Displaying items by tag: Photography

By Edward Bateman 

This is a guest post by Edward Bateman, artist and Associate Professor in the Department of Art & Art History at the University of Utah, and head of the Photography and Digital Imaging area.


Artists have always used the power of their work to rise the challenges of their times. Together with my Advanced Digital Imaging students, we doing something very different for the end of our semester… a creative response to our current pandemic situation. We are basing our group project on a work of classical Italian literature: "The Decameron" by Boccaccio that aptly reflects our circumstances: 

In Italy during the time of the Black Death (March 1348), a group of seven young women and three young men flee from plague-ridden Florence to shelter in a deserted villa in the countryside. To pass the evenings, each member of the group tells a story each night, resulting in ten nights of storytelling. Thus, by the end they have told 100 stories. Each of the ten characters is charged as King or Queen of the company for one of the ten days in turn. This charge extends to choosing the theme of the stories for that day.

We have been doing the same thing photographically – telling the stories of this time… and are creating a book to document what it is like to live in this pandemic crisis. Like the storytellers in "The Decameron," we are sharing our art. Twice a week we gather together on Zoom to look at our images, compare experiences, and get our next theme from the one designated as our leader for the next “day.”  

Their willingness to share their trials and also their optimism and creativity has been a genuine source of strength and hope for me at this time. Our book will go beyond this moment to show the complexities, feelings and responses that we as a group, sheltering from the plague, have experienced together.

For our new "Decameron," each student has given us a theme which will be a chapter in the book. Their choices have been remarkably challenging, and given us all much to consider as we go through this time of isolation. Out images have become a place to creatively embody our experiences.

  • Day 1 - At This Time
  • Day 2 - Collectively Disconnected
  • Day 3 - Routinely Interrupted
  • Day 4 - Photographs Not Seen
  • Day 5 - Silver Linings
  • Day 6 - Solace and Inspiration
  • Day 7 - Indoor-Outdoor
  • Day 8 - Collapsing
  • Day 9 - CHAOS! in the supermarket
  • Day 10 - Heroes 

We all have a need to share our stories and feel connected. Art is a way to create meaning, especially in times of uncertainty. Also, we are doing what photographers have always done – produce a lasting record documenting this moment in time. The eight of us (I am included at their invitation) have now completed our images – 80 of them! So along with a personal text from each, it is time to make our book.

I couldn’t be more proud of my students! Both in how they have faced the difficulties of these past weeks, but also in how they have creatively challenged themselves and produced art that far exceeded my expectations! These are my heroes: Will Betts, Sam Devine, Ethan Edwards, Brandi Gilbert, John Moffitt, Claire Palmer, and Heather Pierce. Their willingness to share their trials and also their optimism and creativity has been a genuine source of strength and hope for me at this time. Our book will go beyond this moment to show the complexities, feelings and responses that we as a group, sheltering from the plague, have experienced together.


The gallery below offers a sneak peek into the work of the Advanced Digital Imaging class!
Take a look. 

Published in Finer Points Blog

MAKING ART WORK is a series that taps into the knowledge and experience of seasoned creatives from our community and beyond for the benefit of our students. 

Erica MacLean is a photographer, choreographer, director, and performer based in Brooklyn, NY. Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Ms. MacLean began training at the start of college, where faculty and staff encouraged her to pursue dance as a full-time career. Since then, she has received training in Ballet and Modern Dance at Glendale Community College, Arizona State University, and the University of Utah School of Dance, where she received her BFA. She has performed in the works of Mariah Maloney, Ihsan Rustem, Guy Thorne, Eric Handman, Rebecca Rabideau, Quitalyn Cheramie, Katie Noletto, Elijah Labay, Brianna Lopez, and Patrick Delcorix to name a few. Along the way, MacLean stumbled upon an interest in photography as she attempted to document her choreographic work. She now photographs many fashion and fine art projects/editorials, and has published work in Harper’s Bazaar Poland, Vogue Poland, Vogue Italia, Theme Mag, Floated and many others. She has also recently photographed NYFW FW20 for several designers, including Claudia Li, Collina Strada, and Kim Shui. For all of her projects,  MacLean hopes to combine the landscape of human architecture and fashion in an attempt to allow others to create a subjective narrative. 

Have you always been equally interested in photography and dance? What affected your decision to get your bachelor's degree in dance? 


I haven’t always been interested in both dance and photography, and I’ve definitely never focused on either in equal ratios. When I really love something, I’ll spend 70% of my time on it and the 30% left over gets taken up by other distractions. When I was at the University of Utah, I mostly worked to develop choreographic projects and dance, and photography was just something I picked up to enhance what I was already creating. I wanted to do the best I could to document my work, so I picked up a camera and started shooting. 

I got my degree in dance because at the time, it was what made me happiest. I, of course love movement, but the closeness and support of the community was what really made me shift over. I felt secure knowing everyone around me was on a similar path.  When I look back, the most valuable things I gained from the U was how to openly view/respect art from all angles, and to stop making work for the sole purpose of pleasing other people. I really learned how to vocalize why I did/didn’t like certain work, why/how a work is important, and if you made something it’s okay if someone didn’t like it. You made choices based on what was important to you, not them. Don’t sweat it so much.  

How do dance and photography blend in your everyday life now? erica1

Currently, dance comes into my life as choreography in photographs. I’m mostly photographing for creative fashion and editorial content, and less “dance” type photos. When I’m developing these types of images, it’s literally in the same way that I’d create a choreographic work. I turn on some music, think it up, and focus on texture, color, light, shapes, and mood. I always think of this thing my professor, Ellen Bromberg, once told me. She said “You are creating the world we are going to live in for a little while. What goes into it?” This informs almost all of my work. 

To be clear, at the moment, I’m not dancing all of the time. Dance in NYC is VERY expensive, and I only take class when I can afford it. In a way, I’ve blended the two because I love and want to do both, but also I’ve had to make sacrifices to sustain a living. 

When I look back, the most valuable things I gained from the U was how to openly view/respect art from all angles, and to stop making work for the sole purpose of pleasing other people. I really learned how to vocalize why I did/didn’t like certain work, why/how a work is important, and if you made something it’s okay if someone didn’t like it. You made choices based on what was important to you, not them. Don’t sweat it so much.  

 

What prompted your decision to move to New York City? What has been the most unexpected aspect of your life and career there?

I moved to NYC because there was a huge opportunity for both dance and photography. I was interested in photographing fashion, but I also wanted to live in a city with a large dance community. It was a pretty obvious choice.  The most unexpected aspect of moving to NYC was that it’s actually pretty affordable to live here. That’s about it! Everything, for the most part, is as expected.  

How did you get connected to Ballet West as an intern? What did you gain there? 

When I was at Ballet West, I was working alongside Beau Pearson specifically as his photography intern. I was a follower of his on Instagram, and loved the technical lighting aspects of his images, so I reached out. I basically worked with him on whatever projects he had going on at the time, and this happened to be “The Shakespeare Suite” and various portraits of dancers from the company. I shot alongside Beau for many rehearsals, promotional photoshoots, and dress rehearsals at the Capitol Theatre. Because of this, I gained a ton of insight in retouching images in photoshop. I learned to apply the techniques he uses ( frequency separation/dodge&burn) in my own photos, and still use them when working various editorial projects.

What were the key steps in building your portfolio of photography clients, and what was the most challenging or intimidating job you have taken on?

When I was building my portfolio, I really had to think about what it was that I wanted to do in my career and go from there. In this case, I like photographing people, extravagant clothes, movement, and some sort of narrative. So it made sense for me to create a book with fashion and editorial in mind. My biggest dream is to photograph/creative direct for Rodarte and Gucci, and for this to manifest, I have to show them that I’m very capable, versatile, and have a very clear sense of personal style. I’m always in the process of developing my book, but a key step to get here was to shoot as much as I possibly could to develop my style. I’d write down a shot list/concepts, pick up some cool clothes from the thrift store, and force my friends to shoot with me(they didn’t mind too much). Over time, I’d just add or get rid of relevant photos, and always keep track of the overall style. 

The most intimidating job I’ve taken on so far was very recent. I shot photos at three official shows during New York Fashion Week for Claudia Li, Collina Strada, and Kim Shui. I worked primarily on backstage images for Claudia and Kim, then shot portraits of Hayley Williams from Paramore for Collina Strada. It was pretty scary because I’ve never had to do anything remotely like this. There are people running around everywhere, stylists quickly forcing models into outfits, and production crew shouting left and right. It was also challenging because although I was a house photographer and working specifically for the designers, there’s unfortunately a lot of misogynistic attitudes toward female photographers in the industry. I found myself often pushed around, and stepped on or in front of, by a sea of male photographers while I was just trying to do my job. I learned pretty quickly that if I wanted to get a good shot, I had to take up a lot of space, and be extremely vocal with them. And although it was difficult, I really did have an incredible experience.

Follow Erica's work on Instagram at @erica_maclean or at https://www.ericamaclean.com/.

Published in Finer Points Blog

 by Noelle Sharp

MAKING ART WORK: Advice for artists, from artists is a series that taps into the knowledge and experience of seasoned creatives from our community and beyond for the benefit of our students. We had the pleasure of speaking with photographer and  Department of art & Art History Alum '71, Leslie Scopes, for this episode of MAKING ART WORK. Scope's was the VP and founder of Scopes/Garcia/Carlisle Advertising in SLC for 25 years. Now retired, she designs & photographs for environmentally-focused non-profit organizations. Scopes designed the brochure for Dine Bikeyah that went to Washington D.C. and which helped achieve the designation of Bears Ears National Monument. She is an honored winner of the California Wildlife Photo of the Year, Nature’s Best Photography and has been featured in Audubon top 100 as well as published in National Geographic "Your Shot". Her most recent book, “A Birding Guide to Humboldt County, California”,  is available for purchase as part of a fundraiser for The Redwood Region Audubon Society

What do you wish you had known when you were a less experienced artist/professional?
I should have taken a few business classes in college as I ended up with my own company and had to learn on the job, or hire experts.

How do you find balance between creating your own art and using your creative talents for other projects?
I always try to keep some aspects of my art 'pure' and not tainted by having to please a client. When I was working in graphic design, I used photography as my creative outlet. Now that I'm doing a lot of photography for others, I use oil painting to stay sane! (I'm using oil paints from my old U art classes! - save your materials!)

What's the most useful advice you were given?
Probably the best was "Keep it simple!" I'm still trying to practice that one. The worst advice was from my design professor - "Don't work in the field while in school. Be a waitress." I disregarded it and grabbed in any job I could find in graphics. So upon graduation, I had a degree AND experience - ready to be hired.

 

Published in Finer Points Blog

By Ed Bateman

So much of how we know our world comes to us through photographs. There is almost no discipline or aspect of life that is not touched by it in some way. Because we believe so strongly in the power of photographic images, we felt that establishing a photography minor was crucial. With everyone now having a camera in their pocket, understanding the power and potential of these amazing tools is more important than ever.

Our new photography minor reflects the growing use of imagery in our increasingly digital culture. The transition of photography to a primarily digital process has democratized access to it. It also engages students in their creative potential more directly by shifting the emphasis from the skill of eye-hand coordination to the skills of judgment, interpretation and aesthetic evaluation.

This minor goes beyond the simple role of photography as documentation. It aims to give students the conceptual tools to make (and look at) photographs critically and to be able to analyze their effectiveness as a means of visual communication and expression. This minor emphasizes creative problem solving that challenges student’s intellect and ingenuity.

To make an excellent photograph is to physically engage with some aspect of our world. A significant and effective image always asks questions of its viewer, some which are very complex with no easy answers. There are many things that can only be effectively communicated photographically – you can gaze into the eyes of another and feel your shared humanity in a way that no other medium can approach.

This minor gives more students access to an experience with the arts. For many, engagement in the fine arts mirrors their way of thinking and psychological processing of the world. It is their gateway to higher learning. The arts allow them to say things that express their humanity that other modes of communication cannot. There are times when only a work of art can contain the powerful or difficult emotions that an individual may encounter during their life. Besides being cathartic, the sharing of creative works can build empathy and understanding of both individuals and groups.

As the great photographer Richard Avedon said to a group of students:
“We live in a world of images. Images have replaced language — have replaced reading. The responsibility to your role in history – in whatever is going to happen to human beings – you are the new writers. And we can no longer be sloppy about what we do with a camera. You have this weapon in your hand – it’s a camera – and it is going to teach the world, it’s going to record the world, it is going to explain to the world and to the children that are coming — what this world was like. It is an incredible responsibility.”

For more information on the photography minor please visit here.

 

Published in Finer Points Blog

By Noelle Sharp

MAKING ART WORK: Advice for artists, from artists is a series that taps into the knowledge and experience of seasoned creatives from our community and beyond for the benefit of our students.

We had the pleasure of speaking with the famous and incredibly diverse artist, Tom Bianchi. Photographer, painter, sculpture and writer, Bianchi was launched into art world success when his 1991 book of photographs, "OUT OF THE STUDIO", opened the door for a public vision of gay men and their intimate lives.

What advice do you have for artists?
Above all - be curious. For centuries humans have communicated with symbols and rituals designed to help one another survive. To be an artist is to find one’s place in this grand dialog.  Employ painting - music - film - dance - the web -  the expression of concepts in new technologies.  We are an evolving species with a vast immediate need to to heal and learn to manifest love. Choose the role of a shaman / explore various media as healing tools.

What do you wish you had known when you were a young artist?
I knew everything I needed to know when I was a young artist.  I knew I loved making art. I knew I couldn’t not make art. Period.

I started drawing and painting.  The culture I grew up in told me I couldn’t be an artist, so I became a lawyer - for 10 years. Then I discovered “THEY" were wrong. I could be an artist.   Follow your inner need to make the images you dream and share them with the world - channel those pictures. Make your thoughts and dreams visible. Get your ego out of the way. It took me some years to get over the fear of the judgment of others when I began to draw in a realist style.  So learning to draw was not about learning to draw. It was about learning to let go of external judgements. Same with my photographs.

We each need to explore our talents (interests) to find our voice and express what we - uniquely each of us - is born to express. For example, as I child I loved making pictures. As I came into puberty, I recognized my fascination with the male body and eventually same sex love.  I also became concerned about the damage homophobia was doing to the world. So put it all together and I figured out who I was.   Your passion leads to your mission.

To young artists I recommend Duane Michals’ advice  - “Never try to be and artist. Just do your work and if it is true - it will become art.”

How do you find balance between creating your own art and using your creative talents for other projects?
Do everything you do with integrity. Live in a high state of consciousness - everything you do can be a creative act.  Make a bowl of cereal and fruit and milk.  Make it beautiful and balanced - be grateful for it. Make it an act of love you do for yourself - then you can extend that consciousness to everything in your life and others.

Is it possible to maintain one’s integrity and freedom of thought and still participate int he art world?
Yes - of course it is.  The art world is not a mountain to climb or monster to conquer. It is a complex and sometimes dysfunctional tool. Learn to use it  for your own ends. An example: back in the early 1980s an art class made a gallery  visit to my first show.  One of the students asked how I decided what size to make my paintings. I answered: "I’m aware of the size of dining room walls on Park Avenue. I make my work to fit there.” A student yelled “Sell Out.” I laughed, “The way the art world works is that the first tier of support for my work has come from private collectors. I have always respected that support. In any event, I was making what I wanted on my walls too. As Picasso observed, the artist is a collector who makes his own collection. One doesn’t get more authentic then that.

Work from your innermost intention - and be aware of what that truly is.  Today more than ever, we need voices of integrity to confront the selfish ego driven lazy thinking that has poisoned our culture. Don’t treat  art as a commodity - make it an invitation to collectors to help you to realize your vision.  Many collectors (institutions and individuals)  may not fully understand the spiritual purpose in your connection with them. Teach them - seduce them into appreciating what you see and what it can mean in their life.

Be political. Confront authority with your own alternative vision of the world.

What is the most useful advice you were given?

I’ve already  quoted Duane Michals here - never try to be an artist . . . that’s worth remembering.  When I was making a book dummy of my Fire Island Polaroids, Sam Wagstaff (Robert Mapplethorpe's lover / mentor) asked me if I was making my book for “our mothers.” If I was, he warned, “it won’t be very interesting.” He added, “Don’t make your pictures about your ability to make pictures. He advised me to be fearless and not shrink from the frank sexual content of many of those pictures. "Make your pictures about the people in them. That’s what will be interesting for hundreds of years.”  Many times in my life  - from living people as well as from spirit through channelers - I have been given the advice to be extravagant in my work, embrace the erotic and investigate the issues we have with our sexual energy.  I love that mission.

What would you do differently if you could go back in time?
On a practical level, I would have followed conventional wisdom and retained more of my painting and sculpture. 25% was the common advice. As it was, I sold (or gave) just about all the paintings and sculpture I made thinking I could always make another. Being a restless mind, I rarely went back to territory I’d previously mined. So now I have little of my earlier work. Photography is of course different. But I am back to painting again too. I will save a quarter of that work.

Other than that, live without regret. Take the path of the Buddha - all your experiences are perfect teachers for the evolvement of your soul. Live fearlessly / embrace failure.  Have a wonderful creative life. Be the most loving being you can be.

Photos courtesy of Tom Bianchi.

Published in Finer Points Blog