My four photographs on the wall.
My booklet on the first pedestal.
Make the work, something will come of it.
Attributed by an acquaintance to John Cage.
The artist book show I am part of opened at The Center for Photography at Woodstock this past Saturday. I spent a lot of time last week getting my work ready. I had to frame four photographs, produce six copies of my booklet and deliver all that to CPW. I was binding booklets at twelve noon on Saturday and placed them in the hands of the ED fifteen minutes before the show. I had barely enough time to shower and take the dogs for a longish walk to wear them out a bit before I left.
A cold that had been developing all week descended with both feet the night before. When my wife caught a cold the previous week I was certain I would get it and that it would be in full swing for the opening. It was a little better than that. The worst part was Friday night. By Saturday morning I was feeling better and a dose of Dayquil held the symptoms at bay. I was not the sniveling, coughing and sneezing wreck I thought I would be. Nobody would feel like they needed a hazmat suit to be near me.
The opening was well attended. A number of friends came. I had a good time and felt genuinely proud to be part of the show.
Richard Edelman (salon leader, ardent supporter of my work, main event of the show) and I managed a brief conversation before the opening crowd arrived. The conversation was broadly about the need to concentrate on making the work. Essentially, he said, make the work, the rest will take care of itself.
In some senses, that is exactly what I have been doing. I make the work I want to make. I don't make any effort to feed a perceived market, though I do adjust some to reactions I get from the people I show it to.
Still, given my late start in this career, my lack of significant connections and my nonexistent formal preparation for it, I realized it would be important to be very intentional about developing the work and getting it seen.
I found my way to CPW early on. There I have taken workshops, attended the monthly Salon religiously, received portfolio reviews and found a portal to the art photography world. I can not overstate how helpful this has been in focusing my work and progressing it.
Because I want my work to be recognized -- I need to eventually be able to justify my strange career move to myself and my wife -- I made myself aware of opportunities to do that. I have developed a set of calls for entry that I submit to every year and usually add a number of others as I feel appropriate throughout the year. In the beginning I had no success with these submissions, but lately that has been changing. Making these submissions even though I wasn't succeeding, has been an important part of the process. I learned how to assemble compelling sets of my work and I was forced to prepare a succinct and, hopefully, compelling artist statement.
Yes, I have been very intentional about setting a goal, preparing for the climb and climbing.
Doing these things has helped me progress, but none of that progress would have happened without my every day dedication to making the work. I cleared the decks of distractions to make room for it. I made it the only thing I am willing to do from getting up in the morning until at least noon. I have made, and continue to make, the work, almost every day.
This may sound like a grind, but it isn't like that at all. When I made the decision to climb, the one thing I knew is that making photographs was something I loved to do and I could do it day in and day out, day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year. I knew I would not tire of making the work. And you know what? Things are coming of it.