Week 11: Market yourself

My objective for my photography is to raise my profile in the photography industry. My goals for the next 3 months:

  • Post on IG at least 3 times per week
  • Find hashtags which have the highest use and are most appropriate for my work
  • Update my portfolio by adding my newest work. I will update the arrangement of my work, change the font (it’s too big).
  • Apply to the Atomic Photographer’s Guild. If I am accepted, my work will be displayed on their website and will be shown at galleries.
  • Continue to increase the quality of my work by taking images weekly.
  • I will re purpose my twitter account and post images there, at least twice per week.
  • For my next quarter, I will be creating a portfolio of images of nurses for social media, presentations, pamphlets and other medium. My project will be focused on celebrating the diversity of work that nurses perform at my institution, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This project has the possibility to bring me more followers and some exposure.

18 December, 2019

(Late entry). I did apply to the Atomic Photographer’s Guild as I had mentioned. I followed the process outlined on the APG website and submitted a link to my portfolio via email. I explained my work in the email– the context and what i had set out to accomplish. The next day, I received a rather direct and critical email about my work, which was, strangely, written as if addressing my work in third person (Amy’s work, or her work). The email mentioned that I was incorrect about some dates or names of tests, such as where I referred to one some dates or test names

Week 10: The digital

This week, I gained some insight into how to manage my IG site more effectively. I learned that there is an algorithm which promotes the images of accounts which post more often, and that strategy is key to promoting ones work. I made changes to my IG account: I thought it all looked very random, so I pulled off my content, and am pushing content out using an app which slices my work into pieces. So far, I think it does produce a more organized look, but I do wonder about the sustainability of this approach. I noted that I got many more likes on the material which appeared to be abstract in smaller bits– like each image could stand on it’s own. I didn’t do so well when there were sections which were essentially black– no surprise. See the screen shot below:

Screenshot from my IG account

In addition, I have used @ to send a few of my postings to artists in the Atomic Photographer’s guild. I did receive a like from one of them, which is very exciting.

As I have a full time career, I don’t feel like I need to be out selling my work at this point. When I reach that point, I will need to have a solid background in social media marketing, so I think it is important that I, at least, give this a try.

What I don’t like about social media is the “likes” which adds an unhealthy popularity contents atmosphere. Social media can create a false sense of popularity– or lack of popularity which can seem personal. Knowing that there is a algorithm which ensures that popular accounts stay popular, and that IG brings in billions per year, the whole experience requires a healthy dose of skepticism.

Week 2: Other careers in photography

Photography is a passion for me and I feel that, though I have been taking pictures for over 40 years, that I am still exploring who I am and what I want to do. Currently I am working in the fine art sector with a concentration in narrative. I am at the beginning stages of exploring modern (digital) photography and how that is effected by communication and media, therefore trying to figure through the HOW of making art a business. I am not working commercially, and therefore not collaborating with any professionals yet. I am entrenched in my nursing career and may not have time to create collaborative work at this point. I hope to, one day, retire from my current job and work as a self-employed photographer for additional income. I may switch to a commercial portrait approach, perhaps weddings or portraits of high school seniors.

I was a little surprised, this week, at the reactions to the weekly posting regarding the re-purposing of other people’s work. I sensed that my cohort felt unhappy about Prince winning the copyright case. It’s really about copyright law and what kind of protections it may or may not provide. Maybe I am cynical, but law and fairness are not the same thing. The laws we have are made in attempt to try to negotiate the grey areas of life and don’t always help in the way that we would hope. This case, the work of a French photographer, Cariou, was altered by an artist named Prince. I came down on the side that Prince essentially altered Cariou’s work enough that it changed the meaning of the work. I do want to express, however, that although I could see how the courts viewed this case, it is unfair. Cariou produced amazing work, and Prince just kind of trashed it. I would be really upset if this had happened to my work. It is devastating that Prince made money off the work that someone else produced.

Week 2: CityID group B Brief Update

My group was able to meet for over an hour using the Big Blue button to start to get to know one another and to puzzle through an approach to the work. We identified that CityID had emphasized the term agency and while we discussed what agency could mean, we decided that perhaps we could spend the week identifying agency is visual art. We used the google doc to collect these images. We will meet again next Tuesday to discuss what we have found.

Les Rencontres d’Arles: Stages, Workshop with Jerome Bonnet at Maison des Arènes.

Falmouth Photography MA offers 2-3 face-to-face photography meet-ups throughout each year of the program. Les Rencontres d’Arles was the first offered for our cohort which started on June 1st. For me, southern France plus photography sounds fabulous. Two days prior to my departure, I was looking at the Rencontres website and found that workshops are also offered during this time. As I have no experience with portrait photos or lighting, I was excited to see that a 5 day workshop was offered with Jerome Bonnet. I was already scheduled to be in Arles, and although tuition was more than I had planned to pay for this trip, with my husband’s support, I signed up. From the website: “Jérôme Bonnet is represented by the Modds agency. His work has widely appeared in the press, especially Libération and Télérama. many magazines, including Elle, Le Monde Magazine and Madame Figaro, have published his portraits. The author of many reportages, particularly in New York, Japan and Canada, Mr. Bonnet won World Press Photo awards in 2009 and 2010. For several years, his work has been regularly exhibited, including at the Portrait(s) Festival in Vichy in 2013, Fotograficasa in 2016 and the Fisheye Gallery in 2017. ” The workshop description: Mr. Bonnet will help participants set up the lighting conditions that will create a mood, shape the spaces and emphasize expressions. Based on editing and adjustments made with image processing software, they will choose equipment based on distance, lighting, framing, format, etc., drawing the outlines of their own photographic worlds. Sounds good to me.

Introduction: The workshop is located in Maison des Arenas, an old building across from the arena. It appears that it is used for the photo workshops offered throughout the Arles photography festival. It’s multi-storied and made of stone. A courtyard in the center is a makeshift cafe or meeting area and the stone benches are covered in green sisal turf. There are two studios, tons of lighting equipment, printing on demand, workrooms with macs There are about 12 people in the workshop at different levels of expertise. The workshop is in French. I have been assigned a translator, but he’s someone who speaks English, and doesn’t recognize when to translate. n assigned a translator, but he’s someone who speaks English, and doesn’t recognize when to translate. It’s an adventure!

Day 1: In the morning we went round-robin and took turns presenting our portfolio. Mine was well received, particularly the willful blindness series. My peers mentioned that they felt that the pictures demonstrated the idea of ambiguity. The afternoon was spent at an empty villa which seemed to have been an art gallery in the past. It had a large, sunny courtyard and many rooms, each which had been painted in a single color. Jerome demonstrated how to use a box light with a flash and set me up so that the light was coming from behind a door. I worked with at model for just a few minutes and got several shots which I like. I found a pair of pigeon wings in the foyer, sans body. I stuck the wings to the wall with some printer labels which I had found in a closet. I like the effect. I learned that remotes aren’t necessarily difficult, just expensive.

Day 2: I had meant to keep up this diary daily throughout the workshop.. however the days turned out to be really long. The workshop started at 0930 and we left after 1800. By the time I got back to my hotel room, it was already late. I stayed up until 0100 to edit the photos which I had taken during the day. My photos were really well received, and I was thrilled with the feedback. I know what I like, but don’t know if other people could relate to my pictures. The positive feedback has given me more self-confidence about my work. I was assigned to go with a group of other women to a restaurant which had newly been remodeled. There were 5 students and two flash sets: two controllers and two strobes with soft-boxes. Not being able to speak French was a challenge because I didn’t know what was going on most of the time. However, I got a couple of shots I like: One of another student modeling for me as a waitress, and the other in a fabric shop.

Day 3: The day starts with a review of the work from the day before. One advantage of not speaking French, for me, is not being distracted by comments made about other people’s work. I can totally concentrate on my own work and am less inclined to feel insecure or questioning about my own. I worked in the “cave”, a studio in the stone cavern beneath the building. Working with strobes in a black environment was very interesting. Starting with the flashes requires guess work about camera settings and lighting placement. One individual had a light meter which seemed to help immensely with the accuracy of the settings. Must try this. This style of portrait is very dramatic, and, while knowing how to achieve this look is important, it’s not really my style.

Day 4: The instructor thought there would be models, but there had been a miscommunication. No models. When I asked one of the Maison employees to models she said that she would press the button of the camera if I wanted to model for my own portraits. So I did. I found a white evening dress and a headless doll and sat on the floor of the entry way. I like the white and blue walls, and had intended to achieve nice lighting over the dress. The shots were obviously meant to be dramatic, and they are. It was great fun. In the afternoon we did get models after all. We went back to MYOP, the art space/villa and I tried a few more shots.

Day 5: Choosing photos, editing, processing printing, hanging, then a show at the main Les Rencontres D’Arles outdoor gallery. Phew. I am exhausted. I REALLY disliked my photo arrangement. It looks like my dog put them on the wall. And the photos are not like other peoples, which is good and bad. I think I will learn more about what makes a good set of photos, and how to display successfully.

Overall: I have learned so much. A list, in no particular order:

  • Pick a photo size and be consistent. 4×5 works well.
  • Flash set up is not difficult, just hard to get it right.
  • Working with just one light can produce nice results.
  • I can start to communicate in French, using singled nouns, in just a few days.
  • Don’t shoot with the camera out in front of me. This is a very bad habit.
  • You can do a lot of creative things with a dead pigeon.
  • Good lighting changes everything. More depth, more clarity.
  • People on the street are often happy to sit for a picture.
  • Find the location first. Work with that one location.
  • Don’t move the light around. move the model around.
  • Bring energy to the shoot with a model. It helps with the connection and the picture quality.
  • Typical portrait = typical results. Think creatively.

Update: I learned this week that my portfolio is displayed on the Arles 2019 Rencontres Workshop gallery (click to connect to the page).

My gallery is on the left.

Week 3: Rethinking Photographers

June 20, 2019.

How are professions of photography viewed by non-photographers? While attending art college, the printmaking professor said of my interest in photography:  “People who can’t draw take photographs”.  As I admired this New York city-based artist, I was embarrassed and disappointed and, as my passion lay in photography, felt belittled. The thought that photography is not a “real” art is common. It is not included in the category of “fine arts”, and is considered a technical craft. It’s common for non-photographers to believe that the only thing one needs to take photos is expensive equipment- often expressed as “what kind of lens do you use”?

Photographers, particularly those covering conflicts, seem to be viewed as adventurous and daring correspondents.  Margaret Bourke-White, as described by Beverly W. Brannon (2015) of the Library of Congress was “flamboyantly spectacular”.  The Guardian (2019) says of Don McCullin’s work: “the sound of gunfire found him”.  But photography is more than a recording of facts.

Access to photography has increased with the advent of the cell phone camera.  People who take pictures with phones are, by definition, photographers.  The ubiquity, however, has not undermined the power of the photograph or the photographer.  Pixels, as found in phones and cameras, are pixels whether found in a Nikon or an iPhone.

I purchased my iPhone X because the lens in my iPhone 8 camera was cracked. I love my iPhone and it’s portability can’t be beat. The quality of the photos is great as well.  I appreciate and experiment with changes in technology and feel that change is inevitable and it’s all good.

Week 2: Interdisciplinary Practice

June 14, 2019

When I am learning to apply new concepts, I like start by digging into the exact meaning of a concept.  To me, the concepts of “interdisciplinary practice”, particularly when expressed as “relevant disciplines” was a bit challenging. Discipline has many meanings, however, the best interpretation for this context was disciplines as thematic fields of study or interest. I struggled with the concept of “critical” when applied to related disciplines.  Critical can mean crucial, relevant or a form of judgement.  For this exercise, when examining a photographic sample from my project, “Girl”, I choose to examine the content and style of the photograph in relation to influential disciplines.

Amy Eilertsen. 2019. Girl.

My photograph, “Girl” is from a series of illustrations for a book in progress about the embodiment of the seasons.  When I was creating this project, I could see the scene, lighting, dress of the model and other details.  I story-boarded it out, sketching angles and desired backdrops.  I worked with a model and photographed this series in Sweden.

Upon examination of this photograph, I was really surprised when I realized that the clear picture I had in mind, which I thought was my own, unadulterated invention, was a close approximation of the work of Maxfield Parrish, a popular American artist and illustrator.

Maxfield Parrish. 1910. Jason and the Oak. 

I loved the vivid colors and Romantic style as a kid- to me then, it was absolute escapism.  It’s interesting how, while we may not consciously think about specific influences, we indeed are influenced by our experiences.

The second discipline which is reflected in my work, “Girl” is Greek art, specifically, the statues called “kore”, which translate to “girl”.  These statutes are thought to be an embodiment of the young goddess Persephone.  Interestingly, the story line of this series of photos is has parallels to Persephone.

Kore with almond eyes
Acropolis Museum. Kore with almond eyes 510 BCE. 

Examining a photograph which I have taken and finding related disciplines, after the photograph is created, is a little bit like reverse engineering.  The photo is a product and I am searching for the creative process which caused this product.  I think that I have an opportunity to work more proactively: I can think about influences, about disciplines and about what I want to convey, then capture the images.  Let’s see what happens.

Week 1: The Global Image

June 8, 2019.

In this first week, The Global Image, I have been challenged to articulate a singular definition of “The Global Image”.   My initial thoughts about the definition of the Global Image, prior to watching the lectures and reading the resources, include the following: a) The literal image of the globe; b) the universal (global)  understanding of the concept of “image”; c) The universal experience of creating an image and d) the universal understanding of the subject or types of images recorded.  My concern regarding my difficulty in wrapping my head around a singular definition of “The Global Image” is somewhat assuaged as Bate, (2019), states that globalization and it’s relation to photography is an “underdeveloped and neglected issue” (p. 189).

My thoughts have been somewhat more developed over the past week of consideration.  I am thinking about “The Global Image” in terms of Bates (2019) concept regarding the “globalization of the photographic representation” p 191.  The photographic representation- as in the ability to take pictures- has increased rapidly with the brilliant addition of the camera to the cell phone, and dissemination of these photos online is pretty easy and fast if a person has access to the internet. So what is the product of the increasingly ubiquitous photographic image? 

Amy Eilertsen. Family: Lisbon, Portugal. April 2019.

A theme running through Bate (2019) “Global Photography” was criticism of “humanist” photography, such as the contents of Steichen’s exhibit The Family of Man, or image collections, such as Getty.  Bate states that the “global leads to banality and ignorance of local issues” (2019).  Examples include images of which typify and are symbolic of concepts which are universally accepted as the human experience—families holding hands or taking selfies.  I was surprised at the lack of exploration of this phenomenon. I believe that the rapidity of communication of photograph images has outstripped human capability for interpretation and acceptance of culturally specific images. Like Emily Post’s “Etiquette for a Modern World” (Post, 2019) the globally communicated photograph, such as what is found in online image banks, is frequently one which expresses universal proprieties and conventional requirements of social behavior.  My thought is that the global image, in order to be universally appreciated, must be of a subject that is universally relatable.  The common acts of being human, such as enjoying pets or beautiful scenery are generally universally relatable.  Photographs which contain material not which is not readily relatable, or challenges assumptions, can create a psychological discomfort for the viewer.  The rapid and ubiquitous sharing of photographs, particularly in public venues such as social media do not easily allow exploration of the viewer’s reactions.  

Bate, D., 2016. Photography: the key concepts. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 189-210.

Post, E., 1934. Etiquette:” The Blue Book of Social Usage”. Prabhat Prakashan.