly, you may notice many images have disappeared from the main galleries on my website. I have moved a number of them into the “Archived” section of the image galleries. Every one of these images will be available only in limited numbers. I will not expect to continue printing them. So I am offering a 50% discount on the stated price on all of them. Once the already printed quantities of them are sold, I will be deleting them from the site. To redeem your discount, either use the purchase now button and I will refund the difference. Be sure to put “archived” in the note. Or you can contact me directly and I will send you an invoice with the discounted price. Just put “archived” in your note. These prints are not available as lay-a-way. To see the archived work, scroll to the bottom of the page.

Stay warm and stay safe. Best Wishes to all my Family, Friends and Fans!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Juliet Harrison's images - A Passion to Print

Juliet’s Images: A PASSION TO PRINT
Traditional photographs, is there a difference? You bet your grain there is.

While most photographers are abandoning traditional film and silver print photography, Juliet Harrison embraces the nearly extinct ritual of photographing and printing images in a dark room, one by one. Some call her a purist; some think she will cave in to the more daylight ways of drawing images on surfaces without the use of silver. I just think she has the eyes to see that these treasured images are the difference between paint by numbers and a true masterpiece. Yes Virginia, there is a difference. And the work, time and effort is worth it.
Traditional black & white photography happens when light hits the emulsion of film within the camera. The photographer can control the speed at which the light smacks against the chosen speed of the film to capture an image that is more connected to their own expression of information. For fine art photography, every grain of silver counts. Yes, there’s silver in them their prints. As digital images clog up the internet by the zillions, one photographer does it the old fashion way, with 35mm film and hand exposed silver prints one by one. Exposed film or latent images are taken from the camera in a darkroom, then some of the silver is washed away by using chemicals, then the film is placed in an enlarger. Light is pushed through the grains of the film and exposes silver on special photographic paper. The light exposed image comes to life when soaked in a variety of trays. All the wile the photographer holds, rubs and coddles the image to exactly the right contrast of light, dark and every tone in between.
The only similarity between digital imaging and photography is, they both use something that looks like a camera. Digital is more like a drawing done with an electronic tool and less like real photography.
Harrison has chosen to express her love of equine by expressing her images in the best possible way. She knows the feeling of stepping into her canvas with a pocket of unexposed film and clicking the shutter which is more of an extension of her imagination than a camera. B&W photography in particular acts like an x-ray to the soul and not a reflection of color. The level of intimacy displayed in Harrison's images is so passionate, I nearly feel like a voyeur as I view her work. Her work reminds me of the great Dorothea Lange who said, “While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.” Harrison just gets it.

By Cali Tatum

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Great exposure for the Track Life book

I have had the wonderful opportunity to have others talk about the Track Life book on their blogs.

From fellow artist - Ruth Andre on her A Painting Day blog -

From the Albany Times Union newspaper's Saratoga Seen blog -

And from The Second Race, an ex-racehorse rescue that I am helping with a portion of my profits from the sale of the book -

I will be splitting the donated portion between The Second Race and LOPETexas, another ex-racehorse rescue.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Track Life - in Saratoga Springs

Here is the preview of "Track Life in Saratoga Springs". Purchase directly from me before Jan. 1st and if you are one of the first 30 orders, you will receive one of 40 limited edition signed giclee prints of the following image.

After the first 30 copies of the book are sold, a percentage of the profits of each subsequent copy sold will be donated to LOPEtexas and TheSecondRace These two wonderful organizations help ex-racehorses find second careers and new owners. These horses give their hearts to run for us and it is a small thing we can do to give them a chance when they are done.


Saturday, November 06, 2010

Track Life - in Saratoga Springs

ANNOUNCEMENT - I am now taking preorders for Track Life in Saratoga Springs. The book cost is $75.00 plus shipping (about $10.00 in the Continental US) The first 30 prepaid preorders will receive a limited edition (one of only 40) 5x7 signed giclee print of an image from the book. I will post the book preview once I have gotten the proof back and have made whatever adjustments I need to on it. The book is 8x10" hardcover with 60 pages full of b&w photos. Contact me if you are interested. Payment can be made with personal checks, MO or paypal.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Track Life - book under construction

Just a sneak peek to wet your appetite. These images and many more will be gracing the pages of my new book. I am expecting to have it ready for preorders in about two weeks. So sales will be geared for the holidays. The working title is "Track Life". And the images are all B&W from several years of photographing at the Saratoga Springs, New York thoroughbred racetrack.

Leave a comment here if you want to be notified when the book is ready for ordering. Preorders before the holidays will come with a bonus signed small giclee print.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Busy Week of a Self-Employed Artist

I have to admit, I thought when I sent my 16 year old son off to Italy for the year, I would have lots of days where I would sleep in and maybe even do noting much for the day. But that has not happened yet. This week is packed full.

First a recap from last week. I had a great day on Thursday when I went up to North Adams, Mass. with a good friend and fellow artist, Nadine Robbins ( ). We went up to see an exhibit of photographs by Leonard Nimoy at Mass MoCA and to hear a talk that he was going to give. It is a long drive there from here, and the weather was not the best, but we talked and talked and talked so much that it felt like no time at all. Unfortunately, I have to say that the exhibit was disappointing. I expected more depth to the imagery. And Mr. Nimoy was sick that evening and so the lecture was cancelled. But the day was wonderful anyway due to spending it with Nadine.

Last Saturday I spent in Millerton, New York at the fun Fall For Art festival that they had. Met some wonderful people and got some great feedback on my work. I have 8 piece hanging in Kate Carty and the work will be up through the holidays.

This week I am primarily spending doing data entry and fielding questions for Ex Arte Equinus 4. Being the show director for the competition keep me hopping during this time. Deadline for entries is Oct. 31st, and then I will be sending everything off to the jurors. So if you are planning on entering....get it done before you miss the deadline.

Along with the Ex Arte work that I am doing, I have finally settled in to do the scanning that I need to finally create my Track book. I want to have it done and ready to sell for the holidays. It will contain images from the time I have spent at the Saratoga Springs, New York racetrack the past 4 years. I will make an announcement here in the next few weeks so you will know when it is ready for orders. Stay tuned.

Thursday this week, I am headed on a long one day road trip to take my work over to Cazenovia, New York. 8 pieces will be on exhibit in the Le Cheval: the horse equine art show at the Cazenovia College Art Gallery ( ). Two additional pieces will be showing at the I Love New York Horses show that will be hung on the grounds of the Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament.

So you can see...there is no time to sit back and get lazy. Oh well. Such is the price for being an artist! And maybe next week I will get some raking done. Or not....!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fall For Art - A Weekend in the Country

If you are planning on being in the Hudson Valley for this coming weekend....Plan to head over to Millerton, New York on Saturday or Sunday. Right on the Connecticut border in the heart of fall foliage. The whole town will be filled with beautiful artwork. Each and every Main St. business will feature a different artist on their walls and most will be there to meet the public as well. I will have work in Kate Carty on the corner of Route's 22 and 44. And I hope to be at the store on Saturday to meet the public as well. Hope to see you there!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Equine Showcase at the Cazenovia College Art Gallery

Glacial Edge

I will be exhibiting 8 of my original photographs at the Equine Showcase at the Cazenovia College art gallery in Cazenovia, New York. It opens November 4th with a reception that evening and runs through December 9th. This exhibit is being held in conjunction with the Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Ex Arte Equinus 4 - International Equine Art show/competition

Only 20 days left to enter Ex Arte Equinus 4, the International Equine Art show/competition sponsored by Art Horse Magazine. As some of you know, I am the show director. Take a look and consider entering your work!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Never Able To Catch Up

I have been remiss. I have been busy. I have been lazy, no.....I have been......working on my house and organizing my life. My son left for his year in Italy , the beginning of September. Exactly a month ago today. He is doing his junior year of High School as a Rotary Youth Exchange student in Milan. And I have been catching up on all sorts of things that I have been needing to do. Some around the house, like finally clearing out some of his toys. He is 16 and in Europe after all. And trying to clean out some of my stuff too. Along with that...I spent a week filing negatives that had been shot over the past year, but never tucked into negative sleeves and numbered. 100 rolls of film in one year. That does not sound like a lot to digital shooters who do that many shots at one event. But film shooter know that is a great deal of work.

And now I find I am in a time or reassessment. It feels like time to put the marketing push on hold, with the economy so bad, and to put more time into just creating. time for the work to evolve. I am very happy with the work I did this past year. And I need to see where it all takes me. October and November are dedicated to my position as Show director of Ex Arte Equinus, the International Equine Art competition and show that is sponsored by Art Horse Magazine. I am also working on an article that will be published in the next issue of the magazine. ( I will be putting together a new book of images from my time at the Saratoga Springs racetrack.

So while I get my home and career in order.....enjoy this new image.

Breathing Velvet

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Trial by Social Media & A Resolution - Of Sorts

What a week it has been. In the midst of a trip to Ohio to see my husbands family, I was made aware that an image of mine was illegally entered into an amateur photo contest last year. And it had, in fact placed second and so was posted on the contest sponsors website. I was immediately infuriated. What nerve of someone to not only swipe my photo...but to enter it in an International contest as their own. You have to be pretty ballsy to do something like that.

My first action was to notify the sponsoring company, Dover Saddlery. I sent an email to customer service, as there was no contact info on the actual photo contest page. And then the next day, I called customer service and told them my issue. They immediately put me in touch with the head of PR for the company. I explained the problem. She was quite sympathetic and believed me that it was my image. I was not completely unknown to her through my own dealings with the Ex Arte Equinus art competition that I am the director of. That gave me a bit more credibility I am sure. She said that she would contact the offender.

Meanwhile, since the original notice about this was posted on Facebook....conversation about it became heated. I have never known such wonderful support from my fellow artists, photographers and horse friends. I had to leave the next day for our trip to Ohio, so I expected to hear from the woman at Dover soon via email. By the time we returned, several days later...there was still no word from Dover and my image was still on the website. Still with the wrong attribution.

At this point I was really angry and started planning meetings with lawyers. I could not make a case against the submitter, because I did not have his contact information. I was beholden to Dover to supply that to me. Lots more conversation on Facebook ensued. And the thing went viral, with my supporters posted in Dover's FB wall and emailling them directly. Soon we discovered more work by other pros that was illegally entered!

I was not sure what my next step would be, but it seemed that my only target would be Dover, since they had not seemed to respond to my concern. Finally, a week after my initial contact with them, Dover changed the attribution of my image on their website at least. But that was not what I wanted. I wanted the image removed, as I would not have entered one of my images in a contest for amateurs. And note in it's place saying that it had been removed due to investigation of copyright infringement, would have been appropriate.

A day after it was changed, I finally spoke again to the PR person at Dover. She said that she had sent 3 emails to the perpetrator. Two phone calls were made, where she had spoken to his girlfriend. But he still had not responded. Her next step was going to be to send him a certified letter. I told her that I was unhappy that she had not kept me more informed and that the image was still on the site. Truthfully, I don't think that the people at Dover understood how serious an issue this is and how strongly we photographers would object to seeing our images stolen like this. That, I think was their first mistake. Although they are not responsible for the copyright infringement....they needed to respond immediately to deal with it. And I understand that she was giving him an opportunity to respond to them and to me...But the image should have been removed right away and information shared with me as she went along.

So here is the resolution....

A few hours after she finally got in touch with me...she received an email from Pascal Cantin of Montreal, saying that his sister had entered the image, thinking that she was doing something nice for him, assuming that all the images on his computer were his. And that he did not know. She forwarded to me. Now, let me explain something...he received an email last year telling him that the image won 2nd place and he received a $25.00 gift certificate from Dover. I am assuming that the "sister" used the GC??? And did not tell him that he won??? I don't believe it for a minute. and what was he doing capturing my image and keeping it in his computer anyway??? So he has apologized to Dover....But Not To Me!

You may wonder why I am not immediately suing the pants off him. Well, he is in Canada and I am here in the US. So we are talking about intellectual property agreements made between the two countries. And for what I might get from suing him...I would have to pay out a whole lot to a lawyer just to investigate the International laws. I will compose and send a nasty email to him. I can do that, because thanks to the wonderfully subtle way she did forwarding his email to me...I now have his contact information! But for now....I am taking a break from the hoopla. And I hope that the people at Dover have learned how important this is and how a speedy response on their part would have saved them a whole lot of social media pressure. This was an amazing test of "Trial By Social Media".

But if there are any copyright lawyers out there who want to pursue this to a higher level and work with me on some International intellectual property rights and the internet legislation??? Let me know. I am open to talking lots more about this.


Just a Peek....

Here are a few B&W images from Saratoga. Many more proofs to come.

Summer, Past!

I know that I have been away from blogging for quite a while now. And I apologize for neglecting it. This summer turned into a time of family focus for me. For those who don't know, I have a pretty active and involved 16 year old son. And he plays drums for competition bagpipe bands. This summer saw us all over the US and then in Ireland and Scotland for the World Pipeband Championships. A 12 day trip of competitions, practices and a couple of hours here and there for sightseeing.

(here is the band entering the competition arena and if you look above the band, you can see Jax featured on the jumbotron screen as broadcast by the BBC)

As soon as we returned home from the trip my time was absorbed by efforts to ready that same wonderful child for his soon to happen, 10 month sojourn in Milan, Italy as a Rotary Youth Exchange student. He leaves here on this coming Tuesday.

So you can see, that not much time has been spent as an artist this summer. And now that the summer draws to a close....I will spend some time trying to catch up and to catch my blog up as well. Because, although it was not an active art summer...there were definintly things to report about. Like trips to the track in Saratoga and legal battles with image stealers. So, stay tuned for more to come.


Monday, August 02, 2010

2 Weeks Late

I can't believe I let two weeks go by without a post. I appologize to those of you who tend to hold their breaths, waiting for my next post. Did you give up on me?

I have to admit that this is my busiest time of the year. Mostly because of my son and his Pipeband competitions. Summer is pipeband season. You may remember that Jax is a tenor drummer in the top pipeband in the US, the Oran Mor Pipe Band. And a snare drummer in a youth band. Every weekend in the summer he is either at a competition or at practice. All culminating in competing in the World Pipeband Championships in Glasgow, Scotland in mid August. Which is...looming on the horizon. We leave for Ireland on Thursday. They compete outside of Belfast on Sat. We move on to Glasgow next Wed for them to compete at the World's the following Sat. So as you can imagine, I am in packing mode.

I always struggle with figuring out what camera to travel with. I will be taking my film body and lenses with lots of B&W film. And I recently got a little Nikon Coolpix which will serve as my color snapshot camera. It also takes video, which will be perfect for the competitions.

In the mean time...I have survived the heat that pounded the Northeast through July. Stayed indoors as much as I could. But least week I went on my yearly visit to Saratoga for the races. This was the 4th year that I have gone up and met with painter and Thoroughbred person, Linda Shantz ( . We have such a great time when we go. Painter and former pony girl (track term) Sharon Simmons-Passmore joined us this time. We were able to get in and photograph in the the saddling paddock. And for the first time, thanks to Sharon, we got backstretch passes and wandered around with our cameras during the morning activities. Went over to Oklahoma and the yearling sales as well. My film is at the lab so you will have to wait to see what I got. Thsi years trip was culminated with the opening reception at Terry Lindssy's Equidae Gallery ( As always...the work there was WONDERFUL. Terry has 8 of my photographs hanging this year. One of the most wonderful things about the reception is the opportunity to meet with the other artists that show up. This year included Sharon Crute, Susan Dorazio, Ann Wolfe, Werner Rentsch and Anthony Alonso.

If I get a chance to scan more of the negatives from the NE Welsh Pony Association show I will post them here before I head over the ocean. If not....I hope you all have a wonderful next two weeks. And I will post again after I get back August 16th.



Tuesday, July 13, 2010



One more quick note this honor of what we were able to do for Baylie - I have decided to donate $100.00 from every sale of any Limited Edition Silver print from my website to either care for Baylie or to contribute to bail for another horse. It is one more way that I can give back to the horses.

To see the work on my website, including the recently added images in the Fresh From the Darkroom gallery, just click on this link.

Rescuing Horses

photo by Sue Steiner

This is not my normal blog about making art and this past weekend was spent in what is not a normal activity for me. I was part of a horse rescue.

There has been a lot of talk lately about the issue of horse slaughter and the transportation of these horses to the slaughter houses in Mexico and Canada. At this point in time there are no slaughter houses in the US that kill horses. It is a state by state ban at this point and there is a bill before the US Congress to make the ban a Federal law. I really don't want to get involved in the politics of the issue. You might be surprised by what I might have to say. Suffice to say that we Americans ship quite a large number of horses to these slaughter houses outside the US. And where we have regulations in place for the humane care for the animals that are killed for human consumption here in the US...there are no such controls once the animals leave our borders. And the transportation of the horses within the US is not monitored, so they are shipped days without food or water, crammed into stock trailers where they are frightened, fighting and miserable. Not right for these animals that we have breed merely to serve our whims. And let's face it, they are not bred or kept as livestock for human consumption. So the USDA regs for beef cattle are not in place. So the horse meat from the US that does eventually end up on the tables of Europe and chock full of steroids, anti-inflammatory meds and antibiotics. I wouldn't want to eat that! But that is all I am going to say on the issue, because for me it is really about our propensity for money grubbing overbreeding and the high cost of humane euthanasia in this climate of extreme financial tragedies. If you would like to read more about these issues, you should read the article Dark Horses in the current issue of Orion Magazine. And take a look at the website for the Unwanted Horses Coalition -

But this story is really about, Baylie. One of the things that I watch on Facebook, is a page for horses that are owned by a kill broker in Pennsylvania. The kill broker is the guy that buys horses for next to nothing at auction and if he is unable to sell them to private groups or rescues within a few days, he trucks them to Mexico and Canada to resell them for $/pound at the slaughter houses. This particular page was put together by a group of horse lovers and rescues that go weekly to this guys barn...they work and video tape there horses there each week. then they post a less than 2 min. video the page, still photos and as much information as they can get on the animal. They try to determine it's age from the teeth and it's general use for riding, breeding, working, etc. The information is minimal to say the least. But it is the best they can do with what they have. They also post the cost to get that horse bailed out of the kill pen. And each week, these people have, with herculean efforts, rescued a huge number of horses. What happens is an amazing coordination between those who have room to home the horses, and those with some fund to offer, however minimal, to help raise funds to bail and transport the horses.

So to get to Baylie. Just over two weeks ago, I spotted 4 horses on the broker owned list that I thought were remarkable...they were each good, straight legged, well broke using horses. All of a size and type that I would love. Now, I can in no way take on ownership of another horse. But what I did was to repost their information on my facebook wall so that the friends and fans that I have could see them too. You never know. Very quickly 3 of the 4 were bailed and had new homes offered. The last was a Bay Roan Morgan type horse. 4-5 years old that reported rode nice and drove. I decided that since he was slow to find a home, I would donate $100.00 to his bail and I did so. By the deadline I saw that he was completely bailed and happily thought that all 4 were heading to new homes.

This week, when I started looking at the posting of new horses....I noticed to my horror that this one horse was in the kill pen. What it looks like happened is that a woman offered to purchase 11 horses from his week. She "paid" for them through Paypal. But what she did was use a prepaid credit card, which is not ok with the refunded all the money back to her. To sounds like a new kind of scam. But this time it left 11 horses destined again for the slaughter houses. And one of those the lovely young Bay Roan gelding. I was horrified. I immediately posted about him everywhere I could. Telling everyone I could think of. And up popped my friend and fellow equine artist, Sue Steiner. Sue had already taken in 4 horses from out of this same kill brokers pen in the past year. and she offered the cost for transport and her home to take the Roan. I decided that, although I sent is $100.00 the previous week, that money was used to bail out another horse since it seemed he had a home then....I would offer another $250.00 towards his perminant bail. but that was only going to take care of less then 1/2 of what we needed. So I again...put out the call on Facebook and twitter to all my friends to see if any could help. I hate doing that. It is not at all my style to fundraise for causes. It is not that I don't believe in it. It is more that I don't believe in imposing my concept of what is important on others. We all have places we donate our time and money. doing so is an individual choice. But my uncomfortable efforts paid off. I am honored to say that my friends donated....small amounts that added up and one, Pamela Koo went above and beyond in putting us over the top and allowing us to bail him completely.

Baylie, as he is now called (Sue let me name him) arrived at his new home in the middle of last night. He will get to be a horse for a few days before Sue evaluates him for temperament and riding.

I am so proud to have been able to be the impetus for getting this one lovely horse to safety. I am humbled by the response from all my friends and fans. And I am sold on the power of social networking in a way I never expected. We all hope he has a long and happy life. I don't think I will ever be able to do this again. And I have issues with the whole process from overbreeding in the US to some of the practices of some of the rescue organizations. But for this one heart is full!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Love Our Local Landscapes at the Gazen Gallery

My Rhapsody in White and Frozen photographs are in the show.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Mentoring Program - A Testimonial

From photographer Julie Blair

"Being a self taught photographer with no formal training, having Juliet as a mentor was wonderful for me. Juliet encourages you to delve into the art world and see all kinds of art including photography and really study what you see and understand why you like certain works of art and not others. You gain an appreciation of the art world and how it may influence you in your work as a photographer. Her critiques of my work were insightful and she taught me how to improve and make the image stronger. She also gave me insights on how to produce a professional, cohesive set of imagery so that I could approach galleries with my work. Her expertise and experience in the field will help you gain the knowledge to move forward in your work. I highly recommend Juliet to anyone ready to go to the next level with their photography."

~Julie Blair

Find out more about my mentoring program here - and contact me for more information.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

A any other Name

Remember last weeks concept was taken over by my trials and tribulations trying to get to Ohio? Here is the blog I had intended for then....

Film vs Digital

This blog is not about a value judgment between these two methods of taking photographs. I am not going to tell whether I think one is better than the other. In truth, although I am a film photographer first and foremost, I think making that kind of judgement between methods of creation is wrong. As artists....we are beholden to our muses and what we use to create out less of consequence then the work we create. Although I do acknowledge that there are artists out there whose work is self-reflective of the process that they use. And that is wonderful too.

What I am interested in discussing it the labels we use to identify work once it is produced. And how confusing this is for the beginning collector of photography. When I began my "career" as a photographer, there was no digital photography. Other than polaroids and the more archaic methods of photography like daguerreotypes, solargrams and tintypes, all "Photographs" began as images on film. Negatives and chromes (like slide film). Again, other than those other print forms, all photographic prints were created in a darkroom. So, when you said that you were a photographer, there was no question about what that meant as far as the process that you did to create your work. Most understand that at some point it was a hands on process. And although able to be printed in multiple copies....some variations due to the process made each print somewhat unique. Again, I want to be clear that this is not a value just what we did. And for the most part, what I still do.

Sheer Cliff Face - shot on film, Gelatin Silver Print done in darkroom and scanned to computer

Enter the digital revolution! Today, more often than not, what you see when you see a photograph for sale, is a print that was made from a digital process. There are several ways that this can happen. The first and most prevalent, is that the image was shot with a digital camera, downloaded into a computer and either digitally manipulated with a program like PhotoShop or left virtually unchanged from the original shot. This image is then printed directly from the computer on either an inkjet or laser printer, or even mass printed on poster paper.

shot with digital camera and downloaded into computer ready for printing

Another format that is building in interest are images that have been shot on film and scanned into the computer. These are then altered or not and printed the same as those that originated from a digital camera. One more possibility is to scan the traditionally created darkroom print and then to print digitally from those jpegs.

Monument - jpeg image from scanned negative

So, now I ask these different processes of creating photographic print, need to be identified when the image reaches the marketplace? Do we just call them all photographs and be done with it? Does the collector need to be informed about what they are purchasing? I think they do. Does the buyer of a painting want to know if it is oil, acrylic or watercolor? I think they do. Partially because of the care each medium may require, but mostly in deference to understanding the creation of that work better. And perhaps to understand the artist who created it. BUT....if this is the case....then we need to come up with universally agreed upon terms for these prints. Just calling them all "Photographs" is not enough.

Most darkroom prints are identified by the darkroom process or paper that they are printed on. Silver prints (are the same as gelatin silver prints), platinum, palladium, c-prints, cibachromes etc, all of these are darkroom prints. Unfortunately, digital prints are called by too many different names. Sometimes, I feel it seems almost to confuse the buyer into thinking that the digital print and darkroom print are the same thing. But, mostly I think it is because nobody has come up with suitable terminology. I have seen digitally created images called; photographs, archival photographs, inkjet prints, photographic prints, giclees, prints (didn't these used to be a whole different group of processes?) and many other names.

I call the images that have been printed from scans of my silver prints, digital reproductions. That is what they are. I call the images printed directly from a negative or from a digitally created image, a giclee. Technically, a giclee is an archival image created on an inkjet printer. There are difference qualities of giclees that can be achieved, depending on the printer, ink and paper.

So, when you see a photographic image in a gallery....and the label is confusing. Don't be afraid to ask how that image was created. Sometimes the galleries don't even know and I think they need to be reminded that they should! They ARE all photographs. But how they are achieved is important to know. A rose, is a rose and they all beautiful. But if I am buying that rose, I want to know if it is a climber, tea rose, heirloom/vintage or wild. IT DOES MATTER!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject too!


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thwarted and Frustrated

I had it all planned. I was going to write an esoteric and overly intellectualized blog on Monday about Film vs/ Digital. Not so much the creation...but the labels. And I was going to add that it was my Birthday on Monday too. And I was going to write it from the road, because we were going to be in Ohio visiting my inlaws. But it seems the "Powers that Be" had other plans for me. Oh, I still had my birthday. Can't stop that from happening as long as you are still breathing. but we never did make it to Ohio. Instead, I spent yesterday in airports, on airplanes, in baggage claims, in train stations, cabs and on trains. We went from Albany, NY to Kennedy airport, to New York's Penn Station and home.

We thought we would make this trip to Cleveland easy this time. We would fly instead of the long drive there. So we planned to fly from Albany to Cleveland on Sunday. But when we got to the airport...low and behold....the flight was cancelled. The crew had not had enough rest between flights and so the grounded the plane. No extra crew to be called in to take us out of there. They could not even put us on any other flights...not even the same one the next day. So they put us up in a hotel near the airport and booked us on another airlines to fly out on Monday. the plan was to fly Delta airlines to JFK and from there fly to Cleveland. We would lose a day of our trip, but we resigned ourselves to that and went with it. The hotel room was ok. We had to walk to find food, which when we found it was lousy.

Woke up birthday, and went back to the airport. Hung around a bit. Got on the flight to JFK....a bit delayed. But no problem. Got into JFK....and guess what...the flight to Cleveland was cancelled. And there was nothing they could do but get us out the next day. Now we had gotten all the way to JFK....our trip was planned with a return on what was the point? We told them to get us back to Albany...and they said they could, for over $1000.00!!! Since the cancellation was caused by weather, they were not responsible! We told them know what...took a cab into NYC. Went to Penn Station and got on Amtrak, after another lousy meal....and landed home after another cab from the station.

Now I just have to get back to Albany today to get my truck which is still at the airport. So sorry for the rant...but the high-brow discussion will have to wait for another day. And I want a redo on my Birthday!

I promise to be back on in a few normal perky self. Until then, I want chocolate! Left you two images to look at until then for the film vs digital discussion.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Economic Effects of Horse Ownership & Being an Artist - Part 2


This post is about how the poor economy affects being an artist. We know that art is a luxury. We know that there have been many periods in history when only the wealthiest could afford to own art. Just like horse ownership, a down economy adds huge stumbling blocks to being an artist.

The most obvious part of this is of course, the lack of enough sales. Galleries are closing all over the country. People are not going to buy art when they are worried about the mortgage and feeding their families. Who can blame them? I certainly understand this. You really only think about filling your world with beauty when your stomach is full and the roof solid over your head.

What is interesting is what this does to the artist. I think that most people understand that artists are driven to create. It is more than a job to us. It is an identity. It is breathing. The crappy reality is that it takes money to buy the materials with which to create art. For those who draw...a pencil and paper are not a huge expense, I suppose. But for those who do what I do, or who sculpt or takes a huge out lay in money for materials. Many of us see being an artist as our job. And even if we don't, getting a new job ain't so easy at age 52 and with little marketable skills. As we all know...the jobs aren't out there.

This is not meant as a whining blog post. This is really about ingenuity. As the galleries have closed, many of us have taken our fates into our own hands. And what I want to point out is the immense creativity that has come from this. I have mentioned before about the time drain that can be social networking. But I what to publicly cheer for those of us who have started to see the benefit to time spent doing our own "marketing". Thanks to websites like we can create our own websites to showcase our artwork. It is a wonderful thing to control what is said and what is shown. We are using Facebook and Twitter to let the world know about us! We can now look beyond our backyards and our work can touch people thousands of miles from our homes without paying a dime to ship it.

The other bit of creativity has come in the form of offering more ranges of work than ever before. And perhaps some see that as a negative. And maybe we wish we did not have to do this. but I see more and more painters doing periodic series of daily work that they can sell for much less than their larger, more time consuming work. They are using these as sketches...using them to perfect their techniques and at the same the work at a price that makes it affordable to more buyers during the down time. Sculptors who are selling sketches and resin work are doing the same. For me it has meant making lower priced giclee prints available to buyers. I am selling prints on Etsy. I am doing spec photo shoots. I might not have ever thought of doing this before. But it is the sale of these giclee prints that are making it possible for me to continue to buy film and go out and shoot more.

And I think we all hope that when things do get better...those who bought our less expensive pieces will again be able to purchase the work that we have been able to continue to produce. We all want to be there...still working, on the other end of we can fill the galleries, homes and museums with beauty still. We are taking all the chances we can to invent ways to hang on. And I, for one...thank you all for being part of this process with me. As I ain't easy...

My work is a luxury....that is sold to people who are inevitably horse owners...and we know that that is a luxury too. So rather then feel doomed by this all, I have decided to feel it is a challenge and I will do what I can.

So...Who wants to buy a Photograph? I am just about out of film!


Economic Effects of Horse Ownership & Being an Artist - Part 1

The artist and her Tony!

Maybe the better title would be Horse Ownership and Being an Artist during difficult economic times. It ain't easy. These days every horse owner knows of someone who has had to give up their horses because they can no longer afford the expense. And we have all heard the horror stories of horses neglected, abandoned, set loose and sent to auction. Good horses. Great horses even. Whose owners have been pushed to their limit by the stresses brought on by the economy. Am I allowed to call it a depression? I know the pundits don't, but as far as I can see...all the symptoms of depression are there.

Good people are facing the question of what to do with horses they can't keep...and other good people are being pressured into rescuing horses...that they themselves may end up being unable to truly care for. It is a terrible dilemma. I am not going to go into the debate about the horse slaughter bill in the US congress. Other then to say that the issue I believe is as much transport conditions and whether the slaughter houses do their job in a humane fashion. When we banned them in the US, we guaranteed that we would not have control over the process. Much like the meat industry in the US in our earlier years....if we had more control, we could inspect for the treatment of the animals. But I know that that is a bigger debate then I want to get into here. What I want to mention are two things that I think directly contribute to the problem in the US.

During these economic seem wholly irresponsible for breed associations to not stress to their membership the importance of controlling for overbreeding. We can no longer condone the behavior of those individuals who breed with no concern for the later fate of the number of animals coming from their breeding farms. I think the Thoroughbred industry is only the tip of the iceberg. But we know the huge number of T'breds that end up in rescues and auction houses outstrips all other breeds. But the backyard breeder is just as much at fault. People have to be conscious of the the potential fate of that foal they think they want. I believe that it behooves the breed associations to make a point of discussing this at every conference, every event, in every newsletter to their membership. Perhaps an advisable limit on new registrations could be in their bylaws. I don't know how if can be done, but something has to be done.

And I think it is the obligation of every VET to talk to anyone who contemplates breeding their pretty mare. To advise the gelding of all studs with negative breeding characteristics to reduce the potential for unwanted horses later on.

The second issue we seem to have is the high cost of humane euthanasia. Many of the horses that end up abandoned, neglected and at auction are a result of the owners inability to afford the huge cost of putting the animal down. Older, dangerous, sick and otherwise un-rehomable animals should have the right for a caring and painless end of life. If their owner is struggling with financial tragedy, they are certainly not going to be able to afford the cost of getting a vet to come and euthanize the animal and dispose of the subsequent carcass. We don't want to think about this, I know...but is there room in the debate over the slaughter of horses, to add a discussion of how we can make this decent choice available to owners? Can we help VETs to bring the cost down? Make some low cost or even pro-bono euthanasia's available for low income and financially destitute owners?

In these times, keeping even one horse is a luxury fewer and fewer of us are able to afford. I is a stretch each month to find the money to cover board for my one wonderful horse.

Stay tuned for Part 2, Being an Artist during times like these!!


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mr. Peabody and Family

Last week I have the distinct pleasure of visiting with Mark Samu, his lovely wife Lu, their horses and goat! Mark is a wonderful photographer in his own right. His wonderful photographs of my work hanging on the walls of their home are in the post below this one. He is familiar to many of us as @mrpea01 0n Twitter and from his blog and Facebook page "Where's Mr Peabody".

While I was there visiting I got to turn the day into a bit of a photo shoot as well. The amazing work Mark has done training Mr Peabody (a mostly black paint), Leroy (the red Quarter Horse) and Jerry (the goat) made photographing them a breeze. There is nothing so wonderful as having a horse stand with his front legs on a stump while I walked around him photographing from every angle. The three of them were total gentlemen while I was in their paddock. And their human companions were warm and welcoming. Humor and good conversation abound.

These images are scanned form the negatives. But are available for purchase as either Limited Edition Gelatin Silver Prints from my darkroom on 11x14 paper or as open edition giclee reproduction prints in a multitude of sizes.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Decorating with B&W Photography

Need some ideas on how to use Black and White photography in your decorating scheme? Here are some photos taken of my work in a beautiful residential setting. B&W photography can enhance a Modernist, Traditional, Rustic, or Minimal interior design. (Interior shots by architectural/interior photographer Mark Samu)
Have any questions about how B&W Photography might fit in your home? Want to see more of my work? Contact me at