Focus on the Good

“Focus on what’s good,” is the motto of the principal of my son’s new school next year. Last night we went to a parent’s open house at the middle school for next year’s sixth graders. First off, it brought home that my son is getting older. Call me crazy, but tears welled up with my son heading into the world of lockers and changing classes. I’m not typically one to hang on to any stage of childhood, I love to watch my son grow, but ack. Middle school!

But I digress… I was very impressed with the enthusiasm and positive energy that came from the teachers and students of the school. A couple of times it was mentioned how the principal is the fourth one in four years, and how much they like him. It was mentioned that in a time of budget cuts and all kinds of financial craziness, the principal’s motto has been, “Focus on what’s good.” It’s clearly rubbed off. I don’t think you can fake the kind of positive, caring energy I saw in the school last night.

It is a good reminder of a truth I’ve learned time and time again: What we focus on, we get more of. As Christine Kane puts, “Energy flows where attention goes.” If we focus on the good, the positive, the healthy… we’ll align our actions and get more of that. If we focus on the bad, the negative, the damaging… we get more of that too.

As I was thinking about this today, I realized it’s really the underlying philosophy for my Find Your Eye classes. It’s amazing how we look at ourselves or our artistic work and can so easily see what we need to do better. Participants say, “I need to learn more of this” or “I should be trying that.” But what I think matters most, in our photography and in our lives, is to build on the things that are already going well and working for us. Somehow in life we got this idea that we need to be “well-rounded” people. Good and strong at everything. If you believe this, I have news for you. No one can be good at everything. Let me say that again:

No one can be good at everything.

Not me. Not you. We look at other people, compare ourselves and see our own short-comings. What we should do more of is looking at ourselves and seeing where we are strong. Take pride and confidence in those things, and build on them. We do that with your photography in Find Your Eye, but the concept goes well beyond art and into life.

I’m very pleased to have my son heading into a school with this philosophy. In the face of all sorts of challenges, it’s a great attitude and can change the whole environment. It will create great opportunities for conversations between he and I, and will help cement this truth for me as well.

“Focus on the good.” See what’s good in your life and in your art. Build on that.

Today’s image is another market/wheels image from San Francisco. There was a Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building the day I met my photo friends. I was a little early and made a great use of my time. I’m still working on this one, I’m not sure if the cropping is quite right. I love the soft light and the angle on the cart with the crates. I’ll focus on the good in the image as I continue to work with it.

Balancing on the Diagonal

I thought I’d continue my San Francisco Market/Wheels theme started yesterday and share another recent addition to the series. I love the diagonals in this one. The lines of the awning are in opposition to the lines of the light and shadow, creating nice movement within the frame. It’s fun to see those dynamic diagonals at play!

Since returning home from Arizona last week life has been really busy for me. There is a big issue I’m working on in my corporate job and much of my energy is focused on that. It’s interesting to observe what is going on in light of my quest for a peaceful, joyful balance. While I’m busy with work I don’t have as much time for other things, but I’m not pushing them. I’m going with the flow. It’s working out well so far.

I imagine it as standing on the apex of a seesaw. I am not completely still. I have to be continually moving fluidly to keep my balance. If I were completely still and perfectly balanced there at the peak, I would be in a precarious position. One big gust of wind would knock me off completely. But if I’m moving, adjusting as things come along, I can better respond to what comes my way and keep my balance.

So, right now I might be tilted a bit more than usual but I’m still finding myself in balance. I know I will even things out when this issue is resolved. My peaceful, joyful balance hasn’t disappeared even in the face of changing conditions, and that feels pretty darn good.

Continuing the Search

My Market/Wheels exhibition came down a week and a half ago, but my quest for Market/Wheels images is not over. This has become an ongoing project for me. It’s a way for me to find a thread of similarity in disparate places around the globe. We’re discussing “Seeking Differences, Finding Similarities” this week in A Sense of Place, and this project comes to mind.

This image from San Francisco is a great addition to the series. What a wonderful scene it was! The painted brick trying to hide the graffiti, the broom and dustpan and the haphazard signs all make this a “real life still life” with some serious place personality.

I found the urban environment of San Francisco a perfect place to get Market/Wheels images, since the markets are often rolled out onto the street every morning and rolled back into the store at night. Revisiting this image reminds me that market season is gearing up here in my agricultural valley and it’s time for me to get out and seek new Market/Wheels images near home.

Do you have an ongoing project you are working on? It’s fun to have something to seek, and oh so satisfying when you find a new image for the series!

You’re Invited

To an exhibition of my Market/Wheels series of photographs at The Arts Center in Corvallis, Oregon

The Arts Center Corrine Woodman Galleries
700 SW Madison Avenue
Corvallis, Oregon
Through May 3, 2012
Gallery Hours are 12-5pm Tuesday-Saturday

It was exciting to visit my exhibition yesterday! Ten prints from my Market/Wheels series are on display in a joint exhibition with another local photographer, Phil Coleman.

The Main Gallery of The Arts Center is showing “Extreme Clay” with works by Katie Swenson and Brad Mildrexler. Beautiful colors and textures! I hope you will stop by if you are in the area.

Brad Mildrexler

Katie Swenson

Market/Wheels: The Giveaway!

I wrap up my new Market/Wheels images today with a giveaway! This is my biggest giveaway yet and I’m excited to share it with you. Celebrating the new images in this series the last week has been great fun! It has reminded me that I learn from working with my images, regardless of whether they are newly captured or from my archive.

Today’s image was found in the back alleys of Venice, where I loved to wander. It is another reminder that the work of getting the market wares to the populace of Venice is quite great. First on water, then on wheels. And not just any route! If you’ve been to Venice you know there are a great number of bridges with steps, so the route for wheels must be carefully chosen. Who wouldn’t maximize the amount carried in one trip? This cart, stacked high with crates, is a perfect example.

Before launching into the giveaway information, I want to invite you to come visit me elsewhere today! I’m guest posting on Caryn Gillen‘s site, with a photographer’s view on Enjoying Food Memories. I’ve mentioned a bit about my journey with Intuitive Eating, and Caryn has been a fantastic guide. This work has really clicked for me, and I’m excited to share my thoughts on her site today. Good timing too – with all of the yummy market food that’s been showing up here in the last week!

The Giveaway

Let’s get to the details of the giveaway, shall we? I’ll be giving away matted print of choice from my RedBubble shop to the winner. The prints are 8x12in matted to 16x20in and they are beautiful! This image shows a couple of examples, which are now framed and hanging on the wall of my home:

Greeted Cards and Matted Prints from RedBubble

Are you excited? Cool! Since there is no such thing as a free lunch – I need something from you too. Here’s what you need to do to enter:

1. Visit my updated Market/Wheels Portfolio and look through all the images. (Click on any thumbnail in the portfolio and you can scroll through full-size images.)

2. Come back to this post and leave a comment telling me which are your favorite images and why. Choose one or two or three, the number doesn’t matter. I’m interested in your feedback on any number of images – but only in one comment/entry per person please!

3. Leave your comment by the end of the day on Monday, 13 February. I’ll randomly draw from the entries on Tuesday, 14 February and contact you for your selection and mailing address.

A little bonus for you too – RedBubble has a sale going on through 15 February. Use the code cards143 at checkout and get 10% off all Greeting Cards and Postcards. Yay! I’ll have the full Market/Wheels series added to the shop over the weekend, so it’s a great time to stock up.

How “Market/Wheels” Came About

I’ve gotten a few questions about the series and how I process it over the last week. To finish up today I thought I would share how this series evolved and the creative choices I’ve made throughout.

The first image in the series, Where Fiats Retire, was captured and processed in December 2010. I chose the processing to create a vintage feel. I wanted to highlight the classic Fiat and make the image more timeless. You can read about the processing in this post.

In February 2011, I found two more images which some common elements after a trip to Parma, Classic Italian Transport and Offerta, and the series was born. Follow the links to read about the discovery of the series and more about the processing. From that time on, I’ve looked for opportunities to add to the series. I also knew early on that there were more images in my archive, and I would need to go back some day to find them.

As this series evolved, I had to become clear about what is and is not included. Since I named it Market/Wheels, it had to have an element of both. For the “Market” piece, I require some obvious element related to a market, which could be permanent, temporary, food, other wares, crates or carts. For the “Wheels” piece, I require some obvious element of wheels – used by the vendor or customer and in some close interaction with the market. This seems obvious when you look at the series, but it wouldn’t be if I hadn’t made careful choices. There are a number of interesting images in my archive that almost make it, and I’ve chosen not to include them in order to remain true to the series.

Another decision to create a stronger series was to continue with the vintage processing that started in the early images. I liked how this processing created a timeless feel, and supports the premise that markets and wheels are a combination that cross time and culture. It helps to pull the series together, especially as I add new images from the US to those I’ve already captured in Europe.

There are more Market/Wheels photographs waiting for me in the future, I know it. I look forward to seeking out new images around the US to complement and build the connection to those from Europe. Of all of the personal photographic projects I’ve undertaken, this one is closest to my heart. This is the series that tells me we are all the same, regardless of where we live. It has helped me with my emotional transition between Italy and the US, and has helped me grow as an artist.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the Market/Wheels series over the last week! I’ve truly enjoyed the opportunity to share it with you.

Waiting for a Sale

Waiting, waiting, waiting. How much of our lives are spent waiting? What do we do with that time? Do we use it as a breather, an enjoyable respite in the day, or are we impatient? It’s so easy to view waiting as “in our way” to get to something else. What if we change our view? How would that affect our day?

Consider this gentleman, a flower vendor in Paris. Waiting for a sale. Here at the edge of the market, customers peruse his wares and he waits. What ultimate patience he must have, to sit quietly and watch. All day, every day. Let people decide, on their own time scale and terms, if they want to buy anything. There is something we can learn from this gentleman who seems to have mastered waiting.

This is definitely one of the more “busy” of my new Market/Wheels images. There is so much going on in this picture, between the flower booth, the bike and the background. But there is this island of calm, the vendor who waits, that draws me in.

Tomorrow I will share the last of my new Market/Wheels images, and turn the tables to you to get your opinions on which I should include in the exhibition. It will be fun to hear what you have to say, and I have a great giveaway to go along with it too! See you then.