Friday Inspiration: Alison Shaw

I’m getting ready to head over to Martha’s Vineyard for a week of photography starting Saturday. What better way to spend the week than being given a tour by the photographer who literally wrote the book on ‘Photographing Martha’s Vineyard‘ – Alison Shaw.  Alison is a fine art and editorial photographer who lives year round on Martha’s Vineyard and has done so since she came for the summer in 1975 and never left.  Here’s Alison talking about her book and photographing on Martha’s Vineyard:

Business Model Generation

I wonder how many photographers seriously consider business models and even applying their creativity to developing new business models. Frankly I’ve always thought business models were fir the MBA crowd and not something that I needed to worry about. With some prompting from people like ‘Photo’ Jack Hollingsworth I’ve been giving the business side of photography a harder look in recent weeks. There are lots of great resources for photographers, such as Fast Track Photographer and Fast Track Photographer Business Plan both written by Dane Sanders, although I find myself more aligned with books such as ‘Taking the Leap‘ by Cay Lang which seem to have painters as the primary audience but easily translates to the other visual arts.

The Book Business Model Generation (get a free 72 page preview here) provides a visual tool that helps you build a business model that you can use to test your ideas. I’ve been able to easily flesh out some of my ideas and identify questions that I need answering before moving ahead. A video showing how to use the tool – the Business Model Generation Canvas is below.

Friday Inspiration: Charles Cramer

Charles Cramer is a master photographer and printer.  I think that his work is just stunning and so I was pleased to come across videos of Charlie describing his exhibition at the Center for Photographic Art: earth, water, light and also describing the dye transfer printing process.  The videos are shared below.

I’ve mentioned Charlie Cramer before in my post First Light Three Different Ways in which I mention Charlie as one of the photographers who contributed to the book First Light: Five Photographers Explore Yosemite’s Wilderness.

The Future of the Book – Part 2

I continue to be interested by the possibilities that the future holds for the book.  Seth Godin had this to say recently on his Domino Project Blog:

‘Cleaning out a moldy corner of my basement, I ended up with a stack of about 400 paperback books.

Looking at each cover, I remember what was inside. Each contained a notion or an adventure or an idea. It adds up. (With some, I even remember where I was when I read them).

The magic of books, something I haven’t found in blog posts, jewel boxes, tweets or old TV Guides, is that they perfectly encapsulate an idea. They have a beginning, a middle and an end. And they have a cover, something that wraps it all together.

Maybe I’m a fogie, but I have trouble visualizing a pile (or a wallful) of Kindle ebooks. I’m going to miss that.’

I’m not sure why we have to visualize a pile of ebooks.  Seth’s Domino Project, which is an attempt to shake up the traditional publishing model is format agnostic which makes sense to me.  There are going to be people like me who enjoy the portability of eBooks but who still crave for the actual book, particularly when the book is something special.

Blurb are also evolving their idea of publishing from a traditional model

to one that is more supportive of the author in today’s environment.

The images above are from a recent article on the ‘Future of the Book Blog‘ in which Ben Clemens suggests that ‘eBooks will save the book‘ in part because ‘e-books re-focus books around their essence: words and images, assembled and carefully edited.’

I’m not sure how or why this is true because with the advent of digital it is so much easier for everyone to generate an eBook.  What is true is that exceptionally prepared eBooks, iPad apps etc. will set the bar for everyone and while it will be easy to convert pages of text into eBooks we will come to expect a high quality product.  Jim Goldstein‘s iPad photo books that he prepared for himself and for William Neill caught my eye as an example of what we might come to expect as normal, with more multimedia offerings to come.

So what about the physical artifact – the traditional book?  Is there still a place for it?  I’d like to think so – what about you?

Book Comment: Outdoor Photography Masterclass – Niall Benvie

I’ve been trying to understand the key elements of ‘Intimate Landscapes’ – I’m still a long way from them making even vague sense to me – but I am looking at as many photographs as I can in this style and reading as much as I can too.  Niall Benvie‘s article in Outdoor Photography about ‘Deconstructed landscapes’.  You can find a version of the article on his blog here, certainly worth a read.

I enjoyed the article enough to look up his books and came across Outdoor Photography Masterclass.  Against my better judgement, since I’m trying to ween myself off ‘how to’ books,  I ordered it and spent last weekend flipping through it.  The book is broken up as though it were a 3 day workshop.  I haven’t gotten deeply into the specifics of workflow, basic processing etc., – it seems like the usual affair, generally solid advice, perhaps a little dated.  A minor quibble for instance – I’m using 8 GB memory cards, shooting raw I get about 280 images per card.  I generally delete the out of focus stuff and keep the rest.  It’s quite possible for me to have at least 8 GB of images from a morning or evening shoot more than will fit onto the DVD recommended for archiving purposes.

What I really liked were the more thought provoking short essays at the end of each chapter, covering topics such as ‘How Should we Critique Outdoor Photography’ and ‘Creativity, Style & Vision’.  I would have been happy to have a book full of these and I’m happy to have bought Outdoor Photography Masterclass for these writings if nothing else.

To find more of Niall’s writings, and I recommend that you do!, a great place to begin with is the blog ‘Images from the Edge‘ that Niall collaborates on with Clay Bolt, Paul Harcourt Davies & Andrew Parkinson.  Niall is also a regular contributor to the UK magazine Outdoor Photography.  This can be hard to find in the US but is available as an iPad app and well worth having a look.  Lots of good stuff to dig into.

Friday Inspiration: Paul Caponigro

My copy of the catalog for Paul Caponigro’s exhibition ‘The Hidden Presence of Places‘ arrived this week.  I was of course familar with, and particularly like, ‘Running White Deer‘ and aware of some of his still life studies but otherwise largely ignorant of much of his work.  This was an attempt to fill in that gap in my knowledge.  I was very pleased that I did.  The collection in ‘The Hidden Presence of Places‘ has a number of images that resonated with me – quiet and contemplative, exactly what I am striving towards.  The essay that leads off the book has a number of references, many of which I will add to my library over the next few months.  In the meantime I’m going to study the images in the catalog and plan a visit to the exhibition at the Farnsworth Gallery in Rockland before it closes Oct. 9th.

The Future of the Book


I’ve been on the road a fair bit over the last week or so. One the topics that we kept returning to was the future of the book. I find it hard to imagine that the book will completely go away. At least I don’t want to imagine that future but it’s increasingly likely that the majority of new books will be electronic.

It seems that there are amazing opportunities here – electronic books can be a much richer experience than a physical book, with the ability to link out to the web, to incorporate still images or video to illustrate a point the future looks very interesting. Bookstores are going to have to adapt to this new reality and are doing so by producing their own e-book readers. Of course not everyone gets this right.

I do wonder how small bookstores will adapt to the rise of e-books. Will they essentially become electronics retailers like their big box counter parts? Will most small bookstores be shuttered? Time will obviously tell, but I can certainly envision a place for the smaller specialty bookstore that meets the needs of a very specific group of customers in a way that can’t be met online.

For author it’s now quite cheap and relatively easy to skip the publisher and publish your own work. That has to be a good thing but it also shifts more of the burden of publishing the work onto the author. The author now becomes the content creator, editor, book designer and marketer. It would be rare to find someone who’s abilities cut across all of these areas. The sensible author would be one who looks to partner with editors, designers and marketers. Perhaps this is how the specialty book store comes in – to help with marketing.

On location with David Ward

I was very excited to see that Environment Films have a short documentary that follows one of my favorite photographers, David Ward as he works to create an image in the field. It seems that David has been evolving towards more ‘intimate landscapes’ rather than the grand view over the last few years, something that particularly appeals to me.  Creation of one of these detail shots is the feature of the documentary.

Unfortunately I can’t figure out how to embed the video, so until I do click here to view it.

David has published a couple of books that are well worth a look.  The first was ‘Landscape Within: Insights and Inspirations for Photographers‘ that deals with creativity and the thought processes that photographers use to create inspiring photographs.  In his second book, ‘Landscape Beyond: A Journey into Photography‘, David explores the key components of a successful landscape photograph.

The Essential Guide to Photographing Martha's Vineyard

I have a number of Countryside Press’s Photography Guides and I’ve found the guides for the New England area to be generally well worth the money.  I was excited then to see ‘Photographing Martha’s Vineyard: Where to Find Perfect Shots and How to Take Them‘ arrive on my door-step. I was also curious to see how someone synonymous with photography on Martha’s Vineyard would share the insights from 25 years of shooting there. Would she hold back favorite sites? No worries there! All the sites that Alison took her workshop to last year are described, with just stunning illustrative photographs rolled in for good measure. There are even the ultra-fine details of how to find some elusive spots such as Lucy Vincent’s beach.

As a guide to the potential shooting locations should be essential reading for everyone heading to the Vineyard with camera in hand. Additionally, the introductory chapters on equipment and dealing with the beach environment are useful for someone who hasn’t photographed extensively along the shore. Go to one of Alison’s workshops, you’ll have a blast. If you can’t get to a workshop, this book will guide you to some of the most photogenic locations on Martha’s Vineyard.

The Simple Secret

I’m continuing to explore my understanding of composition by learning about how painters think about the issue. I recently bought ‘The Simple Secret to Better Painting‘ by Greg Albert that I thought would give me the answer to all my problems. Although I’ve only had a chance to quickly go through the book and it has already been a help. There’s not a lot of new information here for anyone who’s studied composition much at all but Albert’s “One Rule of Composition’ is a nice twist that can really help cut through, what I find to be a complex, rule laden subject.

One of the things that I feel I need to do is slow down and really look before I leap into action. The section an alphabet of landscape composition was useful for me and I will certainly take the time to look for letters and shapes the next time I’m out in the field. Equally helpful was the chapter that dealt with setting up still lifes. This is something that I am interested in, particularly in the summer months, and having some basic instruction in their set up will help my thinking about my ‘Found on the Beach’ series. All in all worth a read.