Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pictures of Farm Animals...

... in places other than farms.... Just photographic musings from uptown Charlotte (!) and the Carolina Renaissance Festival petting zoo...

This bull was actually very people friendly, which was a good thing because he was in a temporary pen outside the Levine Museum of the New South as part of one of their openings. He seemed to enjoy having his head scratched and being petted.

Of course I like this picture because it seems to go quite nicely with "Future Vegetarian" which I posted some time earlier...

These guys were at the petting pens at the Carolina Renaissance Festival. I had taken my camera equipped with only my Lensbaby to see what I could accomplish.

It is difficult enough to focus a Lensbaby correctly, but when your "models" are only interested in food... well...

Sunday, November 2, 2008


I spent this weekend shooting at CarnEvil...

I was not entirely happy with the images I got on Friday night. I was trying a different way of shooting (read: I used my flash... and I was wearing fairy wings AND traipsing about with my tripod... I did feel like a bull in a china shop). Anyway, I did manage to get some decent shots.

I felt MUCH better about the images I shot on Saturday. More of the way I'm used to shooting --- and that gave me the confidence to look back at the Friday images with less self-criticism. It was cold and smoky and loud, but the guy checking ID's at the front door seemed genuinely shocked at my age (I thank you!) and I ended up stretching my photo muscles.

If you'd like to take at look at what I got, go to http://www.jawileyphotography.smugmug.com/ and take a look...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I Survived My First Solo Show!

I survived my first solo gallery opening this past Friday night!
It was touch & go there for a while... I felt quite insane all last week. Not at all like an inspired artist getting ready to tell the world what's on her mind.
I even went as far as to shoot two new images the morning of the opening! (I already had 2 portraits of Venetian masks and I wanted to fill up a tall, slim blank wall... so I shot 2 more of the masks I had at home...)
I was nervous because this was all my work. No one else to fall back on. If people didn't like it, there wasn't anything else in the gallery for them to look at. Plus, 3 people from the Light Factory (one of 4 museums in the country that is devoted solely to the promotion of photography and filmmaking as art) came to the opening... The director even bought one of my prints.
Not too shabby.
The nice thing is now I'm really ready to start shooting new projects. I think the exercise of doing the show without a backup helped me focus. I know more things I want to say with my images...
So the day after the show, I went to my friend Austin's annual Shrimp Boil. I got to see my cousin and her (painter) artist husband who was just back from visiting his father abroad. I told him about my almost meltdown and he just laughed... He told me "I've seen worse situations." He used to own a gallery himself and told me about the artist who had an opening one Friday night and as of that afternoon had not hung a single piece of work. The artist told him that she was not going to have anything to hang, but he talked to her and by that evening, she had the show hung. That did make me feel better.
Note to self: Procrastination bad... Preparation good. And don't listen to the naysayer voice in your own head who keeps trying to talk you out of taking the leap of faith.
Did any of that make sense?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Decisions, Decisions...

Future Vegetarian

It's coming down to the wire now...

Frank & I are hanging my new show "Sojourn in Venice" next week (on Wednesday) and I'm having trouble deciding exactly which images to print at which sizes... you know, so that the show will tell a cohesive story.

It's my first solo show and there are worse problems I could have --- But I've been blessed with a gallery and gallery owner that likes my work and gives me the freedom to try new & different things. The world is my oyster here and I guess it's a little scary.

Okay... time to jump and start hitting the print button... Andiamo, babies!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lessons Learned...

I did my first outdoor festival this past weekend and I'm still "recovering" from the experience. All in all, it was fun and enlightening --- I got to meet some cool people, I discovered that I have more stamina for standing around 8 hours a day than I imagined, I added quite a few people to my gallery guestbook, etc.
What remains to be seen is whether or not this was a financially smart move. I did not sell enough of my work to cover the cost of the space rental... but from what I understand, not many people did. While I was riding the shuttle van back to my car one day, one of the other vendors remarked that no one was really selling anything and that was pretty much the story in the entire area --- people balked at paying over $5 for any sort of art. Paying $10 for a burger was not an issue, but art... that's another story.
A tinge of bitterness in my voice? Maybe a little... but I guess it's just a different mindset... a difference in what is important to different people. Or quite possibly, the outdoor art fair is simply not the place to try to sell art. Maybe it's a marketing tool.
Hopefully I'll have a good turnout for my gallerry show on october 3rd...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Lensbaby Luv...

It's difficult enough getting pictures of my cat when she's not in the mood to be my model... That's why I'm particularly fond of this image.
I'm still learning to use my LensBaby 3G. I still feel like I'm all thumbs and when I do manage to get a shot of her, it's usually of the back of her head.
But when I look at this image, I realize that I can actually accomplish something that I like. More experiements to come...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

They Shoot Bellydancers - Part Deux...

Bellydance shows are usually exciting... The costumes, the choreography, the festive atmosphere... And since I also dance with many of the people that I photograph, I get the privilege sometimes of knowing when things go wrong and witnessing the "save." Sometimes, things go wrong that are completely outside the dancers' control... Saturday, August 16th, 2008 was just such an evening.

Asali put on Evening in the Orient 2 in Dallas, NC to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation. She had a great space in Myers Auditorium at Gaston College and a fantastic lineup of area dancers and her own students.

Naima was performing her solo early in the second half of the show when the fire alarm went off. She kept dancing, but also kept looking toward the wings to see what was going on. She finished abruptly but gracefully and then Asali came out and informed the audience that we had to evacuate.

All the dancers grabbed their things from the dressing room and headed outside. A couple of the dancers helped me schlep my portrait gear outside as well (hey... at least I had gotten everything packed up during intermission!) Everyone was quite upset because there were still quite a few dancers who had not performed.

Then two fire trucks arrived. One of the dancers remarked

"Please let you guys be HOT!"

The guys got out of the trucks and rushed into the building. Lots of activity. No smoke. The word that they were trying to reset the alarm so we could go back inside started filtering through. Everyone started relaxing.

Five minutes passed. Still no smoke. The official word was that as soon as the fire department reset the alarm, we could continue the show.

Then five more fire trucks arrived.

No smoke... just fun photo ops.

Monday, June 9, 2008

They Shoot Bellydancers, Don't They?

I photograph a lot of bellydancers. A lot of bellydancers. I was checking my Adobe Bridge folders the other day and the subfolders of the dancer shoots are on the verge of getting out of control… in a good way.

I think part of the reason I photograph so many dancers is that I’m one myself. I’m there with them in class, so there’s really no middleman in terms of referrals. The owners of the studio where I dance are very supportive and help host photo events for me to document the dancers. Plus the women are comfortable with me. It’s not just the potential creepy vibe they avoid… I’m a woman and I am dealing with the same body issues and hang-ups they are dealing with.
But what I really love about photographing bellydancers is this… It’s the virtually the same script every time:

1. They come in and start making excuses… “I really should have waited until I lost 5 more pounds” or “This is going to be tough for you… I’m not at all photogenic”, … You get the idea.
2. I start snapping away, giving them tips & suggestions… sometimes if they’re really nervous, I’ll hand them their favorite prop --- a veil, a flower for their hair --- or sometimes I just make the suggestion that I’m going to start reciting dirty limericks… Anything to get them out of their head for just a moment.
3. And this is where the beauty of digital comes in… I turn the camera around and give them a preview of what I had just captured. There’s a pause and sometimes a slight look of shock and then the remark that makes it all worthwhile: “That’s me?” “Yes gorgeous, that’s you.”

It’s an honor when you get to see a woman realize her own beauty… and I love being a part of that.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Adventures in Plastic Cameras

This is one of the first efforts I've shot with my Lomo Fisheye camera.
It's a little plastic camera that uses film. Not as much instant gratification as I can get with my digital SLR, but film makes me happy.
There are a few other images posted on my fine art site at: http://www.jawileyphotography.com/Portfolio.cfm?nK=5113&nS=14

Friday, May 23, 2008

My Recent Adventure in New York City...

...or Why You Shouldn't Cop an Attitude Post-9-11.

I recently attended Surtex in New York City. It's the conference/convention for artists to license their work to manufacturers. I've been wanting to attend for a couple of years but could not because I was at the station.
The conference was good. I learned a lot. It was the plane ride leaving JFK that was exciting... Here's the account:

My flight was supposed to leave JFK at 3:59pm on Tuesday afternoon. After we were all buckled into our seats on the plane, the pilot came on & said that Charlotte Douglas was closed for the bad weather. No flights were taking off or landing... and no flights that were scheduled to arrive in Charlotte were being given clearance to take off. That included us. So we sat there and waited. They pushed us back from the gate after about an hour to let another plane come in. We waited some more.

After 2 hours, we were allowed to head back to the gate (like, 50 feet away at that point) so we could go to the bathroom, get something to eat... and in one woman's misguided choice, sit at the bar and get hammered (see where this is heading?).

So after another 1/2 hour, they told us we could get back on the plane. I've never seen people move so quickly & efficiently! So we're all back in our seats, buckled up and getting in one final cell phone update to loved ones before the flight attendants tell us to turn our phones off... which we all do (because even though we're crabby, we're good little passengers). Oh... all of us turned our phones off EXCEPT the chick (who, bless her heart, looked like a reject from VH-1's "Rock of Love2") who had gone to the bar & gotten hammered. The flight attendants were trying to get her to comply...until she dropped the F-bomb in their direction.

Things to keep in mind when considering dropping the F-bomb on a member of a flight crew:

1) They're human & they get pissed off too.
2) It doesn't matter whether or not you respect them, because if you don't pay attention to them & follow their instructions, they call the local police department and have your little fanny dragged off the plane & into the drunk tank where you'll face federal charges the next morning!

Yes. It was exciting indeed!

But all the excitement caused us to lose our slot in the take-off line so we were delayed another 45 minutes just to get back into queue. After all was said & done, we finally took off from JFK at 9:00pm. My butt has never been so numb from sitting in those little seats.

Keep in mind that this was the polar opposite of my flight up. I got to sit by a hot guy (!!!!!) who was a tennis pro (!!!!) at a swanky yacht club (!!!!) in the wealthy part of New York. Well, okay... I was probably old enough to be his mom, but he's the one who struck up the conversation with me. :)

So, that was my adventure. I'm glad to be back.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Finally Opening Up...

So this is my entry into the world of blogging... It's taken me long enough (gentle smile).

I've been writing down my thoughts, feelings, fears, etc. since November when i left my job at WBTV to start my own photography business. Scary thing... taking the jump out of the safety net, I mean. But I was stagnant... and I felt I was missing out on opportunities to further my photography by staying at the station.

So... enough of the old stuff. Maybe I'll delve into it briefly once in a while to exorcise the few remaining demons... then again, maybe they'll just fade away and I'll head straight on the path I'm meant to travel without so much as a look back.

Andiamo, Baby!