In a Cloud of Social Media, a Silver Lining

©Nick Hall Photography

©Nick Hall Photography

Like many photographers, designers and artists these days, I've spent a fair (trans.: insane) amount of time and energy trying to make heads or tails of how best to utilize social media – especially where promoting my craft is concerned. In fact, I'd sort of gotten into the habit of thinking of these tools only in terms of how they could be used for business and marketing, when recently I was struck by a most wonderful and unforeseen byproduct of my narrow-minded efforts.

A few weeks ago, I began following award-winning adventure travel photographer, Nick Hall, on Twitter. Not long after, I received a message from Nick asking if it would be possible to purchase a print of one of the images featured on this very blog.

Now, it's not every day that I'm approached by super-talented photographers asking to buy my work, so naturally, my first reaction was to re-read the message to make sure it was intended for me. But after confirming that it was indeed properly addressed, I found myself in the curious predicament of having to quote a price on one of my own prints for a fellow professional. (...and I thought bidding on commercial jobs tough!) Nick must have sensed my dread, because even as I crafted my reply, he let me off the hook with the exact same propostion I was about to make: a swap...of course!

As we firmed up the details with a few back-and-forth messages, it was as if a light came on for the first time. Why hadn't this idea occurred to me before? I hadn't even considered it. I asked Nick if he'd done this sort of thing with other photographers and he said he hadn't. Nevertheless, we were both excited about our exchange and agreed that this would be a really fun way to build a photography collection. In addition, we thought it might be a good idea to tyr to spread the word and encourage others in the community to follow suit, provided they were open to it. Perhaps the best thing to come of this though – better than the flattering thrill of having one's work appreciated, better even than becoming the proud owner of a Nick Hall original, was the experience of connecting with a fellow photographer on the basis of nothing other than mutual admiration.

In this age of tight budgets, in a hyper-competitive industry that's busting with talent and being re-defined daily by technology and shifting markets, this experience has been a real breath of fresh air and welcome reminder of the joy that comes from the simple act of creating something and sharing it. So, thanks again Nick!

As for the rest of you – do yourself a favor and reach out to someone whose work you admire and spread the love...you'll be glad you did.

November Spawned A Monster

 

I know, I know...enough already with the leaves! It's just the shapes and lines and colors are
so amazing and before we know it, it'll seem like forever since we've seen any leaves at all.

These are a few dried up Japanese maple leaves that I'd been passing by for a few days in
a row in my comings and goings until finally I couldn't take it anymore. They were practically begging to be shot.

jmap.6_800x533

Real Body Bootcamp

Over the summer I was so busy shooting and working on the new website that I barely had time to edit. As I result, I've amassed a hefty reserve of images that I've yet to share. Some of them I've added to my portfolio/website, and yes, some of them I've shared with friends, family and subjects, so if you've already seen them, please bear with me. My disclaimer is that part of my motivation here is to populate this new theme with images. But for the most part, I'm guessing that many of these shots will be new to anyone visiting the blog. This is just the first in what I hope will be a good long run of posts featuring images from shoots that date back quite a ways. These are excerpts from a shoot I did for Real Body Bootcamp.

RBB_800x533

A+J

I came across this image while trolling through the archives from the summer.This is a perfect example of a shot that I dismissed straightaway due to the lens flare – an effect that's nice when it's controlled, but can ruin a great shot otherwise. Yet, technical shortcomings aside, I really like the feel and I think the moment that was captured makes it work for me. What do you think?

a+j_800x533

New Site Added to APF Sample Page

I just got word that my new website, courtesy of APhotoFolio.com, has been added to their roster of featured example sites for Design 2, Manhattan. You can see for yourself here. There are lots of other amazingly talented photographers featured as well. So many in fact, that if I were an art buyer or photo editor looking for new talent, I would consider it time well spent just browsing the screen grabs on the  APF site.

boards_800x533

My Own Theory of Relativity

About two years ago, I wrote the following post on a now defunct blog I created called Mnemonic Maze. The post was originally titled "Working in a Vacuum Sucks" which was pretty much how I felt at the time. I've since been able to embrace the fact that I'm not going to get anywhere with my work if I don't enlist the help of some good folks to collaborate with and lean on along the way. In hindsight, I see clearly how limited I was by my fear when it came to asking for help. It's pretty textbook stuff, but having a record in the form of this old post serves as a good reminder of how important that's been in taking my work to the next level. It also shows me that I'm making progress, however slowly. So here it is...a snapshot of me in 2008. "Working in a Vacuum Sucks"

I'm my own worst photo editor. Here's why:

I've often asked myself what my objectives are with photography. Why do I shoot? Why do I choose to take the photos that I take – to subject myself to what often feels like an exercise in futility?

I ask myself these questions sometimes because I think they're important and, if considered carefully, will help me get to where I want to be with my craft, but sometimes, I just ask them out of frustration. This is one of those times.

I'm sure everyone who dedicates any significant amount of time to a creative pursuit (or any pursuit for that matter) asks the same questions. For me, although the answers change from time to time, as I try to look objectively at my own images, some constants are beginning to emerge...or at least let's say, there are some recurring themes.

For example, I notice the following strains running through my work:

Sometimes, I'm photographing the light on a subject. The resulting images are more "studies" than they are photographs. Nonetheless, they seem to have an intrinsic value that, even if only academic, makes them special. But does that mean they're worth showing? I don't know. I'd say it depends. On what? I don't know. Depends.

Then there are images that have a certain appeal because they capture a sense of what I would call "irony," for lack of a better word. It may not be overt, but rather on some subtle level – and this is where my voice, or my ideas begin to become apparent in the work. There's a concept there, and that's exciting to me. It feels like an accomplishment to be able to pull that off in a largely mechanized medium. Of course that assumes that the viewer gets it. But does the viewer get it? Again, I don't know. Depends.

By nature, a lot of these images are not singularly great photographs either. They tend to rely heavily on the larger body of work of which they are a part, or at the very least on another image, which makes them somehow compromised, i.e. not strong, i.e. not good enough. Says who? My internal critic, for one.

I struggle with this segment of my work because I never know what to do with these pictures. Do I abandon them, or do I stick with it and continue to make these images that are basically just part of an ongoing art project that may or may never take shape? The scope of the larger concept is the thing. The individual images are like pieces of a patchwork quilt. Little pieces of a larger truth. Or at least that's the idea. We'll see.

A Dog Named Sonny

We came across this guy at the tail end of an awesome cookout/hike last weekend. The post title pretty much covers it, but if I could add anything it would go something like this: If you think this dog was enthusiastic about drying off, you should've seen him gettin' after a tennis ball in six feet of water. Amazing.

sonny_800x533

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!

Alas, the new and much improved danielgerdes.com is officially live, which, if you found this blog, you already knew. Nevertheless, it seems only appropriate to kick off my first post with a heartfelt "thank you" to Rob, Jeff and Charlie over at APhotoFolio.com for all of their patience and timely support in getting things up and running.

I'll likely be making minor tweaks and subtle design changes to both the website and this blog over the coming weeks, but for the most part, they're finished – except for the steady stream of fresh images I hope to be adding, now that I've got time to shoot again!

I hope you enjoy the work and continue to check in...or better yet, if you'd like to receive regular updates with each new post, just click the 'subscribe' button in the upper right corner. Spread the word if you feel so inclined and feel free to share any feedback or suggestions! I'd love to hear from you.

grab5_800x533