Pt. Reyes National Seashore. 2010. Email to order a print. See the Pt. Reyes Workshop April 21-23, 2012
Welcome to the March 2012 Edition of the Stephen Johnson Photography Newsletter.
I've been immersed in printing for weeks now, first filling a print order, then teaching a four day workshop helping my students shape their photographs onto paper. It feels tangible, substantial, real, like prints in hand always do. A good winter activity as the calendar turns to spring outings...
This month's Newsletter's View From Here column discusses Staying With Making Art. We hope you enjoy reading it and perhaps will send us some comments. Our Tutorial this month goes through some issues on Black and White Digital Processing.
The next session of our Evening Critique Program is coming up this week Thursday March 15 at 7pm. If you can't be there in person, let us know if you want to register and participate virtually. We are working on alternative times in future programs for time zone differences around the world.
We have added a much requested Intermediate Fine Art Printing weekend for March 24-25 and have many great workshops throughout the Spring of 2012 such as Pt. Reyes National Seashore, and California's Highway One San Francisco South. Check them out!
A number of people wrote and asked for a Pt. Lobos Carmel workshop this spring. We love teaching workshops down there and are excited to have one scheduled for April 28-30, 2012.
Our next Fine Art Printing Hands-on class is May 5-8, 2012. We hope you can join us for these four intensive days of hands on printing.
As part of our ongoing commitment to photographic education, there is one student scholarship spot in each of these classes. Please pass the word along.
The Summer Digital Bootcamp, From RAW to Print is now on the schedule for July 16-21, 2012 with an early enrollment $200 discount for the first 4 students.
The individual opportunity to study printing with Steve this summer has been added to our schedule: The Fine Print: A Week of Advanced Hands-on Printing Work with Steve July 23-27, 2012.
Keep in mind our Mentoring Program annouced last fall.
Our busy schedules and limited budgets often keep us from destination workshops or classes, but many of you still have questions you need answered, or need feedback on some new work. We want to remind you of our Virtual Online Consulting Program. This service allows all of you out there around the globe to consult online live with Steve on technical, aesthetic and workflow issues using Skype and your webcam.
We hope you can come by the gallery and see the Exquisite Earth exhibition, its accompanying very special Exquisite Earth Portfolio 1, join us on a workshop, rent lab space, or just say hello and let us know what you are up to photographically and what you might like to see us offer.
FEATURED PRINT March 2012
the rough and rocky cliffs of Pt. Lobos at surfline
working on learning to print....with dedication, care and beauty.
I just completed a Print workshop with Stephen Johnson at his Pacifica California studio. The best workshop I have taken. He is a passionate advocate for striving to produce excellent images and gives you the tools to do so. An absolute must if you want to improve your photographic output. He is articulate extremely knowledgeable and patient
THE VIEW FROM HERE
Staying With Making Art
I've been immersed in printing for weeks now, first filling an important print order, then teaching a four day printing workshop helping my students shape their photographs onto paper. It feels tangible, substantial, real, like prints in hand always do. It felt like a good winter indoor activity as the calendar turns to plans for for spring outings.
Years ago we started the Featured Print Program to make one of my photographs available every month at a very reasonable price. But there were some other internal reasons for the program. To put it simply, it forced finished work out of me. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the day to day, in these days of economic stress even more so. It is easy to loose our ways as artists, to forget the making of artworks at our core. I've found it important to construct internal imperatives that force the work, so that the making of art with all of its passion, does not get routinely buried in the must do tasks of business maintenance. Having to make a new, finished print every month has helped force the issue.
Some who work in the arts can simply follow their art making as a daily routine. Some live very simply, some start off well to do, some retire into a life in the arts, some make a good living from their art. But we all need push sometimes, and most have plenty that can get in the way.
Many of us involved in the love of landscape end up in a very different daily routine. It takes time and effort to go out and make work. Keeping up with the offloading and sampling, much like developing and proofing of days now gone, is a very separate process. It doesn't feel like making art. It feels like a task. It can be joyful if the work is breaking exotic ground, but good solid seeing with workman-like dedication is harder sometimes to push through entropy.
New projects, new ideas, new territories, all contribute, but the hard core discipline to go at it everyday is rare, and important. On the days when it comes easy it is precious. On those days when it seems there are a thousand things in the way, the tasks get exaggerated and the work enticement of the art gets romanced, then easily tarnished by the fact that it may be merely good, without necessarily being monumental. Not to mention the fact that making art is hard work.
A finished print in hand can help serving as a sense of accomplishment. Much like a potter's finished firing, a print is the thing, the tangible manifestation that allows us to move to the next piece, whether a print or a journey. Sometimes just the getting out is enough to stir up the pot, break the routine, and entice more to be done. The weight of the unfinished is the killer of the yet to be imagined. Somehow a balance must be struck, so that the enticement of seduction keeps producing more, and that realization of the finished image as print becomes the path to moving on to the next.
Fundamentally, it is simply important to continue to work, to make art, seek the experience, persevere through the doldrums. Just do it, even if its just effort and not necessarily inspiration. It can come to you.
In the middle of writing this column, I forced myself out into a chilly afternoon, brought my dog along for a walk, and was then unexpectedly rewarded with a sky full of paragliders. I would not have guessed they would have been out in the cold air. They were magical.
Process, Craft and Media Informing an Audience
Our viewers come to understand what they are seeing in our artwork in many ways. One of the traditional vehicles of some comprehension was to understand the media and materials used in constructing the art work, oil on wood, pastels on board, cast bronze, collage, silk-screen, etc.
In this digital photographic age, we seemed to have moved away from this tradition. There seems to be a reluctance to call an inkjet print what it is, coining words like "giclee." Many hold desires to continue to call an artwork a photograph long after it has been changed into something quite different than the word photograph implies.
This comes up again and again,as it just did in my Fine Art Printing class last weekend, and it likely will continue to as long as people show images that appear to be photographic, that are in fact heavily "altered realities" and seem to want to engage their viewers with a wink and a nod.
There is a long tradition of deriving all sorts of artwork from photographs, making absolutely wild and wonderful new media. That continues to be the case, where all sort of possibilities can flow from a photograph in this digital age. What has changed is the implied deception now possible with digital technology, allowing drastic changes to what could be captured with light and lens. Even with heavy fabrication, some image makers still want to imply that the construct is what they saw and recorded. There would be no objection to informing their audience of the nature of what they are seeing if it were not for enjoying the reality shift and taking credit for the image as though it was seen rather than constructed. I'd rather they took credit for their Photoshop skills and helped their audience understand.
This is all a little confusing, making remarkable scenes captured be suspected of fakery, and creating a world of unreal expectation that the lesser of us must just not be as talented because we aren't getting or seeing these remarkable scenes to photograph that never existed in the first place. It also creates a false expectation of what reality is, making the beautiful sunset before you somehow less, as it is not as wild as the one just seen on the "enhanced" postcards in the gift shop.
I believe this also breaks down a commitment to craft up front, in the camera. The old "fix it in post" adage comes to mind where an assumption is made that you'll make it good later. Instead of concentrating on holding a magical image, this line of thought encourages a view that the image can be cleaned-up and made magic in Photoshop. In lectures across the country, and various parts of the world, I continue to emphasize my conviction that the photograph is made in the camera, everything else is just trying to process it into revealing that magic.
Indulge yourself with any direction you please, but give the viewer a fair chance at understanding the context of what they are seeing. Photography does occupy a special place in our visual world in terms of its ability to hold a light scene. Inspiration runs deep, deception can be disturbing. Of course, part of art is, as Picasso once said "a lie that helps you see the truth." I'm deeply aware of the gray areas that abound here, the rich history of images derived from photographs, and that artistic freedom demands just that: freedom.
A Few Quotes
A few things I would like you to keep in mind...
Catch Steve Live: Steve will be speaking here and there around the country over the next few months, April in MA, June in NY, late June in Maine, early August in MI.
Digital Black and White: Part 1
(excerpt from the book Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography unreleased revised electronic version)
I am enthralled with Iceland. It is one of the most beautiful places I've been and I feel a deep pull to continue to explore and share this place. This is a new trip customized for my photographic interests and curiosities, dedicated to a wonderful and deep photographic experience.
Beautiful posters from Steve's National Parks work.
National Park Color Notecard Set
From "With a New Eye" Beautiful 300 line screen offset reproductions with envelopes in clear box. A great gift.
PLEASE VISIT US!
Please come visit us at our gallery and see our original prints in person. The subtle detail of the prints and the beautiful texture of the fine art paper have to be seen to be understood. And while you're here, browse through our books, cards, posters, and specially priced prints.
We're happy to mail you a copy of our product catalog, just send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us.
We're located at:
Stephen Johnson Photography at the Pacifica Center for the Arts
1220-C Linda Mar Boulevard, Creekside Suites, 5-7
Pacifica, CA 94044
Pacifica Center for the Arts from Linda Mar Boulevard
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