Oregon Coast Travelogue

We spent the weekend unplugged from the Internet and plugged in to the family at our favorite spot on the coast, Washburne State Park. We hiked, we walked on the beach, we played, we made photographs. It was a wonderful break from our normal lives. We need to do this more often!

Enjoy a few pics from the area, all edited in Stackables with a formula I created called “Heceta.” Email me if you would like me to send you the formula for your own use. It works great on landscapes!

Heceta Head Lighthouse

  Low tide at Heceta Head.

 The beach at Washburne. 

 The bridge at Heceta Head beach. Oregon has the best bridges!

 Zoey loves fetching on the beach.

 
Hello from the Sloma family!

I forget we have this amazing place, the Oregon Coast, just an hour from our home in Corvallis. One more reason to love where I live!

How to become “known” as an artist

Last week, my son said to me, “Mom, I want my art to become known. How do I do that?” I laughed and then told him to keep creating his art, that’s the start. But it got me thinking, how and why do we become “known” as artists? I came up with three steps. These are the basic steps, but don’t start thinking they are easy ones.

 
1. Find your own style.

You have to figure out your voice, what you are going to say and how you are going to say it, in your art. It has to be unique and authentic. That takes time. It takes a lot of experimentation. It takes risk and openness and a willingness to go in unconventional directions. 

Ultimately, what other people resonate with in art is something at a primal level. You have to bring YOU to the process, wholeheartedly. It takes a lot of time and effort to figure out how to do that, so keep working and be patient.

Oh, and once you feel like you’ve gotten there, that you have a style, remember that feeling, because it lasts about two nanoseconds. Then it’s time to evolve again. But as you evolve, you will have some thread that stays constant throughout your work. That’s your style. That’s what you become “known” for.

2. Sustain your creation over time.
Keep creating, because you have to develop a body of work. That’s not ten images that work together. It’s piece after piece, some finding a place within a larger group and some just experimentation. Maybe some are created with intention and some come out unplanned. But you need to have enough that work together to show you have committed yourself to the process.

You can’t create one or two good pieces, no matter how unique the voice, and become “known.” It takes sustained creation of good work. Something that people can connect with and rely on, over time. They want someone they can trust and build a relationship with. 

3. Put your work out there.

Here’s where things get sticky. There is no one-size-fits-all way to get your work out there, and there is no ready made audience waiting to receive your work. You can exhibit in galleries, go to art fairs, blog, use social media (so many options there!), join local or online groups, have a newsletter, etsy shop, enter contests… Shall I go on? I probably don’t even know all of the ways to get art out into the world. 

You have to choose the right venue to share your work, or you won’t connect in the right way for you. So before you decide how to put your art out there, answer these three questions. I’ll use myself as an example in the answers, so you can see what I mean. 

What do you want to become “known” for?

I want to be known for create simple, compelling work that evokes a pause in the viewer. I want both my imagery and my words to connect with others and bring something positive into their life.

Who do you want to become “known” by?

I want to be known by two groups: People who want a piece of my art in their life and this homes, and people who want to learn how to create similar art. These groups may have some overlap, but they are not fully the same.

Why do you want to become “known?”

I want to become known because it helps me achieve my goal of connecting with others through my art. It helps me to fill my classes, it helps me to reach more people with a message that creativity is beneficial in everyone’s life, it helps me find other kindred spirits in this wide world. 

This last question, if you haven’t already guessed, is really the biggest one of all. It should probably come first, but we aren’t always ready to examine our motivations when we start something. It’s only later, when we’ve discovered some confidence in ourselves and our work, that we can ask and honestly answer whether we are working from internal motivations or looking for external validation.

Because the thing about wanting to become “known” is that you can get tricked into using numbers of followers, or sales, or exhibition acceptances, or contest wins, as an external proxy for confidence. We can use it to tell ourselves, “I am an artist, because all of these people believe I am an artist.” 

That’s a house of cards, because all it takes is one change — either to your art or an algorithm a social media platform uses to share your work or to the interests of your biggest patron — and your whole foundation crumbles. But if you know why you are putting your work out there, and you know who your audience is, you will find ways to reach them. 

It’s been a long road, filled with lots of experimentation, for me to finally discover what feel like the right venues to get my art out there. To discover the right connections and interactions, for me and my art. Yours will be different.

Where to start?

After all of this thought, the answer I gave my son stays the same: Keep creating your art, that’s the start. Everything springs from there. And while you are creating, start to share, experiment with methods, try things on for size. Ask yourself the three questions above. As your style develops, so will your understanding of how and why you want to connect around you art. Along the way, you might become “known” to a group of people. 

If the connections are genuine, based on a give and take of heartfelt expression, it doesn’t matter if that group is large or small. It will be the right one for you.

Thanks for being here, for reading my words, enjoying my art, and being part of my little pocket of being “known.” I appreciate the connection with you.

Developing your Wisdom

Wisdom is like marinade. First you take what a book said, or what a teacher said, and then you mix it with your own ideas. Then you add experience and pour in a few buckets of tears. Add memories of lost love, a pinch of personal humiliation and a teaspoon of deep regrets. Add to that a cup of courage. Leave it to soak for a few years and — voila — darn if you have not become wise.
— Marianne Williamson, author of A Year of Miracles 

 

At the end of every yoga class, when we are all relaxed and open after the final shavasana pose, my teacher reads a quote for contemplation. I love this moment, when I’m able to stop and listen long enough for a new idea to sink in. When I’m able to quietly contemplate it against my experience; see where it fits.

We need quiet moments of contemplation. We need time to think through ideas, and transform them into our own. We need time for our experiences and lessons to soak in, to “marinade,” as Marianne Williamson says. 

Wisdom does not come through experience alone. Experience is an essential ingredient, but it also comes from the seeking of new ideas, and the contemplation of where they fit amongst the library of our experience. Those are the secret ingredients, nothing more is needed.

Experience + Ideas + Contemplation = Wisdom

Sounds easy right? Of course, it’s not. We get busy. We don’t have time for contemplation or energy to seek new ideas, two of the three essential ingredients. It’s easier to buy the ready-made wisdom, to let others tell us what to think, what to believe, how to live. It’s easier to go with conventional wisdom than to develop our own. 

Like anything else, the simplest recipes are often the best, and the hardest. 

Start with a simple quote for contemplation, like we do at the end of every yoga class. Let it sink in, see where it fits in your experience, how it might shift your perspective slightly. Journal or talk to someone else about it. Make it your own, file it away for future reference. 

It’s a simple beginning, but with this step, you are developing your wisdom. You should be able to follow your own path from there.

The Mess in the Middle

Last weekend, I taught “Advanced Blending Techniques,” the last in my workshop series on mobile photography, for the first time. The purpose of the course was to dive deep into blending modes, and how they can be used to create cool art from photographs, like this:

 
But I think what I might have really taught, to both my class and to myself, is how important the mess in the middle of the creative process is.  

One of my examples was a complete disaster. It stemmed from an idea I’ve used before with great success on a few pieces, combining a blurred background with another image using an Exclusion or Difference mode, but the outcome using recent Images was terrible:

 
What was I going to do with that? Nothing! So I laughed about it, moved on and told everyone it’s ok to make messes. That’s part of the process of creating. And while you may spend a lot of time getting seemingly no where toward a finished piece with your experimentation, you are learning things you will use later. This disastrous outcome influences what I do, or don’t do, when I sit down to work on the next photo.

The top image, Emerald Forest, is the eventual outcome of the mess I made in class. I didn’t use the mess in the final image, but it frustrated me enough that I experimented with other similar blends and found something I liked. The mess in the middle turned out to be a valuable step in the creative process.

As an instructor, I often have canned examples so I can show how things work. But if someone sees it work perfectly every time when I do it, and the theirs don’t, will they give up in frustration? Maybe. Some will, some won’t.

Maybe my job as an instructor is really to help people see not only what they can achieve with the techniques, but how important it is to make the mess in the middle. To try, and fail, and try again. To truly learn something, you’ve got to do it wrong a few times so you internalize what it takes to make it right. 

That’s the creative process. That’s where we become the artist we were meant to be. It’s not all finished pieces and accolades, it’s a journey of hard work and messes that no one ever sees.

Are you making messes right now? If not, you are sitting in your comfort zone. You aren’t learning anything new. It’s time to push yourself and make a few messes. Let me know how it goes. 

Transferring Files from Device to Computer (Mobile Tutorial)

It’s time for the next tutorial in the series on file management for your mobile devices. Last time I shared how to easily transfer files between mobile devices, like an iPhone and iPad. Today I’ll talk about getting images off of your device and on to your computer, as well as how to do a bulk delete of files on your device.

Corvallis Oregon Forest Hike Bald Hill Mobile iPhone Photograph Kat Sloma

First off, let’s talk about WHY you want to transfer your image files to your computer…

It’s easy to think of our mobile devices as small computers, and as such they can be our photo archive, but they aren’t. A mobile device can be easily lost or damaged beyond operation, and if you haven’t backed it up recently, everything you have is lost. Automatic online backup and storage services for mobile devices give you limited storage before you have to pay, and it can get expensive if you are generating a lot of image files.

Along with the loss/damage factor, mobile devices have limited data storage. Even as technology progresses and available storage on devices gets larger and cheaper, the file management tools are not great. Have you ever tried to find a specific image if you have thousands on your Camera Roll? Yeah, it’s very difficult. I’ve found that having thousands of images on your Camera Roll can cause apps to bog down and crash. It’s better to keep a limited number of images on your Camera Roll, and clean it off periodically.

A laptop or desktop computer has more tools for file management, archival and backup. My computer is where my permanent archive of image files resides, regardless of the device I used, dSLR, iPhone or iPad, to create the photo. I just need to get the files from the devices to the computer periodically, and then delete them from the device.


Direct Transfer between Device and Computer

Did you know, if you connect your iPhone or other mobile device into your computer, it shows up as an external drive? That makes it very easy to access the DCIM folders where images are located, and then copy them over to your computer.

1. Connect your device to the computer via USB.

2. Allow iTunes to complete its sync and backup routine if you have that set up to happen automatically when you connect your device. Once iTunes has completed the sync, eject the device from iTunes. DO NOT CONTINUE until you’ve ejected the device in iTunes or your device can hang up later in the process.

3. Navigate to the device folders and copy your photos. This is a little different depending on whether you are using a Windows PC or Mac.

For Windows, in an Explorer window, scroll down to find Computer on the left navigation bar. Find your device in the list below Computer, and then navigate the the DCIM folders.

Windows

On Apple devices, the folders containing images files are cryptically named, one level below DCIM. Since the folder names are not very helpful for finding the files of interest, you will need to open the folders to see what images are in each of them. Once you find the image you want to copy, select it by clicking on it. To select all in a folder, use Ctrl-A. Once you have your images selected, you can right click and select “Copy,” then navigate to the folder you want to copy them to, right click and select “Paste.” You can also drag and drop the selected files to the folder on your computer.

Windows2

All of the images will be copied to the new folder. Repeat this for all folders, until all of the images on the device have been copied to the computer. Note, you will not be able to MOVE files from an Apple device to a folder on your computer, only copy.

On a Mac, go to your Applications folder and open Image Capture app. In the devices column on the left, you will see your device. Select the files here to import.


Importing into Lightroom from Device

If you are using Lightroom or another photo organization software for your photo file management on your computer, then you can import photographs directly from your device into the software. This is how I typically copy files over from my device.

Similar to the procedure above, connect your device to the computer via USB and allow iTunes to complete backup and sync, then eject it before continuing.

In the Lightroom Import dialog box, select your device as the Source. Lightroom will identify the new photos on the device, and then you can select where you want them to import in your catalog structure and change any other settings. Once you have finished your selections, click Import.

LightroomImport_Sketch

The files will be imported into your catalog. Note that you can only copy the files from the device, you can’t move or delete them from the device along with import.

I’ve found that Lightroom will not import PNG files or videos, so you will have to copy those types of files to your hard drive using the direct method above.

After I get my images into Lightroom, I flag the final image files and add the titles as keywords so I can quickly find them later. Since I do all of my printing from Lightroom, I also created virtual copies which are adjusted for printing.


Deleting Image Files from your Device

Once you have your image files transferred to your computer hard drive (which has an automatic back up in place, right?), you can delete them from your device.

On Apple devices there is no quick and easy way to do a bulk delete of images from your Camera Roll. All of the methods involve selecting each image and then deleting, which is not an efficient method when you might have hundreds or thousands of image files to delete.

You can use the direct connection to the computer for a bulk delete as well. The same way you navigate to the directories to select and copy files to the computer, you can select and delete files from the device.

On Windows, to do a bulk delete, navigate to the folder under DCIM which has the old files you want to delete. Ctrl-A to select all, then right click and select Delete.

windows-delete

If you get an error that the device is disconnected or a file type cannot be deleted, you may have a file in the folder that the device will not allow Windows to delete. If that happens, unselect file types that are not image files, and then try again to delete.

On a Mac, go to your Applications folder and open Image Capture app. In the devices column on the left, you will see your device. Select the files here individually or using Cmd-A to select all, and then Delete.

Mac

Note, you will not be able to delete the folders below DCIM once they are cleared out. These are managed by your device. The next time you connect your device to the computer, you will see empty folders have been removed.


Regular Maintenance

Now you know how to quickly move your image files to a computer for long-term archive and backup, and clean up your Camera Roll by doing a bulk delete.

You’ll want to figure out a regular maintenance schedule for doing this. I copy the image files off of my devices to my computer at least once or twice per month, sometimes more depending on what I have going on, and delete images off of my Camera Roll every couple of months. This keeps things working well on my device, I can find and print the files I want, and I know they are safely archived and backed up.

You might notice that when you delete images off of your Camera Roll, they disappear from your albums too. What do you do if you want some image files permanently on your device, for things like sharing your portfolio or textures you commonly use for editing? I’ll share how to create permanent folders on your device in the next File Management Mobile Tutorial. Stay tuned!

Ask for what you want

Have you ever ended up in a situation where things didn’t turn out the way you had hoped? What did you do? Did you roll with it or try to make changes?

Sometimes there is nothing you can do to influence outcomes, but more often than you might realize, you have a say in the direction things take. All it takes is asking for what you want.

 

I’ll give you an example of how it works…

Recently at my corporate job there was a situation that was causing me a lot of frustration. Some of you might remember I moved to a new position about a year ago, and things with my responsibilities did not play out the way I had expected. One part of the job I wasn’t thrilled about, which was supposed to be a very small part, ended up being a very large part. After months of managing this and thinking it would get better, I finally came to the realization it wouldn’t. This work needed to be done and it wasn’t going away.

So, I started to take a hard look at what I wanted to do about the situation. Once I had my self clear on how I would like to see it play out, I talked to my manager about moving these responsibilities out of my job. He acknowledged the situation, and very quickly came up with a solution to transfer those responsibilities elsewhere in his organization. There is now light at the end of the tunnel for me to have the job I had hoped for. 

Would this have happened if I had not asked? Maybe, but certainly not on the schedule its on right now. This is not the only time I’ve influenced the direction of my corporate career by asking for what I want. It’s worked in my personal life and relationships too.

I’ve discovered that asking for what I want is a powerful tool. That’s not to say it’s easy though! Any time you need to ask for something, it means you are in a situation where you can’t fully control the outcome. You need help from the person you are asking. So how can you approach it? I have a few tips based on what’s worked for me…

  • Know what you want. Before you can have a conversation with any one else, you have to be clear on what you want, and why. Spend some time to define the current situation, and then your ideal situation. Spend time to understand why your current situation is not working for you. Make sure your desires are coming from the right place; that you are not reacting from an emotional place. If you ask for a change in your situation, but what you really want is a change in someone else’s behavior, that’s not necessarily going to work. 
  • Ask respectfully. It never helps to start this kind of conversation with demands. It will push the other person into a corner where they have to defend, which is not likely to help you change. What you want is to bring them along with you, so that you are working together to find a solution. 
  • Make suggestions. Along the lines of working together to find a solution, making suggestions on how to make what you want happen, especially if they consider the needs of the person you are asking, will go a long way to helping you get the answer you are hoping for. 
  • Know what you are willing to accept. Once you get up the nerve to ask, you have to acknowledge there are a range of possible outcomes. Think about where you are flexible and where you are not. Often, in the work to get clear, you will discover firm boundaries that you no longer are willing to pass. Consider the possible answers to your request, and how you will respond to them.
  • Listen. Once you have opened the door to the topic and started the conversation, you need to realize that it’s now a two-way street. As much as you want to be heard, you need to listen to the other party too. Understand their needs and pain points, and you will better be able to address them and create a win-win situation.
  • Realize change doesn’t happen immediately. Sometimes ideas need to sink in for people. So maybe you bring up your request the first time, then let it rest and sink in, then bring it up again days or weeks later. Know who you are talking to and how quickly they might respond. 

My change happened so quickly in part because my manager and I had been talking for months about how to limit these responsibilities, so my request didn’t come out of the blue. But it was the first time I fully asked for what I wanted, to have the responsibilities moved to someone else, so I could focus on the aspects of the job I truly wanted. It was also the first time I had considered that I might not be able to move them out if my job, and how I would respond. That clarity was important too.

The outcome reminded me, once again, of how powerful simply asking for what you want can be. 

Have you ever used a similar strategy to effect change in you life? Share your experiences and tips with us here.