Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Award Winner: Black & White Spider, 2015

I was presented with the 10th Annual Black and White Spider Awards Nominee title for two of my images in the Nature and Still Life categories at the prestigious Nomination & Winners PhotoShow webcast Saturday, November 21, 2015. BLACK AND WHITE SPIDER AWARDS is the leading international award honoring excellence in black and white photography. This celebrated event shines a spotlight on the best professional and amateur photographers worldwide and honors the finest images with the highest achievements in black and white photography. 

It is an incredible achievement to be selected among the best from the 7,686 global entries for 2015.   My image, Winter Haiku 3 won a Nomination Award in Nature, and Last Bloom won in the Still Life category.  My images will be showcased in the Winner's Gallery; virtual gallery opens on December 15, 2015; see below links to view all winners in these categories.  Images will also be published in The Journal, a digital publication featuring curated collections of award winning photography.  Nominees issue will be released in January, 2016.

Go to this link to see ALL winners for ALL categories:

Go to this link to see all the Nomination Winners for NATURE:

Go to this link to see all the Nomination Winners for STILL LIFE:

Last Bloom
© 2005, Joanne Scherf
Still Life Nomination Award

Winter Haiku 3
© 2010, Joanne Scherf
Nature Nomination Award

Contact: •

Thursday, November 5, 2015

My Typography Book For Sale on Blurb

As a visual artist I often wear many hats that include both art and design disciplines.  Photography is my true passion, yet graphic design has always been a keen interest over these past years.  So much in fact that I have pursued multiple academic courses to further my knowledge and practice of graphic design.

My book, Typography: A Journal of Inspiration may be of interest to those who seek visual inspiration in typography; particularly beginning students and emerging graphic designers.  If not for you, then feel free to pass this post/link to those so inclined.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Award Winner: 2015 PX3 Award

Proud to announce that my image, Wildwood 2 from my Aerial Arboretum portfolio won a 2015 PX3 Award, Honorable Mention in the Nature category.  It's quite an honor to be among such celebrated photographers on a global stage.

The "Prix de la Photographie, Paris" (Px3) strives to promote the appreciation of photography, to discover emerging talent, and introduce photographers from around the world to the artistic community of Paris. Selection of work from this competition are displayed in Paris and published in Px3 Annual Book.  Juried by leading editors, publishers, curators, gallery owners, consultants, creative directors, and art directors, Px3 brings the best of photography from across the globe to Paris.

Wildwood 2
@2014, Joanne Scherf

The following link will take you to the four images I entered, and featuring my winning image of Wildwood 2.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Professional Development: MacDowell Colony Residency

Always on the lookout for professional development opportunities, I discovered this artist residency called the MacDowell Colony  located in the Monadnock region of New Hampshire, Peterborough to be exact.

The MacDowell Colony is the nation's first artist residency program established in 1907, with fellows the likes of James Baldwin, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Alice Walker, and Thornton Wilder to name just a few.  The Colony provides fellowships for over 250 creative artists each year.  This community of artists working in a variety of disciplines (literary and visual), and aside from the lunch picnic basket lunch deliveries at your studio, one receives uninterrupted time dedicated to their art, plus private studios, living accommodations, and meals for up to a two month period.

Check out this video  for a visual description of their artist residency at MacDowell Colony.  The website provides all the details.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Black & White OR Color

Ultimately it's a personal decision that is complex and subjective.  Overall, it circles back to your original intent and pre-visualization of the image well before you click the shutter.  During the film era a photographer had to clearly decide beforehand since it required a mechanical insertion of either B&W or color film.  But today, you take the original digital capture in color that can easily be converted into B&W in post-processing.  So the benefit of digital is that you can have both a B&W and color image without much fuss at all.  Unfortunately this luxury of having it both ways, presents a challenge to some because you now may have to literally decide which is it going to be...B&W or color OR both?  Some photographers have a strong specialization (either B&W or color) and if you're lucky the image decides for you.  Regardless of your situation, the best approach is perhaps a simple question of "what am I trying to say with this image?"

  • Is there an emotional connection I want the viewer to experience?  Which emotion?
  • Can I use color as a compositional element that adds value to the image?
  • Does the juxtaposition of color add to the composition and balance of the image?
  • Which provides the best visual impact and narrative?
  • Do I want to keep it simple, classic, and/or one with drama?

In addition to personal intent, there are probably some basics that one should consider when confronted with the decision of Color vs B&W.

  • You can use the hues, tones, and shades of color to tell a visual story
  • Provides a strong point of visual interest
  • Grabs your attention with a richer dynamic range
  • Allows you to direct the viewer's focus by highlighting elements in an image by smart use of color wheel theories and juxtaposition of colors


  • Traditionally conveys emotion better; especially mood, grit, danger or subjects that are bleak, nostalgic, or vintage in nature
  • Encourages your mind to really focus and experience a deeper level of seeing without the distraction of color
  • Offers reduced complexity that emphasizes subject matter
  • Best with compositional elements of form, shape, line, shadows and highlights
  • Popular axiom..."when you photograph people in color you photograph their clothes, but when you photograph people in B&W you "photograph their souls"

Final thought....if you can't decide make two versions; one B&W and one color.  Display them side-by-side on your monitor or as actual prints.  Take a moment (better yet several days of looking at them), to digest the image, then let your gut make the decision.  You'll feel it in your bones, even in your soul.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Image of the Month: June 2015

This image was taken on the beach at Half Moon Bay, California as I watched a surfer leave the ocean and return to his normal schedule.  The simple lesson with this image I would like to share are the basic composition elements of thirds, center of interest, and eye movement.  Rather than just talk about the final image I thought it would be helpful to provide the same image with my notations on them to clearly present each item.

Note:  For each image, to obtain a larger view, just click on the image itself

Image of the Month: June 2015
© 2014, Joanne Scherf

Composition Element: Rule of Thirds....with a Twist
The rule of thirds is all about placement of your subject matter within the frame and refers to dividing your image into thirds both horizontally and vertically.  This imaginary exercise results in a grid-like pattern of nine equal spaces.   However with my variation of the rule of thirds, if you look closely you can see three distinct triangles running on the horizontal plane.  

The three triangles would be #1, the top which encompasses the ocean, #2 the sandy beach, and #3 the sedum plants on the cliffside overlooking the beach.  What's also interesting is that each triangle is very clean and contains only that one subject matter throughout.  So for example in the #2 triangle, it's only sandy beach.  Typically when looking at grids of thirds there most often is a mix of subject matter in each grid, or in this case each triangle.

Composition Element: Rule of Thirds w/Twist
© 2014, Joanne Scherf

Composition Element: Center of Interest
The center of interest refers to the most significant element of an image, or in other words, the center or most important point of interest.  Good composition typically locates the central point of interest off-center which is more pleasing to the eye.  Notice in this image your eye is drawn to the center triangle (#2) because of the lighter color (compared with above ocean or below plant material) and surfer figure walking across the beach provides an additional focal point.  

Composition Element: Center of Interest
© 2014, Joanne Scherf

Composition Element: Eye Movement
Although photographs are static in nature, a dynamic element and movement can be attained merely through composition.  In essence the artist has control of the viewer's eye movement through clever placement of objects, framing, and overall composition techniques.  Studies have even shown that geometric shapes are more visually appealing and can influence eye movement.  

There are two very obvious directional clues in this image.  First is the trail of footprints gently positioned in the sandy beach leading away from the ocean. Secondly, the actual movement of the surfer leads the viewer off the image entirely.  Since this image was captured with an iPhone I had absolutely no control of normal camera functions such as shutter speed, f-stop and exposure.  Ultimately, although the surfer was moving I kept the camera in a steady, static position, thus the second and transparent figure of the surfer.  However, I think this evolving transparent trail of the surfer literally appears as if he's walking out of the frame; a huge visual leading line to follow him off the image and beyond the frame.  In fact, the further the surfer walks away from the ocean, the more transparent he becomes.  Again, this happened because of limited functionality of the "camera" I had with me at the time of capture, but I love the result.  It's almost metaphorical in a sense. 

Composition Element:  Eye Movement
© 2014, Joanne Scherf

Image of the Month: June 2015
© 2014, Joanne Scherf

Hopefully this month's image demonstrates how pre-visualization of composition is so important.  The basic composition elements of Rule of Thirds, Center of Interest, and Eye Movement are key to capturing and creating fantastic images. For patrons I hope this insight helps you to read photographs better and improve your visual literacy.  As for professionals who invariably have an innate visual competency and sense of composition, it's just a gentle reminder how critical the basics really are.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Defining Your Own Success

suc • cess

  • the accomplishment of an aim or purpose
  • the attainment of popularity or profit
  • the achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted

Success is such a simple word, yet perhaps more complex beyond the facade. As an artist, no doubt the concept of success is a constant threat to one's creative spirit and at times a mystery, always within reach yet at the same time just beyond one's grasp.  To that end, I've been re-visiting books on my shelf I've already read, yet find myself fanning pages for quick overviews.  This leads me to Tony Luna's book, How to Grow as a Photographer (2006);

Quite simply, Tony presents the three elements of success.....Passion, Plan, Perseverance.  To summarize just one page in his book, let me paraphrase and add my thoughts to his outline.

  • The call to follow your bliss or find your unique talent and embrace its power
  • Not the same as "do your own thing"
  • You play an important role in the continuum of creative people linking the past to the future
"Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you're passionate abut something, then you're more willing to take risks."  Yo-Yo Ma

  • Passion alone is  not sustainable; one needs a dose of reality
  • A plan puts one's passion into context, provides direction and defines success
  • The plan identifies the path to "channel your multiple energies instead of imploding from the overwhelming onslaught of ideas you are creating."

  • This may be the most difficult of all three elements of success because it takes resilience and fortitude over and over and over again
  • This is when self-doubt creeps in and grabs a hold leading one into the despair of self-worth.  It takes guts, devotion, and a thick skin to continue after countless rejection letters.
  • Leads to questions like "why isn't anyone investing in my art"?   Or perhaps the overwhelming amount of time spent on the "business" end of your art consumes so much of your time and effort that there seems to be no time left for the art.
  •  When victorious after the storm of rejections, success is even sweeter and further affirmation that you indeed are an artist, a creative spirit with a formidable inner strength.
"If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward."   Martin Luther King

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Winner of 8th Annual International Photography Award (IPA)

I am very pleased to announce winning two international awards for my color photography.  The 8th International Photography Award (IPA) notified me that I won two Nomination Awards; Wildwood won for the Nature category and Ho Made Pies won in the Americana category.  With over 9,000 entries to have two of my images selected is quite an honor indeed, especially from this prestigious competition.

Winning IPA photographers such as myself enjoy exposure on a global scale to a worldwide audience.  This Color Award is recognized around the world as the most renowned body of its kind, dedicated to honoring the highest achievements in color photography.  An impressive list of global leaders in the photography industry are the jurors who judge entries on the basis of artistic merit, originality, subject and style.  

Friday, May 1, 2015

Image of the Month: May 2015

Rather then spend my usual in-depth discussion about an image of the month I'd rather just present it and let you interpret it yourself without any guidance.  All I ask is that you take more than a typical nanosecond to really explore, engage and experience the image.  

More important than "what do you see", is for me at least is "what do you feel"?  If you haven't already guessed, making an emotional connection with you through my imagery is my passion.

Enjoy the moment.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Visual Interpretation...A Mind's Eye?

Visual perception is tricky business.  As the famous quote goes, "I can only recognize in an image what I already know". Hence, previous knowledge and experience plays an important role in the interpretation process.  Is art an illusion or truth; perhaps both.  Scientific studies support the theory that our visual systems remain too limited to digest and interpret all the information that our eyes take in.  So our mind takes a shortcut and chooses the most likely interpretation of what we see.

So what do you see in this first image?  What is your eye seeing and brain interpreting? Is it an aerial view of snow on mountain summits, or the same perspective on crashing waves below you?  

Taking the same image above and changing the orientation to the original perspective, you can clearly see a blue sky saturated with puffy clouds playfully sweeping across the horizon. You've heard the quote, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder".  But in reality perhaps the real eye of the beholder is the brain itself.  Taking this theory a bit further, as an artist challenge yourself to view things differently or present images in more non-traditional orientations to shake things up and awaken the eye and brain of the viewer.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Moment of Zen: Gulf of Mexico

With daylight savings time in play now it seems as if Spring is just around the corner.  So with that in mind, I created this very brief moment of Zen.  Think of it as an opportunity, or an excuse, to just take a moment away from the craziness and enjoy a break.  See if you can use all your senses to experience these 48 seconds.

Sea breezes gently caress my skin
Soft sand tickles my toes
Waves crashing into a calm relaxing chill
As I gently quiet the mind and close my eyes
To a new ripple of sweet serenity  

                                          © 2015, Joanne Scherf

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Dumpster Project: Highlighting Artist Mac Premo

While my passion and blog subject matter is devoted to photography I am always looking at other art forms as a source of inspiration or just another excuse to appreciate the brilliant visual interpretations of other artists.  This past week I was fortunate to come across an unusual exhibit in Sarasota, Florida on the grounds of The Ringling ( that I felt was worth sharing.

This exhibit, Dumpster Project, is not in the art museum, but directly on the massive grounds of The Ringling where one could just walk into this very engaging art experience.  As you might have guessed, the Dumpster Project is encapsulated in an actual dumpster that contains over 400 found objects by collage artist Mac Premo.  This creation came about because he had to downsize his studio due to a location move.  Being a collage artist, Mac created this electic history of his life by displaying a vast array of objects representing a segment of his life history.  Take a minute to hear Mac as he briefly describes the basic elements of the Dumpster Project in the video.

Mac framing inner walls of dumpster to hold exhibit

Long view as one enters the dumpster

Though the long view provides an overall perspective I found it fascinating in closer review of what the collage elements were and how they were presented.  Just a few of my images provide a closer look.

©2015, Joanne Scherf

©2015, Joanne Scherf

©2015, Joanne Scherf

©2015, Joanne Scherf

Here's another video, Doublewide's documentary trailer for the Dumpster Project to gain additional insight into this mind-blowing collage exhibit.

For additional info on Mac's project

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Image of the Month: February 2015

When Fish Fly

© 2012, Joanne Scherf

I’ve heard of “when pigs fly”; but “when fish fly” ?  This example of hyperbolic figure of speech, so familiar in American lexicon, often conveys and insinuates a complete impossibility that will never happen.  So you can imagine my amusement when I looked out my window from a small, boutique hotel in the quaint town of Culpeper, Virginia and saw beautiful copper fish flying skyward amidst a perfect backdrop of blue sky mixed with puffy white clouds.  Aside from the occasional horizontal arm that suspended the fish in mid-air, which by the way was often overlooked, the flying fish looked perfectly natural in the crisp October sky. 

From a photographic composition this image doesn’t send shockwaves throughout the creative stratosphere, but it does remind one to relish the moment and enjoy the fantasy when reality is suspended for even just a moment.  I did however indulge in minor post-production wizardry and add selective white vignette to soften the corners and further add a sensation of being in the clouds along with the crazy fish.

So, note to self.  Enjoy the crazy opportunities when your eye catches a whimsical, tongue-in-cheek moment that perhaps may be the highlight of a typical, mundane day. And thank your lucky stars you had a camera to catch it.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Image of the Month: January 2015

Slightly behind schedule, that is if one attempts to keep one.  For now I hope the delay of one day was worth the wait.  Still in disbelief that it's actually the new year I've come to the realization that it is indeed a time for reflection and hitting the 'reset' button.  To that end I'm sharing this simple, yet colorful and hopefully poignant image that conveys my message for the beginning of 2015; just breathe!

© 2014, Joanne Scherf/

The message is quite simple.  Breathe.  Do so with purpose.  Slowly, gently, and deeply as each breath offers mini-moments of respite, reflection and perhaps new ideas and beginnings.

As for the artistic significance of the image itself I'll keep it simple and save the deep analysis for future "images of the month". Suffice it to say, although your eyes will fixate and luxuriate on the colorful patch of springtime sedum flowers carpeting the ground, they will eventually follow the small foot path to the horizon.  So no analysis paralysis, just a message of simplicity, a moment to breathe before meeting the challenges and opportunities of 2015.