Articles by: Guest Contributor

Our own Jillian makes it into the New Texas Talent show

Very rarely does a photograph of mine make it to print, let alone get displayed in a gallery. However, an image that I took of the singer, Lorde, made it into the New Texas Talent Show 2014 at the Craighead Green Gallery on Dragon Street.

I must confess. I absolutely love sneaking in my Canon AE-1 film camera into shows and snapping a few rolls of the performance. I live for the thrill of getting a camera with a detachable lens past security and then discreetly shooting the event. I headed over to Don’s Used Photo Equipment and debated between shooting in B&W or color. Todd looked at me and said, “Black and white is always classic.” Tri-X 400 it was!

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From the minute the show started I knew I was witnessing something special. At 17, Lorde knew how to command a stage, demand your attention and draw you into her world. I strained to see her through the packed venue but managed to find her around the heads and arms of the fans. The results of the night were a series of abstract images, slightly over exposed but strong and powerful with a point of view. My view.

 

The entire process of shooting, editing, submitting, framing and then displaying work was an incredibly rewarding experience. Peter helped me digitize my negative and print it for the show. This actually turned out to be harder than expected. I had my film processed at BWC and they had provided me with rough scans which I had turned in for the show. However, when Peter scanned the negative by shooting it with a Nikon D600 and a macro lens, there ended up being way more detail in the frame than what the initial scan had shown. Peter and I spent about 30 minutes recreating the rough scan from BWC. Those Lightroom sliders were all over the place!

The energy of gallery opening was tangible and my whole family showed up to support me. It felt satisfying seeing it hanging on the wall at the gallery, completely alive with the other pieces at the show. Peter stopped by as well and took a few shots of the event including this one of my uncle explaining to my grandfather what was happening in the photograph.

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Behind the Scenes of the Klyde-O-Scope

When Peter nonchalantly mentioned that he had an idea to create a giant kaleidoscope to bring to Klyde Warren Park, I could barely contain my excitement. A giant kaleidoscope???  What would that even look like? How would it work? The concept  captured my imagination and I had to make him follow through with it.

One trip to Home Depot, two mirrored doors and a pile of wood later, the Klyde-O-Scope was born.

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The Next Step: Working with Sam Abell

It’s been six months since the Sam Abell: Next Step workshop, but I can still hear Sam’s voice in my head repeating his mantra, “compose and wait.” I am the studio manager at DCP and I had the unique opportunity to learn from Sam both as a photography student and as a coordinator and I couldn’t be more thankful for the experience.

I have a suspicion that over the years Sam’s practice of composing and waiting has created a meditative energy around him. He lives in a flow and I could not help but be part of it while working with him. Even during the height of the stress of organizing the workshop, Sam stayed calm and kept me focused and grounded on the task at hand.

As we gathered in the studio on the first day, Sam steadily dissected each participant’s portfolio. He studied each photograph, meticulously pointing out what he liked about the image and what he might have done differently. It was eye-opening to hear how he would have composed the scene by slightly shifting to the right, or lining up with the window to give the subject more space and dignity. This was the whole concept of The Next Step. Refine. Take what you see and then edit out all of the unnecessary clutter. Then wait for the action.

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Over the next few days we took his lessons to heart. On our second day of shooting, we met on Jefferson Street in Oak Cliff and Sam challenged us to get behind the scenes. Our assignment was to shoot from the insider’s perspective. He meant this literally. Instead of shooting from the sidewalk, he wanted us to talk our way into one of the shops and get permission to photograph the inside of the stores. I was nervous. I glanced at the other participants and wondered if they felt the same anxiety. I then saw Jean, one of our quieter participants, take off across the street to an eye glass shop and knew that there was no reason to worry.

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The afternoon flew by and as the sun set the remaining photographers gathered on the sidewalk and exchanged stories. To my surprise, everyone had experienced success. Most shopkeepers had no problem opening their doors and letting us shoot. We had made an impression on Jefferson street and by the end of the day our group had become well known.

The week passed by quickly and I had the pleasure of watching Sam shoot several times. What I admired the most about him was his ability to connect to his subject almost instantly. He could walk up to a complete stranger and with one quick eye glance have their permission to take a photograph. I watched him pull up a chair next to the glass wall at a restaurant in Klyde Warren Park. He pressed his camera onto the glass and nodded to the waitstaff who were at a table inside rolling silverware. They obliged and after a few minutes forgot that he was taking photographs. After about 20 minutes, Sam stepped down off the chair and moved on. He mentioned repeatedly during the workshop that he did not get the shot he wanted.

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I later learned during his lecture at The Perot that this was a common occurrence for Sam. As we sat in the darkened theatre and listened to him recount how he took each image, I realized that his career was haunted by moments like the restaurant. For every truly amazing photograph he showed, there was an equally imperfect counterpart. Throughout the lecture, Sam shared his inner thoughts on each photograph revealing a life of determination, frustration and a passion for perfection.
Since the workshop, I have had the pleasure to stay in touch with many of the attendees. Earlier in the summer a few of us met up in downtown Fort Worth and put to use all of the skills Sam had taught us earlier this year.

I spent most of my time hopping from scene to scene, waiting for a few minutes and then moving on with an air of an exasperation, frustrated that what I hoped to capture hadn’t happened in the short time span I had allotted myself. This is why Sam is a master. He is a master of patience.

As I passed by a fountain I was intrigued by a little boy repeatedly running back and forth trying to chase the waterfall. Behind the fountain, a couple sat across from one another looking slightly bored – the perfect juxtaposition of childhood and adulthood. I raised my camera and patiently waited for the elements to align. Sam’s voice was in my head, “Compose. Wait.” Click.

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Sunday Sun Prints at Klyde Warren Park

Today, I headed to Klyde Warren Park to have our monthly Sunday Sun Prints event. The fall breeze was a nice foil to the bright sun and the park teamed with life. I placed my bucket of water along with various objects on the table and invited kids to come and make a print of their own.

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Sun prints, also known as cynotypes, are an old photographic printing process that was created in 1842 by Sir Herschel Williams. Originally it was intended for reproducing scientific notes and architectural plans (hence the term blueprints). It works by treating the paper with ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide and then exposing the paper to UV light. Whatever objects you place on the paper will be transposed onto it after being exposed to the sun and rinsed in water. The effect is a beautiful Prussian blue print that holds an artistic life of its own.

The kids’ reactions to the prints were priceless. Amazed, they would watch them float in water as their images began to appear. Looking up at me they would ask, “How does it work?”

“Magic,” I’d reply.

I try to make it out to KWP once a month to make sun prints. Check our Community Events calendar for the  next scheduled date!

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We hit the kilo-like mark on Facebook

The Hunt for the Scavenger Hunt Prize

One of the favorite aspects of my job as studio manager at DCP is that I am never quite sure how the day will pan out. The Tuesday before we had our first Kids Scavenger Hunt at Klyde Warren Park, I started my day with a text from Peter: “Hey, I need you to find little toy cameras that we can give to the kids as a completion prize. Check out the stores around Harry Hines Blvd and Royal Ln.”

Little did I know, this was the beginning of my own full blown scavenger hunt.

Peter had given me one clue: the Asian Trade District. Having just moved to Dallas, my familiarity with the area was on par with my knowledge of astrophysics (yes, I am aware of planets, but do I really know what is going on? no). I set off in my car, mentally braced for the journey ahead.

The stores were intense to say the least. They did not disappoint and reminded me of similar Chinatowns I’d visited on the East and West coast, but with that Dallas twist: plenty of parking and lots of space. The smell of plastic wafted through each store as I stared at rows upon rows of brightly colored plastic toys. I searched through the infinite bins but no toy cameras were found. I went to ten different shops but left empty handed, being told that they did not sell what I was trying to find.

The next day, on a hunch (and a little bit of desperation), I stopped by a little Korean shop in Plano by my house. I walked in and asked the shop keeper if he had toy cameras. He told me no but he knew where to get them! Excited, I asked him where. “Party City.” The quick drive confirmed that, sure enough, Party City had hundreds of small toy cameras all in different colors.
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A group shot of the May 2014 Noel Kerns Workshop

A group shot of the March 2014 Noel Kerns Workshop

A Social Media Design tool

As the Spot begins its journey into the overwhelming world of social media, I have been thumbing (is that term applicable to online browsing?) through an infinite number of articles about the subject.  It can be exhausting sifting through such a huge amount of information but when you find something worthwhile, it’s like striking gold.

Case in point: this amazing infographic that maps out social media design information, including precise images sizes for every major platform. Special thanks to the team at alltwitter for spending the time to do this.  You have saved me an enormous amount of time and research.

Click the image below to view blue prints for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Linkedin, Instagram and Youtube.

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It was thirty years ago today. . .

It’s been 30 years since Peter Poulides was named one of the great travel photographers in the December 1983 issue of Travel and Leisure.  He came to my office, dropped the issue on my desk and laughed that we should do a “throw back Thursday” post on the blog.  I was amused.  30 years ago, if someone said write a blog post on #tbt they would not know what you meant.  Yet, here we are.

I pick up the magazine and look at the cover.  It is endearing.  His mother wrote what page he was featured on in the middle of the forehead of the girl on the front.  As I thumb through the 126 pages to get there, I skip over a multitude of early 80s ads for cars and alcohol.

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I get to the article and the list of photographers is impressive.   I immediately recognize some of the greats – Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Mary Ellen Mark and Arnold Newman.  Each photographer has a featured photograph and I see Peter’s image of the Greek church in Mykonos.

There is a common quality between all of the photographs in this spread and I see it clearly in Peter’s shot – stillness.  This does not mean that there is not movement and energy in these photographs.  What it means is that there is an arrested motion – a suspension that is so delicate that one more moment later, it will be destroyed.

“I was there with my partner, a writer, photographing for about 45 minutes,” Peter says in the article.  “Finally, she became cold, began shivering and wanted to leave.  I started to pack things up, turned my shoulders and was about to leave, but looked back and said, ‘just one more shot.’ This is it.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson coined this concept as “the decisive moment.”  It is the moment when all of the elements come together and for a split second are in complete alignment.  They are at peace with one another.

A good photographer is aware of these moments.  A great photographer is an essential element of the moment.

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