It is very easy to feel like you’re working in a vacuum as an artist. You make new pieces, leave them around the house for family and visiting friends to see, maybe lug them down to your gallery, always (in my case, anyway) post them on the blog. But it can often feel as if no one is responding, and you have no idea what feedback there might be and how that might have an effect on where you’re going with the work.
Now that the digital age is upon us, it’s also really easy to get hung up on computer and Photoshop issues.
That’s why I love the photography salon I am in. We are a group of eight or so. Most of us have known one another since the early 80’s when I started my gallery. We are a grab bag of professions – a surgeon, a lawyer, a baker, an architectural photographer, a photo curator/historian/author, a fine art/portrait photographer, etc. But we all have a passion for photography – whether it is making it, studying it or collecting it.
We gather every couple of months to look at each other’s new work, talk about new photo equipment, books, shows, and trends, eat and drink. We encourage and challenge each other, and we enjoy one another’s company. Often we invite other photographers from the area to share their work and their ideas.
Yesterday we met to look at work, but also to celebrate the 70th birthday of one of our preeminent members, Richard Loftis. Richard and I first met shortly after I opened the Baker Gallery in 1981. He made his way through the front door with a handsome portfolio of Adams/Weston-esque silver prints (landscapes and figure work) that were drop dead gorgeous. I took him on as my first “local” photographer, and we have been very good friends ever since. He has shown his work extensively throughout the region, has been a technical advisor to many struggling printers and has constructed many an incredible darkroom (including mine). His expertise in the ways of traditional silver printing is humbling. Not one to miss a beat, he has even become a trusted and knowledgeable advisor to those of us fumbling our way into the world of digital capture and image making.
We are lucky to have one another in our little group. I hope you have a support group, as well, no matter what you do for your passion or for your living.
Happy birthday, Richard!