Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"Reverberations" Opening This Saturday, Feb 28

Form+Content, Traffic Zone, and CVA Action are happy to announce the opening of "Reverberations" - the first juried show of former students from the College of Visual Arts. The opening reception is this Saturday, February 28th, from 6-9 pm in the warehouse district of downtown Minneapolis.

I'm the vice president of the CVA Action board, and we've done a lot of work to make this happen. (We're working to keep alive the community of artists who came out of CVA after it closed 2 years ago.) Lynda Monick-Isenberg (former Chair of the Foundation Department at CVA) has worked so hard on this show as well. We were honored to have the show juried by Kristin Makholm, the Executive Director at the Minnesota Museum of American Art. She narrowed down almost 350 pieces to the 40-some you can see in the show. I was happy to have been picked as one in the show, along with a few of the other CVA Action board members.

The show was hung in the 2 galleries on Sunday and Monday night, and I was there to help on Monday.

Wrapping up install at TZ: (l to r) Lynda, Sonja Olson (CVA Action board), Vesna from TZ, John Marshall
(former head of Photo at CVA for 12 years), and Ed Charbonneau (CVA Alumni and former faculty).

CVA Action Instagrammed this next photo, saying "Recognize these former CVA professors hanging the Reveberations show?"

Ed, John, Lynda, and Ellen (head of Photo at CVA for the final 2 years).
Follow CVA Action on Instagram.

This isn't all the work in the TZ Gallery, but here are 2 overall shots:

I hung all of these except for the right one. (The lighting still needs to be adjusted.)

John and Ed hung all of these in record time.

Then I headed over to the F+C Gallery to see the rest of the show. There's a lot of work in this space, and it looks great! Here are 2 overall shots that only really show about half the art:

So stop by Form+Content (210 N 2nd Street, Mpls, 55401) and Traffic Zone this Saturday from 6-9 for the opening. There will be food and wine. And there will be an after party hosted by CVA Action at Bev's Wine Bar which is right next to TZ:

Bev's big sign on the right, with the 2 yellow road signs
(with the arrow pointing to them) for Traffic Zone just to the left.

Hope to see you there! (Here's the official event page on Facebook if you'd like to join.)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

MN Original: Katherine Turczan

Tomorrow evening, a grad advisor from MCAD (and an amazing photographer) will be featured on MN Original:

Direct link:

Check it out at 6 & 10 p.m. on PBS.

UPDATE: here's a link to Katherine's entire 10 minute piece on MN Original. Check it out.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Photos Notes: Vandalized!

A few days ago, I shared this photo of the board in my class after the first "nerdy" day of class. We've added to the notes a bit, and they're still on the board for reference. This week, when I raised up the projector screen at the start of class, someone had "vandalized" my notes. Here's what I found:

Santa was added to my section about "white balance:" he's riding down the shadow.

I noted we will NOT be using an automatic mode. Someone interpreted it this way (which I'm OK with).

No. It's "Depth of field." Not "Donuts on fire."

My "compression settings" corner of the board had numbers added to it to become a "hotness scale."

That's film grain. Not berries.

Well, it really doesn't take a long shutter speed for it to all fall apart. That one I'll allow.

Nope. ISO does not stand for "Icky Sexual Otters." No matter how much either of us want it to.

Here's to an educational (and entertaining) semester.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Second Day of Class

I recently Instagrammed this photo:

"Nerdy day in class today."

The best Instagram comment from a friend was "I sense a deep irony that this photo was probably taken on automatic mode from a cell phone :)"

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Upcoming Juried Show at Form+Content

FORM+CONTENT has just announced it's upcoming juried show, and I was one of the selected artists:

A juried exhibition, exhibited in FORM+CONTENT and Traffic Zone Arts, featuring work of artists who attended the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul, MN

Juried by Kristin Makholm, Executive Director of the Minnesota Museum of American Art.

Saturday, February 28, 6-9 pm with an ongoing performance “Dear One” by artist Aki Shibata.

Hope to see you there on the 28th!

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Kill Your Darlings

It's easy to feel too attached to your work as a photographer. "I made this. It's special." Well, not to burst your bubble, but it might not be. As another semester begins, here's a good reminder to my students (and to myself) - it's an article written by Alen Steadman called "Kill Your Darlings: 3 Techniques that’ll Help You Honestly Evaluate Your Own Work."

In his opening, Steadman says "In order to produce quality work you have to be able to effectively critique your own creations. You should be just as harsh on yourself as you were on the ‘undeserving photographer’ with his own show, or that ‘hack’ that got the photo feature in your favorite magazine or newspaper." Here's what he recommends:

1) Take Time Away: Go shoot something else and come back later

Perhaps the most common way is to simply take some time away. Sometimes we get so steeped in our own heads we can’t see the forest for the trees. When this happens, we need to take a deep creative breath and break away from our work for a bit.

Step away from your photos for a while and go shoot something else. It’s harder to be objective about a fresh photo because you’re still in love with the idea of it. Go fall in love with another photo then come back and see how strong your feelings are for your previous creation.

This works, and when I say that I’m speaking from experience. This solution is one I employ quite often because I’ve developed a bad habit of finding small elements in every photo that I fall in love with.

This makes it incredibly hard to choose favorites and cut the fat, and while this habit will likely make me a good father some day it does nothing for my photo editing skills.

As a result, I’ve resorted to stepping away from my work for a few days (and sometimes even a week or two if the project permits) on several occasions, and it has always helped me better evaluate the quality and merit of my work.

2) Ask a friend’s opinion (but don’t tell them it’s your photo)

Of course we don’t all have the convenience of time. So, if taking a break isn’t a viable option, I recommend another common solution: ask a friend or associate to look at your darlings.

There is a caveat here though. For better or worse, our friends and family aren’t often willing to dish out the brutal honesty we so desperately need. You were just able to push aside the excuses and finally create something, the last thing they want to do is tear you down (at least with most friends and family).

What they don’t understand is that, despite their heart being in the right place, lying to spare our feelings does you a great disservice. This is why I recommend doing a bit of lying yourself!

Tell them you’re looking at a friend’s photo or an associate asked you for notes, anything to make them think it isn’t yours. They’ll be far more comfortable being brutally honest with you if they don’t think it’s your work they’re criticizing.

Plus, you get the bonus of seeing their embarrassed face when you confess your secret… and that’s priceless.

3) Use the ‘Soft-Delete’ to see if you REALLY like the shot

Finally, the last tactic I find very useful is the ‘soft-delete.’ If you have a photo you’re on the fence about, go ahead and save the RAW image or source file, but delete it from the batch of photos you’re editing or move it out of the main folder… then gauge your reaction to ‘deleting’ it.

You may freak out, immediately change your mind, and want it back in the collection. Or you may longingly remember it in a few days and choose to add it back. More likely, if you’re like me anyways, you will probably NEVER think about that photo again. Regardless of the outcome, you have an answer you can trust.

Usually, ‘on the fence’ is synonymous with ‘shouldn’t make the cut,’ but that pesky voice in the back of your head keeps telling you that it’s special because YOU created it. It’s not… and this is one of the most effective ways to sidestep that voice and be more honest with yourself.

Getting used to ‘killing your darlings’ is one of the best ways to improve your photography skills. It’ll prevent you from showcasing lackluster pieces of work and will ensure you always put your best foot forward.

I don't know if the 2nd one will work. Most of my photo friends can sniff out one of my photos from a mile away. But if you can make it work, it's a good idea.

Another thing that I've (accidentally) found to work (and that I've heard from other people too) is to not download your photos for a few days after shooting them. That gives you time to "disconnect" from the act of making your photos, and you can better judge the images as they stand on their own.

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