Artist Spotlight: Phillip Jones

We have been lucky to work with Phillip Jones for the past few years. His experience of photography has been growing since he was young with his father being a professional cinematographer. An avid film lover, Phillip primarily shoots medium format black and white film and creates traditional darkroom prints.  While his subject matter ranges from each location he photographs, his rich tonal range stays the same. One thing is for sure, he has a style that is known and admired by many and it was great to get to know a little more about his process.

  • How did you become interested in photography? Was it something you grew up with?

PJ: Yes, photography was always there. My father was a professional cinematographer, filming documentaries out of Washington, DC. He also did still work and was so busy that the best way to see him was visit the darkroom or tag along on his photo shoots.

He landed a dream project filming the Cape Cod National Seashore for its new visitor center. If you ever wondered who made those films in visitor centers, it was dad.

The whole family stayed at a rental cottage on the Great Pond, in Easton, while he worked on the production. After about four days I was getting bored as only a 13-year-old can.

Dad fished an Olympus Pen-F camera out of his bag. Sleek and silver, it exposed 72 half-frame shots onto a 35mm roll of film. He said that I could have just one roll for the vacation and not to drop it into the pond. He'd develop it when we got back home, then we'd go over what I'd come up with.

So, my first roll of film was shot on a dare from my father, a master photographer.

At first, it was hard to commit to actually snapping the shutter, but just wandering around with my photo-radar jacked up changed everything.

It all seems quaint now, most children have taken thousands of iPhone photos before they're ten.

  •   Walk us through your shooting process – do you scout each place for the perfect time of day or is it more spontaneous where you walk around and see what inspires you?

PJ: When traveling somewhere special, with limited time or if a return trip is unlikely, it often takes longer doing the research than being there.

I study guide books, topographical atlases, Google Earth, Panoramio, "Things to Do" in Trip Advisor, Flickr, Pinterest and Google Images for a start. Then delve deeper into the more interesting locations and, by the flight, have a folder of images, maps, and GPS coordinates.

These are the "official destinations" for the trip, but serve more as back-ups if the free-form exploration fails. I try to be observant and not agenda driven. It's always seemed presumptuous to decide what to photograph first rather than consider incidental subjects as they're encountered.

It's easy to become complacent when working on home turf, feeling like Boston's given up all it's secrets. Then you remember that the city's still evolving and you've just been stuck on the same ant trails. I often check for the transitions of earlier photo sites to get warmed up. 

Most American cities are somewhat readable. There's often a river with a historical downtown that people are trying to revitalize. Downstream has industrial and utilitarian structures. Nicer residences are upstream or uphill, things like that.

It's that not difficult to sniff out regions that are pregnant with visual possibilities, but I can't really explain how someone knows that it's time to set up the gear. Guess you've got to be there.

  • You split your time between Atlanta, Boston, and traveling. Does one city inspire you to create your images more than the other? 

PJ: Other photographers have published excellent work on Atlanta, Mark Steinmetz for one. And as much as I love aspects of Atlanta, it's aesthetic of sprawling sameness doesn't jibe with the visual depth that I'm looking for. "The South", on the other hand, is a goldmine for subject matter. Birmingham, Macon, Mobile, Richmond and Savannah have yet to be completely retrofitted.

Boston is special, visually. It's like Philadelphia and Baltimore; important East Coast cities since colonial times. They've had robust industrial periods and are centers of international trade. In other words, they've had an accretion of character over generations that contrasts with their post-industrial rebirths.

When starting this 1100 mile commute between studios in Boston and Atlanta, I envisioned a kind of James Bond character with a dark suit and black attaché hopping on and off jets. It's ended up more like the Joad family in "Grapes of Wrath". The old truck with a mattress strapped on.

So, over a few days, I drive along the East Coast with my Toyota brimming with camera gear and supplies. The only stops I make are scheduled because the trip's just too long for meandering. 

  • Because you shoot at night you must have a lot of long exposures. What is the average night exposure you use? Do you remember what your longest exposure has been so far? 

PJ: Now that CMOS sensors are creeping toward a million ISO, digital photography is able to capture night images that we couldn't even imagine before.

Still, a mechanical camera can take eight-hour exposures, even in sub-zero weather. This is useful to record long-term transitions within a scene.

The moon and stars become arcs of light, bodies of water look like sheets of ice and a crowded plaza becomes a de-populated mist.

These visual aspects of long exposures complement the hard-edge linearity of the architecture and industry in my current series.

If it's windy, or even breezy, don't bother with analog night photography. Always using a tripod, I don't touch the camera while the lens is open. Even a cable-release transmits too much hand-vibration for critical detail. Instead, I block the light with an eight-inch card covered with black velvet. I open the lens, let the camera vibrations settle down and simply lift the card up and down for an exposure. Exactly like they did before shutters were introduced in the 1800's.

If there's time, it's best to set up before dusk and photograph the progression into full night. You want to catch the few minutes when the artificial light balances with the fading sunset to retain detail in the shadows.

Cities are not always that dark, especially when they're soft-lit by a glowing low-cloud canopy. Nevertheless, most nocturnal light levels don't even register on meters and film sensitivity drops off with longer exposures, so I estimate the luminance, based on previous sessions, and take a series of exposures, bracketing them in one-stop increments.

A typical set of exposures of an urban night scene might be 5 seconds through 8 minutes at f16, using Ilford Delta 100 film. So that would be: 5s,10s, 20s, 40s,1m, 2m, 4m and 8m. I finish the twelve-frame roll with best-guess exposures. Slightly over-exposed negs scan better than underexposed ones.

When staying at a hotel, I'll ask for a room with an upper-floor balcony, then check out the conditions for an extra-long urban night shot.

When it's gotten truly dark, I set the aperture at F 22–32, open the lens and set the iPhone's alarm for 6-8 hours; before the first light. When nothing goes wrong, there's been some surprisingly good results, especially in under-lit in cities.

  • Lets chat about the darkroom – how has your process changed throughout the years? Do you find it more difficult to work in film today versus when you started?

PJ: Film photography splits into two basic activities. First, you venture out to great locations and have adventures capturing the images.

Next, you seal yourself off in a claustrophobic black room with trays of smelly chemicals, turn out the lights and work there for days.

But, all those adventures are resurrected in your mind as you're creating the prints. The quiet darkroom intensifies the concentration needed to re-imagine those moments. This helps to create a print that pulls the viewer back into the original experience and makes them glad they visited.

Since your trying to transpose a real event into a flat b&w image, you've got to dip into the darkroom box-of-tricks for help. I try to get as vivid as print as possible without it seeming contrived or over-cooked. If the technique is evident, it's failed.

My darkroom methods have changed dramatically in the last 10 years, thanks in part, to the services of Panopticon.

The Panopticon team develop my negatives. Although it's a more technical than creative part photography, a properly developed negative is essential to the final print's success. Now I have beautifully developed medium-format negatives that I scan as huge 16-bit linear files, equivalent to a 500 megapixel capture.

Next, I process the scan in Photoshop and send the file back to Panopticon, who use their miraculous LVT (light valve technology) device and burn a 4x5 negative of the image. They also output any prints that are too large for my 20 x 24" darkroom trays.

The 4x5's are a dream to print in the darkroom. They still need some burning-in on the corners and edges (enlarger light drop-off)), but it's the same exposure for every negative. This way I have the versatility of Photoshop processing and the beauty of a selenium-toned gelatin-silver print.

  • What is it about a scene that makes you want to stop and take a photograph? 

PJ: Wolfgang Tillmans said, "If anything's worth photographing, then everything's worth photographing".

Well, sure, but my gallerist says, "You can photograph any crazy thing you want, but I choose what goes on the gallery's walls."  So I try to work within that polarity.

The "Photo Alert!" light is always blinking "Stand By" in the back of my brain. Just when you feel that your best work is behind you, suddenly there's a vista that takes your breath away. Or, more likely, you catch something out of the corner of your eye and go back for a second look. Then, while in heightened photographer mode, the more nuanced opportunities are spotted.

I often approach a scene by taking digital shots to experiment with lens lengths, frame lines and positions before breaking out the film camera. That also produces a light reading, timestamp and GPS coordinates for later. Next, I imagine the optimum light and weather conditions for the subject, even the dreaded "first light of dawn" option.

Also, considering the content of my work, I balance how dangerous or illegal my being there is against the promise of the image. Some subjects have been so compelling that I've accepted pretty high risks, like being held for questioning. Still, it's easier to apologize than get permission, which you never get. Helpful hint: Never photograph the military.

Now, later in my career, I have to push back against déjà vu's that say I've taken similar shots before. I probably have, but the current one might be an upgrade.

If all systems are go, I set up and begin trying to get a definitive shot. Don't count on coming back or that conditions won't change. Woody Allen may have said, "80% of success is just showing up", but "seizing the moment" is the other 20%.     

  • What are some tips/advice you would give to someone just starting out in photography?

PJ: At this point, seems like everyone's already started out in photography. We're in the midst of a technological revolution that we can't fully grasp.

It's a shock to see the century-old giant Nikon reeling from loss of sales to smart phones that didn't even exist 10 years ago.

The iPhone's easy to use and already in your pocket. You can send your creations immediately to Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, then sit back and wait for the "likes" to start cascading in.

If you have a poetical vision, why can't a smart phone serve your needs?  It's quite possible to shoot a feature for Vogue with an iPhone, but the looks you'd get from the art director, stylist and models might be wilting.

Now, more photographs are taken each day than in the first fifty years of photography. But there are qualitative differences, like there is between the Gettysburg address and a grocery list.

The basic questions remain, like for a start: What do you choose to put in front of the lens and how do you interpret its image? Is the photograph telling the story you want it to?  Do variouscomponents support or contradict this message? The list goes on. Some of it's intuitive, but mostly it's a craft that requires training.

The serious photography student is fortunate to have excellent schools in Boston. The New England School of Photography and Mass College of Art are both good places to study. NESOP has courses in commercial photography and MassArt a great fine-art department, although neither are limited to just that.  After some experience, assisting professionals on the job is a crash-course field and studio techniques.

When you feel ready, sign up for portfolio reviews. Get as many crits as possible and if certain observations keep coming up, it's kind of a litmus test.

For me, photography is the key way to connect to life first hand, rather than through the interpretation of others. It's also given me the impetus and license to explore everywhere. That's why I try hard to make my photographs worth seeing. 

 

Artist Spotlight: Margaret Lampert

We have had the pleasure of working with photographer Margaret Lampert for the past ten years. Margaret’s work perfectly combines commercial and artistic photography. Her ability to capture authentic moments matched with her use of lighting and compositions creates images that are unique to her style. Margaret’s work ranges from individual and family portrait sessions to big companies like Target, Crayola, and Clorox.

  • What first drew you to photographing people?

ML: Initially what drew me to photographing people was making eye contact with my subjects. There was something about that experience of connecting so directly that I found completely thrilling. As the years have passed I feel less of a need to have my subjects look into the lens. Now their attention can really be anywhere as long as I feel I’ve found an authentic moment with them.

  • What do you think makes a memorable photograph?

ML: Photographs that are layered both visually and emotionally always stay with me. I think an image is memorable when it changes and/or challenges the way I see and shows me (or makes me feel) something in a different light.

  • When you go on a shoot what equipment do you usually bring? About how many images do you take of each person or family?

ML: When I’m shooting personal work my equipment is very basic. Usually just one body and one or two lenses. Until a few years ago I always shot medium format film for my personal work but have since transitioned to digital. For commercial assignments the equipment is completely tailored to the job at hand.

  • What is the most challenging thing about photographing people?

ML:  I think the most challenging aspect of photographing people is getting past their discomfort with being in front of the lens and identifying and capturing a moment when they are completely themselves.  In some cases, particularly with people who find themselves in front of the camera on a regular basis (well known people and teenage girls : )) it’s more a matter of getting past their well practiced pose and finding an authentic moment with my subject.

  • You work a lot with children and families, is there a secret to getting the perfect image? How do you make the clients feel relaxed in front of your camera?

ML: I think if you are patient enough eventually people become less focused (no pun intended) on the camera and the perfect moment unfolds.

  • When did you start working in advertising? Do you have a most memorable assignment you have done?

ML: I began working in advertising around 2001. One of the most memorable projects was a station domination campaign I did for Clorox. We captured all the images in one day in a park in LA and they ran as installations in railway stations all across the country. The way they were installed was very compelling in that there was no copy on the images themselves. People walked through the station initially not understanding why the images were there; it seemed just to be an exhibit of photographs. Off to the side of each image there was an illuminated Clorox logo and mention of the product.

What made this project so memorable was that I was hired for all the right reasons ie the creative director saw a certain quality in my work that was perfectly suited to the intention of the campaign. When this happens the collaboration is always a joy and the resulting images reflect that experience.

  • You recently made a portfolio book to showcase your photographs. Can you tell us your experience with creating the book?

ML: It’s still very important to have a printed portfolio when working in advertising. Even though almost everyone is introduced to your work online to experience the images properly printed and showcased adds a whole new dimension to a prospective client’s impression of your work.

Working with Panopticon on the recent portfolios (as well as the ones that came before) has made a difficult and daunting process about as seamless as it gets. From customer service to printing they are always a joy to work with and interpret the images perfectly. They take my work as seriously as I do and their passion for photography is always evident in the quality of whatever they produce.

  • What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

ML: Hmmm…that’s a tough one…can I get back to you on that?

Artist Spotlight: Suzanne Revy

Suzanne Révy grew up in Los Angeles, California. After high school she moved to Brooklyn, NY where she earned a BFA in photography from the Pratt Institute. While there,  she was immersed in making and printing black and white photographs. After art school, she worked as a photography editor in magazine publishing atU.S.News & World Report and later at Yankee Magazine. With the arrival of two sons, she left publishing, and rekindled her interest in the darkroom. She photographed her boys, their cousins and friends, and built three portfolios of pictures over a fifteen year period.  The first,  a black and white series,  explored the culture and nature of childhood play. The second, made with a lo-fi plastic camera and color film,  represents her own emotional response as mother and witness to their growth and development. The third, a series of color pictures made in her home as her teen sons seemed to retreat into their rooms while she studied for her recently earned MFA at the New Hampshire Institute of Art.

  • You have been photographing your two children for the past (how many?) years. What are their reactions to your work? Do they like the photographs you have taken of them throughout the years?

SR: I’ve been photographing them seriously since about 2003 when I built the darkroom, so it’s been about thirteen years. When they were quite small, the camera was simply present during a lot of their outdoor play time. I’d observe them, how they handled, say… leaves or rocks or twigs, how they’d move while at the playground. I’d watch how light illuminated their gestures, and make pictures without interrupting their play. As they grew older, I’d need more of their cooperation, and as teenagers, I generally need at least grudging consent to make a picture. To some degree, I think they are quite happy that I’ve made this work, but the act of making pictures for them at this point, I think may feel like a tedious chore they do for me. In the long run, however, I think they will appreciate this work, especially when they have children.

  • You work in film weather it is color or black and white. Is there a specific reason why you haven’t made the switch to digital?

SR: When I began these projects, which weren’t really conceived as projects, I was using a film 35mm SLR with all the bells and whistles. It was a Nikon F100, great workhorse of a camera. In late 2004, I bought a Mamiya 7, and though the camera at first was harder to use, I found the pictures became more interesting, and I concluded that the Nikon was just too helpful. The focus points somehow forced me into a kind of repetitive use of the rule of thirds, and though the pictures I made weren’t bad,  they weren’t unexpected or surprising either. The ones I made with the Mamiya 7 were more interesting images, and far more fun to print in the darkroom than my 35mm negatives. As digital became better, I was committed to sticking with my medium format cameras, so I could keep seeing and recording my world with cameras that inherently slowed me down. I knew I didn’t want all those helpful bells and whistles. All that said, I did buy a mirrorless digital camera recently, but have rarely used it yet, though I love my phone camera and have been actively posting to Instagram with those pictures.

  •  When you are photographing how much of it is instinctual versus planned?

SR: More often than not it is intuitive and springs from my observations. Occasionally, I’ll see some bit of light, and I’ll ask one of my kids to just stand in that light or I’ll see them do something, and I’ll ask them to let me make some pictures of whatever they are doing, but I might need to have them move to a better spot of light. I don’t construct or plan pictures ahead of time.

SR: It had been a long time goal of mine to get an MFA, but the various stages of my life prevented it until my kids got a little older. There’s something to be said for going back to school in your early 50’s, I feel so grateful that I was able to pursue it while maintaining a semblance of family life with two teen boys. I think my work became better while studying.  Taking an extended period of time to think about the intuitive process I employ and how my work fits into the conversation of contemporary photography was invaluable.

  • You have recently attended quite a few portfolio reviews! Which reviews have you attended and what was the feedback you left with?

SR: I went to Foto Fest in Houston back in March and just recently attended Review Santa Fe. I got some excellent feedback on the work, and some good ideas for places to show it, and interesting ideas for how to start thinking about organizing it into a book. The best part of going to reviews, however, is connecting with other photographers. I’ve made great friends at these review events. They are expensive, and exhausting, however, so I won’t be attending anymore until I feel like I have another solid body of work ready to present.

  • What artists influence you and how do they influence your thinking, creating and career path?

SR: As an avid student in the history of photography, my influences vary widely. While at Pratt in the early 80’s, I was influenced by classic street photographers. Garry Winogrand was a particular favorite of mine. Then in the early 90’s, I became aware of the photo-secessonist Gertrude Käsebier’s work along with Emmet Gowin and Sally Mann who all made pictures close to home. Frustrated that their images often looked so set up, I felt that my medium format allowed me to photograph the children in the way I had made street photographs, but still provided a large negative to make beautiful prints. More recently, I’ve been looking at a lot of color photographers, William Eggelston, Larry Sultan, and a few more contemporary photographers such as Melissa Ann Pinney, Jessica Todd Harper and JoAnn Verburg.

  • What are some tips/advice you would give to someone just starting out in photography?

SR: It’s most important to do the work. Make and study your pictures everyday until you understand your own eye and your own voice within the medium.

 

 

 

CALL FOR ENTRIES: WHY DIDN'T I GET INTO THE SHOW?

Have you applied to a call for entries and your artwork was not selected? One of the many questions you ask yourself is why? What was the reason or reasons why your work was not selected? We decided to ask several Curators and Gallerists what happens during the selection process.  Hopefully this will give you some insight into the jury process and help you plan for submitting in the future.

Paula Tognarelli - Griffin Museum of Photography

"I jury many exhibitions in the course of a year. Because of my experience I wanted to share just why artists are not accepted into exhibitions. I know the first inclination is to feel rejected when one receives the note that he or she didn’t get into an exhibit. There is more than meets the eye to the process of choosing images for exhibition. Before jumping to conclusions about your skill and talent try putting yourself in the shoes of the juror.

More than likely the juror has to choose a limited number of images for exhibition to fit in the exhibition space. Usually I am looking at 1000 (and sometimes 5 times that) image submissions and am tasked with choosing 20 to 50 photographs for the wall. Definitely there will be images the juror loves that have to go. I have found that usually in my first pass of choosing images that I respond to, I cull down imagery to about a third of what was submitted. My next pass is to look for images that speak to each other and I begin to form a narrative. It is very difficult to start a narrative over once it has begun. So sometimes it depends on what else is submitted that keeps your image out of the mix. For some (and that includes me) it is about the body of work and not the singular images.

Recently I did an experiment during the juried exhibition for the Griffin. The juror chose 60 images for the show and I went in after and built 3 shows from the remaining images. The fourth grouping I put together was weak. The second and third exhibits assembled were strong as anything and I would have been proud to showcase those two exhibits. Was the fourth exhibit weak because of a singular imagery? No, they were weak because the relationships just weren’t there.

Another reason your image may not make the cut into an exhibition may be that it doesn’t jive with the aesthetic of the juror. Another day and another juror will bring other results. So don’t give up.

Keep in mind that your submissions are not for nothing, even if you don’t get in to the show. It is an opportunity to get your work in front of the juror. Someday that will make a difference and an opportunity will rise.

There is one other reason why one doesn’t get into an exhibit. It has to do with craft. Is the photograph composed well? Is the subject of interest? Did your submissions show the maturity of your work in the edit you provided? Have you technically produced the best possible print you can?  If you can’t do this yourself then do not hesitate to find a printer that can do this for you."

Kat Kiernan – Don’t take Pictures

“I have been on many sides of the juried exhibition as an artist, a juror, and the administrator of juried shows. It is always disappointing to not be selected for an exhibition, but I think that some of the sting could be taken out of that disappointment if artists were more aware of the restrictions placed on jurors. The juror's job is to form a cohesive and thoughtful exhibition. For thematic exhibitions, jurors have to make tough decisions to exclude work that does not fit with their interpretation of the theme. Thematic shows are not "greatest hits" exhibitions and in my experience, similar subject matter means tough choices for the juror. Let's say that for a show about "flight" there are five submitted photographs of hot air balloons. They might all fit the theme and be excellent photographs, but the juror feels that only one or two hot air balloon photographs would be appropriate for the show.  For exhibitions that are juried by a group rather than an individual, the selection process can become a game of averages. If each juror likes a piece it will likely be included in the show, but if one juror loves a piece and another juror is adamant about not including it, the selection process can result in a number of compromises. Logistical restrictions vary by venue, but the most common is a limit on the number of pieces that can be hung in the space. My advice for entering juried shows is to think carefully about whether the exhibition is juried by an individual or a group, whether your work is really a good fit for the theme, and to remember that there are many factors beyond the quality of work that might result in not being selected."

 

Arlette Kayakas – Gallery Kayafas

“When I am asked to jury an exhibit, I prefer that it is blind because I don't want to be influenced by knowing someone... I just want to respond to the work. I divide the work into 3 groups: no, maybe, yes. (the "yes" group, of course, are my favorites!)

After I've looked through the images at least 4 times to get these categories…I start to lay out the work to sequence a strong show.  It's during this step that my selections may change.  I want the strongest exhibit possible so I will go back to the "maybes" if needed and replace some of the "Yeses".  Juried shows are often without a theme so sequencing is extremely important so it will all make sense.

I find it extremely rude that after putting together the exhibit and then meeting the artists at the opening that I am always asked "Why didn't you pick my work?"  It’s obvious I didn't pick the work because it didn't fit or meet my criteria. “

Image Courtesy Silke Haas

Image Courtesy Silke Haas

Francine Weiss - Newport Art Museum

"Decisions about art work are highly subjective. Whether or not someone likes your work is subjective, and then there is also the fact that the reviewer or juror may love your work but not have a slot in their space or scheduled to exhibit it. It may also be that your work doesn't fit precisely with the theme of the show that that person is curating. So you can't take it to personally. But what I can offer in terms of advice for submitting to juried shows or sharing work with portfolio reviewers is: To present works that reflect a cohesive and clear vision or message and choose images carefully to support it. Sometimes when I jury, I find myself confused because I may be looking at 8 prints from the same series, but they appear unrelated. I think sometimes people want to submit their strongest prints, but they might be showing 8 really strong statements that don't fit together. It might be better to choose 5 strong images and 3 that help tell the story even if they're not all singularly compelling. Essentially, when you show your work to someone, particularly for the first time, you are a storyteller. And people like stories, so tell that story in a clear and engaging fashion! In approaching your work in this fashion, you also demonstrate that you know what you're doing and why and can relate to others-- always a plus."

 

Jason Landry - Panopticon Gallery of Photography

“Instances vary from my perspective. I look at thousands of photographs each year at portfolio review events, art fairs, through various emails and marketing materials that that I receive from artists, and through emerging artists that I mentor. The three main things that I look for is:

1.) Does the photographs fit into a theme or an idea for an upcoming show that I might be curating?

2.) How well do the prints look?

3.) How unique is the artist’s vision?

As a gallery owner, I am the one who comes up with the themes for the exhibitions. That being said, I usually keep a running list of ideas known only to myself. If I see work at an portfolio review event, art fair, or if someone tells me about a particular artist whose work fits in with my themes, I will keep their info in a spreadsheet based on the type of work that they make. That way, when I have enough artists who make work that fit into my theme, then I will contact them and schedule the show.

As for prints, I scrutinize print quality both from a gallery owner and collector’s perspective. The artists need to know how to print. I cannot chance putting up a bad gelatin silver print or digital print next to someone else in the gallery who is a master printer. Collectors know good from bad, and if they see poorly produced art, they won’t come back to the gallery, and they will not buy your work, and neither will I. If I don’t think a print is up to my standards, I usually suggest that they contact my friends at Panopticon Imaging to assist them.

Lastly, collectors have a discerning eye when it comes to acquiring art––and gallery owners know that. They want to see unique photographs––things that they have never seen before. Now, we all know that in this day and age, that is pretty impossible, but sometimes you’ll find that needle in a haystack and you’ll want to include it into a show as soon as possible. Photographers. . . . . . .think outside of the frame.

Francis Jakubek - Bruce Silverstein Gallery

"Building a show is like writing an essay; certain photographs form sentences while others create tangents when viewed together. Starting with a pool of (typically) over 500 images, my process is to make pairings of images and witness the story change as new images are introduced. Jurying a show does not always mean the juror selects their personal favorites; there have been times where I've purchased prints that did not get awards or make the final cut for the exhibition."

 

Jessica Roscio - Danforth Art Museum

"It was incredibly exciting to have the opportunity to jury our Danforth Art Annual last summer.  Due to changes in the structure of the exhibition (we combined two exhibitions into one); the show was about half the size of previous years.  We generally have almost 500 on-line applications, and each artist can submit up to three works, so jurying is a daunting process.  I was proud of every work in the exhibition, but there were plenty of entries that I couldn’t take, but wanted to.  Instead, I made note of the artist for the future (our juried exhibition is a blind jury, so this happened after choices were made, once I could see the names associated with each application).  Our juried exhibition takes place in a finite number of galleries, and as you start to review applications, certain themes emerge, and the show starts to form.  Groupings for each gallery start to come together before the works arrive.  Trying to create a cohesive juried exhibition means that some works, no matter how accomplished and innovative, end up not fitting into the exhibition structure.  A juror wants to be sure that each work in an exhibition stands on its own, and has plenty of room to breathe, but it also needs to compliment the works around it.  However, it is imperative to remain sensitive to the fact that when an artist submits their work to a juried exhibition they are putting themselves out there, and sharing their work with you, and it is a privilege to be a part of that process. "

 

Artist Spotlight: Heather Hobler

Heather Hobler came into the office a year ago when she started photographing her backyard seascapes. Keeping her tripod in the same location, she shoots color negative film during different times of the day. Each print holds luscious colors ranging from cool blues to warm sunsets. The meditative quality of her images invites the viewer to linger and explore every seashell and wave.

  • What is your earliest memory of art?

HH: A large dark abstract Grace Hartigan Wedding Dress painting. This painting hung innocently on
my great-aunt Francis’s dining room wall in an old whalers home in Mattapoisett. It was among
a Joseph Cornell Shadow Box, a Rembrandt etching, a Picasso scarf and many more hidden
treasures. These were true works of art living an ordinary life among the wallpaper and salt air.
Francis lived and worked in NYC in the world of art and museums. She took the train up for
holidays and weekends. Certainly quite exotic to my small town girlhood.

And along with these examples of high art I grew up in a house that my father and mother built
from the foundation up, sailed on boats that my father and brother built, wore handmade wool
garments from both grandmothers and mother, ate from the gardens of my grandfather, have a
handmade doll my sister made me.

In each object, aesthetics and use played equally important roles. What makes art “art” has
always intrigued me.

  • What is your background? Did you go to school for photography?

HH: I went to both SMFA Boston and Tufts University, finishing with a BFA from Tufts in my 20’s and
then back to get my certificate from SMFA in my 30’s. In my 20’s I studied film, video and
drawing and in my 30’s mostly painting and drawing. I have no formal training in photography.

HH: This all started innocently as snapshots and quickly built into a reflective rhythmic journalistic
ritual. Taken from the same place daily and most often multiple times per day I stand facing
south over Buzzards Bay to document the pageant that is my front yard. As this work grows so
does my interest and dedication to what I feel is my most successful body of work.


“The adventure of the sun is the great natural drama by which we live” -Henry Benson, The
Outermost House


I had cancer 8 years ago, and it changed my life (of course and so what), and so too it changed
my belief in the validity of my art making. It was in the building of this collection it became
obvious this was a continuation and distillation of my art. Concepts of systems, comparisons,
suggestions of what came before, the play of edge-to-frame and the basic question of “what is
art?” have always been my concern.


Varying from colorfield paintings to romantic photorealism to pure abstraction, this work plays
with the formalism of the square and the minimalism of a controlled composition. This work is
both poignant and potent as they also engage in the contemporary issues of climate change,
the incessant barrage information and the dwindling amount of natural space. These, too, are a
nod to my 30 year devotion to yoga and meditation. and so the name where lines meet.

  • Throughout the exhibition you will be having interaction days of conversation & contemplation, yoga, and evening talks. How do you plan to work these events into the
    exhibition? What made you decide to do the interactions?

HH: These photographs together as a unit, a collection, a study, each and every time thrill and bore
me, equally. Kinda like, so what? so, so what? or who cares? so, who cares? So selfishly, I want
to discuss that play/work that we do to make sense of what makes us who we are. This is a
project because of just that: I do not have fully formed ideas around these photographs and
look to explore thru interactions. With where lines meet I will be in the space during all
opening hours inviting people in from all supports and interests of my life for contemplation,
conversation and community. Events range from Wednesday evening talks, Thursday and
Sunday yoga and Saturday suppers. I look to make this more than a purely aesthetic
experience.

  • What artists influence you and how do they influence your thinking, creating and career path?

HH: Colorfield painters, Morris Louis, Helen Frankenthaler, Abstract Expressionists Rothko,
Rauschenberg, to more contemporary and conceptual artists Gary Hume, Richard Prince, Hiroshi
Sugimoto
, Doug Aitken, Lisa Yuskavage. I believe all of the mentioned see the trueness of life
and portray it with such high esteem. Their integrity and complexity will forever be of
fascination to me along with their regard for beauty. Surely, by looking at how they are looking
influences and fine tunes my eye. As far as creating, I have forever been creating maybe just
not under the guise as an artist.

  • What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

HH: Listen.

  • When you are not taking beautiful photographs what are you spending your time doing?

HH: I prefer to be outside as much as possible for both work and leisure. I have been practicing
yoga for over 30 years and now teach. And I spend much time contemplating the horizon.

Making an Enlarged Contact Sheet

We recently printed an enlarged contact sheet of a wedding shot on 35mm film. Because we have a 8x10 Ilford enlarger we are able to lay the cut strips of film onto the glass and make what is essentially a big contact sheet. What a great way to remember a very special day for the bride and groom!

 

Somerville Toy Camera Festival

Francine Weiss

Francine Weiss

About the Festival:

Since 2013, the Somerville Toy Camera Festival has celebrated the quirky and creative results that can happen when photographers are forced to loosen their controls, submit to the light and embrace the accidental. Each year since, the Festival has brought a wide range of toy camera photography by US and international artists together in simultaneous shows at galleries throughout the city, and featured related programming including artist talks/panel discussions, workshops, social events, and a darkroom day.

This year the guest juror was Professor Christopher James who is the Director of the MFA photography program at Lesley College of Art and Design in Boston.

 

Liz Ellenwood with the Gold Holga Award!

Liz Ellenwood with the Gold Holga Award!

What is a toy camera?

Holga, Diana and LOMO just to name a few. They are simple and inexpensive film cameras where you have little to no control over shutter speed and apertures. Common qualities of images made with toy cameras are vignetting, soft focus, light leaks and other distortions. It is the true point-and-shoot camera!

Toy camera photography has been widely exhibited at many popular art shows, such as the annual "Krappy Kamera" show at the Soho Photo Gallery in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City. Various publications such as Popular Photography magazine have reviewed the Diana camera in its own right as an "art" producing image maker. Several books have also featured the work of toy cameras, such as The Friends of Photography's "The Diana Show", "Iowa" by Nancy Rexroth, and "Angels at the Arno" by Eric Lindbloom.

 

When is the exhibition?

The 2016 Somerville Toy Camera Festival will take place in September-October, with exhibitions at three non-profit spaces in Somerville MA: Nave Gallery Annex, Washington Street Gallery, and Brickbottom Gallery. For a full list of opening dates check here.

In addition,  The Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA will have a walk-in camera obscura built by artist Marian Roth! The installation of the camera obscura in a small gallery at the Griffin will take place on September 8, and is open to the public. The camera obscura will be accessible to visitors during regular Griffin Museum hours through October 2, 2016.

Liz Wood

Liz Wood

How are we involved?

We have been proud sponsors of the Somerville Toy Camera Festival for the past few years. We offer a 15% discount for the exhibiting artists of the Festival for their scanning, printing & framing needs. Every year we look forward to seeing what each artist has created with their plastic cameras!

Tech Blog: Colorspace, File Formats and Untagged Files

Have questions about digital printing? How to get images to us? What type of file to send? We have tried to start simply and move onto the more complex questions. If you have questions regarding any of this or just want to review the process with us, please call or email us! First things first… You can upload us files here and you will see this screen from Hightail. You can drag and drop your images for upload to us.

Do I send Jpg, tif or psd? Raw?

You can send us any of the above. We have provided some details below about the difference between each type of file.

Raw are the proprietary file from the camera manufacture. Some examples are: Canon (.crw, cr2), Nikon (.nef, .nrw), Sony (.arw, .srf, .sr2), Pentax (.pef, .ptx).  Raw files hold the most data from your digital camera and are the easiest file to adjust exposure, contrast, white balance and other fine tuning. We can edit your Raw files however this requires an editing charge.

JPG is best for web use, but still can be printed from if it has high enough resolution and was saved at a high enough quality. (80+ in Lightroom, 10+ in Photoshop).

PSD is an Adobe Photoshop proprietary format. It can handle all of Photoshop’s features, but has some compatibility issues with non-Adobe products and Lightroom. PSD has a 2gb files size limitation.  Due to the compatibility and size issues, PSD has been (or should be) replaced by TIF by most photographers.  We prefer TIF.

TIF is one of the most universally accepted formats. It can be opened by most image editing and page layout software. TIF supports all the same things as PSD and has a larger file size limitation (4gb).

Ultimately, just send us what you have and we’ll figure it out. Got layers, send us those too. We can always provide assistance with your files or if you want to sit with one of our Digital Technicians and review files in person.

OK, so a tif  file, 16bit or 8bit?

Either one is fine. Whatever works for you.

What color space should I sent it in? AdobeRGB98, sRGB, ProPhotoRGB

You can send us files in any of these color spaces. You should be working in either AdobeRGB98 or ProPhotoRGB to begin with. sRGB is meant as a web colorspace, anything you upload to your website or facebook should be in sRGB.

As far as AdobeRGB98 or ProPhotoRGB goes, it could go either way. ProPhotoRGB is much bigger than AdobeRGB98 and can produce more colors. However, you must work in 16bit with ProPhotoRGB otherwise you can end up with posterization effects (banding). The other down side to ProPhoto is it includes imaginary colors. Yes, I said imaginary colors. They (Kodak) made the ProPhotoRGB color space so big that 13% of the colors included do not exist in the real world and are not visible colors. This can lead to color issues when printing. Some colors will become over-saturated or will be estimated to its nearest in gamut color and can cause banding. Even the best printers in the world can’t print imaginary colors.

AdobeRGB98 is larger than sRGB, is easily printable by commercially available printers and includes no imaginary numbers. Its not perfect, nothing is, but it is the standard most of the photographic world uses.

If you have a gray scale file, that is fine as well. Gray Gamma 2.2 will do just fine.

What about CMYK?

Leave that to the offset printers. If you send us a file with a CMYK colorspace we will convert it to AdobeRGB98.

What about an untagged file?

If you send us a file with an untagged colorspace you will get a call from an angry elf… just ask Ron Cowie. Again, you can just send us what you have and we’ll figure it out. Following our recommendations makes it easier, but we are happy to help in whatever stage you are in!

Steps of a Photo Restoration

We see a lot of vintage photos here at Panopticon Imaging. They range from wedding portraits to family photos throughout the years to military portraits, the list goes on!  Here are the steps we go through for a photo restoration: STEP 1: Bring in your old photograph to the office. We will review the image with you & give you an estimate of how much & how long it will be to digitally restore. We DO NOT restore the original photograph. We scan it and digitally correct the image through Photoshop.

STEP 2: We scan your image. Using our high resolution Epson scanner, we create a digital copy from the original photograph.

STEP 3: We make adjustments in Photoshop. Here we fix cracks & damage to the image. This takes time and each photograph is different, it can take as little as 5 minutes or as much as 3 hours. We also adjust the contrast of the image, making faces lighter or certain areas darker. We can adjust the tone and make it black & white, sepia, or brown tone. The sepia is our most popular option, it makes the image still feel like an old photograph.

STEP 4: Time to print! We use all archival inks and papers here. This means your new print will last as long as it is treated properly (keeping it away from moisture & direct sunlight). When we meet with you we will tell you the sizes we recommend printing. Most vintage photographs are small to start with so they look the best staying in the 5x7 to 8x10 size.

These were the adjustments made to this image:

Whatever happened to your photograph, we are happy to help bring it back to life! Stop by the office or give us a call at 781-740-1300.