lotus photography
in other news...
As many of you know, I've been decidedly busy these past months. Starting this Depth of Field contest is exciting and revealing and consuming. I'm enthralled with the processes of communicating, confused by the practices of marketing, and generally stimulated by the culmination of all these pieces.

To make matters more exciting, I accepted a solo show at a huge coffee shop in Portland. Albina Press of Hawthorne is fairly new extension of its original shop on Albina street in North Portland, and has a LOT of wall space. So, I printed and printed and printed, and somehow managed to produce enough to fill the walls.

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This posting is a bit tardy, as the opening reception was held on April 3rd. However...the pictures from FIELD GUIDE will be up through the month of April.

I invite you to check out the photos and give feedback on what you think of my wall-space-filling. I'm young and learning and appreciate feedback. If you are reading this blog, I probably am interested to hear what you have to say :)

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I had some incredible people help me put this together. Look at how great they are! (photographs courtesy of Stephen Brooks)
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...and in the end, this is what it looked like:
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it's a great idea...
A few months back, I came up with the idea to start a not-for-profit photography contest. The thought was that photographers are looking for an outlet for their work. Non profit organizations are engaged in an endless battle to spread their mission and gain support. Why not give p'graphers an avenue on which to showcase their talent? Why not make that avenue the same one that helps the visual identity of non-profit missions?

And from the mire, Depth of Field was born. A photography contest focused on social change, acknowledging the needs of artists and aspiring to create networks and visibility for both.

So, here's the published skinny on Depth of Field. Keep reading, I think you will be inspired.

Lotus Photography is sponsoring a new, innovative photography contest called Depth of Field. Depth of Field (DoF) collaborates with local and national non-profits to create photography contests that generate images, cash donations and prizes (winner takes home a Canon 5D Mark II or $2000 cash) for the sponsored organization and contestants. Through these contests, DoF addresses the expressed need from both photographers and non-profit organizations to increase visibility and scope of work.

Working closely with sponsored organizations, DoF comes up with a contest theme that will generate useful media and raise awareness of the organization's mission. Winning and non-winning images may be used by the organization, providing an incredible opportunity for photographers to gain professional contacts and exposure. The organization is given rights to use all images submitted to their contest for one calendar year, while photographers maintain ownership.

I invite you to visit the website for more information: www.dofcontest.org

We are in the midst of our first contest for SCRAP!, a Portland-based non profit committed to supporting creative reuse in the community. The theme for this contest is: Second Time Around: Reused. Reclaimed. Reconsidered.
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We are accepting entries until April 19th, so get them in as soon as possible! It is $25 to enter, but remember, you are supporting photographers and community organizations....AND, remember that the winner takes home a Canon 5D Mark II OR $2000 cash. There are cash prizes for 2nd place and honorable mentions.

Thanks for reading.  I really hope you will consider participating and encourage your photographer friends to get involved!!

keeping track

New faces.
New spaces.
There's a world ahead
of the one I've just left behind.
A world unseen by the eyes I know.

The cycle will do just as it's named.
The circle will grow.

New faces.
New spaces
won't replace what I know;
won't deny new love to grow.

Old memories transcend and new meaning ensues.
New meanings ensure old memory.

The cycle will do just as it's named.
The circle will grow.

The above diddy is from a scrap of paper I wrote on while at JFK, leaving for a study abroad program in Spain.
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It was early February 2003 and I was sad to leave my boyfriend, my family, my friends...I also had a general phobia of meeting new people. Carving myself a pedestal amidst contemporaries was not a strength. I preferred, and continue to prefer, the understanding that comes with a slow burn. Unfortunately for me, that's not how it works when you're twenty-one. I imagine I was trying to convince myself that all would be well with the world, or at least my world.

I found this gem, among others, in my opportunistic attempt to clear the clutter before my move across town. There were some winners and due reminders that I have been and continue to be well loved.
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Despite the expansive collection of paper memories, there were few that really brought me back to 'who I was' at a given time. There I was, sitting on the floor with a lap full of dusty paper, getting obsessed with my failure to keep track of myself. In my frenzy to 'remember myself', I regretted not keeping a journal. But, I've never been one for journaling. It's always seemed like too much effort; to articulate the nuances of thinking, the subtleties of emotion. Eeek. Plus, I'm a Gemini-- inconsistencies are the name of the game.
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Designing a tattoo for my friend...during Andalucian History class.

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My 15 year old English student took me to a Japanese-style photo booth. These girls were professional.

The pieces that sparked the most visceral time-travel were concert stubs, mix tapes and mix CDs. I don't think give music enough credit as a historical indicator. Musicians are documenting the pulse of culture through sound and language. And they cover a lot of ground because really, they say just as much with what they don't say as with what they do say. I will take this into consideration, starting...now.

Check out my musical coolness:
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(not pictured: Hootie and the Blowfish, Paula Cole, Michelle Shocked, John Prine, Cowboy Junkies, G-Love and Special Sauce, Third Eye Blind...I don't know where all those stubs went!)

In my afternoon of striving to keep track, I lost many hours, remembered more than a few warm memories and have come away with the general sentiment that it's best to keep moving. It may momentarily validate your horrible poetry or your embarrassing blog entry, and it may allow you to say, "look how far I've come"...but let's be honest-- You will learn something new today, and in that process, you'll step off of the point you were at yesterday. The world will be different and so will you. The crazy thing is that you probably won't notice this change. The phenomena is tragic in it's subtlety. But more importantly, isn't is essential? If I were truly successful in 'keeping track', I would surely be crippled by the sticky clouds of nostalgia.

...sometimes the aura of a memory is just more helpful than reliving the whole darn thing.

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"The attitude that nature is chaotic and that the artist puts order into it is a very absurd point of view, I think. All that we can hope for is to put some order into ourselves." Willem De Kooning.

I dove into one of my regularly visited blogs and found myself one...two...three clicks later, watching Robert Rauschenberg explain his notorious piece, "Erased De Kooning". You can watch it too.      

Rauschenberg is criticized for taking away a masterpiece. People, are you serious? Robert went to Willem's home and asked him for something to erase, and he got what he asked for. I don't see stealing in this equation. I see a refreshing approach to an otherwise cumbersome High Society. Rauschenberg was no stranger to controversial critique. He ruffled the groomed feathers of Art society with his propensity to mix mediums and explore, successfully, different styles.
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I recently house-sat for some friends in Sherwood. They live in a high-density neighborhood right on the edge of the urban growth boundary.  I found myself thinking about what it meant to have this intense community backed up to noble tree farms, to cabbage farms, to the only urban national wildlife refuge, Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge.
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I would walk their dog along the boundary and feel uncomfortable. I either wanted to be in the mix of young kids skateboarding and people chatting at the edge of their open garage OR I wanted to be in the fields.
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It felt awkward walking the line.

I related to the angry critics of Rauschenberg. We have erased the beauty of this land. We have erased a masterpiece. How dare we! And, we didn't ask for permission. The new home of the new homes will never exist as it originally did. We have lost a piece of art, a piece of history, a piece of land.

But then again, aren't these new homes, these suburban social traditions creating another piece of art? Another history? Another draft of the landscape?

And, isn't that the same thing Rauschenberg did? Before the homes were there, hadn't we erased a previous painting of the "original" landscape? Noble tree farms replaced a forest. Cabbage fields replaced an oak savanna. So, I tried to tone down my dramatic feelings of repulse for our manic home-building and took out my camera.
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Living things want a home. Douglas Fir will thrive in a good home. Noble Fir will too. Gary Oak will spread till it can spread no more. Cabbage will do the same. Humans will make a home that is safe and social. And in doing so, will make art by erasing art...just like the cabbage does.

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intuition changes

I traded cameras with a friend this week. How exciting! This means that I'm using a Nikon D70 and my friend has the pleasure of using the precious Mamiya 645pro. I've realized a few things...

1. Digital is extensive. You can take a lot of pictures, which is great for practicing. You can look at your image in an instant. You can use auto focus ;) I lured some friends into my "living room-turned glamour studio", with the promise of stunning renditions of themselves...and, vino. The outcome: questionable stunning-ness., unquestionable entertainment. Here are some out takes:

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that's brooklyn, seattle and chi-town, at your service.

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he's charming. really.

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hoopy. loopy.

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she's good at what she does.

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so is she.

2. I like what I know and I don't know Nikon so well. The Mamiya is intuitive, but then again, I've been using it for years. Practice with the 'new' technology will help, I'm certain of it. But will I ever get over the fact that photography, a medium utterly dependent on light, is engaged in a serious affair with the pixel...a human-generated grain of film? If you know me, you know how much I appreciate science. I can't believe how amazingly well our algorithms have come to truly interpreting light. However, film is still documenting light. Digital is still computing light. Legitimate or otherwise, I feel like this makes me less of a photographer. Does it? Let's think...

The Portland Art Museum's most recent exhibit was a photographic series,
Wild Beauty: Photographs of the Columbia River Gorge, 1867-1957
. It documented the gorge and its transitions, both social and geographical, that came in large part with the addition of two major dams.

Carleton Watkins was prolific in this exhibit. He was hired by construction companies to document the landscape before (and during) the impending changes. At the time of his early trips to the gorge (approx. 1867), photography was considered a science. It was not an art...and that's no surprise. Photography was new on the scene and far from accessible to the masses. Cameras were large and cumbersome, not to mention "negatives", as we know them, did not exist. Photographers were curious chemists who experimented with light sensitive chemicals on glass and metal plates. That being said, those whose images we admire today are few...and therefore special. Making a beautiful image in 1867, in the rugged topography and weather in the Columbia Gorge was mastered by Watkins. He had vision and tenacity; strength and scientific know-how.

He was shooting with a mammoth plate camera. This is an image of a camera similar to his.

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A person must be admired or at least appreciated for making such striking images under such challenging conditions. One had to have a true mastery of science and art...he didn't have light meters, auto-focus, instant previews; he had to use intuition, a keen understanding of light and deep knowledge of chemistry.

this is one of my favorites. columbia gorge b/w mosier and the dalles.

Maybe roll film replaced glass plates with the same confidence that pixels are taking over roll film.  I guess the fact remains that there will always be a necessary intuition behind any good photograph or photographer. What changes is the nature of the intuition. Could Watkins have made a successful picture with a Mamiya 645? Could Terry Richardson with a mammoth albumen? Can Ani Nelson with a Nikon D70?

I think we all can...in due time.

blue skies
I went to a lecture this afternoon by the two photographers showing at Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, OR...Tony Mendoza and Brad Temkin.

Brad discussed his photos from Relics, a body of black and white images he'd taken in Northern Europe. He captures "manuments" on stark landscapes; man-made relics left for dead in forgotten fields, freeway corridors, cow pastures... They take on a life of their own, especially in their large (approx. 40x60) format!
What struck me most about Brad was his propensity for people. He spoke casually but effectively. He engaged a room full of strangers. He shared stories of his encounters with humans in all of his other bodies of work. But there we were, looking at piles of rocks, rusted re-bar, old tires...there were no people. Not even a trace of human activity. Or so it seemed...

I wondered if his affinity for socializing had something to do with the success of his pictures. It was as if the culmination of time and his activated curiosity for human stories produced in him, the ability to know what we want; to know that we will be drawn into expansive landscapes and larger-than-life relics.
Hayroll+2005.jpg Predicting the future...on a limb...one photograph at a time.

More about Tony on our next encounter...

ode to my predecessors
The word, the spoken and the written word, has the most immediate impact on human beings; in contrast, matter speaks more slowly. --Alvar Aalto

Aalto was an architect and designer from Finland and a true pioneer in Modern design. He is perhaps most famous for his Paimio chair (If you live in Portland and know about the Aalto Lounge, know that it is named for this fine character and that the graphic on their sign is a rendition of the Paimio chair).

I strive (and hopefully all of us do) for an aesthetic that will sustain decades of change, visual and otherwise. Aalto is one of those artists who quietly achieved this benchmark. He was simultaneously forward thinking and rooted in history. He understood classic design but was not afraid to predict what we would like.

William Eggleston is arguably my favorite photographer and I believe he lives in this same category. In 1976, John Szarkowski curated the first, one-man color photography show for MoMA in New York City. Reputations were on the line and honestly, it took years for them to recover. At first glance, Eggleston's photographs could have been taken by your 10-year old niece.
They represented the banal, the mundane, the "unworthy" slices of life in his home, Memphis, Tennessee. The public was outraged. Artists emphatically opposed Szarkowski's choice. Ansel Adams went so far as to write him a two page letter expressing is discontent. "I find little 'substance'. For me, [Eggleston's photographs] appear to be 'observations,' floating on the sea of his consciousness... For me, most draw a blank."

Despite grim reactions, this show catapulted color photography into the "art" world and eventually served as the foundation for Eggelston's success. In today's context, Eggleston's photos receive a wildly different response. And while some maintain their initial ground, he has become one of the most influential, respected photographers to date. In fact, William Eggleston's Guide (the book that was produced for that initial show) is more often than not, sold out on Amazon.com.

We change, Eggleston's tricycle is the same tricycle.

His work is showing at the Whitney in NYC until January 25th. It is his first show in the city since 1976. If this has made you at all interested in the man, you may enjoy this article from New York Magazine.

Until next time...

Ani's Photo Blog

I had a crazy professor in college that published books...lots of books, and refused to capitalize any letters. She felt it was one of the many internalized processes of "othering" that were practiced by educated human beings. Exclusion and isolation led to power, discrimination and division. The final paper I wrote for that class was published. I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

The best way to describe my relationship with photography at that time was true, blinding love. I had confidence that I could blur the lines of duality with a single photographic experience; assurance that I would join the ranks of photographers who change how people see. In short, I was going to revolutionize communication...and I would drive it with the power of love. So it stands to reason that this final paper would extract a small photographic property and make it explode with purpose. It is the human propensity for monochromatic thinking that waters the roots of "othering".

Boy, I was really proud of that conclusion. I guess things like this lose a bit of their University flare when they're not tucked safely inside university walls. The point is, as my contextual knowledge of photographs grew, I developed a strong affinity for joining the non-joinable in all manner of subjects. Do non-sequiturs really hold water?! Don't our brains have a mind of their own? If you aren't convinced, hang out with a toddler for the day and you will know this as fact.

Photographs are a secret passage into all kinds of relationships. They are nostalgic and prophetic at the same time and I think that is so cool.

I like vacationing here. Maybe you will too...

Depth of Field Contest
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