Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Image Display Alternatives: Thinking Outside the Box

The physical properties of a photographer's image is defined as a 2D piece of art.  As a photographer who valiantly attempts to challenge the status quo I've always struggled with discovering possible alternatives to the traditional and somewhat boring display method; matted and framed prints hanging on a wall.  To that end I experimented in my one woman show, the 3D Environment, last September to discover if there was indeed an alternative to the traditional display options without using a multi-media approach of technology.

In two sections of my show I tried using a different print surface along with a creative method of displaying some of my work.  The surface of choice for my little experiment was a specially coated aluminum sheet with high gloss finish that took on an almost magical luminescence quality.  Two sections of the exhibit had magnetic strings suspended from the ceiling that was capable of bearing the load of multiple 5x7 metal images, thereby creating mobiles of art.  The metal print surface was a brilliant choice and the creative display of images suspended from the ceiling was very successful.  I'm ecstatic to report that this new approach allowed the viewer to walk around and between the suspended mobiles, become more engaged, and created a definite buzz since that was something totally new and unexpected.  An extra special bonus was the placement of my mobile art near a glass roof dome of the gallery's 2nd floor that allowed a variety of natural light throughout the day creating dancing shadows of the mobiles on a nearby wall.  The metal print material, display approach of suspended mobiles, and natural lighting from a sky roof dome all coalesced together to form a creative special effect.

Not that all images can be displayed in this manner, but it proves that our vision as photographers continues beyond the frame.  One must think about the appropriate display options that fit the intent and "inner vision".  After this experiment I was excited to see the positive results of this mobile effort but am even more committed to provide my viewers creative options or experiences when viewing my work.

Suspended Mobiles of Art

Dancing Shadows

Friday, September 16, 2011

TEDxDetroit: Get Invited

The area's leading creators, catalysts, entrepreneurs, artists, technologists, designers, scientists, thinkers and doers will gather to share what they are most passionate about — positive ideas for the world from Detroit. TED is an annual event where the top minds in the world share, connect and inspire. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design — three subjects that, collectively, shape our future. The event draws CEOs, scientists, creatives, philanthropists and extraordinary speakers including Bill Clinton, Jane Goodall, Frank Gehry, Sir Richard Branson, Philippe Starck and Bono.

What started as an annual event has bloomed into a global movement. TED has expanded beyond its annual conference by seeding smaller, independent events throughout the nation, called TEDx. The third TEDxDetroit will emulate the spirit and ideals of the TED Conference. The Detroit TED conference is scheduled for September 28 from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm at Detroit's Orchestra Hall.  Go to http://tedxdetroit.com and complete the brief application to receive an invitation to attend this prestigious conference filled with Detroit's finest representatives from our creative community.

Shooting Scripts: To Have or Have Not

Capturing images for a personal project is an exercise in a delicate balance between being prepared and being flexible in order to keep the spirit of discovery alive, and make adjustments as necessary.  Case in point, the legendary Robert Frank, when applying for the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship proposed a list of things he might photograph for his project.

"a town at night, a parking lot, a supermarket, a highway, the man who owns three cars and the man who owns none, the farmer and his children, a new house and a warped clapboard house, the dictation of taste, the dream of grandeur, advertising, neon lights, the faces of the leaders, and the faces of the followers, gas tanks and post offices and backyards....."  Frank also indicated on his Guggenheim application that "the project I have in mind is one that will shape itself as it proceeds, and is essentially elastic."

Another legend, Dorthea Lange believed that "to know ahead of time what you're looking for means you're then only photographing your own preconceptions, which is very limiting."  She was actually fine with the idea of working completely without a plan and to just photograph "that to which one instinctively responds".  According to Lange, although chance plays a major role in the beginning, this arbitrary nature leads to things coalesced under a particular area of interest.  Soon that area of interest becomes the concept or primary idea; thus the organizing principle of your project.

Reviewing both Frank's and Lange's approaches, they both arrived at the same destination albeit one from a simple list of thoughts to being flexible, and the other from being open to arriving at a concept through discovery.  My personal preference is more like Robert Frank's where I have a plan and roughly defined concept of my photo essay before venturing out and being totally open to pure discovery on the path to image creation.  I find that the open-mindedness during the adventure only enhances the original concept, enriching the final outcome.

Reference:  The Ongoing Moment; Geoff Dyer; Vintage Books; 2005 (fabulous historical narrative on photography)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Three Times and Counting

Most of you have already heard but for those who haven't.....I'm a merit award winner for the third consecutive year in COLOR magazine's 2011 Portfolio Contest.  It's an amazing honor as the competition is stiff; only 67 photographers awarded out of 480 artists with over 8,000 images competing for space in the special issue.  The COLOR Magazine recently became folded into the highly respected B&W (Black & White) Magazine.  

The images I submitted were a photo essay of 12 images done with a soft focus approach.  Due to the subject matter and artistic intention I felt the ambience was better suited to this pictorialist style than the traditional in focus depth of field.  Striving to bring a new perspective to achieve an emotional expression over observed reality is challenging but at the same time most rewarding.  Below are two of the images within the my award-winning photo essay.

Aura, © Joanne Scherf

Splash, © Joanne Scherf

The Whispering Voice Amidst Technology

With the technology today everyone has the opportunity and multiple options to express their opinions. Hopefully even with the saturation of excessive communications and burden to keep up, you will still find the time and interest to hear the whisper of my inner voice, the visual voice behind my creative thoughts. This blog will not be devoted to what's in my camera bag, or my reviews of the latest gadget or software application; there are plenty of sites addressing those issues.  Rather consider this as my space to share my insight into the art of photography and life of the creative spirit.  What was my intent, inspiration, process, lessons learned, opinions or personal experience as I seek images to capture.  Hope you enjoy the visual journey along with me.