Today I finished finalizing the photographs from my small town series I am including in my gallery exhibit (opening reception November 15th 6pm-8pm at the Gallery at 48 Natoma). As I was looking over the photos in my moms kitchen I started to reflect on these truly unique places. Why because I am sitting here writing this blog post in the dark. I am one of those millions of people in the California power outage. So are all the towns I visited. Also a lot of small towns in rural California areas are one fire right now too.
I won’t get into the politics of it all, but I can’t even access my photos right now, since this is a photography website. So this the one and only post that will be without photos. Sorry. Anyway, the only time we have had power in the past week is Friday. Placerville, where I live, is engulfed in darkness. It’s the weirdest thing to drive up highway 50 with no street lights, only headlights and not see any house lights on either. The other small towns I photographed are all in the same situation. Thousands of people not being able to do their household chores, throwing away all their groceries and loosing money all because PG&E didn’t do what they were supposed these past 30 years, fix their infrastructure in a timely manner.
Small businesses thrive in small towns because it’s based on tourism and locals. When you cut that off people suffer. Their livelihood suffers. In my opinion PG&E needs to be held more accountable. No where else are these things happening, not even in other states that have just as many intense wildfires. But there’s nothing I can do at the moment except complain, right?
For now the power is off. I am hoping to get out in between all this craziness and document the whole thing. It’s the weirdest and eeriest thing to see your town go from a busy town to ghost town. I imagine this is what it would look like if a major doomsday type of event happened. Here’s a better idea do what it all looks and feels like.
The very first day PG&E shut off power people weren’t panicking, but they were definitely on edge. People also were confused. For awhile the stop lights blinked red and then just completely went out. Some drivers knew the rules (treating it as a four way stop) others just would blow through the intersection when they saw it was flashing. Driving my son to school that was incredibly scary!
All the gas stations are closed except for the Express Fuel that Red Hawk Casino owns. Every time I drive by it the lines are 10 cars deep at each pump. Most businesses are closed in Placerville. There are a few open like Raley’s, Home Depot, and the Bean Barn. The Bean Barn has a huge generator parked right outside of it. It’s a drive thru coffee shop only, so the line is 20 cars deep every morning spilling over into the other businesses nearby parking lots. This is the only time I have ever seen their line that long. I went into Raley’s before the outage and people were stocking up on canned food and ice. I was there at 9 in the morning and the ice was almost gone. Today I went into Bel Air in Folsom they had sold out of ice.
There’s not a generator to be found near this region. When I walk outside that’s all hear and smell. When I drive down to Folsom to get some supplies and hang out at my parent’s house every one from up the hill is in the city. I have had to go to Costco three times this week. I constantly over hear conversations about the apocalyptic power outage while shopping.
Thankfully I have parents that live in Folsom and are helping us out. We go down there to cook food and hang out. We drive back in the emptiness of the dark. When get inside we turn on our camp lantern, light candles, turn on our solar lanterns and make sure everything else has batteries. Thank goodness we have propane so we can make breakfast. However, my dishes are starting to smell and laundry is piling up. Oh yeah, I forgot we have to conserve water as the water plants are only running on generators as well. If anything happened to the running water it would really be apocalyptic.
So hopefully the power is going to be restored soon and life in these small towns can go back to normal. What about you? Are you one of the millions without power? Let me know what you think in the comments.
Art is a strange thing. There are so many opinions about what is good, what's not, why would someone buy that, and that's just ugly. But art is completely subjective. That's why it's strange. What may be ugly to you is beautiful to someone else. So I often wonder how do people pick art? Is it by process, is it connection, is it representative, is it trendy?
For me buying art is about a few different aspects. I think these aspects are important for picking any art that hangs in your home.
When buying art connection is the key player. I only buy art if I emotionally connect with the painting, photo, sculpture, etc. Sometimes knowing more about the artist as well helps make that connection. Maybe you relate to their story or just like them as a person. Whatever it is there has to be a connection with it.
2. Giving Back
I often base my decisions on any purchase, especially art, if they give back to the community and who they give to. The reason for this is because I know they have the same values as me. I like to donate sessions to fundraisers in my city. One because I know it helps that fundraiser's bottom line and two it makes me feel good to know that I can help even if it's only a little. If someone sees my name there and wants a session with me because of it, I'm all for it.
3. Sustainable Quality
There's a lot of cheaply made products out there now that are convenient and easy. Sure you'll save a bit of money, but in the long run those cheap products are just going to get tossed. Art is something that should last a lifetime, if not longer. Treat it as a collectible, an heirloom, so for me it's important that it's high quality, but also made with sustainable materials.
I try to buy all sustainable products so why should art be any different. You are not going to see Walmart "hand painted" signs in my house or Target canvases. It just doesn't align with my values.
The next time you buy art consider your top three values and does it conform? Art you going to end up throwing it away a year later. Make sure you'll like that art not because it's trendy, but because it's truly valuable to you.
And an extra tip buy from an artist you love and collect their pieces. Connect with them and be their friend. They will cherish you forever for making their dreams come true!
Examples of Art I Love and Connect With
What's funny about this selection is that there are no photographers! I purposefully try to steer clear of other photographers for inspiration just so it feels like I'm not copying. Sometimes are subconscious does that unintentionally, especially when you see a lot of other photographers work.
On another note I hope you'll join me for my own gallery exhibition for my Small Towns series on November 15th from 6pm -8pm at the Gallery at 48 Natoma in Folsom, California. If not you can always catch my work here on my website.
For the past week or so I have been preparing for my first gallery show. I have been working on my Small Town series for the past year trying to come up with something worthy of swanky white gallery walls. Little did I know I would have plenty of photos that I love! I also discovered that I have a pretty distinct style as well and several themes emerged in my work. Not only can I tell stories of places with people and buildings, but with color, texture and pattern. Texture prominently emerged in my photos and it's one of the smaller stories within the series that I will be displaying.
Small old towns are covered in texture. You'll find texture in local art, decaying buildings and building material. Below is a few from the texture part of my series. I hope you enjoy!
Want to see the rest of the photos? Join me at the opening reception on November 15th from 6pm - 8pm at the Gallery at 48 Natoma in Folsom, California.
“Photography is not art.” It’s a phrase I hear often. I’ll be walking down a long corridor of photographs in a museum or gallery and someone always eventually says, “How is this art? I could have taken that.” Sometimes I pipe up and ask, “How was that taken then?” They stare at me blankly then say something like “you just go up to someone and snap the picture. It’s not like you are spending a lot of time drawing or painting a painting.”
Oh, how this could be further from the truth. If art is all about a long process, then there are a lot of artists out there that could be easily tossed aside. Rarely a moment happens that you capture in a photograph and it’s amazing! The best picture you have ever taken. But these moments are few because it was by chance. Professional photographers make photographs with an idea and process.
Professional Photographer Make Photos
Professional photographers think about what they want to capture before they go out and shoot. Even if a photographer is out walking the street for street photography, they are looking for something in particular. It could be a place with good composition, a certain light, a person or a shape. They are not trying to capture something amazing by chance they are trying to make a photograph that they probably have thought about for days. Art is about the idea and making that idea a reality.
Once that photographer finds the place or light they are looking for, they often wait and this is all part of the process. They are waiting for the right person to walk into the scene or the light to change just a little. They could wait for hours before they capture the idea they envisioned.
For my small town series, my vision involved a few things. One, is the atmosphere of a small town. Two, I was looking for certain shapes and colors. Last, I wanted to find empty chairs in interesting areas. Even though this is what I wanted to capture I still had to find it.
I started with towns near me and eventually ventured out further. I would spend at least a half a day in each place wandering the streets, alleys, and shops. If I saw something close to what I was envisioning I’d move around it getting different angles or I’d sit and wait for the right moment or light to happen.
After I’d go home and download all the photos to edit. This could take 30 minutes to several days depending on the look I want. There is a process in photography sometimes it’s short or by chance, but most of the time it’s a long process. People who have had no training in the medium walk up and snap the photo. Even the photographer you hire to take family photos has a process and an extensive one at that.
Ansel Adams and National Geographic
A very famous photographer who had a long process was Ansel Adams, and he’s even famous even without the debate about process because people see his photographs as art. I’m sure lots of people know his name or have seen his work in some form or another. He’s very much considered an artist. People collect and buy his work all the time they even attend very expensive workshops to take photographs like him with his process.
Wouldn’t you say that National Geographic photographers are artists as well? I can tell you that in the art community they are. The photographs you see in National Geographic take lots of time, whether it’s a posed portrait or documenting an important event. A photographer for National Geographic focuses on quality and quality equals experience and time.
Amazing photographs, the ones that make you stop and look for over two seconds, stand out. Photographs that stand out are not only made because of the artistic vision of the photographer but also with the viewer in mind. There are composition rules in all art that make a photograph pleasing to the viewer, and these are things you learn with lots of practice.
How we See Photos Influences Our Opinions of Them
It’s also important for the viewer to understand that how you look at photos makes a difference too. We are so inundated with photographs now we often just mindlessly look at images. We don’t really register what it is we are scrolling through. I suggest slowing down a bit and looking at your Instagram feed. What do you see? What images make you stop and why?
As a photographer, I follow many other photographers. There are many instances where my feed looks the same. We are all influenced by each other and without knowing our styles start to look similar. So from the viewers’ perspective, I can see why someone would think photography is no longer an art form. Photography is so easy to access, but just because it is easy to access doesn’t mean it’s no longer a valid art form.
Art is about seeing. In photography, it's about how you compose and light a photo, then edit it. Editing is the finish touch. It’s literally the cherry on top of the ice cream. It’s what makes your vision of the photograph come together.
So do I consider my work art? Yes, I do. The small town series is the collection I am working on now, and I am getting prepared to show it at the Gallery at 48 Natoma in Folsom, California. This series isn’t complete yet, but it’s getting there. Again, photography is a long process, and my vision for the entire series could last years. I hope you’ll come join me on November 15th from 6pm - 8pm for the opening reception. All photos will be on sale, and I would appreciate any support. Til next time!
In November of this year I will be exhibiting work at The Gallery at 48 Natoma in Folsom. The theme I have been working on is called Small Towns USA. A few weeks ago I explored Plymouth, California and Amador City, California. Two place I have passed by on my way to a hiking adventure, but never spent time in. This time I walked the streets getting to know each town.
I loved both towns and can't say one was better than the other. They are unique in their own ways. I'm so excited to continue this project and can't wait to show it all to you later this year!