Sunday, July 28, 2013

a country way to make room for the stuff of photography -- Sideway Gallery

post #148
      Since I am still away from home this day, I am dedicating this post to my gallery in rural northeastern Kentucky as a way to remind myself that I do have a place for my work -- all because three years ago it was the only way I could find to have room for my photo stuff!  It is located 4 miles from our home.  It is very much part of the photo life I have been sharing on these posts over the last few weeks.

      Here is the inside of the gallery, first floor.  What was once someone's living room is now my display area.  I show my cards and some of my framed photos.  I don't keep regular hours, so It has become mostly a work space where I can see what I have.

     The kitchen area is painted to match the rooster photo on the left.  I took the doors off the counter cabinets to make room for color and design.  If I can't see something, I often forget I have it.  So far I get by with a hot plate and a fridge, with no oven or stove.

      Next is the outside view.  Since this building is distinctive for this region, it is easier to locate the place by knowing what it looks like!

       This spring, the wisteria that was already established turned out particularly showy.  I grew up with some wisteria, in Connecticut, so it has been fun to have this amazing plant just appear on my deck.

      There is also a small pond, .  Please note it is NOT SAFE for swimming.  The first view is a winter shot, and the second is from summer, with the redwing blackbird population enjoying the collection of bullrushes here and there. 

      I'm now including a few of the early shots, showing my helpers -- my husband, Frank, my neighbor and friend Sandy (whose garden I have shared in post #146), and three loyal painting friends - Carolyn, Molly and Ann.  I had hurt my arm that spring in a fall, and I actually did hardly any painting.  THANKS AGAIN TO ALL OF YOU!!

I particularly like this photo of Sandy's granddaughter MaKayla, who was checking out some of the books I wanted to find homes for.

evidence of another visitor!

evidence of another season!

This photo was taken by a friend visiting from France, three years ago.  Today I happen to be wearing that very same fleece jacket.... 

    Time constraints had helped me think of a new way to do a post in parts.  Photos first, then, today, Tuesday, THE WORDS THAT GO WITH THE PHOTOS!  I hope this has not been confusing.  This last photo is an early one, featuring the gallery and my shadow.  I have felt so grateful to have this place for my work.  If you ever want to come by, though, give me a call ahead of time, so I can be sure to be there.  606 - 738 - 6119.  I have copies of Counting on the Woods, photo note cards and some framed photos and some other books for sale and show.  I have a bunch of photo magazines to give away. We have countywide fiber optic wi-fi -- though cell phones don't yet reach everywhere yet, including Sideway Gallery!  ( I love our hills even so. )  This has been the post for Views from Sideway on this weekly blog, which is called Sideway Views.... 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

unavoidable one day delay, now over!

post #147
        Before I return to Counting on the Woods, here are three favorite photos from this past week that I posted July 21 since I wouldn't be able to do very much on this post until today, July 22.
This parrot's name is Baby!

snake skin in our garden wall

baby bunny at Natalie's

 And now, back to thoughts about and photos from Counting on the Woods:

      Here is Kyle in the sycamore tree, part of the two page spread in the book for the words "Eight trees, whose innumerable leaves" -- followed in the next spread by "clean the air for everything that breathes."
      This was the penultimate photo I made.  I had the help of my son and his girlfriend, since it was already 8:15 at night when we got organized -- and when the light was right.  I was using a tripod in the middle of a muddy tobacco field, as I have written about in an earlier post, and so I couldn't put any of my supplies on the ground.  Anyway, I love George Ella's choice of the word INNUMERABLE.  Isn't the sound of it just like a lot of leaves moving in a breeze?  

       I have shown ten photos plus the cover, about a third of the photos in the book.  The dedication I wrote in the book was to Elliott County, where I live in northeastern Kentucky.  What I didn't realize until the students in the local schools saw photos of the book is that  although this is very much a book with Appalachian photos, it is not what they are used to seeing.  I wonder how many readers of this blog realize how beautiful the area is where I live.  This book shows what I call the richness of Appalachia, but not because I am trying to make a point.  It is just what it is.
       The students in my northeastern Kentucky county also think that the waterfall in the opening pages is the same one they have on their place....  I always love to hear this. It's also true that these same students are often amazed to know that the book can be found in libraries all over the USA.  We talk about how these photos are what people are seeing about their place rather than the "normal" media images which often make them feel shunned or ashamed.  
      These thoughts are a bit of a digression about my photography, but learning from one's work is always a great thing.



Sunday, July 14, 2013

Counting on the Woods, second post

post #146
       Making a book is such a thrill.  At the same time, the fact that any particular book is published is a kind of miracle.  Bringing all of its parts together makes me think of our Congress -- sometimes there is a total melt down.  Other times too many compromises weaken the impact.  Or money and power and conflicting creative visions have the potential to wreck havoc.  Then there is the selling side -- ever since I worked in a bookstore, I have witnessed that too many times people don't trust their own instincts.  They prefer to buy what somebody else has stamped worthy.  These days the loudest voices seem to determine which books make it on the market.  This is especially hard to see happening in the world of children's books now that librarians, who are trained and very well read in their field, no longer have much sway in the choice and number of books sold. 

       And so, to continue the saga of this formative segment of my life as a photographer....  There I was -- that  spring of 1997 -- trying to bring together 35 or so images for one book.  Last week's post gives the words, and today I want to show a few of the photos, scanned from the slides I originally took, way back when digital was just beginning.  I was using mostly Fuji Velvia 50 ASA slide film.   Back then, digital couldn't replicate that anywhere as well as they might today.  I will remain a Velvia fan forever.

       I am starting with the photo that's from the very first roll of 36 I ever shot with my new tripod and with Velvia film.  There was one clear best shot on that roll, but one was all I needed!  It is in the opening spread of the book, across from to the waterfall/ given for all:

      Of possible interest:  I didn't start with this photo because it was at the beginning of the words but because I wanted to get the waterfall photo done as early in the spring as possible.  After more leaves come out in that area, it becomes darker underneath their canopy.  I knew this because this waterfall is part of our land and we visit it often. 
       I have to admit I was encouraged by this photo.  It helped me believe in the possibility of the work ahead.

       Next is another photo that comes early in the book.  But I took it much later.  It shows the wonderful greens of the Velvia film, and it also shows my neighbor, Kyle, who was not quite ten at the time.  Careful readers of the words might have noticed that there is NO MENTION OF A CHILD.  But my reading of the words made me see a child taking the walk in the woods.  And I thought of Kyle.  He agreed to help me out.  He was comfortable being in the woods himself, and he enjoyed the few times we went out.  Also, he could wear that great jacket every time.  A photographer friend commented on how well the red on the sleeve works in this photo.  This time my admission is that the choice was just luck.  (I don't think this photo will enlarge well on this blog.  Sorry.)
         The words are "One path, a stick for a staff."

      Did anyone try imagining what "Two birds, daybreak's words" would look like??  I had to stay flexible on this one.  Then, because that spring was so cool and wet, I ended up resorting to making a bird blind (from an old sheet) so I could shoot photos with my tripod from inside my bedroom!  As I often say, bless mourning doves for being so calm together.  And I am thankful as always for the black walnut tree just outside the window.  Admission: this was not at all the photo I envisioned to start with, but now I love, love, love it.

     There were many birds who seemed to want to be in the book.  It turns out this is a worm-eating warbler, and it is very rare to see one on her nest, which is on the ground, under a root.  I showed the title page in the previous blog, where she ended up, thanks to the designer, Jennifer Browne, in New York at DK INK. 

          I want to end this second post about Counting on the Woods with a snapshot I took at a program I did at our local library about the making of the book.  This is Kyle with his mother, Kathy, and with the photo of him that is on the cover's inside flap.  He was busy watching the hummingbirds on our deck when I took it.
          Kyle would have been 26 this month had he not died a month after graduating from high school.  His was a remarkable spirit.  I think of him often and again I thank him.

     More next week about what I learned from this one project.  In the meantime, here are a few random words of advice I seem to have been attached to this week:
       Support your local indie bookstore!  Look for the good stuff and trust your instincts!  Believe in the possibility of good art to change lives and to reach our souls!  Tell your own stories!  Be persistant and be brave!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

using photos from where I live to illustrate a nationwide book

post #145
         Finally it is back to the effort from a few posts ago to share what I do, what is my work, what is this being a photographer all about.... What I am writing about now is an important piece of the puzzle.
         I was fortunate to start out being a photographer with a major project.  It didn't seem like work at first, but it really was.  I had received an advance AND I was training myself at the same time. 
          First, George Ella Lyon's editor, Richard W. Jackson, agreed to look at some of my slides, to see if my work would be a match for the words she had written.  Soon I heard that I was taken on as the photo-illustrator for that book -- with a three month deadline.  
       The book's title is Counting on the WoodsThe book is literally grounded in a sense of place, by words and by images.  I had a lot of my material nearby -- the woods, a willing neighbor, our streams and nearby grape vines.  The Canada geese, the killdeer eggs, and the newly hatching red-winged blackbirds all lived close by, in the next county to the west. I just had to find them.
       An illustrator takes the words given to her and does what she can, relying on her own creative impulses and inspiration.  I could have used other places and other ideas, but I was able, in this case, to use a place I love and where I happen to live.  This combination certainly made for an intense experience, to say nothing about everything I had to learn about photography in order to pull it off.  Whew!  It did help that 1997 turned out to have a wet, cool spring which meant growing things lasted longer than usual.  This gave me more of a chance to find what I needed, one photo at a time, during a three month period that I will never forget.  
       I have written quite a bit about this experience over time, but today I will start with the author's words. JUST LIKE I STARTED.  And what I would suggest is that you, the reader, take these words and look into your own imagination to see what images could be used to illustrate them:

to the waterfall
given for all

One path, a stick for a staff.

Two birds, daybreak's words.

Three bugs in the moss rug.

Four worms, how the earth turns.

Five nests

   where new ones rest.

Six tracks.

Who's coming back?

Seven stones,
    the little creek's home.

Eight flowers
    fed on dirt and showers.

Nine vines,
    earth to sky they climb.

Ten trees
    whose innumerable leaves

clean the air
     for everything
        that breathes.

        What follows are a few of the pages, and the cover, but the other photos will wait until next time.  Ha!  I just know some of you would cheat ("who has time for speculation??", you ask) and not give your own vision of what could be a chance to bloom.   
title page

Three bugs in the moss rug

Eight flowers, fed on dirt and showers

last pages, with me on my back on the forest floor, my elbows in tripod position....

the cover, front and half of the back

      I promise to continue this saga next Sunday.  If you are so inclined, you might just find a copy of the book in your local library.  Have a great week, everyone!