Critique Reinforced a Change in Direction

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I recently went to a portfolio review hosted by Richard Kelly. Not only was it valuable to hear critique of my own images but the overall evening was insightful. The experience of seeing the work of other photographers while listening to the critique of their work motivated me in an unexpected way.


Sue Abramson was the artist doing the reviews. Prior to her individual review of the each photographers work, she gave a presentation of her book “A Woodlands Journal”. Her imagery was captivating. But most impressive to me was her commitment to the subject for 4 decades. It reinforced how much I just bounce around with my camera.


I was torn between the styles of presentation of her review. The projected digital images allowed the entire group to see in a theater setting. However, all of the bumps associated with electronic presentation were there.


I do enjoy looking at a print & this method of review allowed a broader critique of the images as well as the perspective of examining the story/style. The downside was that it’s hard for a group of people to gather around a table to engage with what she was saying & demonstrating. The options for sharing our work are numerous & should be molded to the venue and the viewer.


Most of the work of the other photogs at the review had some sort of underlying nucleus. It was inspiring to see & learn about the vision of talented local photographers who have, or are exploring, a personal style in their artistic endeavors.


During all of her critiques it wasn’t so much the specific comments she gave that resonated with me. It was her overall perspective looking at the collections of the images of the other photographers that opened a new vista for me.


My “portfolio of images” had no theme & is best described as eclectic without foundation. I doubt my motivation in photography will ever become focused on one genre. I believe I am destined to be a generalist. I have recognized this for a while & embrace the diversity. However, the next review session I take part in I will put together a theme of images, which I believe will result in a more valuable feedback.


Critiquing my images Ms. Abramson encouraged me to pursue subjects I mentioned I enjoy like dance & sailboats while giving relevant critique on some of my other images. I realized that on this blog the written support is the strength of my style of story telling. While my images on any particular posting have some commonality, the visual theme usually is linked by the text. I’ve put more emphasis on prose than image continuity in an effort to improve my writing.


As you can see by the images in this posting, the subjects of my photography are diverse. I like the challenge of some subjects. I believe it’s important to document the human condition. Often something will just catch my eye. People have so many varied activities I am motivated to capture candid moments. The beauty in the natural world is an inspiring subject. I’ve gotten better at tuning my eyes to light & shadow. I also have become comfortable with Photoshop to enhance or occasionally modify an image. I’ve even ventured into the challenges of Black & White. The title of the Scorsese film about Dylan No Direction Home resonates.


I can not ignore the inspiration I got in my youth from photojournalism. I will still attempt to capture moments that resonate ideas. However, the ability of using photography to expand & explore creative points of view is something I will try to embrace.

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My take away from the evening motivated me to change my publishing schedule for this blog from twice a month to a more relaxed “whenever I have something to say” deadline. I had been feeling some self-inflicted pressure to do the 2-blog postings a month I’ve done since 11/15. I’m now motivated to explore a more visually dominate approach to story telling. I’ve proven to myself the writing of stories to accompany my photos in the style of “show & tell” is something I can do.

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I will be interested to see where this leads. Comments & suggestions are always welcome. After 73 blogs that began over 3 years ago using over 58 thousand words I no longer find value in a self-imposed deadline. Spelling… always a work in progress.

What’s in Your Camera Bag?

Almost all interviews with photogs ask some version of this question. Some are interesting but most are redundant & only hit on “big ticket” stuff. I’ve always felt “bag-o-tricks” items are overlooked so I will include some of mine.


Almost all interviews with photogs ask some version of this question. Some are interesting but most are redundant & only hit on “big ticket” stuff. I’ve always felt “bag-o-tricks” items are overlooked so I will include some of mine.

Weight of the backpack, which is about exclusively all photo gear for travel, is 17lbs. Checked luggage is 33 lbs.

Canon 7D & 7DM2. Traveling pancake 40mm on 7d & 28mm on MII. 100-400mm, 85mm & 1 18-135mm. 2 neck straps &1 sling strap. 152G CF and 140G SD memory cards in old video lens filter pouches. A Tascam DR-5 with a cute baby tripod that fits into an old army belt pouch. 4 cam bats & 2 chargers, 6 AA batts, ear buds, 2 32 gig micro mini cards & spare back cap. 2 Cliff Bars, mini carabineer, 6’ of sash cord, zip ties, lock & key…another lock keyed the same with a duplicate key is in checked luggage. Business cards, notebook, pens, Sharpie &yellow G-tape…wrapped around pouches. Lens pen, lens cleaners, sensor cleaner, chamois, neoprene pouches, towel, misc. pouches, & garbage bag. Duplicate printed logistical info, photocopy passport & spare reading glasses.

Inside checked luggage is a Kindle, flex-fill, tripod, remote shutter release w/2 sets of batts, a OTS run bag, a dry bag, another backpack, AC adapters, Swiss Army knife, spare sunglasses, head/sweat bands, 1 more pair of reading glasses & more cliff bars. Since American Airlines only has 1 flight a day to Cienfuegos from Miami I am putting faith in St. Christopher to get my luggage to Cuba with me.

Just before the end of my career I reached 1 million actual miles with American Airlines. To many on the crews I worked with this is amateur status. Working on remotes with TV gear & traveling to sporting events gave me a lot of experience & insight into the priority of packing. The blending of available space, necessity & redundancy is critical to being prepared…a skill I began learning in Boy Scoutsl

Once in Cuba I will reconfigure bags as the days unfold. I will be curious when I return to see what gear I wish I would have had and also what gear I should have left at home. Redundancy is important on key components & I think I’m covered. Fingers crossed. The weak link is camera memory cards, which I will not be backing up. I have never had any issues & offer respectful wishes to Mnemosyne to watch over my cards.

No laptop. A few of my reasons for excluding it are logistical…more electronics, more cables, another device to worry about keeping charged & poor/no Internet. Also, I would rather spend time with people not a laptop & be “Off The Grid”. Also no Terrible Towel.

Why the Kindle? In addition to logistical info docs, I’m loading it with images from my library for a cultural Show & Tell. I believe a core motivation of all photogs is to share your images. I also hope this will be a path to engage Cubans I meet.

I will start sharing on this blog images & stories from this trip after Valentines Day!