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This summer, two of John Paul Caponigro’s Next Step AlumniKathy Beal  and April Hartford completed cornerstone projects in Santa Fe, and their success was enhanced by their support of each other.

The second week in June, Kathy Beal debuted her new active wear line, “Embodywear Fashions – Fit For Your Inner Goddess”, on the runways of Santa Fe Fashion Week. Her assistant for the event – April Hartford. Kathy reflected “it was getting close to show time, and I’d been so focused on getting the

Kathy reflected “it was getting close to show time, and I’d been so focused on getting the new product in and the website launched, that I neglected to look for an assistant to help me out during the three-day show. So I sent a last minute text to April, and she replied almost immediately – absolutely, I’ll be there! Really, I couldn’t have pulled it off without her help.” One benefit for April – she got to be one of the first to try on Kathy’s new fashions! Here

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In mid-July, April Hartford was busy preparing for her opening “Transgender, One Person’s Journey” an exhibition of not only her incredible photographs portraying her journey, but some of the best educational materials available today for the transgender community. Shortly before her opening, she went to Kathy’s studio to put together a few outfits to wear during the exhibition and Embodywear Fashions quickly became a sponsor for April’s exhibit.

April shared, “Kathy has been instrumental in both feedback of my images and exhibition set up. One issue I face with such a personal story being laid out for all to see is a sense of protection. Wearing outfits designed by such a special friend helps ground me when at my studio. Though our work is so different, we come together through shared experiences and friends helping each other move past any obstacles or stumbling blocks in our paths.”

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Magic really does happen when artist’s get together!

If you’re in Santa Fe, New Mexico …

Experience April’s exhibit thru October 7, 2017.

Transgender, One Person’s Journey

April Hartford Studio

539 Old Santa Fe Trail

Santa Fe, NM

Open for public viewing Tuesday’s, Friday’s, and Saturday’s from 1-6pm through October 7, 2017

April@aprilhartford.me

Tour the studio virtually here.

Follow April on Facebook.

Learn more about April Hartford here.

Contact Kathy for a tour of her studio and an expert fitting for your own at Embodywear Fashions!

Kathy@kathybeal.com

Visit Embodywear Fashions by Kathy Beal.

View the runway show here.

Like Embodywear Fashions on Facebook.

Learn more about Kathy Beal here. 

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Olaf Willoughby

The Creative Space, Part One

Imagine yourself in a favourite photo location. Maybe for you that is Street shooting in Bangkok or Brooklyn. Or for this post I’ve chosen a beautifully backlit waterfall in Iceland. You excitedly pull out your camera and start shooting. You already know that you’ll get at least some good images. You smile inside at the expectation of processing, posting and printing. Right. Job done. Where to next?

This is a well trodden path which produces some great images and good friendships. But this time let’s not rush off. Instead let’s pause, rewind and consider some alternative scenarios. Consider that location as an empty ‘creative space’ waiting to be filled with an interpretation.

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Now imagine a painter walks into that scene. How would she see the light, the movement and the colours? She has the advantage of being able to add and subtract elements on the spot whereas photographers can mostly only do that in post processing. Which elements might she accentuate and how?

Now rewind and imagine a poet enters the same creative space. He has more leeway to convey the full sensory impressions; the deafening sound of the waterfall and the delicate touch of the spray. The poet might consider how in Iceland it is easy to feel a deep connection to the elemental forces of nature. How trolls might live in the rocky recesses of the mist covered mountains. Is there a photographic equivalent to this kind of inspiration?

Finally, rewind again and imagine you are a composer entering the space. What kind of mood could you conjure up with the full complement of musical instruments at your disposal, ? How do you capture the majesty of a landscape? As Gustav Mahler said when a colleague enthused about the view of the lake and mountains from his cabin at Attersee in Austria, ‘Don’t bother looking at the view – I have already composed it’. How can we approach a fuller sense of the potential of the scenes in front of our cameras?

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You get the point. When we are in our personal photographic creative spaces we are seeing only one small part of the creative whole. A good analogy would be our eyesight where visible light is only a small part of the total electromagnetic spectrum, only one version of reality. There is more to be seen.

Similarly each of the artists above will interpret the magic of that creative space in very different ways. Whilst this is a simple point to understand intellectually, very few of us are skilled in a variety of artistic disciplines. So to expand into any of these spaces seems in practice almost impossible.

And this is one of the much debated issues in photography as an art form. The instrument itself is quite limited. Yes we can stray into impressionism with camera movement, into the surreal with multiple exposures and blend modes and into metaphor with ‘equivalents’ (http://www.moma.org/ collection/works/44200?locale=en)

But these are ‘technical’ solutions and only slightly change how we think about and see our images. So how can we bring some of that artistic inspiration available to other disciplines, back into photography? How can we enlarge the creative spaces we inhabit to energise our work?

There is a way that Eileen McCarney Muldoon and I have developed and teach in our workshop, ‘Visual Conversations’. The principles are covered in part two of this post to be published next weekend.

Meantime if you’d like more information on the workshop please check here:

Visual Conversations

July 10th – 16th, Maine Media College, Rockport, USA

Aug 23rd – 25th, Leica Studio, London, UK 

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Willoughby_VisualConverstions

By Olaf Willoughby

“A Visual Conversation sets up a rhythm, a pattern of communicating in which images fit with one another, with a chosen text, a piece of music or artwork of any kind. It helps develop our voice and vision.

Working through a series of Visual Conversations, each becomes a stepping stone which exercises the creative muscles and takes us beyond our regular shooting routines.

Visual Conversations work so well because they are based on the centuries old principle of ‘call and response’. A tradition of improvised exchange evident in everything from Hindu spiritual chants to modern day blues/gospel and jazz. From Japanese Renga linked poetry circles to folded paper stories.

How does this work in practice? I select an image which resonates, share it with you and ask you to shoot an image which rhymes, fits or starts a conversation with the original. Pretty straightforward, although there are systematic approaches to doing this. And still more ways of building that into a dialogue.

Now what if I select a painting by Rothko, or a poem by Edgar Allen Poe or Roberta Flack singing, ‘The first time ever I saw your face’? It’s a little more difficult. It requires more intense study and understanding of the original work of art to interpret it photographically. It stretches our minds to think about art in new ways.

Or how about if we develop the conversation into a narrative through storytelling? There are multiple permutations leading into other exercises…. I’m sure you get the idea. Add into this group discussion and feedback and it becomes an exciting learning experience. Each call and response takes us out of our routine and asks us to think differently about our photography.

But that’s not all. What makes this special is that your creativity can be extended beyond assignments into the process itself. As you’d expect, some Conversations involve working solo but others take ‘the road less travelled’ and involve working together on shared projects.

There is a spectrum of co-operation in the arts. Whilst some prefer to write books alone in coffee shops, others operate in collectives. Some partner up at different stages in the production process (choreographer/dancer, author/editor) and some of the most famous simply collaborate. Think Lennon & McCartney, Picasso & Braque. Look around. Every movie, play, symphony, rock ballad, even architectural space and garden involves artists working together. Yet collaboration is rare in photography. There are examples like Bernd & Hilla Becher or today, the Starn Twins but they are few and far between.

Occasionally we catch a glimpse of the collaborative spirit in photo workshops. At the end of the day, participants gather to share their solo work and you can feel the buzz in the air as people are amazed at the different ways of seeing and shooting, even though they were often at the same location.

Sharing projects captures that buzz and helps us let go of the need to control. We both give and receive in creative decision making and come to see our own work in a different light.

I’ve experienced the benefits of Visual Conversations and collaborative projects first hand. They are fun but clearing the creative blocks arising from routine ways of working can be challenging.Expect to be jolted. But also expect to benefit from taking a different approach to your photography and returning to your personal work refreshed and enhanced.

I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with Eileen McCarney Muldoon, a talented photographic artist in Jamestown, Rhode Island. We’ve captured that creative buzz and put it into a workshop. We’d be delighted if you would check it out. Even better, the course includes complimentary access to Leica equipment.

Plus a guest appearance during the week from a world renowned digital artist. I’ll leave you to guess who that might be!”

For more information contact: olafwilloughby@gmail.com or emmimageloft@gmail.com

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Read the story behind these two photographs made by two very different photographers here.

When Seth Resnick and I started Digital Photo Destinations workshops, many people thought we were an unlikely combination. His mode of photography is active and mine’s contemplative. He photographs everything; I focus on specific things. He’s all about workflow and releases thousands of images a year for stock agencies. I’m all about print quality and release fewer than a hundred images a year for exhibition. We find our differences extremely stimulating. We encourage each other to try new things and our contrasts provide new clarity about our individual natures. Our collaborations are fueling new personal growth for both of us – and for our participants. Our adventures take us to amazing places – Antarctica, Argentina, Greenland, Iceland, Namibia and more – to do some amazing things; glacier walks in ice caves before watching auroras, helicopter rides over volcanoes, zodiac rides through ice fields, hiking the world’s largest dunes … what will be next? On the personal front, we laugh (and so do others) because we’re so similar we can often finish each other’s sentences. The most stimulating relationships are born when there’s something shared and something different. This combination stimulates growth in both individuals. Imagine who that person could be for you.

We just wrote a piece for B&H on the many benefits of sharing photographic experiences.

Read it here – you’ll enjoy it!

Find out more about Digital Photo Destinations workshops here.

Define A Personal Project

January 5, 2012 | 1 Comment |

Defining a project is one of the single best ways to develop your body of work. When you define a project you make a commitment, set goals, set quotas, set timelines, create a useful structure for your images, collect accompanying materials, and polish the presentation of your efforts so that they will be well received.

Make a commitment. Making a commitment is perhaps the single best thing you can do to advance your work. You’ve already made a commitment to make images. Now make a commitment to present your images in the very best light. You deserve it. Your work deserves it. Once you make a commitment the chances that your work will improve grow exponentially.

The type of project you pick will set a quota for a minimum number of images – and in some cases an upper limit. Pick a project and you’ll instantly know how many images you need to collect/produce – and in some cases a maximum number you can include.

Show only your best work. It’s easy to be tempted to finish hastily, including lesser works amid stronger works in order to reach completion. Resist this temptation. When assembling a collection, lesser works dilute the strengths of better works.

In addition to producing, editing, and sequencing images, projects often need to be packaged in appropriate forms with accompanying materials, typically text, that make them ready for presentation and distribution. These finishing touches communicate additional useful information to a viewer.

While many artists define and produce projects themselves, some artists engage a curator, gallery director, publisher, editor, agent, writer, or designer to help them realize a project, in part or in whole. Finding the right collaborator(s) can improve any project.

Above all, seek feedback. Seek feedback from people with diverse perspectives whose opinions you value and trust. One thing you can always use, that you can never provide for yourself, is an outside perspective. Remember, feedback is food for thought, not gospel.

Set a timeline. A timeline can be used to combat procrastination and/or distraction and encourage you to produce work. Set realistic timelines. Unrealistic timelines simply produce frustration.

Focusing your efforts into a project will help you produce a useful product. A project gives your work a definite, presentable structure. A finished project makes work more useful and accessible. Once your project is done, your work will have a significantly greater likelihood of seeing the light of day. Who knows, public acclaim may follow. Come what may, your satisfaction is guaranteed.

You can work on multiple projects at a time. Be careful that you don’t get scattered. Starting projects is easy. Finishing them is hard. List all your possible projects and identify the ones that are most important and the ones that are easiest to finish. If you’re lucky enough that the same project fits both criteria focus all of your efforts there. Otherwise, you’ll have to strike a balance between what’s practical and what’s most important to you.

Only you can decide this and the balance is likely to shift as time passes and
A project is a wonderful thing. It gives direction. It brings clarity. It increases productivity. It produces tangible results. It brings personal growth. It presents your work in the very best light. You and your work deserve this. Take the first step today; make a commitment to create a personal project.

(Write something right now – put your words somewhere where you’ll constantly be reminded of them and can continue refining them!)

Find an extended version of this article here.

Learn more about creative planning and goal setting here.

Learn more in my creativity workshops here.

Start a book project with Blurb BookSmart® and invite others to contribute with GroupBook.

Learn more in my online Bookmaking resources.

Learn more in my Professional Portfolio workshop.


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