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.