After almost three years since my first visit to the Canadian Rocky Mountains, my bags are packed and I’m ready for a return trip at possibly the most unexpected time of the year – during that muddy season between winter and spring. For the next couple weeks, I’ll be working from a small lodge tucked away in the mountains with fingers crossed for great light, interesting weather, and a little bit of luck. But before I start that journey along the Icefields Parkway, my first stop will be Cochrane (oopoomoo blog headquarters) and then on to Bragg Creek to help out at the Persistent Vision party. If you happen to be in the Calgary area, join us on Saturday, March 16th.
Today’s Image – Pyramid Lake, Jasper
Pyramid Mountain is a well known location north of downtown Jasper that is easily accessible. When I was here in the spring of 2010 for the first time, I was very much overwhelmed with this foreign-to-me landscape that simply doesn’t exist in the maritimes. It’s hard to ignore those early morning reflections. It will be fun to be back.
Blurb is the modern day photo album and gone are the days of plastic sleeves displaying boxes of 4×6 prints with hand written messages on the back. Blurb books are perfect for family, personal, memory and vacation books. But what about fine art? or what about for resale?
I have a growing book collection from some of my favourite photographers. I only have so many walls to enjoy prints, so for me, books provide an easier way to support and enjoy the images of other photographers. But this also means – that for no other reason than desire – I also want a book of my own.
Many photographers would love to be published and because only the most successful will ever get picked up by a publisher, the self-publishing market is growing and becoming easier and easier. Arguably, Blurb has become the leader. Maybe even more so now that they have embedded themselves in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.
I have several mid sized Blurb books printed between 2006 and 2012. They have been consistent and I can’t see any significant printing changes. In December of 2011, I stepped it up and took a chance by ordering four large 12×12 160 page books with the heaviest paper and all of the upgrades – for a grand total of $187.42 CND each. Definitely more pricy than anything equivalent in a bookstore.
I was satisfied with the results and throughout 2012, I created two alternatives of the same book but at a much smaller scale of 8×10 120 pages and 7×7 80 pages. In the end, I had a sampling of almost everything Blurb had to offer. Here is my non technical review.
This post is for the other photographers – in particular, those in business.
I have had this blog post half written for more than 6 months and could never pull the trigger on the publish button. The topic felt too specific for a generalized statement and because of that, something didn’t feel right to justify a blog post rant. However after an interesting discussion tonight with onOne‘s education manager Brian Matiash, it gave me that needed incentive to complete this post because I’m not the only person who judges ones brand partly based on presentation. There are companies like Brian’s and surely future clients browsing portfolios also judging you on how much consideration was applied to the website.
But first, lets be honest. Everyone is hopefully more critical and focused on the details when it comes to our own industry. Chefs with food, contractors with houses, doctors with health, etc, etc, and designers like myself with websites. We are all trained to care about different things and rely on others to fill in where we choose to focus less attention.
Two summers ago, I had a small presentation at a PPOC (Professional Photographers of Canada) seminar on web technologies to discuss the elements of a reliable website. Although much has improved since then — there is still more work to be done. Poorly implemented websites are still common and with all the photographers in the world so focused on perfecting their images, they often settle for presenting them in a substandard way.
So in a world where art, design and images are so very much subjective, here are some details to consider:
I was recently watching an incredible time-lapse film but while admiring how perfect it may be – the film still struggled to keep my attention. How can something so beautifully done lose my interest so quickly? Perhaps it’s related to my lack of interest for video slideshows. In a slideshow, some images will surely be amazing and you’ll want to spend more time with them. Others will be less interesting that you wish to skip over. The problem I have with slideshows is that all images are weighted the same and the editor decides how quickly you should view them. With this variety, you may not willing to move forward to the next image presented in front of you because your mind is still focused on trying to process that image 4 slides ago.
But the imagery in this film spaning over multiple season got me thinking. With the advancements of digital picture frames, how cool would it be to have a single time-lapse image hanging on the wall that would simulate a full year of a single well composed scene?
Consider a 365-day time-lapse image that is shortened into playing over a 7 day loop. It would be fast enough for the constant movement of weather but for every day on the wall, the image would play 52 days worth of activity equalling a sunset every 27 minutes. This image in your living room would display a new season 4 times a week giving you a winter image every Monday and summer every Thursday.
We live in a very visual world. Every electronic gadget is now capable of recording images and millions of photographs are taken every minute. We are overwhelmed with the noise of new gear announcements every other week — full of marketing specifically designed to lead us into believing buying XYZ will make us better. The volume of this noise can often cloud our better judgement and quickly distract us from the real values and rewards of creating photographs.
I am very much guilty and I routinely ask myself… Why do I do this? Why do I care so much? Why do I spend so much time in this world of photography?
By it’s simplist definition, photography is an art that freezes time. We are recording history. We are documenting. And we are preserving memories. Photography is huge within my family and there is no denying that we all love to share, remember and tell stories. Photography is social. Photography is archival. And photography is priceless because when something is destroyed from flooding, fires, natural disasters — after life itself, it’s always the lose of photographs that stand out as significant.
So why am I writing about this tonight?
Every once in a while I talk with another photography who is capable of summarizing what photography is all about in a beautiful way. I first met Maurice Henri in his hometown of Moncton a few years ago and have since been pushing to have a venue for him to come to the Island and speak. Tonight was that night and he delivered a powerful presentation with more impact than I could have ever hoped for.
Since 2005, Maurice has been building a personal project called Cameras for Healing. Starting with the west African country of Sierra Leone, Maurice set out on the incredible journey to emotionally heal through photographic arts those living with pain, grief, fear, poverty or stress. All in a country that has nothing we can so easily take for granted.
As I feel the need to write this, I also realize my words can’t do his presentation any good. Maurice’s stories were incredibly powerful. Everything from his 28 adopted children through sponsorship, buying equipment for the women to start a sewing business, or his role in building a school for a village. All of his actions, support and most importantly results were started by providing cameras, teaching photography, and giving victims a voice to speak out, express themselves by telling their own stories and finding hope.
I wish everyone interested in photography could have attended tonight. From the violent stories of the sexual abuse of minors, aggressive killings, and the recruitment of child soldiers — the horrific stores were countered with positive ones. For a better understanding of Cameras for Healing, consider watching the following video:
Now that Sierra Leone is well established and on it’s way with a self-running Cameras for Healing program, Maurice has started introducing Cameras for Healing into Hati and Columbia with additional countries also asking for his help. I am already looking forward to hearing a future presentation.
Cameras for Healing Founder, Maurice Henri believes that the power of the photographic image can open the heart and change people’s view of the world. It also tells a story of the relationship between subject and photographer. It conveys what the image maker sees, feels and believes. Using his methods of art for healing, Maurice has helped many children and adults process stress, illness, and grief. He initially developed the Cameras for Healing method of Art & Creativity for Healing in his home province of New Brunswick, Canada in 2002 as an art workshop to help cancer patients and survivors deal with stress. Giving people validation and hope through my photography is what my life’s work is all about.
Which brings me full circle to ask again, what photography means to you and why do we do it? If you have spent any amount of time reading anything on the web or in magazines — you might be tempted into believing that it’s about who owns the most or newest equipment.