Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Holding Back

When I first started this blog, very few people I knew in “real” life were aware I had a one. It was that way when I first logged onto Facebook too. I even went as far as to use a new email address for my Facebook account, making it more difficult for people to find me. My anonymity did not last long and soon a lot of my “friends” on Facebook were people I knew both personally and professionally. I am enjoying this, but as a result, more people I know in the real world now know about this blog.

©2010 Dianne Poinski

Lately when I sit down to write a blog post I start thinking about who might read it and what they will think of me when they do. Who are these people I am afraid of? Some of them are other local photographers and artists. While I may be a bit intimidated, (which is mostly about me, not them), these are all people I respect and admire.

So why do I want to hide? One concern is I fear I am not qualified enough to share what I know in such a public forum. I also feel a little shy about promoting myself and my work here, on my website or in my newsletters (the fact that I even have a newsletter feels a little funny.)

Where does this come from? Part of it has to do with my qualifications. I don’t have a degree in photography (or anything else for that matter, but I did go to school to become an accountant). My understanding of the technical side of photography is limited. On top of that, even though I hand-color, I am not a painter and I lack basic knowledge of color theory. I know there will be some that argue that I am placing too much importance on this, and I am always working to educate myself as much as possible, but I often wonder what a diploma would have done for my confidence.

As more people find out I have this blog, these insecurities have made writing more difficult. There is this little voice in the back of my head whispering “who are you to be talking about photography?” “You are no expert.” And on my darker days….. “you are just a bookkeeper, not an artist”. I have also started to feel a reluctance to talk about the business I have been building around my photography for the last 15 years.

All this self doubt has made it feel like I have been holding back a bit and I don’t want to do that anymore. The blogs I love to read are the ones where they share their knowledge, while also giving me a glimpse into their lives. It feels good to know I am not the only one struggling to feel confident enough to call themselves an artist, or that they too would like to make some money with their art but are afraid to admit it.

All I know is that I am passionate about what I do and I enjoy sharing that. I love connecting with people this way and I am so grateful for all of you that have left comments or sent emails with support and encouragement. I have received a lot of positive feedback about my work over the years and I am going to try to keep that front and center instead of opening the door wide and letting the critics invade my head. If anyone has some suggestions on how to do this, that does not involve years of therapy, I would love to hear from you!

Another option is to start a completely different blog and not tell anybody. For a moment, I seriously considered this…………………

Image Info - Lighthouse on Vancouver Island near Victoria. This was not hand-colored, but I had a blast working on it!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dabbling in Delight

When I first started out in photography, I spent a few years taking children's portraits in black and white and then hand-coloring them. As it turned out, this was not really what I wanted to do, so I started recommending other photographers for these jobs instead.

Since then, whenever the subject of taking portraits comes up, I usually joke that "I don't take pictures of anything with eyes". I meant it too! Until I purchased my first digital "point & shoot" camera last year, I stopped even taking pictures of my own kids! (Thank you to my friends who passed on duplicates of photos they had shot at all the school and theater events my children participated in!)

My Facebook friends know that I recently attended the wedding of the daughter of one of my best friends. I have known Kelsey since she was 11 or 12, so this day was a special occasion for all of us.

While I was not the "designated" photographer, I did tell my friend that I would bring my camera and see what I could do as well. It was fun and I am sharing a few of the same shots here as I did on Facebook. These were all made from where I was sitting so I would not interfere with what the other photographers were doing. (An important thing to remember if you are ever attending a wedding as a guest and not "the" photographer.)

I was delighted to discover again that it doesn't matter what I am taking pictures of - I just love photography! Even when my subjects have eyes! I think I knew that on some level, but it's easily forgotten when you have turned your passion into a business. I couldn't wait to get these images uploaded so I could work on them!

Wedding photography can be very difficult and I can only imagine the stress those photographers must face each and every time they are hired for a job. I have heard people complain about the cost of wedding photographers, but in addition to the mental and emotional toll it can take, they have also invested thousands of dollars in equipment - much of which becomes obsolete in just a few years. They deserve the big bucks!

So congratulations Kelsey & Francisco! Wishing you a lifetime of health, laughter and love! Thanks for inviting me to be part of your special day..........

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Following up on my "Disappointment"....

I thought I would do a little follow up to my post "I am Disappointed” which expressed my frustration with the media over the handling of the tragic events following the Second Saturday activities in Sacramento last month. That post also included a call to the community to come together before things deteriorate even further.

I attended the community forum meeting on September 25th and left feeling like a dialogue had been started, but that it’s going to take some time and the cooperation of everyone to return Second Saturday to its original vision.

It was clear that the meeting was more about mid-town Sacramento in general and less about Second Saturday, but I do feel we were heard.

At the beginning of the meeting, forms were passed out for us to write down our concerns and list possible solutions. Different stations were set up that addressed specific issues. Some of these were parking, safety and special events. We were instructed to tape our form at the station that best represented our reason for attending the meeting.

Eventually a panel was presented to publicly discuss and answer some common questions. The panel consisted of representatives from the police department, the Midtown Business Association, Neighborhood Services, the city's parking department, and the ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control).

There was a lot of discussion in regards to parking and alcohol abuse. It’s obvious that this is not just a Second Saturday problem, but an ongoing concern of most residents.

When the topic of Second Saturday came up, many suggestions were made including, changing the times, eliminating amplified music, and requiring that street vendors be juried in. A detailed list of issues of concern and suggestions covered at this meeting can be found here: Community Forum.

Like I said at the beginning of this, I feel like a change will slowly happen, but I hope it’s not too late.

This past Saturday was the first Second Saturday since the events of last month.

Officials estimated that attendance was down 25%, but there could be many reasons besides fear for those numbers. There was a lot going on last Saturday including the members preview opening of the Crocker Art Museum and the "Sammies Block Party" happening right down the street from our studios.

I do believe we will find out next month though, that the fear generated from the media about Second Saturday is going to keep a lot of people home with their doors locked. I hope I am wrong, but I did have a conversation Saturday night with someone who told me when she mentioned to her friends that she was going out on Second Saturday; she was asked “if she was going to wear her bulletproof vest”.

I am going to choose to have faith that the people of Sacramento will decide that they are not going to let violence and fear rule their lives. It’s sad that this is the way the world is now, but common sense and awareness not only help minimize the risk of going out on Second Saturday, but also helps keep you safe the moment you get out of bed in the morning.

We are all free to choose how we view life. If you make decisions based on fear, I believe you miss out on a lot of the beauty and wonder that still exists all around us.

I will end with one of my favorite quotes by Albert Einstein: “There are two ways to live your life - one is as though nothing is a miracle, the other is as though everything is a miracle.” You decide…………………

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New to Art Festivals? My Top 5 Suggestions..

So I did it - my first art festival in 2 years. I am tired as well as a little sore. Between bringing all my work down the stairs from my studio earlier in the week, and then setting up and tearing down my booth this weekend, I worked muscles that had not moved in quite awhile.

Just like I imagined, it was great seeing old friends as soon as I got there. Socializing may have been a stall tactic too. This is what my space looked like before I got down to business.

Even though I have had this space before, I never put it together the same way twice. It takes awhile and many false starts before it starts to look and feel right. It’s like putting a puzzle together. Get a few key pieces in place and the rest sort of follows organically.

Show Time!

Besides the Sacramento Arts Festival, there were also a couple of craft fairs and other events happening this weekend. I received a few phone calls and emails from students asking for a little advice as they got ready to set up and sell their photographs for the first time. I also met a couple of artists at this show who were just starting their “art festival adventure” and spent some time answering their questions as well.

That’s where I got the idea for this blog post. So what are the 5 things I recommend to every artist just starting out?

#1 – Remember to have fun! It’s close to impossible to sell your art if you are sitting there looking bored or worse - angry that no one is coming into your booth. If you look like you are having a good time, people will feel better about stepping in to get a closer look. Trust me – this can be difficult at slow shows and takes some practice, but do this and you significantly increase your chances of having a financially successful show. I don't suggest having fun just so you can make money. Use this time to make new friends and enjoy yourself. You are not going anywhere, so you might as well make the best of it!

#2 - Be sure to get as many email and snail mail addresses as you can from people showing interest in your work. Close to 75% of my sales this weekend were from people who had received my postcards and/or the email I sent out last week.

#3 – Don’t try to put every piece you have ever created in your booth. Try not to overwhelm your audience and be sure to only show your best work.

#4 – Be a good art festival neighbor. Don’t look at your neighbors as competition; instead be courteous and respectful of their art and their booth. We are all in this together and the community of artists is a huge part of why I do art festivals. I could write a whole blog post about this (and I probably will).

#5 – Be patient. Success does not usually happen right away. It takes awhile to build up your lists and figure out the best booth layout for your type of work. Also, try not to spend money you don’t have buying brand new panels, tables etc. (I am guilty of this and most of you know where that got me.) Go slow, be creative and most important – go back to #1 – have fun!