My work this semester has distilled down into a series of diptychs; blurry, personal work concerning my relationship to time and identity. They draw deeply from self-work I am doing.
I’m really happy with how the series came together, artistically. I am still a little nervous about the departmental portfolio reviews, but then, I always am.
While I have orphaned yet another 365 project, it was a very fruitful undertaking. Carrying my camera all of the time, and putting myself under constant pressure to catch something every day allowed me to see some threads that continually run through what catches my attention.
I need to sit down and polish my artist and project statement. While that is always challenging, I’m finding it especially so for this series. This work is very personal, in addition to being a series of self-portraits. I’m finding the line between enough personal information to provide context and meaning and so much that it becomes didactic and droll hard to maneuver.
I’m not entirely sold on the diptych format, but I think it is the best compromise given the display constraints of the print show. Given creative control, all ten images would be printed large, and then hung in the appropriate order.
One of the things I find most interesting about this series is the pairing. I did not know that I was taking matching images, not consciously. I kept having the nagging feeling that I was missing something when I was editing and trying to select images, and it didn’t click until a class discussion where there was debate over whether to include the landscape/glass shots, or only the self portraits. I knew that the glass images were necessary, but it wasn’t until last week that it suddenly became clear why. Art is a mysterious process.
©Casey Clough, 2015 Untitled self-portrait from “A Time and Space of My Own Design”
Or what I will do.
What I plan to do.
What I should do.
I should go re-read The War of Art (and probably Art and Fear), give myself a talking to about the ubiquity of imposter syndrome in the arts, and start collecting my rejection letters. It is time; I’ve been studying photography in an all-consuming way for almost three years. It’s time to jump.
Shots has opened their summer call for entry. There is no theme, all work and genres welcome. The cost is free for subscribers, and $16.00 for up to twelve images for non-subscribers – but subscribe. Support the blurry black and white photographers of the world!
CALLS FOR WORK are open to all photographers internationally. All processes and techniques are welcomed. Color work will be reproduced in black & white. Please follow guidelines closely.
Send up to 12 images. No entry form is required, but please enclose a letter (or word document if submitting online) that includes your name, address, email, titles/captions, website, and any other information pertinent to your submittal. There are three ways to submit work: online, on a CD, or original prints.
Creative Quarterly #40: We’re looking for the best art, advertising, design, illustration and photography done in the past six months. Professional or student. Categories include advertising, graphic design, photography, illustration and fine art. Entry fees for Professionals are $30 per single entry, $55 per series—3 to 5 images for all published work, $20/$45; for recent graduates (from the last three years), $15/$45 and for current undergraduates or post graduate students, $10 per single entry, $20 for a series. Winners will appear in the Spring issue of Creative Quarterly and be exhibited in our online gallery. Winners will also be entered in our year-end juried competitions where we’ll select the top 100 pieces for 2015. Deadline May 1.
Earth: LensCulture Earth Awards 2015 is a worldwide call for photography focused on nature, the environment, wildlife, landscape, conservation, sustainability, and how we live on the planet. We are awarding $25,000 in cash grants as well as many video projections at international photo festivals, visibility with LensCulture Insiders, a Printed Annualand more. These awards are open to a wide range of interpretations and approaches — from fine art celebrations of the beauty and wonders of nature, to hard-hitting in-depth documentary issues-based stories. Photography is a rich visual language that can express diverse perspectives in powerful, memorable ways. What is YOUR view of life on Earth today?
A Smith Gallery has an open call for “family“: fam – i – ly : clan, household, tribe, ancestors, lineage, inheritance, relatives, kin, children, class, descendants, pedigree, in-laws, dynasty, genealogy, siblings, group, gang, clique, hive, pride, folk, forebears, brood, blood, heirs, relationships……
Also open is a call for “fishing for iconography”: Announcing our open themed call for entry for black and white images to be included in our week long 5th anniversary celebration in conjunction with the shootapalooza photographers’ retreat in Johnson City Texas. The selected images will be enlarged and printed on an architectural plotter printer and then applied to public walls and alleys with wheat paste by members of shootapalooza. The process will be photographically documented and a subsequent blurb book produced to save this act of street art for the ages. Check out this link for more information on the process Wheat Paste Tutorial.
Entries due May 18th. An upcoming call for entry features Kate Breakey as juror.
Black and White Spider Awards is open to professional and amateur photographers shooting in all forms of black and white photography, using traditional or digital methods. We encourage classic styles, new creative ideas and photographers who are driven by their artistic eye and a desire to excel in this classic art form. Deadline April 24, so jump.
Art Through the Lens is open to all without restrictions on size or content. It provides photographers with an outlet for their art, encouragement for growth in their vision and presentation and cash rewards for works of exceptional merit. Each year from the hundreds of works submitted, 60 – 100 images are selected for exhibition by a highly qualified juror, with five of them receiving cash awards. An awards presentation will be held during the opening reception. Deadline April 30.
Other entries have been gathered on Lenscratch. Useful stuff!
©Alain Laboile, La Famille
Lensculture has a really good video interview of Alain Laboile up right now, found here (embedding not permitted). Laboile began taking photos in 2004 in order to show his sculptures to clients, and he began taking pictures of his wife and six children. A strong body of work continues to emerge from his practice.
This interview left me with things to think about, and maybe it will do the same for others.
It’s a familiar situation in the arts, no matter the medium: restricting your tools, paradoxically, increases possibility. It’s a matter of expertise. If there’s an image I want, rather that switching to a lens that allows me to capture it without moving my position — without further thought or consideration of the image — am I growing photographically, creatively, in the same way I would if I have one lens and have to find a way to make the image work, or a different image that says what I wanted to say?
There are limitations to this, of course, and it is almost endlessly frustrating if I’ve chosen the wrong tool to use. I’ve discovered through very cranky photowalks that I think in wider frame; if I carry a 100mm lens, I’m stomping and cussing by the end of the day because nothing is working. A 50mm or 35mm works much better for my eye.
It’s similar in painting, where a frequent art school assignment is to use two or three colors for an entire term. We were restricted to titanium white, ultramarine blue, and burnt sienna for 14 weeks. With that combination, a good black could be made, a white was already there, and a variety of shaded and tinted hues in between could be mixed as needed. This exercise would fail if the colors were similar in value, and I can only imagine the cursing that would ensue.
Next time I am photographically stuck, I’ll try to stick one wide prime lens on my camera, and leave everything else at home. It could be freeing.
There are beautiful color photographs out there, and sometimes I take a picture that is about the color, but mostly, I find it distracting and jarring. I still haven’t resolved whether I truly prefer black and white in my own work, if I’m just terrifically unskilled with color, or if I’m indulging an affectation. Regardless, eliminating color is another way to strip an image down to its bones, to get to the heart of the photograph.
My portfolio this semester is all in black and white, and very stripped, low-contrast black and white, at that. It’s a portfolio of grays. I don’t presume to consider it either timeless or universal, as it is very personal work, but color would decimate the atmosphere and mood I’m working toward.
‘I have heard a lot of photographers, say things like, ‘I went to photography school, and I don’t know what to shoot. Because when I shoot something, I mentally compare my image to so and so or so and so…’ And finally, they feel so weighted down by references, that it hinders their photographic practices. I don’t have any photographic influences, I don’t have any master, and I prefer to stay a good distance away from photographic culture. What matters is shooting what you feel like shooting, concentrate on that, and the equipment comes second.”
I can’t help but see Sally Mann in Laboile’s work, but I think that is unavoidable; children in the country, growing up free, skillfully captured in black and white. I love reading about photographic history, and the work of others. I find the work of others very inspiring, educational, and grounding. Comparing oneself to others is both a valuable way to get better, and a way to shackle oneself into immobility.
I want to know what others have done, if only so if I develop a style very similar to someone else’s, I know it before it is pointed out to me. I’m not sure the struggle against comparison is made easier by not having a lot to which to compare myself. I’m still thinking about this.
Alain Laboile’s webite can be found here.
I can also be found on Twitter:
— Casey Clough (@cloughphoto) April 12, 2015