July Portrait Challenge Entries

The 8 Week Portrait Classes had a July challenge of a “summer portrait”. Winner was decided by photographer Nick Giron, a very good portraitist himself.

Here are the entries:

Paula Puffer: “Journeys” – A Show in Houston

"Journeys" - A Photography Show in Houston

Artist/Photographer: Paula Puffer

“Journeys”

Photographs by Paula Puffer

Journeys consists of selected images from several bodies of work photographed by Paula Puffer since her mother’s death in 2010. Works that are a part of the show include:

Watching Alzheimer’s: Focusing on aspects of Alzheimer’s disease and how it’s progression changed her Grandmother’s life.

Will Travel for Sea Turtles: Photographing Kemps Ridley and other endangered turtle species along the Texas Gulf Coast;

Transient Art: Graffiti across the Southern US;

The Spanish Missions of Texas;

Canyons of the American Southwest.

Puffer explores the physical world around me as well as themes of life, aging, and death. Puffer also explores her place in the world as a documentary, commercial, and fine art photographer.

Artist Statement 

Paula Puffer is a writer, photographer, and mixed media artist located in Houston, TX. She spends the majority of her time along the Texas Gulf Coast although she regularly travels through the Midwest, Great Plains, and the Desert Southwest.

Paula is currently working on two projects.

“Secret Selves” focuses on documenting the secret selves that women have created for themselves and the impact those selves can have on their lives. Each image in the series uses upcycled and recycled props where appropriate to create the images portraying each  hidden self. The images will be created in color. 

“Family Farm” is a long term documentary project that focuses on building a sustainable farm in Iowa while deep in the heart of Big Agribusiness. The images will be a mix of monochrome and color images of the work Paula’s brother Charlie has undertaken after retiring from the United States Air Force and pursuing his dream to create a farm that connects people and their food.  

The show will run from July 30-August 7 at Texas Art Asylum (www.texasartasylum.com).

Address:

1719 Live Oak, Unit L,  Houston, TX  77003

Reception Hours

Saturday July 30th 1-8 pm
Sunday July 31st – 1-5 pm

Paula Puffer will be on site to answer questions about her images during both of those times.

Paula became a Project 52 Member a long time ago. I have watched her work mature and grow for several years now. She uses her camera to explore her fascination with the world around her. From Sea Turtles to Missions to Food Trucks, her work always gives us a unique and intimate view of subjects we have known, but not in the way she presents them.

This will be a great experience for anyone wanting to attend a photography gallery and speak with the artist herself. I am proud of Paula, but even more proud to call her my friend.

Exceptional Still Life Photography (from the recent Still Life workshop)

Exceptional Still Life Photography (from the recent Still Life workshop)

We just wrapped up the most recent 8 Week Still Life Class. I wanted to feature a few of the images the students submitted.

I will be doing more 8 Week classes when I return from my road trip to Alaska.

Cover photo by Lavanya Reddy

Let’s Uncheck Boxes That Kill Our Creativity

Let's Uncheck The Boxes That Kill Our Creativity

Sooner Rather Than Later

Let’s Uncheck Boxes That Kill Our Creativity

I recently listened to a speaker talk about unchecking the boxes he had that put an artificial hold on his career, and how that had helped him in his pursuit of sports excellence.

I realized how many boxes we photographers have checked that keep us from reaching our peak creativity as well. Perhaps it is human habit that makes us take inventory of all the things that we don’t have, or can’t possibly get, or “need” in order to succeed.

I wonder why we don’t take the same type of assessment on what we have, what we can accomplish, and why we should create more? Lots more.

But that assessment is for another time, for now I want to focus on the boxes we already have checked in our minds – and uncheck a bunch of them.

The “I Am Too Old” checkbox.
No, you’re not. You have checked that box because so many others in society have checked it and we are all expected to follow suit. Starting a business is not age related, nor is being creative, ethical, or smart with money. In fact, a bit of age gives you advantages over being youthful.

For one, you recognize the value of time. You know it goes by quickly, and you take advantage of every moment. Young people have their own advantages to starting a business, and one is they have not checked this box.

Time is an asset and a motivator. I will turn 67 somewhere near Lake Louise in British Columbia on a motorcycle heading to Alaska. I am also starting another business. I know how time works, and I know how precious it is, and I know I am not going to waste any of it with pre-conceived notions of failure. Far too many people have told me that they think I am crazy to do this at “my age”. I think I am crazy not to do it. Asset. Motivator.

Gary Vaynerchuk on “Age” – Watch.
Gary Vaynerchuk on “Turning 50” – Watch.

The “I Don’t Have the Right Gear” checkbox.
This affects photographers more than some other businesses, but I hear it all the time as well.

The “photographic community” has decided that there is a level of gear you MUST have in order to take a professional photograph. But in the world of clients, that simply isn’t so. (Yes, we have heard of the NY AD’s insisting on Hasselblad and Broncolor… but that is an anomaly, not a rule.) I don’t think it is possible to buy a camera that cannot make professional level images for most, and I mean MOST clients.

I shot for major clients with a Rebel and a 5D. I know a photographer selling fine art prints and he shot for years on a 40D. Photographer Jens Lennartsson travels super light, with only one small camera, and great assignments. An entry level camera and “kit lens” can make extraordinary photographs with a good photographer at the controls. The key is knowing what you can do, and focusing on clients who are more interested in the work than the gear. And that is MOST of them.

Petapixel: My Camera Gear Sucks
Petapixle: Which Pro Camera Do You Really Need to Shoot Like a Pro?

The “It’s The Economy” checkbox.
You see – here’s the thing. It’s always the economy. It is either hot or cold, heating up or cooling down. And businesses keep opening no matter what. We are led to believe that there is a ‘right time’ to start a business, and we better wait for it.

And we will wait and wait and wait. There is never going to be a ‘right time’ to start a business in photography. I can save you that waiting.

But there are strategies, models, and systems that make it easier, more accessible, and definitely within reach. We are not victims of the world, we are participants in it – and participants can aggressively create their own paths.

We start by making sure we know all about the business we are starting, pay attention to finances, create multiple channels of income, and forge new and exciting alliances as often as we can.

We participate. We engage. We follow through with actions designed to keep us participating.

A Photo Editor: The Personal Project. (Keep scrolling…)
Forbes: Why Now is a Good Time to Start a Business
Entrepreneur: 7 Myths About Starting a Business That I Used to Believe

Recommended Reading:
Choose Yourself by James Altucher
The Hundred Dollar Startup by Chris Guillebeau
Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk
What to Do When it’s Your Turn (and it’s Always Your Turn) by Seth Godin

There are more checkboxes for sure, but these are the most common three I see being checked before they are thought through. Let’s uncheck them, and get moving on the creative life we deserve.

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We started the next session of Find Photo Clients Now on Saturday, June 11. I still have a few openings if you are interested. The summer is a great time to focus on getting your system up, and building your list. This is the enrollment page for more information. Join us for a great class, and get your photography business moving.


Header image courtesy Unsplash

The Art of Still Life: June 2016 Edition

The Art of Still Life: June 2016 Edition

PROJECT-52-2016Examples from the Still Life Class here at Lighting Essentials.

Finished photos and the BTS shots of the lighting used.

(cover image by Carla McMahon)

A big shout out to the students for such wonderful work. And the BTS shots.

Photographer: Doris Rudd

Photographer: Lavanya Reddy

Photographer: Rachael Switalski

Photographer: Paul Brousseau

Photographer: Katherine Gooding

Photographer: Helen Svensson

Photographer: Barbara Schweighauser