Beauty in Repetition

As I photographed these flowers on my hike the other morning, I realized how much nature repeats itself. Just look at this field of flowers… Not one, not two, but flowers over and over again.

Field Flowers Corvallis Oregon Bald Hill Kat Sloma Mobile Photography

A field of flowers, repeated. Every year, at the same time. Every morning, the sun comes up again, repeating the cycle of night and day. It’s predictable, but always just a little bit different, and always beautiful.

So why do I, so much of the time, feel like I shouldn’t be repeating myself? The themes I write about, the subjects I photograph. There are times I think I should vary them more. That I’m not creative if it’s not entirely new every time.

But look at nature, it repeats. We rely on it.

It made me stop and realize: It’s a beautiful thing, when you repeat. If we did not repeat ourselves as artists, how would we find a voice and a style? If we did not revisit the same themes that inspire us, varying things a little bit every time, could we build a body of work that is cohesive? I’m not sure we could.

After spending the weekend at the art fair with my winter trees, I’ve started to create new work with summer trees. They are similar, yet different. I’m repeating myself, yet I’m not. It all works together.

Beauty in repetition. If nature can do it, so can I.

Tomorrow is the Photo-Heart Connection! Won’t you join us in finding your photograph with the strongest heart connection in July?

Fuel your Creativity for Free

Can you imagine a world without creativity? Imagine a world without vibrant color, without fusions of flavors, without words that move us, without music that invites us to dance. The world would be flat, dull and lifeless. I can’t imagine it.

Can you imagine a life without creativity? Imagine a life filled with errands, appointments, bills and frustrations. Unfortunately, all too many of us can imagine this life. We get swept up into the flow of everyday urgency and don’t make time for ourselves, much less our creativity.

That just won’t do.

Over the last few years I’ve learned something important about myself: I need creativity in my life. Creating brings me back to center, and allows me to connect to my core and remember who I am. Creating pushes me to keep moving; to see the world in new ways. And creating enables me to connect with others too, when I share the result and spark a response.

Kat Sloma Photography Summer Tree Leaves

Good for the Soul

I think we all need creativity in our lives, but sometimes we lack the energy. We lack the spark to get us moving. We forget how simple a creative practice can be. We think we need hours of time to take a class, or create a finished work, or it’s just not work the effort.

But creativity doesn’t require all of the overhead we place on it. Creativity happens in small chunks of time, when you’ve created openness in thought. It flows when you’ve nourished yourself with rich material; when you’ve tossed lots of ideas into the mix and let them stew. Creativity happens when you have fuel.

Right now, the Fuel Your Creativity eCourse is free to anyone who wants to take it. This one-week prompt class has short, daily exercises to open you up to creativity in your life. It’s intended to help you see how simple and easy a creative practice can be. I would love to have you join me, and invite your friends to come along.

We don’t want to live in a world without creativity, now do we? It’s time to contribute yours.

The Salem Art Fair Report

After months of planning and preparation, my first art fair has finally come and gone! The Salem Art Fair & Festival was a whirlwind over three days of talking with people, meeting other artists and sharing my art. It was melting hot at times, hard work in set up and take down, and long hours on my feet.

And it was So. Much. Fun.

Photo Courtesy John Ritchie

Photo Courtesy John Ritchie

If you ever want to feel good about your artwork, do an art fair. I heard the words “pretty,” “gorgeous” and “beautiful” more times than I could count. I got a new word to add to my description list, too: Ensorcelled. I really love that word as a description! I’m going to keep it, along with the phrase “layered, nuanced and hauntingly beautiful” used in the Statesman-Journal article. I heard how unique it was; how unlike anything they had seen before.

One woman told me she had chills, as she looked through my work. Another woman, with her husband and son dashing ahead, stopped in her tracks at the edge of my booth and just took a deep breath. She discovered she was left behind and smiled at me slyly, “They don’t know what they are missing.”

It was interesting to watch the people who resonated with my work. They might be in a busy conversation, but they would see something that caught their eye, and were reeled in, as if by an imaginary force. They would come in the booth and carefully look at each image, very quiet. It was if my booth was an island of calm in the crazy world just beyond.

Which, if you’ve ever read my artist statement, is exactly what I am hoping to achieve. To see that reaction physically play out in so many people was incredible. To have my work going home with some of them, knowing they would enjoy it for a long time to come, was even better.

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Along with sharing my art with the public, I got to meet some really wonderful artists. There was a breakfast every day for the artists, and I learned the protocol. Whoever you talked to at breakfast, you went by and visited their booth later in the day. It was a fun way to get to know artists in other mediums.

And then there were my neighbors! With three long days at the fair, you end up chatting with the artists around you a lot. On one side was Jennifer Mannila of Jenny M Studios, who made whimsical yet functional ceramics. On the other side was Nate and Mandie Fleming, the other Emerging Artists for this year. They make very cool art, furniture and lamps from recycled materials. Check them out at Velorossa Design.

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I wish I had more pictures to share of all of the great artwork I saw! I barely had time to scratch the surface of the artists there. I’m going to have to do some artist profiles in the near future, because I met some artists creating amazing work.

And then… 5pm Sunday came along, and the magic ended. It was time for the tent city to come down. Two hours later, the booth was dismantled and packed up in a pile.

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Which, miraculously, all fits into my Jetta Sportwagon! (OK, so for those of you who know me, it was not miraculous. It was meticulously planned and measured in advance. But it barely fit, and I was very worried when I packed it up the first time.)

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After three long days on my feet, in the hot sun, barely eating, driving 45 miles each way, setting up and taking down a booth on my own, you would think that at the end I would have been exhausted, barely dragging myself home. But I wasn’t. I was buoyant.

You see, when you do something you really and truly love, you get energy, you don’t lose it. I left the fair feeling great. Sure, I was physically tired, but I cannot begin to describe how exciting the whole week was, from the newspaper article to the OPB interview and the whole art fair experience. Getting my art into the world, connecting with people through it, is something I love to do.

Next time I go to a fair, I will probably be doing what the other artists do: Comparing my sales or the weather or the crowd to the previous fair or the previous year. Looking to see who I know; who got in and who didn’t.

But this time, I had no idea what it would be like. I got to go in and enjoy the whole thing, start to finish, without expectations. I will never have another “first” art fair, I will never be the Emerging Artist again.

I have emerged. And I’m planning to hang around for a while.

My Brush with Fame

What a crazy week! I am slowly coming back down from the high of the art fair (more on that later this week) and the wave of publicity that came my way last week. I now have a tiny taste of what happens when something “goes viral.” It’s fun, exciting and more than a little disconcerting.

First, let’s tell the internet story…

The Salem Statesman-Journal article that ran a little over a week ago struck a chord with the media. The idea of a photographer choosing an iPhone over a dSLR seemed to pique their interest. The same day, it was picked up by a couple of other sites, most notably Business Insider. It seems they take the quotes and the gist of the story from the original article and publish as a new article, using photographs I’ve posted online. They never talked to me.

From Business Insider, the story proliferated, rewritten and repackaged on other sites all over the world. It was weird seeing my photographs accompanied by French, Russian and other languages. It was even posted on Yahoo News a couple of days later. My website has never seen so much traffic!

And then, there’s the radio story…

Stemming from the same Statesman-Journal article, a producer from Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Think Out Loud radio show contacted me. Think Out Loud is a lunch hour, Monday through Friday radio show on current events in the OPB listening area (all of Oregon and SW Washington). She was interested in my transition from the dSLR to iPhone as well. We talked a little bit on the phone on Wednesday, and she said it would be a Thursday segment if it was chosen. She’d know by the end of the day.

A couple of hours later she called and said they’d like to do the segment, and could I come up to the studio in Portland? This would be in the middle of setting up for the fair, but I was already halfway to Portland (45 miles), so I could drive up from Salem, do the interview, then drive back to finish my booth set up. It would make for a crazy day, but how do you say no to that? You don’t.

Photo Courtesy Aleida Fernandez

Photo Courtesy Aleida Fernandez

So, sweaty from setting up, I drove up to the OPB station, and sat in the green room waiting for my segment, trying very hard not to think about what I was about to do. Live radio. After thirty minutes or so, I was whisked into the booth, shook hands with host David Miller, put on my headset and the interview began. It was over before I knew it. A quick photograph in the booth, and I was back on the highway, heading to the fair to finish set up, souvenir Think Out Loud mug in hand.

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You can listen to the segment here. I haven’t listened to it yet, I just can’t. I keep thinking of better answers to the questions, things I wish I would have said. But I heard lots of nice things about it from other people, so I’m going to believe their compliments and leave it at that.

And the rest of the story…

Because of the internet articles, I was contacted by others who saw my work and had interest in connecting with me for future projects, so there could be some longer term ripples coming out of my little media storm.

And in the shorter term, all of the publicity certainly helped at the art fair. Many people came by my booth specifically because of the newspaper article or the OPB interview. I don’t really want to be gimmicky and have people interested in my work because of the device I use, but half the battle is just getting people to SEE my work and this helped. They will either resonate with it or they won’t, once it’s in front of them. Judging from the response, many people resonate with it.

My viral experience felt big to me, but it was really tiny in the grand scheme. It was a case of the sniffles, not a full-on flu. But it showed me how small things can snowball very quickly into bigger things on the internet, and you just hang on for the wild ride. The experience opened my eyes to a number of things…

I realized that no one needs to talk to you to post an article about you; you don’t really have any say.

I found out that your photographs can be pulled and posted anywhere, so make sure they are watermarked. When you put your work out on the internet, you are giving implicit permission.

I discovered that random people can be mean in their comments, or I take them too personally, so I stopped reading them. I don’t need more negative input, I generate enough of that in my head on my own, thank you very much.

I also discovered that many of the people who work in the media world are really cool. Tom Rastrelli of the Statesman-Journal and Aleida Fernandez from OPB were both awesome. It’s fun to talk to people who are interested in what you do and want to see you succeed. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunities they provided.

Finally, I learned that once in a while, if you are working hard and putting your art out there, it gets noticed. Be ready to take advantage of it.

T Minus Three

It’s three days to my first art fair, the Salem Art Fair & Festival, this weekend on July 18-20. The art is printed, signed, matted and framed. The boxes are inventoried and packed. The checklist sits, ready to be checked off as I load the car. There are a few last things to finish up, but not many.

In three days, I will have done all I can. Then comes the test… My art, in front of the public, with a big “For Sale” sign on it. I’m excited, and I’m terrified.


This whole art fair business has been way more work than I anticipated. Putting together 12 framed pieces for a show is one thing. Filling a whole 10 ft x10 ft booth with your artwork is quite another. Isn’t that the way of most big projects, though? The vision at the end seems so clear, it’s the work to get there that isn’t fully envisioned. You start, with all of the enthusiasm of a novice, and realize what you took on somewhere along the way.

But it’s done. I’m ready.

And I very, very much hope to see you there.

The Salem Statesman-Journal newspaper did a very nice feature article on me as part of a series leading up to the fair. You can read it here. Check out the other articles in the series, too. They are all very interesting!