Monday, April 28, 2008

Show Planning

My first art fair is in two weeks, and here are some thoughts that have passed through my mind as I prepare:

- Even doing a moderate number of shows per year takes a lot of time. Just planning, re-planning, researching what changes to make, what equipment or supplies to buy, whether to change things or keep them the same, etc., etc. Looking for the best prices on certain items. This all takes time. Therefore less time for: family, photographing, housework, photographing, etc.

- In selecting images to print for the show I routinely go through older photographs to look for gems that I may have overlooked. I usually find a few, and that may not have happened if I didn't have a reason to go back through the archives. So that is a good thing.

- Selecting prints for the show is a difficult process. I have made a lot of photographs that I think are pretty good, but I realize they may not appeal to a general audience. So I have to choose images that I think may have universal appear. Well, not totally universal, but they at least should sell a few copies through the year. I have made some great choices and some not-so-great ones. Hopefully this year will tend towards the better ones.

- And the last point leads to another ... that doing a small number of shows is tough on inventory control, which directly affects profitability. If during the course of the year I try printing 20 new images and do only a handful of shows, but only 10 prints sell, then I'm stuck with 10 prints for the next year. Or maybe I'm just not sure if they were good or not, since there were so few shows to judge with. But if I do more shows then at least the "dogs" have a better chance of selling and I can quickly retire poor-selling images and work in better pieces to replace them. So doing fewer shows limits your ability to "move merchandise", good and not-so-good merchandise alike. Moving good merchandise is not the problem, but you have a harder time moving the "other" stuff as well.

- Planning for a successful year in a tough economic environment is ... well ... tough. Knowing that sales might take a hit means producing works that out-sell the competition, lowering prices, offering different products, or any number of other measures. Each measure is time-consuming and potentially costly, so as in any other business I have to weigh the potential risk-vs-reward. For example offering smaller prints is not very costly up front, but by doing so I may hurt sales of my larger prints. And lowering prices may increase the number of sales, but the overall revenue may not rise much if at all.

Hopefully I'll see you at one of my shows this year.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


I love dogwoods. The color of their blooms are bright. The individual flowers have a great, strong shape with beautiful detail, especially the pink blooms. The trees typically look very balanced and clean, not messy.

But photographing them can be a challenge. As I was working a grove of dogwoods and I was constantly thinking about what the final image would look like and what feeling it would have. Shooting the trees from a distance would require a very unique composition or else it would look mundane and boring. Shooting the petals up close is always a challenge with flowering trees because getting a clean image without a mess of branches, leaves, and flowers is tough. I could always break off a branch and do a clean shot with a nice blurred background, and that would have been OK, but I also liked, in some way, having the tree involved.

I made a few nice images, one of them below. It is a fairly simple composition, with the large tree behind the pink dogwood providing some contrast for the pink flowers. It is not a perfect shot, but when I make a print of it I think it will hold its own hanging on the wall.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Foxy Update

The foxes at Tyler State Park have become very popular with local photographers. It is unusual for a den to be so close to the road and easily accessible. I only have a 300mm lens at the moment and I was able to get some very decent shots. Someone with a 400 or 500 could do very well with these little guys. Although such a big lens is not in the budget for me I am about to get a teleconverter to get me a little "closer". Hopefully these guys don't grow up too fast.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Family Fox

I was out for a late-day shoot, looking for flowering trees or other signs of spring. I had spent a few minutes shooting a tree at a local high school, then made my way to Tyler State Park to look for more. I didn't expect to find much there, as my observations have shown that flowers and flowering trees typically require personal care and are usually on private property, and rarely in local public parks.

So I drove in one entrance and not seeing anything of interest I made my way out to the main entrance. In the adjacent field I saw the shape of an animal, and I quickly realized that it was a fox. I had seen foxes in this park a few times, but this fox was only 20-30 feet from the roadside. And as I got closer I realized something even more amazing - this was a mother fox and and it was in the process of nursing four young fox pups.

I stopped the car and quickly changed lenses, and I was able to capture a series of images that I would have thought was improbable. After a minute or two of nursing the mother fox became aware of my presence (and the line of cars behind me, wondering what was going on).

After a short time of nervously examining her surrounding, and wondering if there was a threat to her family, the mother separated and walked a few yards up the hill, while the pups remained, content to play with each other.

But the mother did not go far ... she was in constant visual contact.

The pups continued to play for a while, and as the daylight subsided I was content to have been allowed to experience this wonderful private activity of these wild animals.