Becoming an artist
I recently entered a call for art in a juried exhibit and part of the application process asked me to answer several questions, one of which was: How long have you been doing photography?
For the first time, this question stuck in my head and reappeared throughout the next few days as I sorted out the "doing" from the "needing to do" and why. I reminisced about how I came to own my artistry. It was very difficult for me to actual say, out loud, "I'm an artist." Especially in public! Fortunately, I had a few mentors along the way, mostly people who admired my work and pushed me to say the words out loud. I'm still astonished to this day when someone looks at one of my images, thoughtfully, and then says something profound... something that strikes them about the image, no matter how simple the thought.
I started creating photography as an artist in 1995. It's when I realized that I was bringing home images from trips that had very few, or no people in them, but did show things that others claimed they "didn't see" even though we were there, in the same places together.
Some travel mates would either wait patiently with a local beverage or get annoyed at the amount of time I would take to capture an image... waiting for crowds to move or reposition and, of course, I'd have to get several angles of a building or a statue or a tree or a piazza, or a table setting that had been used and abandoned in the carnage that happens when wines and appetizers collide with lively conversation.
My biggest fan, my beautiful Mom, whom I adore traveling with, would be my unexpected, but always willing, assistant. Carting around multiple cameras (which we had to do with multiple films and formats, pre-digital), scouting scenes, striking up heartfelt conversations with locals, unknowingly helping me gain access to secret places, and keeping us fed and hydrated as time flew by for me and was inspiringly consuming for her.
I started studying and self-teaching a bit, but was never obsessed with the technical side of this art form. I relied on my passion for what I was seeing and hoped the camera was set well. In hindsight, that was magical in the moment, but there's so much more flexibility and randomness available to you with knowledge. Since then, I've evolved a bit with the gear, but still depend on my instinct and eye.
I also love graphic arts and was an early adopter of Photoshop for photographically altered art. I enjoyed sitting on art organization boards fighting for photography to be accepted as readily as paintings were for mixed-media exhibits and then for altered imagery to be accepted as art. And now all of the digital apps have opened a whole new world of digital artists and spaces where they can thrive.
I've done many art shows and exhibits throughout California and Arizona over the years, but my passion was always commercial or private work - completing someone else's vision of their space with my artwork. I took a break in 2012 when I moved to San Diego from Napa Valley and I'm now regenerating my creativity and starting to put it all out there again.
"Honor your dreams with persistence!" has been my tag line for over 20 years... the trick is figuring out what your dreams are.
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