A Website is Your Best Bet For Exposure

Gallery show-miscYou have previously read my comments about the importance of having a website. The impetus for writing this post came about in a very familiar way for me: reading about it elsewhere.

My good friend Alyson Stanfield has a new post in which she writes about overhearing two curators discussing an upcoming exhibition.

“Last Sunday I went to hear two curators talk about how their new exhibition came together. What was fascinating (and not surprising) was to hear how strongly the artist’s statement and website were considered during the process. The curators emphasized repeatedly how important the statement was to help explain the work. They then described how they used an artist website to shine light on anything they were unsure about.

The statement and website were even more important when they were on the fence about whether or not to include the work.”

In the course of reviewing work for upcoming issues of Shadow & Light Magazine, I had to do the same thing. Aside from the submissions we receive, my art director and I visit many platforms in search of great work by photographic artists. We are often left wanting.

Many times the person only has a Facebook page, or a blog, or any number of other platforms that really don’t present their work in a compelling manner.
red-dog-news-websites-post-smithson
A website (above) completes the process and illustrates to the viewer that you take your creative pursuits seriously. I feel the same way as the curators mentioned above. When I decide to publish an artist’s work it is because I can readily see that they are serious about what they do. They care about their work and how it is viewed. They have a site that is easily navigated and work is presented in a manner that illustrates the quality of the work with little (if any) distraction.

In the above illustration, Aline Smithson has decided to have the simple unfettered look, one that is easy to navigate and simple to understand. There is a slideshow beneath the header that illustrates the breadth and quality of her work.

There are many template platforms that make it very easy and affordable to create your own site. This may be (next to creating the art) the most important decision you will make in advancing your creative career.

Good luck!

 

 

Photographic inspiration comes from many sources

An American history of the nude as artAs I look back over this ever-so-quickly disappearing year, I am reminded of how my creativity was sparked earlier in the year by a group of shadows on my dining room wall. Inspiration can come from many sources, a thought, a vision, the way the wind plays with a branch, a full moon coming from behind a cloud. You know them. You have seen them and more.

If you are a figure photographer, like me, sometimes inspiration can seem to disappear. What do you do then? How can you rekindle the flames of creativity? One of the ways I do it is to go to my library and pick out a book that just might serve as a hard-back muse.

One such book I recently pulled out from that dusty shelf was NAKED: The Nude in America (right), by Bram Dijkstra (Rizzoli USA, $45 2010), and I have to tell you, even though I have viewed many times this book is a treasure trove of inspiration! Covering sculpture, painting, photography, caricature, cartoons, and even a handful of visual extremists, and other forms of portraying the nude in American art.

The author is a cultural historian, rather than an art critic, refusing to separate “high” and “low” art, charting instead such momentous historical events such as the discovery of pubic hair, the invasion of the pin-up queens, “the inexorable rise of the breast” during the 1950s, and the puzzling fluctuations of American  prudery. (from cover end flap)

With more than 420 illustrations this is an incredibly wide-ranging representation and survey of the male and female nude throughout American history. The back cover photograph is the iconic picture by Judy Dater of Imogen Cunningham preparing to photograph Twinka (1974, courtesy of the Scott Nichols Gallery). On the Title Page, Arthur Tress has a photograph of Twinka at Age 45. This is a good precursor to illustrate the importance photography has had in defining the nude in art.

Granted, American art has nowhere near the history of longevity as does European art, but what we do have is second to none, as far as art is concerned over the last several hundred years. As a photographer of the nude, I sat the book on on my desk, and about three hours later I turned the last page. While my collection of books about the nude numbers more than a hundred, Naked: The Nude in America, has quickly become a favorite.

What photographer of the female nude could not be inspired by the three images (left to right: Indian Maiden at a Spring, William Robinson Leigh; Elizabeth Gibbons with Umbrella and Mask, George Platt Lynes; Reflection, Benjamin Rutherford Fitz, Abraham Leon Kroll, Nude Back) below:

Naked: The Nude in America  Naked: The Nude in America  Naked: The Nude in America  Naked: Nude Back, Kroll

This is a genuine coffee table book. At 10×11.5-inches, and the afore-mentioned illustrations in excess of 420, you are not going to be able to slide this one into your pocket. Be advised, once you put this book on your “must-have” list carve out some time that you can spend slowly turning its 476 pages. Buy Naked, here.

Do you have a book that you have, or are currently using for inspiration? I shared mine… it’s your turn. Let me know what inspires you to a much greater level of inspiration and success.

It’s time: Color It Red 2016

red-dog-news-color-it-red-2015-best-in-showAs a result of many requests Color It Red will continue with Color It Red 2016. This will be the fifth annual edition of this very popular photography contest. Over the years more than 400 world-wide photographers have entered with more than 150 having their work displayed at RedDogNews.com. For the second year in a row the Juror’s Choice Award will include publication in a future issue of Shadow & Light Magazine. Places 1, 2, 3 will have their selected entry displayed in a full-page format in a future issue the magazine.

You can get full details and the opportunity to take advantage of the Early Entry fee by clicking the “Color It Red 2016” tab at the top of this page.

Color It Red 2015 Results:
Best in Show:  Les Levres Rouge, Carla Berger (pictured, above) (Shadow & Light Magazine Showcase Portfolio, Think Tank Urban Disguise 40 camera bag)
First Place: Dia de los Moo-uertos, Amy Ditto (Think Tank Perception Pro camera bag, LensWork Gift Pack)
Second Place: The Curtain Opens, Dale Niles (Red River Photo Paper $150 Gift Certificate, LensWork Gift Pack)
Third Place: Harbor Reflections, Julita Lucas (Think Tank Gift Pack, Red Dog News Showcase Gallery Placement)
Fourth Place: Diner Abstract, Barbara Leven (Think Tank Gift Pack, Red Dog News Showcase Gallery Placement)

Good luck!

Email Newsletters: an introduction: part two

Guy at computerOK. You’ve decided this something you want to do. You are an artist, after all. Right? You create work you want to be seen, and possibly even purchased. In the last post we talked about deciding to even do this: send out a newsletter, that is.

The decision has been made, but where do you go from here? Now, you need to decide on a platform. There are many from which to choose, many being perfectly acceptable. Here are a few guidelines to address when selecting the platform for your newsletter (ESP, email service provider), :

Who Is Your Audience?
Before choosing an ESP, it’s important to understand the scope of your needs. How small/large is your target distribution list? Will you need support tools to help build that list? Your strategy for gaining new prospects will need to be addressed at the outset.

What Would You Like to Send Them?
After you’ve identified your audience, you’ll need to figure out the types of email you’d like to send them. When selecting an email marketing platform, you should look for one that offers ease of use in creating emails, along with the ability to customize your content. For example, will you be sending the same email to everyone on your list, or do you need to personalize the content for different types of users?

When (and How Often) Do You Want to Send?
Companies of all shapes and sizes tend to love email marketing because it is reliable, consistent, offers high return on investment (ROI), and is highly scalable when the right formula is reached. We also need to remember that in the beginning we might not want to inundate our readers with too many offerings. I feel it’s best that if you consider yourself a strict newbie you should start out with maybe a quarterly campaign. You can always move it to more frequent release, which signifies success rather than cutting back on releases which could denote a loss of business and/or interest.

Why Are You Emailing Your Customers?
Part of the email marketing software selection process should be to evaluate the level of social media integration you’d like with your email program. Combining multi-channel marketing strategies—like email + social—can help achieve higher message penetration rates than a single channel approach. It also allows for a two-way conversation in your direct-marketing efforts. After all, email is just having a direct, albeit, one-way conversation with your audience. Incorporating social media elements like Share buttons, Facebook and Twitter feeds, etc., can turn that one-way conversation into a more engaging back and forth with your customers.

How Much (Service, Support, and Features) Do You Need?
Not all providers offer the same level of service. While most will give you the basic tools along with a means for submitting support tickets, others provide additional services (or even full service) options at an additional cost. Depending upon how user-friendly your provider’s email-building and -sending tools are, and how complex your email campaigns are, you may not need more than the basics.

This is just a group of suggestions to get you thinking in the right direction.

Next: Platform comparisons…

Email Newsletters: an introduction: part one

What is a Newsletter, and Why Would You Want to Offer One?

red-dog-news-email-newsletters-graphic-01I have been involved in newsletters for more than 25-years, in both print and electronic formats.

For the sake of this post, however, I’ll be talking only about email newsletters (electronic), since this is the product that the majority of small businesses like you and me should be utilizing.

In addition to the content on your website (that is a whole other topic!), from time to time you should be sending out broadcasts about new work, trips, your wonderful insights, etc. When you are in the beginning stages of setting up your newsletter, you will ultimately be offering your audience a way to subscribe so they can receive your notes and newsletters.

At this point you may be thinking, “What is the point of doing all this work?”

A good question deserves an even better answer… your email list.

When you offer a subscription to your newsletter, you’re enabling yourself to be able to capture email addresses. It’s important to capture email addresses because:

  1. It’s a great way to communicate with your audience on a more personal level. There’s just something about receiving an email from somebody that makes it extremely effective at getting a point across, or making people take some kind of action.
  2. An email list will never die. In other words, if you have an email list, you will always have a way to communicate with your audience. Blogs and websites can die. RSS readers and feed subscription services could vanish. But, those email addresses will never change and you can always keep your audience informed of what you’re up to, even if you go completely off the radar.
  3. It’s where the money is.

Regarding #3, you may or may not have heard this expression before: “The Money is in the List.”

It’s an expression that has been used in the Internet marketing industry since the birth of email (or “snail mail” for that matter), because it’s true. But you do need to be careful when you decide to use your list to make money. You really don’t want it to be all about the money.

Once you make it “all about the money” is when you will begin to lose subscribers by sacrificing your credibility. What you want to do first and foremost is to create a product that helps and informs people. Once you do this and you have gained respectability then it will be time to begin your effort to make money. Online karma does exist.

Regular or Irregular Delivery

You can setup an opt-in form to capture email addresses on your website and only email your subscribers when you have to. This, however, is not such a good idea and I will tell you why.

Imagine signing up for a newsletter and not receiving anything from me for weeks or months. What do you think you would do?

  1. Forget who I was and think my email is spam.
  2. Unsubscribe from the list because you’d realize that there’s really no point of being on it.
  3. All of the above.

What you write in your emails doesn’t have to be “news”- it can be anything really. But, it’s important that you contact your subscribers on a consistent basis and provide them with some kind of useful information in order to keep them around.

Remember: All it takes is one click to unsubscribe from your list.

Eureka! The Purpose Of Your Newsletter

Sometimes, a really great (forgotten) notion…

frustrated-tbaAs I was readying myself for this trip to California, I thought I had done the necessary things: made a list and checked things off as I completed those tasks. Upon my return I noticed on my list that I had to dig out of my trash at the office, that I didn’t check off “Back up hard drive.” Sometimes, a really notion… never makes it into a great reality.

Needless to say, my external hard-drive took a nosedive off a dining room table never from which to recover.

“Ahhhh,” I said to myself, “I am sure I backed everything up right before I left.” NOT!

I don’t have to tell you how I felt when I got here and realized the last backup I performed was about one-month prior to leaving.

Lesson learned! Besides having to rebuild quite a few other things, I had to almost build the just-released Red Dog News #159 from scratch. For that reason I am very appreciative of templates and hosted services that are very far away from my clumsiness and slight of mind.

In future posts I will talk a bit more about the trip, which was wonderful, educational, soothing (even amid all the chaos!), and extremely fulfilling on so many fronts.

I’ll never swim Kern River, again…

For quite a long time this has been one of my favorite songs. Written by Merle Haggard, and covered extremely well by both Emmylou Harris and Dave Alvin, the song talks of a time when when:

“I’ll never swim Kern River again.
It was there that I met her.
It was there that I lost my best friend.”

Kern River rapids

Well known for its swift currents, Kern River has long mystified poets and songwriters alike. As I was making my way from Berkeley and my salon with Taiyo Lipscomb, Sharon Wheat and a few of their photo-friends (more about that later), to Torrance and my presentation at Paul’s Photo this weekend I decided to take a detour and spend a couple of nights in Bakersfield.

It wasn’t until I got here that I realized, “Wait! I think Kern River is pretty close.” Bakersfield is in Kern county, after all. After a bit of location research I found a spot just about a half-hour from my motel and drove there this afternoon. Upon arriving at the campgrounds the sign I saw spoke of Haggard’s lament.

No Swimming-Kern River

Yeah, I know it’s a bit schmaltzy, but… I was meditating on Merle’s lyrics and couldn’t help myself!

Tim's Feet in Kern River

“Now, it’s not deep nor wide,
But it’s a mean piece of water, my friend.
And I may cross on the highway,
But I’ll never swim Kern River again.”

Enjoy…

A day at the beach, Stinson that is…

Well, as you might have guessed, we made it from Albuquerque to California, without any problems. Although the drive was tiring, we made it in two days. We stopped first in Barstow CA, then the next day it was up to Northern California, where I dropped Ann off for her three-week residency, at Chalk Hill.

Once that was accomplished, I made my way down to Fremont, where my brother, Larry, lives and stayed there for a few days, and then I booked an extended stay at a Airbnb house, around Berkeley, where I will be participating in a salon hosted by Shadow & Light Magazine photographer, Taiyo Lipscomb, this week,

During my stay around Berkeley, I took some time off and decided to have a day the beach. Born as a Californian, the one thing I miss most about this state is the water. As many of my fellow New Mexicans can attest to water is something that is not in plentiful supply in my adopted state.

It took almost one-hour to get there, lagging behind campers, RVs, and other traffic diversions. Even after the slow journey, however, once I descended down the very curvy road and saw Stinson Beach in the distance, a grin crept over my face.

It was a beautiful day. The ever-present early morning fog was in the process of leaving the area and there were quite a few people joining me at the sandy beach. I had a great time. Take a peek…

 

 

 

Goin’ to the Hotel California

red-dog-news-california-vacation-158Well, not really! As I mentioned in our newsletters, I will be going to California for a few weeks to visit family, friends, and I am sure I will make new friends. I will also be giving a couple of talks and doing portfolio reviews.

The coolest program (so far!) is being set up by Shadow & Light Magazine “Showcase Portfolio” photographer, Karen Scheunemann. It is going to be at Paul’s Photo, June 13-14, 2015. They are in the process of getting information about about my talk: “Crossing the Threshold: How to Share your Work and Get Published,” but you are quite welcome to let them know you want to sign up, if you live in the area or are going to a tourist (like me) there.

You can click on the “Current Issue” button to pick the new Special Edition: Summer issue of Red Dog News. This issue is all about summer fun with your camera! I had previously mentioned that a new Red Dog News would not be published until June 26, but I couldn’t wait that long.

I am also utilizing a new format, and would like your opinion on its merits.

I hope you have an absolutely wonderful summer. I will be posting here from time to time during my trip to keep you posted and following my adventures.