I’m in the midst of several scheduled art fairs, including two coming up over consecutive weekends. I’ve also been traveling quite a bit, and have two major trips scheduled for the fall, one to Acadia National Park, and the second tentatively to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. To say I’ve been busy is an understatement, but when it involves what you are passionate about, the effort and work involved comes easy for me. I really enjoy the art fairs, and always look forward to meeting new people, and answering questions about my work. Having someone purchase a print is always a highlight. I’ve made several observations that seem to repeat themselves at every show, and I thought I would share those here.
The most common question I get is whether or not I manipulate my images, to which I always answer a simple “yes”. Trying to explain what “manipulate” means for me is not always an option either because of time, or because the person asking has already decided that I’m not practicing “pure” photography. Occasionally I can elaborate and explain my philosophy and workflow, which I’ve also written about extensively here, and usually find people receptive and satisfied with my explanations. Many find it difficult to imagine the variety of colors and moods that are present at different times of day, especially sunrise and sunset when I shoot most of my images. Many are used to seeing familiar landscapes at “normal” hours, and wonder how it has been transformed by my clever “computer” manipulation. A simple explanation of how sunlight changes throughout the day, or how rain and fog interact with light to transform a scene, usually ease any suspicion of “fakery”. Perhaps the pervasiveness of Photoshop forgery in the media is at the root of these questions. I don’t resent them, except when I’m “guilty” before proving my innocence. I had one person walk into my booth sporting a very expensive camera and when he overheard me answering “yes” to another manipulation question, he quickly added “I don’t feel so bad now about my shots now.”
Another common question or set of questions revolve around my use of camera, printer, paper, etc. This is often the sign of another photographer trying to get some “undercover” info about my own work and methods. I am certainly not one that believes in trade secrets, and if they would tell me who they were, I would be more enthusiastic about sharing my knowledge, most of it garnered from other generous artists. Some of the most inspiring artists’ I’ve met, both in terms of their creative work and energy, have also been some of the most generous and humble people I’ve known. In this world of so much competition, many artist’s forget that we’re a tiny minority and need to work together to make art more appreciated and accepted in the mainstream population. I do meet many hobbyist’s and serious amateurs, and I’m always enthusiastic about their questions, and enjoy sharing tips and techniques.
And finally, most people who make a purchase usually spend a long time looking at the image they’re interested in, and eventually just say they want to purchase it. Rarely are there any technical questions, and usually the discussion centers around either their reaction to the image, or my “story” about the image. This has always been the goal for me as a creative artist, whether in music or photography. And when I can achieve this “connection” with a viewer, it fuels my determination and commitment to achieve my goals as a landscape photographer.