Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Winter Melts Away

I happened to have the good fortune while in downtown Detroit to witness nature at its finest.  At the edge of the Riverwalk promenade I watched in awe as all sizes of jagged blocks of ice floated down the Detroit River herding in a new spring season.  Watching the ice float by was mesmerizing and the accompanying gurgle sound effects were an added bonus.

Ice chunks on the river
past midday
spring rain from above
drizzling upon my head
gurgling ice floats by
washing away winter's bite
in hopes of spring from dawn to night.
                               © 2013, Joanne Scherf

Here's a moment of zen; you deserve it.

River Runs from Joanne Scherf on Vimeo.

Click on link below for large screen, high quality version:

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

In case you haven't noticed I've not had an incredible amount to report in my blog postings latetly, but that is somewhat due to being overwhelmed with another project, albeit a personal one, in a different visual form for me.  I thought once I finished the project, which happened to be yesterday, I would get back to writing about photography on this blog.  But on second thought, I think my most recent venture has application in a more global sense than originally perceived.

In the spirit of sharing my "aha" moment, here's my story. I've spent the most recent years taking a few graphic design courses and putting it to practical use designing and creating a memoir my father has written about my recently deceased mother.  I'm providing the background story here because I'm predicting this slight detour will have impacted my photography in ways I'm not yet sure of.  I know that sounds a bit crazy but getting my hands dirty with another medium has forced me to use more and/or different creative muscles, perhaps forming new neural networks or pathways as I approach visual problem solving.  Also as I write this I'm thinking about my earlier profession prior to creating art, specifically that of an Exercise Physiologist where I often educated and encouraged my patients to use different exercise modalities to cross train.  Also, in today's latest research "muscle confusion" is all the rage as it appears to have more benefits than devoting oneself to just one type of exercise or equipment.

That said I can now clearly see the benefit of putting down the camera and pursuing graphic design and bookmaking as a way to freshen or reboot my visual storytelling.  Getting out of my comfort zone of photography, I expanded my visual acuity, intelligence and overall sense of space by applying my skills within the confines of the graphic design world.  I now have a visual space that not only includes imagery, but also by thinking with type I now consider the space of letter, text and grid.  Although photography and graphic design share some identical elements, I've added even more elements to my toolkit so when I approach my next visual challenge I will have an expanded field of view and vocabulary. This is just my opinion, but my guess is that when I pick up the camera again, I will have developed more creative muscle that will allow me to perhaps look at things from yet another perspective on the prism of intent.  I can only imagine, should I experiment with painting or other fine art it would also enhance my field of view providing perhaps an unlimited ceiling of visibility.  So bottom line, get out of your comfort zone and try to shake things up a bit, maybe:

  • focus on how other art forms can influence your visual storytelling
  • identify a favorite artist and interpret their style or theory with your camera (for example, how can Van Gogh's pointillism or Kandinsky's color theory be applied to a photographic image)
  • take a class in a different art form and incorporate it into your next piece
  • collaborate with another artist representing a different medium

Friday, March 1, 2013

Image of the Month: March 2013 (or Take in the Larger View)

I recently attended an event where one of the features was a "performance artist" painting a large canvas, something like 8' to 10' tall.  As I was seated only a few feet away, the artist appeared to be painting totally freestyle, with music accompanying his every brush stroke.  As the performance continued, so did the oohs and ahhs of the crowd.  When finished the painting appeared to be that of a highly recognized sports figure. All in all an amazing presentation that brought painting front and center as a performance art.  Well done.

Cazzie Russell
© 2013, Joanne Scherf

As is the case in these times of ubiquitous cell phones, after the event ended everyone wanted a picture of the finished canvas to share on their social media.  I too followed the accepted behavior, that is until something made me stop and capture an entirely different scene that frankly I thought was even more compelling.  Since the painting was done at center court of a Big Ten school, the area for the live painting was covered with the usual painter's drop cloth to protect the floor.  As I watched people taking pictures of the canvas with their friends proudly standing next to it, I couldn't help but notice the other art that was created simultaneously and yet being totally ignored.

© 2013, Joanne Scherf

© 2013,Joanne Scherf

Looking down on what everyone was standing on, the painter's drop cloth, I noticed incredible artwork at my feet.  The mix of vibrant colors, and droppings a la Jackson Pollock, created an abstract art form that came about so natural and yet everyone else totally overlooked it.  So there while everyone took pictures of the painted canvas, I was the only one taking images of the drop cloth.  Every inch of the drop cloth seemed to present yet another interpretation of mixing colors in a variety of shapes and patterns.  In a moment when I allowed myself to take a step back and look at the larger view, and not focus on the obvious (painted canvas) I was presented with an aha moment.  These experiences are rare opportunities and yet when answered, it usually results in a memorable image that is a gift.  It's all about just taking a breath, stepping back, and taking in the entire scene instead of focusing on the obvious.  It's a sure sign that if everyone is taking the same shot, there's a better one to be had if one just opens up the visual territory and alters the mindset.  Next time you're out and about randomly taking pictures with your camera or cell phone, just think what you're missing by just looking at the obvious.