Photography

Dangling Carrots

Posted by on Mar 2, 2011 in Blog, Goals, Life, Photography, Street Art | No Comments

There’s no doubt about it…I’m a yes person.

I like to please people; I like to help; I don’t like letting people down, even to my detriment. And I think that’s ok, that’s just me.

But sometimes there is nobody in trouble. Sometimes I’m presented with an opportunity and regardless of how upset, scared or negative I feel about it, I usually take it on because 1. I don’t like to say no and 2. you just never know, you know

Well I was presented with an opportunity yesterday with the usual immediate response required. It was a brilliant idea that was solely mine for the taking. No tender or application required. The gig was guaranteed mine.

It included an opportunity to connect with over 100 entertainment industry folk who regularly need photographic services. Seriously, two of the words in the proposal were ‘National Geographic’. Other words were ‘party’, ‘exclusive’ and ‘incredible opportunity’.

This is something I would usually say yes to. Who wouldn’t, right? It was most likely going to take me down a road of photography, fun and financial success. The only problem being, it really wasn’t my scene. At the start of the year I worked out what I really want to do with my life and the steps that would get me there. And, sadly, this opportunity wasn’t part of it.

I’m still thinking about it though. I know I made the right decision turning it down but it’s one of those ‘Sliding Doors’ moments where you just never really know where the other path could have taken you.

But I stand firm by my decision which, surprisingly, involved the answer ‘no’ (followed by much thanks, explanations and “please think of me next time anyway!”). I feel like this has given me extra resolve to make things work with my own projects. I have to make it work now I turned down an opportunity that could have been amazing.

So, sometimes you try and take a bite at the dangling carrot and sometimes you don’t. This particular one was a deep orange, perfectly formed, large and tasty looking offering but I’m going to stick by my organic, garden-variety carrot this time around and hope in the long run it will be better for me.

Yours in resisted temptation…

x Andy

Organic Options

Image ownership

Posted by on Feb 14, 2011 in Art, Blog, Photography | No Comments

I wish I didn’t feel compelled to write on this particular topic but I can’t get it off my mind. The subject is image copyright. This could have a little something to do with someone claiming complete ownership over several thousand of my images.

The basis of the claim was that I simply took photos of performance art. Performance art that incorporated the culmination of a number of brilliantly, talented creative artists in the realm of performance, lighting, sound, costume, set design, etc (which is all true). Apparently all I did was press a button on a mechanical device which does not constitute art in any way.

(Even though photographers who work in the field will tell you the combination of extremely low light and fast, leaping bodies make this style of photography one of the most difficult, not taking into account the feel, timing and artistic interpretation skills required, nor the thousands of dollars of specialist equipment needed).

Seemingly it was only the content of the image that made the photos “stunning”, “gorgeous”, etc. And, furthermore, this is “just how it is” in the industry of performance art – the company presenting the show automatically owns all the images because of this theory of ‘art’ versus ‘mere capture’. This may be shocking news to any photographers out there who have undertaken similar photographic projects?!!

The good news is that these claims are incorrect (and, to be honest, I found them a little offensive, though apparently this is just because I am overly-sensitive??). Thankfully, the Australian law in this situation is pretty straightforward. The person who takes a photo has immediate, free and automatic copyright over the image taken.

There are a few exclusions such as wedding photos and personal/family portraits (unless the photographer and client negotiate otherwise). And, yes, if the photographer and client (or subject of the photo) have a prior written agreement establishing copyright and usage licensing outside the law then this obviously becomes the agreement.

And that’s pretty much it folks. Though it’s perhaps not as simple as that. Photography and the use of the resulting images also involves a hefty dose of trust, by all parties involved.

The photographer should be mindful of the subject represented in any images and use/exhibit/publish them respectfully with credit, where appropriate. Likewise, if the subject of the images (or ‘client’) has copies of the images they should respect the wishes of the photographer and copyright laws and only use the images as licensed, agreed or at the very least in a respectful manner (ie. crediting the photographer).

So where does this leave me with my dilemma? I’m not sure as yet. I’ve been more than reasonable and generous with my offerings to the client and explained the basic copyright laws and I can only hope this is enough – I hope to hear back from them soon.

Whatever the result, it is a lesson learned in ensuring an agreement is signed before any images are taken…because trust is clearly not always enough.

Yours signed on the dotted line…

x Andy

Paint Permit

Source of inspiration

Posted by on Feb 1, 2011 in Art, Blog, Life, Photography, Street Art | One Comment

You know when you find something that just clicks with you? In your gut, in your heart, in your subconscience – before it becomes an intellectual pursuit to work out why?

I felt that way when I saw the Flash Life paste-up in the streets of New York, which may be why it has become the title and centrepiece for my current exhibition. It was the words Flash Life and what they represented to me, alongside the image of a camera and then how they were presented together…representing a flash of life, captured on a camera…an instant in time.

That’s how it all resonated with me. With a fine bottle of wine and a lazy couple of hours I reckon I could prattle on even more about the conceptual and artistic merit of the image and what else it means to me.

Funny thing is, that’s not actually what the image was really all about. The camera, yes, but the rest of it had different roots of representation. And how do I know this? Because, finally, amazingly I have come into contact with the Flash Life artist himself!

Having used their work as inspiration, I acknowledged as many of the street artists that I could in my exhibition but was unable to track down who was responsible for my favourite piece. I googled, scoured the various street art websites, contacted a couple of people who had posted other photos of Flash Life on Flikr…all to no avail.

And yesterday, out of the blue, I received an email from the man himself. Even after posing the question I still have no idea how he found me so I’ll just have to live with the mystery for now but, the great news is, we have connected! And he is cool. I really like him. And he and his partner “have a feeling we will maintain a freindship”.

Here’s what he had to say about Flash Life…

“It has many meanings but 2 core meanings..

1 Being to Honor the camera for it being one of Mans best creations to be able for us to Capture Moments…. Which always still amazes me. The 2nd being a symbol of the feeling u got when u grew up poor in the NYC streets and u first obtained a new outfit or new sneakers bcuz u know NYC is and always will be the most fashionable place.. So we represent that “feeling” that no matter how poor sometimes the “Success” is really just a feeling not neccesarily having all the riches in the world. “We just try to bring that feeling back”!  You see the feeling u got… The one that inspired a name for a gallery exhibition, that’s Flash Life! Inspiration threw art and life…”

How awesome is that hey! I love this guy. All I want to do is head back to NYC and meet with him and his partner. They are starting up a t-shirt company based on Flash Life and already have underground HipHop MCs wearing them. He’s going to send me some pics – I can’t wait!

And that, my friends, is what art is about. Connections. Inspiration. A Flash of Life.

x Andy

Flash Life

Spaced out

Posted by on Jan 28, 2011 in Art, Blog, Life, Photography | One Comment

I spent nearly the whole day yesterday cleaning and clearing. I was tired, oh yes, so I took it slow and easy and caught a few tennis games on the TV along the way but, essentially, I worked on my space.

Space is a fascinating thing. I could go on for days about what goes on out there in the universe but equally fascinating is the space around us. The space in my home was messy and stressing me out. Once it was clean I felt huge relief, calm and satisfaction. How can the clearing of lego, discarded dirty socks and over-ripe nectarines make such a difference?

And how does the space in which art is hung make a difference to its worth? Surely art has intrinsic value, no matter where it is? Perhaps it does and perhaps it doesn’t but I’m here to tell you that where you hang your art does seem to make a difference.

I held my exhibition in a proper gallery this time. A fairly new gallery but nevertheless a really lovely one in one of Sydney’s flouncily established suburbs. I wonder if my artworks would have held more value if they’d somehow made their way into a posh paddington gallery. What would their perceived worth have been in a dinky cafe in Newtown? If I’d shipped them to an artistic Parisian paradise would zero’s have been added to their price tag while crossing the wide open seas?

Yes, space makes a difference. Is it the physical space though? Probably not. More likely it is the fact that a world-renowned curator in Saint Germain thought my work was brilliant enough to grace his gallery space (wild and crazy dreams here people, I know).

I’m considering what space any unsold artworks will go to after they come down off the gallery walls. Will they still be worthy wrapped in plastic in my basement storage? Should I let them live and breathe for free on some lovely white walls in friend’s homes or places of work? Should I look for another gallery to hang them in later in the year? Should I consider popping them in a cafe in Coogee? Will my choices affect their worth? I don’t know to be honest.

One thing is for sure though, I can’t wait until at least one of them makes its way on to one of our lounge room walls. For both Dan and I they have become like loved members of our family and I can’t wait to decorate our home with them…there will be no other space in which they are valued more.

x Andy

The Gugg

Hitting reset

Posted by on Jan 27, 2011 in Blog, Goals, Life, News & Events, Photography | No Comments

Phew. My god, it’s been a big few days!

Yes, the exhibition all came together well. I think I had a bit of a moment the night before when I was really tired and stressing over last minute necessities but mostly it all went relatively smoothly in the lead up.

I had about half an hour of nothing to do before the opening started – unfortunately not quite enough time for a sneaky scotch across the road at the Cat & Fiddle to calm me down but enough time to cruise the space and take a few pics of the gallery all good to go, waiting for the first visitors.

It was a gorgeous balmy Sydney night with a great vibe in the air, being Australia Day Eve. There was a steady stream of arrivals and I mostly had enough time to greet everyone and offer a refreshing glass of vino.

About 50 people came through (not including the 6 or so kids) and it seemed everybody had a lovely time. They were all certainly very kind about my work and I truly appreciated every one of them turning up in support. There was a spattering of strangers too which was great and apparently there was some strong interest in the exhibition during the day.

So, yes, it was a huge success. Dan and I were pretty chuffed with what we’d achieved and celebrated with some close friends and family across the road afterwards…the perfect way to end the day.

I was pretty shattered yesterday and took it easy, spending day with my son and gorgeous mum on her birthday and just cruising through the day. And today I’ve been enjoying some time to myself. Reflecting on the exhibition and ruminating on the rampage of mess throughout our house. It’s time to clean. Time to cleanse.

Though it’s been wonderful, I’m relieved the exhibition is nearly at an end. I’m desperate for some down time. Hankering for some habitual normality. But having said that, my mind is still whirring. I’m already off on my next project. I’m trying to be still and calm but I’m still feeling so inspired!

For my health and sanity I will force myself to rest though. I need to hit the reset button. I have some catching up to do with friends and family. I want to spend some quality time with Akira before he starts back at school next week. I need to get my exercise back to a daily routine. I really need to buy some toilet paper.

A huge thank you to all those who have supported me leading up to the exhibition, on the night and beyond. I have a perfect partner, wonderful family and some incredible friends. I look forward to spending more time with you all soon…

x Andy

Flash Life: New York

Hard day’s work

Posted by on Jan 24, 2011 in Blog, Goals, Life, News & Events, Photography | No Comments

So, no more time for introspection. No more indulgence in swirling thoughts or soul-searching. I have an exhibition to pull together by tomorrow night.

Anyway, the answer to all my endless questions became apparent yesterday. In eight long hours spent with 3 awesome, creative, lateral thinking, inspiring artists it all became blatantly clear why I do what I do. It’s just art. I just love doing it. And I feel compelled to share it, otherwise what is it for?

I take photos because it’s my passion. Sometimes I frame them and hang them on walls, not because I think my work is fabulous, not for fame, not for recognition, not for attention and certainly not for money! Occasionally I carefully and lovingly place these photos in books, not with any audience in mind. Just because I love doing it.

Sometimes I get all old school and invite friends around for a bit of a slideshow – sharing holiday pics and the like. Just because its fun.

If the occasion calls for it, I’ll pop some prints in frames, wrap them in gorgeous recycled papers and share them with friends, family or colleagues as gifts. Just in the hope that it will bring a bit of joy to them.

I’ve also been known to send complete strangers a series of images. For example there was a ridiculously cool skateboard shop in New York’s East Village that provided such a bounty of great, edgy pics for my exhibition I’m going to send through the entire collection for them to use as they wish. Just as thanks.

I love doing all this. It makes me feel rich, alive and engaged. And very happy. But there’s another reason for all this. It is all to do with sharing. Sharing my passions, yes, but also sharing my time with amazing people.

I had to work for 8 hours on a Sunday yesterday, without pay, and in fact I had paid someone to do the very job I was helping with. But, it was spent with really lovely, artistically inspiring, clever clever people and it was a joy. And at the end of the day, all my artworks were hanging on the walls of a gallery. And it made me really happy. And all I hope is that, tomorrow night, it makes other people happy too.

x Andy

Kinda cruising

Posted by on Jan 21, 2011 in Blog, Health, Life, News & Events, Photography | One Comment

Well, I’m heading to the pointy end of preparations for the exhibition and, amazingly, all is well.

I’ve spent the greater part of the last 8 years (when motherhood was thrown into the mix) chasing my tail all day then falling into bed exhausted every night. This year I’ve been determined to be different: organised and focused, calm and centred, happy, healthy and seriously self satisfied.

I think I’ve discovered the secret. Planning and preparation! I know I know. It sounds so dull. But when you’re cruising instead of crazily flapping through each hour of every day, swallowing the boringly bitter pill of preparation becomes a happy habit.

Consider this. My son is on school holidays, I’m back at work, exercising every day (usually twice), eating well, sleeping the required number of hours and doing all the usual time-sucking chores of every day life. And on top of it all I’ve managed to pull together a massive solo photographic exhibition – without too much stress.

I’m ahead of schedule people. AHEAD of schedule. The artworks were meant to be delivered to the gallery on Saturday but they already have them in their hot little hands. I went out and saw a movie last night with my hubby, for crying out loud, instead of staying up frantic until 2am. (The Green Hornet, FYI, longish but fun).

Ok, there are a number of things on my To Do list but I have them covered. In fact I’m going to kick back with good friends and some fine wine tonight before getting stuck back into it tomorrow. And Sunday. But whatever – I’m working all weekend doing what I love. Happy days people. Happy days.

x Andy

Just Relax

The cover up

I’m really disappointed folks. But also incredibly inspired by the very same event.

I know a lot of art is ephemeral. Some of it involves risk. But all of it involves putting a little bit of yourself into it…your thoughts, efforts, emotion and artistic expression. So when I see a 20 metre stretch of art get covered up with stinking, stark white paint it bites a bit.

As I think I’ve mentioned, I live in Bondi Beach. It is my home in every way and will be for life, no matter how far afield I travel and for how long. I’m centred here and inspired, happy, healthy and grounded. I’m at home.

And one of my favourite places in Bondi is the graffiti wall along the beach promenade. I jog along it most mornings at an ungodly hour and it greets me like an old friend, the various artworks encouraging me along from end to end. Some mornings there is no change, some mornings I’m met, wonderfully, by a new piece of graffiti art and some mornings there is horror.

By way of background, art on the wall must be sanctioned by Waverley Council. God knows what you have to do to be allowed to make your mark. I do know that you have to sell your soul (plus a buckload of cash) to get granted a resident parking permit so I dread to think what red tape faces artists in this situation.

A few months back there was a new piece painted up that was kinda nice but also made me a bit sick to the stomach. I’m guessing (but really happy to be proven wrong) that the Council organised an artist to throw up a ‘bin your butts’ message. While I’m all in support of no ciggie butts on the beach, it made me a little queasy that this gorgeous space for artists had become advertising space for Waverley Council. Unless some totally independent street artist had really strong anti-butt feelings they wanted to express through art? I’m guessing probably not.

Aaaanyway, this ‘sanctioned’ message along with a couple of others (one stencil work I loved, one I was far less enamoured by) were painted over by some truly fabulous, almost old-school, vibrant, colourful graffiti work on a striking black background. I loved it! It made me want to jog back home and grab my camera but, alas, I had to scuttle off to work like any other day.

Unfortunately I left it too late to head back and shoot the piece as it was this fine new work that was whitewashed by Council and plastered with warning signs. Seemingly they didn’t fill out the necessary forms.

I admit I’m conflicted over it. I’m bitterly disappointed by the loss but inspired by their courage. I’m sad for my previously-admired sunny stencil piece but grinning naughtily on the inside, encouraged by these colourful covert creatives. I really do like to mostly abide by the rules and I understand their importance in the case of Bondi’s public art space but I also feel like rebelling against it. Maybe it’s just my Libran nature. Perhaps part of the whole ‘conflicted artist’ thing. I don’t know. But I find it fascinating.

If you find these issues interesting, you MUST see the Banksy film, Exit Through the Gift Shop – one of the finest films of 2010 (put your hand up if you think he – brilliantly – orchestrated the whole thing?!).

I’ll probably spend a decent amount of time talking street art. I love it. As you’ll see from a large proportion of the work in Flash Life: New York (oh my god, I can’t believe I plugged my own work again!!). Let me know what you think about the whole street art thing and, in particular, the ‘Waverley Council Whitewash’ affair.

Yours in artistic rebellion…

x Andy

On Notice

Fabulous photobooks

Posted by on Jan 18, 2011 in Blog, News & Events, Photography | One Comment

Now as much as I love to hang images on a wall, I have another passion (so many interests and inspirations these days!) and that is making photobooks.

I’ve been doing this for a few years now and I’m getting a great idea of the best ways to do things, depending on what I’m after.

Firstly, Blurb (www.blurb.com) is my favourite. They have a great range of options, are reasonably priced, usually provide a high standard of quality and are fairly user -friendly. The main point-scoring feature though is the ability to sell the books online via their website (via a widget or other on your website, FB page, etc). They have a preview feature where the potential buyer can scroll through each page of the book, add it to their shopping cart then pay directly. You have the option to set your price, thereby determining your margin, and the money is then transferred to you post-sale. Oh, and they have a great community of world-wide users. Attending their annual awards in New York last year was one of the highlights of my time there (think swanky hotel, city-view rooftop, champagne and fabulous, funky people). The Sydney equivalent event was a little different, to say the least. But more on that another time.

Secondly I’m a pretty big fan of the Apple option. They are great for photobooks in a hurry, are a bit cheaper and the software is very straightforward. I’ve found the quality is great when the background is black but a bit hit and miss with a white canvas. In Aperture, I create a new book with 2 clicks of the button and, if I wasn’t so ridiculously particular about where each image is placed, I could use the autofill option and have a book made in about 5 minutes. There are limitations, like all photobook software, but it’s a great, solid and affordable option when you want larger books and ease of use.

There are number of other companies doing the same thing and I’m currently waiting on a book from the Momento Pro crew so stay tuned for the results of that, but I’ve checked most of them out and, for value of money, Blurb and Apple come out ahead so far. I’m sure Asuka Books are gorgeous but I’m not sure anybody I know would be happy to cough up several hundred dollars for a book?? Let me know if you would and I’ll give them a go!

If any of you would like further info of photobooks let me know otherwise, have a crack at it yourself – you’ll find the results are amazing. And if you can’t be bothered, come along to my exhibition opening on Tuesday and buy one of mine (sorry to go on about it but I’m so excited now – only 7 sleeps to go!).

x Andy

Flash Life: New York Book Cover

Photo fascination

Posted by on Jan 17, 2011 in Blog, Life, News & Events, Photography | No Comments

I’ve been asked if the photos included in the posts are all taken by me. Yes, they are except for the very first one (of me), taken by Dan. And hats off to the man for a. getting me in front of the camera and b. making me look not too shabby.

I have quite a selection of pics to choose from after 15-odd years shooting. I don’t know the exact number but I know we’re storing them in Terabytes now instead of Gigabytes (and no doubt edging towards Petabytes and Exabytes in years to come!).

And this weekend I was utterly immersed in a prodigious production of printed paper. I have 120 images of New York included in my upcoming exhibition and most of them were finally mounted in their respective montages. And what a joy it was. These photos become like children with all the associated emotion, attachment and pride. And challenges of course.

A photo is a multi-faceted thing. It’s a dime a dozen these days but also as precious as ever. It’s a snapshot of reality but can also tell a lie. Photos are cherished possessions but can also be deleted on a whim. They are a loved and respected form of portrayal but, I assure you, if you point a camera at a stranger on the street, there is nothing but suspicion.

I love all these layers and contradictions. Photography is fascinating. We are surrounded, almost bombarded with images on a daily basis and how these pictures represent and effect our world, our society, continues to provoke endless analysis, thought and conversation.

At the end of the day though, well, at the end of the week for me, photos mounted and hung on a wall are special. Turning photos into art is exciting, essential. Whether a particular exhibition appeals to an individual or not, adding works to a society’s body of art in any part of the world is a positive, important process. And, hey, it can make for an enjoyable night. Free champagne anyone?!!

Hope to see you all there on the 25th Jan…

x Andy

Hanging Art