Saturday, July 31, 2010

Theatre of the Oppressed in Afghanistan

There is a theatre director by the name of Augusto Boal who has come up with a series of theatre games and exercises which he calls Theatre of the Oppressed which can be used to raise awareness of issues with non-actors and help people see how oppression works in a society.  It's marvelous work and something that I've been interested in for years as it marries my interests in theatre and politics.

I'm also a member of a group called Women Arts, which publishes a monthly email newsletter of funding opportunities for women in the arts.  I got it today and read about an amazing woman named Kayhan Irani from New York who went to Afghanistan to train Afghani actors in it's use!  You can read her wonderful blog about it HERE.

Here's another photo from my trip last fall to Gladding McBean Pottery.  I'm not sure what this image came to mind, but who am I to argue with my subconcious!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Life and Death

I haven't blogged much about Al Kreutzberger, my father-in-law, but for the past three years, Al has been living about 15 minutes away from us in an independent living seniors complex where each person had their own apartment but they could also eat in the communal dining room and use the other facilities - library, workout room and card room.  It's a lovely facility that seems like a fine hotel and I hope that when the Sweet Hubby and I are ready for it, we can find such a similar place.

Sweet Hubby went over to have lunch with his Dad four times a week and also run errands for him as Al suffered from macular degeneration in addition to many other maladies and used a walker to get around.  He would come over to our house every Sunday when I would make dinner for us.  It became a custom, a habit, a tradition.  It continued when he found a girlfriend at River's Edge, Pat just came along and joined the party.

Those days  have ended for us with Al's passing early on Saturday, July 24th at his apartment with his family around.  I've been thinking about the lessons I've learned from him, as I agree with Wayne Dyer that each person who comes into our lives for a reason.  Probably the biggest lesson I learned from him was patience - with others and with ourselves.  Thanks Al!  The photo below shows him during his last fishing trip to Canada about 15 years ago.  He loved to fish, listen to baseball and classical music, opera, read talking books and loved his family.  We will miss you Al!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Santa Fe Workshop - Part 2

Over the weekend, I was talking on the phone to a friend of mine who is also an artist, albeit a literary one rather than a performing or visual one.  She eagerly asked me how I thought the workshop had impacted my creative work.  With tongue firmly planted in cheek, I told her that I was thinking of setting up a "real" photography studio for portraits - NOT.  I'm happy in my little artist's studio at the back of our lot here at Dragon Hacienda.  At least for now. 

But I got to thinking about how the work I did and the critiques I received have impacted my work.  I know that I'll be a better editorial/PR photographer.  I learned some very good lessons in working with models and materials.  I'm no longer a nude photography "virgin" and that breasts in water are "headlights".  I also learned about myself and other people and our reactions to each others' work.  Like everyone else, I have a tendency to think I'm a terrible artist when I receive criticism.  I also learned to take that little guy in my head, that was telling me I was no good, to sit down and shut up!  I even put some duck tape over his mouth!!!

But one of the main things that I've learned is that I need to be more brutal when editing images.  It was no one else's fault that I was up to 2 AM.  It was my fault because I couldn't make up my mind about a series of shots!  My eye has now become more discerning as to technically what is a good photograph and what might work in one of my collages. 

To this end, before I share any more of the Santa Fe work with you, dear reader, I'm going through the photo shoot I did up at Gladding McBean in Lincoln.  This is a huge commercial pottery that makes big sewer pipes and statues and such.  I'm going to winnow out 6 good black and white shots and perhaps another 6 that I might use for source material for some of my blended collage work.  Then, I'm actually going to delete the rest of them!  This is a big step for me as I want to keep copies of just about everything.

I call this one, "Going in Circles".

Monday, July 12, 2010

Santa Fe Photo Workshop - Part 1

Many photographers, even those who are my friends, are horrified that I will "despoil" an image by manipulating it or adding other images to it. There were many very good photographers in my class ranging from those who blog about it to those who have their own portrait studios to those who use it as a creative  outlet from their careers as doctors.  Yes, a diverse group and then there's me!  I always try to describe myself as an artist who uses photography although I have shot editorial photos for PR clients. 

The name of this workshop was "Dreams and Imagination", led by world famous photographer Elizabeth Opalenik.  In a nut shell she was giving these photographers who had been so conscious of focus, permission to shoot out of focus (amoung other things) to create a feeling or a mood.  I try to do this by blending and combining images and perhaps adding drawings to the piece or pulling it into my Painter program to push color around.  We were also going to be able to shoot models, both costumed and nude.

Opalenik first talked about the difference between taking and making pictures and opined that all photographs are in the end, self portraits.  She also spoke about a book which I have not read yet called "Zen and the Art of Archery".  Then our first assignment, to go out to meditate and then take a few photos from where we were seated outside on the grounds of the Carmelite Nunnery (cloistered) where the Santa Fe Photographic Workshop has made it's home for the past 20 odd years.

I came back with this photo, which I think is successful in creating a feeling.

I was sitting in the doorway that connected an outdoor patio with outside the building.  It was an old brown wooden door with keyhole.  I was going for the other side of the interior - sort of an Alice in Wonderland feeling for me.  Of course as an artist, I have always felt that I was on the outside looking in.

Our next assignment that day was to shoot a portrait of our partner in a beauty and the beast mode - what they thought was the best and worst of themselves. In a way, my partner Helen and I, mistook the assignment,  We revealed much to each other about our childhoods, teen years and our strengths and weaknesses. We also talked about what we liked and didn't like about ourselves.  Then we took photos.  Opalenik came around and started to give us a few suggestions and tips which were readily employed.  I really liked that she would go from group to group to do this.  Helen and I then went out for a bite to eat and then it was time to go back to my room to process the photos and be there tomorrow morning at 8:30 am - arrg!

It was a double arrg when my cell phone alarm awakened me after only having had about 5 hrs of sleep that night.  I staggered back to the campus the next morning for the critique, which was a bit
brutal but very honest.  The photos I shot of Helen were very cliched and not very good technically.  I did get a few tips from feedback from other people's photos: Overexposing a portrait a bit will get rid of those pesky wrinkles we get as we age and to create a blurry, dream-like effect one can shoot with a long exposure while walking towards the subject.  Another tip we got was if the photographer wears white, it will bounce light back into the subject's eyes!  I'll be shopping for a white shirt this coming week!  The final tip of that day was to get an image when something is moving where the subject stays in focus but the background blurs, one should try to pan with the movement.

Of course this was only the 2nd project that I had run on manual mode, so I didn't beat myself up too much.  Today (I wrote this Sunday on the plane) I gave myself permission to begin combining photos to get a better portrait of Helen, which I think I have in the image below.  To me this is her as a Chinese girl looking in on American culture.  Once I get her email address, I will have to ask her if she thinks it works!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Santa Fe Photo Workshop

I truly was going to find the time to blog during this Santa Fe Photo Workshop w/Elizabeth Opalenik, but I had not realized the intensity of the week.  Today is Thursday and I'm sitting in class while other folks are downloading images to write this now. 

We are here at 8:30 in the morning to sometimes 9 at night and then going home to download the process images.  I find that it's hard to make intelligent choices that late at night when I'm so drag-assed tired.

My feedback to them would be to start sessions later in the morning and not schedule so many artists talk
at 8:30 in the evening. (I only made one of them).

This said, I would highly recommend any a workshop by Opalenik for any photographer or artist who uses photography as a basis for their work.

The image above is the beginning of a series of abstracts taken from the old prison walls.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Spicey Santa Fe

Here I am in Santa Fe to attend one of the Photo Workshops - Dreams and Imagination by Elizabeth Opalenik.  But I came a couple of days early so that I could visit my wonderful friend Robin Cole and her hubby Vic Ulmer.  We had a great dinner last night at the Bull Ring and driving back to where I'm staying I saw the most beautiful double rainbow - good omen of the week to come!

I'll be posting some really incredible shots later today on the Flickr site
Robin and I are taking a girl's getaway to Taos on Saturday so look for more photos then!