November 20, 2015 #010 Beacon NY
I completed a number of submissions last week:
I used the same set of ten images for all six submissions. It took me most of the week to get what I felt were the right ten images together. With only ten images to work with, it is hard to present any kind of story arc, though that is what I chose to do. It was the hint of a story arc really. Creation, Adam and Eve were themes floating around in my mind as I assembled them.
The other approach that I could have used would be to present ten images that were a typology. Similar subject material treated in a similar way. I have the images for that possibility, but I find it less interesting and not really representative of what I am doing.
My work benefits from the presentation of multiple images. I rarely submit to anything that limits the number to less than ten, though I will be submitting eight images for a New York State Foundation for the Arts Photography Fellowship due in a couple of days. For this submission I will probably go the typology route. I tried pulling a couple of images out of the ten from last week but it didn't work.
I am not sure the ten images I put together work either. I am having my doubts as I revisit them. Not quite "what was I thinking" doubt. More like "I tried something and it was the right thing to try, but it didn't quite come off" sort of doubt. Maybe I am preparing myself for disappointment. If I think I screwed up then I can't expect too much.
You can view the images I put together here. What do you think? Compelling set or not? Successfully developed story arc or not?
Yup, climbing the mountain is like that. The choices you make succeed or they don't. The good news is that there is nothing life or death about this situation. I will be able to try again. And again. And again. As many times as I believe are warranted.
I have always had a weak spot for movies about underdogs. Regular, or even less than regular Joes or Janes who have undertaken some herculean task that seems way beyond their skill set and any reasonable expectation that they would succeed. When the moment of triumph arrives there are tears streaming down my cheeks in abundance. I love those stories.
When I started on this journey a little over two years ago, I had no good reason to believe that what I wanted to achieve was even remotely possible. But I attended a workshop, got a map to the territory, and determined that I must embark. Life is short and I can be pretty sure there is more of it behind me than lies ahead. I had one of those now or never moments.
I remember my first Mount Everest is Calling blog post. I announced to the world that I was going to do this and made it clear that I understood the odds were against my reaching the summit (significant recognition, fine art photography book published). I likened it to a paraplegic attempting to climb Mt. Everest. I remember thinking as I wrote those words that I should google paraplegics who have climbed Mt. Everest, just in case. My search turned up Kyle Maynard who climbed Mt. Killamanjaro. Ok, that's not Mt. Everest, but still, I had no excuses for not trying.
Over the past two years I have reported out from the journey. I have written mostly about my frustrations, the entries I submitted that got nowhere, the work I shared that wasn't loved, the often tedious list of things that had to be done, tried, accomplished. But every once in awhile, there was good news to report. The Salon was over the moon about my work last month; a photograph was accepted to an online show; another to a small photography museum; still another was published in a fine art photography magazine. Small, but steady bits of progress, reasons to keep climbing.
If you have been following my blog you will have noticed there has been a gathering momentum. The museum show was followed by the magazine publication was followed by a more extensive display of my work in the same publication's next issue. I ended the year feeling that I had finally made it out of first base camp and was on my way up the side of the mountain.
The goal I set for the new year is simple. I want to be accepted into one of the major submission opportunities I apply to this year. Relative to my ultimate ambitions for my work, this kind of success will be required.
Submission season has just begun, and I have carefully logged all the due dates in my calendar. I am gearing up and getting excited. Because of my recent successful trend I am feeling confident about my work and I know my task is mostly to get the right set and sequence of images together. So when a fellow Salon member alerted me to an upcoming portfolio review session that would be offered by The Center for Photography at Woodstock I jumped on it as he suggested I do. The reviewers were significant people in the industry and I thought this would be a good way to tune my portfolio.
My review happened this past Friday. It went very well. I was told my work was beautiful. There were some quibbles with an image here or there. Most significantly, I walked out with an invitation to participate in an upcoming exhibition at CPW on artist books. I will have a booklet and four framed images in the show. This is the result you are told is possible, one of the big reasons to do these reviews in the first place. It is about as well as it can go.
And it gets even a little better. My reviewer was the new Executive Director of CPW. Her last job was Director of Light Work in Syracuse. Remember Light Work? One of the top artist in residency programs in the country. I let her know I applied last year and plan to apply again. I think she could be helpful.
No, I haven't gotten to the top yet. I'm still a long way from it. But these are the successes that are needed to get there. It's only 17 days into the new year. I think I may have to revise my goal for the year.
So here I am wondering if it just might be possible that I will one day be that guy. You know, the guy who sets out to do something there is no reason to believe he is capable of doing, but he works hard, perseveres, has a little luck and triumphs in the end? Will I be that guy?