Friday, November 17, 2017

Fall sessions and leaves changing

With the leaves changing this fall, it's a great time for an outdoor photo shoot. I had the opportunity to photograph my friends Jay and Katherine with their pug, Ichabod, just as the leaves started to change in southern Illinois last month. Below are shots from that session and also photographs I've taken of Tower Grove Park, the park in my neighborhood in St. Louis. Not being a city dweller until recently, I marvel at how this park looks and its function in the neighborhood. The beautiful trees, paths, and pavilions, built in the early 20th century, are treasures I've never directly experienced until now. I am currently training for an 8k run and having the park close by to run in has been a relief. Even while I do not particularly enjoy running, the opportunity to be in the park during the fall color transitions has made it more than worthwhile.

Now is the time to schedule an outdoor pet and family portrait session with me. These vibrant colors won't last long. Email me or go to my website to see more!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Photo shoot at an artist studio

This month, I've taken on a few more photo shoots. Just a reminder that through December 1, I am offering a 50 dollar discount for a one hour session taking pet portraits. In addition to pet portrait photography, an artist requested I document her art. Rachel Malcolm Ensor is an artist living and working in Murphysboro, Illinois. I loved that Malcolm purchased the home next to her house and turned it into a studio and art education space. Artists make good use of any space. I found the project to be exactly what I like: interior photography and working with artists.  Below are images I made the day of the shoot.

Rachel Malcolm Ensor's studio (exterior)

Rachel Malcolm Ensor's studio (interior)

Bright, colorful work on paper/painting by Rachel Malcolm Ensor

If you're an artist in St. Louis in need of good photographs of your work, for portfolios or exhibition submissions, contact me to schedule a shoot! I also photograph studio/work spaces that can easily go onto websites or other promotional materials.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Back to Osage Arts Community

This weekend I had the pleasure of returning to the Osage Arts Community, located near Belle, Missouri. The OAC hosts writers, musicians, composers, and visual artists throughout the year for their AIR program. It was perfect timing as I needed to shoot some more videos for the Excavations section of the project I am working on. I wanted to shoot the video on location and returning to the place where I started the project, at the OAC, made sense.

In addition to shooting video, I had the chance to reconnect with the artists there and revisit the building and infrastructure plans of OAC, which continues to impress. All I can say is if every small town in mid America had an arts program like the OAC, we'd live in a very different and, I argue, better world. Check out their work here.

Below are photographs I took while there for the weekend. I will not be able to show the videos until they are edited and to my liking but these images reveal the immense beauty of this region. I am also totally smitten with the dogs on the property.

sorry not sorry, Mark

two chairs on the Gasconade river


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Photo session with Manet

Every week, I am taking photographs of some pet, even if it's my own, to hone my skills at combining interior photography with pet photography. My approach uses natural light, the immediate environment of the pet, and then the subject within that environment. This past week's shoot was, in my opinion, rather successful. I had a lot of fun setting up a little mid-century furniture display and coaxing this handsome tuxedo cat named Manet into the scene. The furniture pieces include a mid century rocking chair with bamboo and a wonderful floral pattern, my grandparent's giant lamp, some books, and a green ceramic deer I purchased at an antique fair when I lived in New Harmony, Indiana. I then added a painting I purchased from an art student (I cannot remember her name at all) but I really appreciated her work. She was a on a mission to make a painting a day and you can only get better with that kind of work ethic. I knew I needed colorful pieces to contrast the black and white fur of Mr. Manet.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Framing orders

In addition to photographing and printing pet portraits for clients, I am pleased to offer custom framing of those prints. I have years of experience working for art galleries and museums. The ability to produce custom, archival framing for works on paper is essential in any curator or arts admin gig. I quite like framing the pet portraits too. Even in the framing of the photos, you can be creative. My first client allowed me some time to work with this photograph of his cat Harley. I loved the result: an illustrated floral crown and a floral pattern on a mauve background. For this photo, I increased the saturation of the photograph, which turned Harley's fur magenta and blue. Side note: I love long haired black cats. My first cat, Gypsy, was a long haired black cat. With a cat like this, usually the fur is many shades of brown, reds, and then, when the kitty ages, some white and grey hairs. With the saturation increase, I think of this as a punk photo of Harley. And so the frame needed to be colorful too. I picked a dark blue/purple frame. The client encouraged me to do my 'art' thing, whatever looked good.

Below are photos of the framing process. The mat that came with the frame did not fit the dimensions of the print so I measured the mat board-acid free museum board- and cut a window mat. The mat protects the print from coming into contact the glass. I cleaned the glass and put that on the finished mat with the print sandwiched inside. And then I put everything into my purple frame. Below you see a custom framed, fine art print of the wonderful punk kitty Harley.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Oh Illinois, a good price

Currently, I am preparing for a small installation of my project Snow White Black Sheep at the Clemens Gallery in Paducah Kentucky. I began Snow White Black Sheep during my first residency at the Osage Arts Community about 2 and a half years ago. The Excavations part of the project includes 18 photographs and one video framed in handmade wooden frames (I built my own frames!). The photos are presented in three grids, which look like archaeological dig sites. While the printing and framing is complete, I am eager to finish the field notes for the grids.

After doing a lot of research online, I've found great tools (charts, etc), glossaries, and photographs of archaeological digs. For my project, the field notes act as the labels for the photographs. From my perspective, as an artist, the visual components of field notes resemble a journal, sketchbook, and map (cartesian grid) to reference when analyzing the dig site. Digs are inherently destructive and cannot be replicated. Therefore, digs need to be meticulously documented and field notes, in addition to photographs of the dig and recordings, are essential to capturing the features unearthed square by square in the grid.

My digs did not actually take place, so I am having some fun replicating field notes of an imagined dig and adding stories, maps, legends, and other information that enriches the story of the project overall. Ultimately, I am archiving my family history by eschewing the typical tree charts and using this media instead.

I have to add that my mother did extensive research of our family tree and shared that research with me. Otherwise, I wouldn't know half of the stories about my family. So I have her to thank for the inspiration.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Bookmaking and Handmade Photobooks

The last few weeks I've been working on a client's order. This client also is a good friend and has allowed me to take my time to work with the photos I took of his cherished cat, Harley. Normally I don't plan to mull over an order for too long but I'm just starting out in freelancing.

One of the things the client requested were a number of small prints to put into a photo album. He mentioned purchasing an album at the store and I make the prints. While I admit that I have done the same for my own snapshots, I decided that simply would not do for my clients. One of the things I've wanted to incorporate into my freelance work is a touchstone, a way to show that what I provide for my clients is art. And one of the things I love as an artist and admire in other artists' practices is the handmade book. Beautifully executed handmade books capture my attention and I'm always loving/feeling jealous of what other artists do. Ultimately, adding handmade photo books to the repertoire for my clients gave me another reason to make more books.

For Harley's album, I decided to do 16 prints on matte paper, all archival inks and paper. And for the book construction, I chose to do one of my favorite bindings:  a Japanese stab binding. It is perfect for prints on individual pages that you don't have to fold but can stack together. And, the binding is very visible and very aesthetically pleasing. There are so many ways to approach a stab binding. Check the Internet and you'll see.

I drew where the holes would go.

Then I pre-drilled for easier stitching

Below are some process shots once I got to the actual binding phase. And me flipping through the resulting book. My hope is that the client will keep this out, on the coffee table for instance, to look at when he chooses. It's handmade construction, decorative papers, and original prints inside will make it a cherished keepsake, almost as cherished as the kitty herself.


Getting started on the stitching......


Tying the knots and practically finished.

Thanks for watching!