Saturday, November 20, 2010

In the moment ...

Due to weather conditions beyond my control this morning, I’m at home drinking coffee, and reading “Poemcrazy” by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge. The slim book had been gathering dust on my bookcase for over a year, but something prompted me to pick it up and just flip through the collection of writing strategies and meditations.

It has been way, way too long since I’ve written any poetry. The last of the good ones were written before Mom died. It can’t be mere coincidence that death took my poetry along with my mother.

But that’s not of what I write today. The author wrote the following in her essay about how the body reacts:

“I sometimes think poems come from electricity in the air, a hum inside, impulses we can feel in our body. When I sense an electrical charge around a person, event or place, I know there’s a poem in it, waiting for words. Poems are often about something so important to us we can feel the need to write as a physical urge.”

Although she was writing about poem writing urges, I recognized those same feelings or bodily reactions when I come across an image that I have to photograph.

I often am out and about running errands, driving from point A to point B—although I often am seduced by interesting side streets to turn aside from my goal of reaching point B as quickly as I had planned—and out of the corner of my eye I’ll see something that takes my breath away, causes my pulse rate to quicken, elevates my body temperature, my pupils dilate.  I am almost giddy with excitement!

In those instances, I am compelled to stop, or turn around and go back, regardless of the urgency of the errand or responsibility, and take a photograph. There are times when I’ve ignored my bodily reaction and gone on to my appointment or whatever. I always regret not heeding those prompts, because when I later return, the light was always different, the weather had changed, my creative perspective was altered, and whatever spark there was in that image in that precise time was forfeited.

As a parting shot across the bow of this little musing, my feelings in those moments don’t guarantee a dynamite photograph that everyone will go loony over. I’ve taken lots of shots that once I got home and calmly previewed on my computer, weren’t as incredible as I had presumed in the moment.

Nonetheless, as a huge component of my enjoyment of visual imagery, I will continue to rejoice in and act upon my body and soul reacting to creative impulse.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

First comes identification of target market ...

Danielle, Etsy Seller Education Coordinator, has been publishing a weekly “Holiday Boot Camp” to help online vendors gear up for the holiday season of sales. There are thousands of us vendors on the Etsy site, so trying to stand out from the crowd is an ongoing challenge. I'm finding her articles very helpful.

However, one point in particular made by Danielle that keeps tumbling around in my head is to identify one's market. Once you identify your target buyer, you can then cut to the chase and market your product more successfully to them. Now, that seems a no-brainer, right?

In previous sales in actual brick and mortar stores and galleries, I’ve had the most success with my Bondo Series and the Street Art Series. But when I cobbled together my online shop, those seemed too restrictive.

I have to admit that I do not know to whom I’m marketing my photographs. They don’t fit a niche. I offer a mish-mash of photographs.

I’ve noticed that some photographers’ photos have a dreamy or romantic quality. Some are strictly of nudes or figurative studies. Some are wholly architectural in subject matter. Other photo vendors sell floral photographs. Still others offer photographs of clouds, or birds, or balloons, or baboons.

So, do I narrow my subject matter or style down to appeal to a specific market?

Am I offering too many different photographs? Should I develop a KWest Studio 8 “brand” of photography and adhere only to my brand?
So, who ARE my target buyers?

I think I’ll pour a glass of Vognier and ponder this weighty topic. It may take two glasses.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's a Process ...

After several hours sitting at my computer this morning editing photographs I took in Fairhaven yesterday—had a delightful breakfast at Skylark with Barb—it struck me how photography has changed. I’ve thought about technological advances before, but it really hit me again this morning.

As a young girl, I remember my Dad behind closed bathroom door, developing negatives and printing his black and white photographs in the glow of the red light. The chemistry, the timer clicking off the minutes, the special paper, the process … it was like magic seeing the image appear from the blank photography paper! Once the light came back on, it was fun seeing all the photographs clipped to a clothesline in the bathroom to dry. Then Dad would run the dry prints through a heated press to straighten them.

It wasn’t until I was an adult and was involved in my own darkroom magic, that I greatly appreciated the skill and expertise required to not ruin negatives or overexpose or underexpose prints, as I have done on many occasions. I have a lot of respect for those who have and still do create their darkroom magic.

How appreciative I am today for digital photography!

I can take and keep or delete as many photographs as I please and know immediately if I have a good shot or need to shoot more while still on location. I can see the image immediately without having a roll of film processed before I can determine whether or not I have anything worth keeping. And, I love being able to process my images on my computer!

Processes continually change.  I enjoyed the darkroom process, but I am having so much fun playing with today's new processes.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

All a matter of choice ...

I worked today so there wasn’t any time for photography. I take that back. I had to place new flyers in my listing box and since it was only a few cottages up from Birch Bay State Beach, of course I had to check out what the tide brought in.

The shoreline was littered with ripped up kelp and seaweed. The water out in the Sound must have experienced a whole lot of churning last night because there was all manner of debris and broken shells and rocks piled along the beach.

Other than shells I’ve arranged or sunsets, I don’t often photograph much along the beach; perhaps because beachcombing here is an up close activity. There are treasures to be found, but they are often small and held in the palm of my hand.  This isn’t Hawaii with stretches of gorgeous sandy beaches or swaying palm trees. It’s grittier here in Birch Bay. The larger view is rather muted and muddy.

It’s only when I’m shooting things up close that I find a delight in photographing around the Bay. Maybe it’s just me.

Checked the view count on my Etsy photos and I’m surprised that  “Coil of Nails” is the runaway most viewed, with “Stack of Hats” second most viewed in my shop. I just shake my head in amazement at those two photographs out of all the rest. Nuts!

However, I'm featured in another Treasury, for which I'm happy for the exposure. Vintage Frocks of Fancy has included "White Door" in a second Treasury. You can see it at

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Learn something new every day ...

I just finished uploading more images, now totaling 30, to my Etsy shop . Having fun trying to put them in some order. My image descriptions need a lot of polishing so they’re more engaging, pulling at the imagination of the viewer.

While uploading photos, I noticed I had a “convo”—an Etsy conversation--from Michaelann who was informing me that she had included my “Coil of Nails” in her ”Shapes” Treasury. I’m thrilled this photo has been featured now in two separate Treasuries!

This “Shapes” Treasury can be seen at

I took a peek at Michaelann’s Etsy shop and found she lives in Hacienda Heights, CA and sells an amazing assortment of vintage garments. I’m not a fan of vintage dresses, but I have to admit she has an impressive collection. 

However, I really DID like that she creates a little description vignette for each of her frocks. It was so entertaining to read her brief but charming stories about women—she gives them specific names—and where they are wearing that specific frock; very inventive!

I love how creative people can be, and I'm hopeful that I can come up with something as unique as has this Etsy vendor.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Launched on Etsy ...

Finally uploaded the first 21 photographic images to There’s a whole process of including description, pricing, shipping, payment, etc. But I at least have an initial sampling of photographs for sale.
Twenty-one is a drop in the bucket compared to other photographers on Etsy who have hundreds of images. I’ll not be daunted by their product and sales record … forward!
I didn’t really (really) imagine making sales as soon as the photos were uploaded, but I was surprised that two of my photographs, “Coil of Nails”  and “Bold Strokes” were included in two Etsy Treasury collections.
Here’s the comment from maysay :
Hi there! Your awesome photograph is hanging out in my new treasury!
Then I received another notice that idriama had included me in her treasury. This time “Bold Strokes” was highlighted.
Hooray! Not a sale, but a nice little pat on the back to be included among 16 other shops that have front page exposure when anyone goes on Etsy. I’m not certain how long the Treasury remains on view, I think only about an hour or so, so if you check out the above links, they may no longer be active.
On the Etsy site one can see how many times an item has been viewed. I don’t have a lot of viewers (yet) but it was interesting to me to see which photographs spurred the most views:
Burnt Truck 3 (Bondo)--shown above
Burnt Truck 4 (Bondo)
Coil of Nails--shown above
Lattice Goddess
Bold Strokes (Street Art)

None of the pretty florals attracted that many views.  Hmmmm, may have to fine tune the photographs I use. It also indicates, to me, that I need to stop playing it safe and just fly with my Street Art and Bondo series photographic images. What fun!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A question of authenticity ...

Another thought comes to mind when considering selling my photographic art.

How is a creatively manipulated photograph generally received; the ol' question,"Is it real or is it Memorex?" (Egads! Maybe the significance of that reference will be lost on readers under a certain age!)

Nonetheless, I'm having a lot of fun with digital images and using different filters and software programs to play around with my initial photographic image. That's one of the many attractive features of creating with digital cameras and working with digital files. If I have taken the photograph and I am the one choosing how to use software applications to enhance my images, I claim it as my creative imagery.

However, I think there will always be purists who feel the photographer should not alter the initial image, in order to keep it authentic.

I'm reminded of great photographers who used all sorts of tricks of the darkroom to enhance their images. There are viewers who are knowledgeable about such skillful processing when printing from film negatives, but generally I am certain most viewers don't even consider the logistics involved in producing an image. They just know what they like, or don't like.

So, since I'm not a great photographer and I'm not a photographer per se, but merely an artist using a camera, I think I'll just keep having fun dinking around with my images.

I just hope you like what you see!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Just diving right in ...

Setting up KwestStudio8 in order to sell photographs is thwarting me for some reason or another! I’ve chosen the photographs I want to upload to start selling on Etsy, but coming up with the right pricing continues to evade me.

I don’t remember having so much difficulty starting my Etsy online store for my jewelry. I used a set formula for the pricing, based on cost of goods and time it took to make the piece of jewelry. I did the photography, wrote the descriptions and soon had the site up and running. It was fun and quick. But each piece of jewelry was unique and had a single price, whereas, with a digital image, I’ll charge according to multiple sizes of the print.

I’m not aware of a formula for pricing photographs so that I can make a profit and yet keep the image commercially competitive. Technological advancements make capturing and printing digital images so much easier.  I like the images I’ll offer for sale, but will others like them enough to pay good money to own them?

Perhaps part of my dilemma is that photography is very competitive. I take a photograph of a tulip, and so do you, and so do thousands of others. What makes my photograph marketable? Is it as simple as my taking the photo and then marketing it, whereas, other tulip picture takers don’t offer their photo for sale?

It’s ironic. I was active in the art community when I lived in Southern California, and showed and sold photographic prints, from negatives. I had several solo artist shows and took some awards. But since moving away from California, and converting to digital cameras, I’ve lost touch with showing and selling photographs. Maybe it’s the difference between selling prints from actual film negatives, and digital prints. I’m out of the creative stream and feeling a bit intimidated.

Wait a minute! I’m making much too much about this! I need to just dive in and start swimming!

Alrighty then! I'll upload my photographs and see what happens!


Saturday, November 6, 2010

And me without a camera ...

The low cloud cover muted our footsteps as my dog and I walked in the woods this morning.  The air held moisture, I could feel it on my face, not drizzle, finer than mist.

I looked up at the trees I had photographed a few days ago at the peak of their color. Today the branches were all but bare.

A slight breeze must have moved through the tops of the trees. I didn't feel it, but there was a sudden shower of leaves. Each leaf twirled and danced its way to the carpet of spent leaves at the foot of the tall tree.  It tickled me that the leaves didn't just fall to the ground, but twirled--some faster than others--like silent amber whirligigs.

And there I was without my camera. Nothing to do other than bear grateful witness to Nature going about its business.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Beginnings ...

Everything has a beginning, and this beginning feels a little raw. As time progresses the recipe for this blog may result in a savory concoction. That's my intent at least.

I should be using photographic metaphors, eh? But I haven't eaten and so considerations of what I'm going to fix for dinner are traipsing about my noggin. I have things in the refrigerator at home to make a lovely frittata, but I think the expiration date on the carton of eggs has come and gone.

This blog seems to be starting out the same way; not enough substance in which to sink one's teeth. I have some insights I want to share, but other concepts aren't yet ready for use. If I wait until everything is just right, I may go off on a tangent and not get back to this beginning.

Suffice it to say--it will have to--that I want to share my experiences with the development of KWest Studio 8, wherein I'll play and experiment with art made with a camera.

But right now, forget about fixing dinner! I think I'll head to Paso Del Norte and let them feed me! I didn't want to mess around in the kitchen anyway! M-m-m-m-m Something a little hot and spicy!

I'll begin with a Corona and lime! Ole!