Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Garden in Winter

Gardens prove to be a continuing source of inspiration even when most of the plant life is "not in bloom"...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Synchronized Conducting

I got to shoot the Lessons and Carols Service for my church again this year... One of the treats is seeing the father/daughter teamwork in conducting all of the choirs together. (The matriarch of this musical clan is busy playing the organ... just offscreen to the left)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Photo

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Importance of Play

The other day I was coming downstairs, totally engrossed in all my recent stresses. I’ve been worrying myself about things I don’t really have total control over --- so much so that I’ve had bizarre dreams of angry disco bees and black fire ants (I know fire ants are not black… they’re red… but work with me here… it was a dream).
And there it was --- a wistful request for attention.

My cat Daisy is pretty no nonsense. When she’s hungry, she does the stare. When she’s angry, she flips and slaps her tail. When she’s trying to lure you into your own demise, she offers her belly for a rub (makes it easier for her to nail your unsuspecting hand).
When she wants to play, she either sits by her favorite toy or she puts it someplace to let you know it’s time to engage with her. I mean really, how am I supposed to resist this face?

So we play. I “tease” her with the felt mouse. She keeps her claws sheathed. It’s all very civilized… and accompanied by the soundtrack of her purr.

Life will get in the way of living if you let it. Sometimes you need someone who doesn’t speak to jolt you out of the mindset of “I’m overwhelmed and I just don’t want to create until I get all my ducks in a row.”… (Incidentally, I’ve never really seen ducks line up in a row… they adopt more of a loose hangout).
My stresses are still present. But I think I’m better equipped to deal with them now that I’ve had a bit of playtime.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Taking Control

This week I've been working on, among other things, one of the 3 books I'm writing. It's a course-book based on my Intro to DSLR class that I teach at the Light Factory and it's designed to get people to take control of their digital cameras instead of shooting in Auto mode.

It's an interesting exercise --- going through my syllabus and seeing how the information flows best and trying to write everything down so that it makes sense. The dynamic is different when you don't have a student in front of you and you don't have their interaction to see if what you just laid out actually makes sense and helps them grasp the concepts.
A confused expression on a person's face speaks volumes and is, in my experience, one of the best forms of feedback a teacher has.

One of my photographic goals in life is to give as many people as possible the information they need to take control of their images... so they can show the world what they see instead of just accepting that whatever happens when they click the shutter is the actual truth.
Now it seems I have tasked myself with taking control of words, not just images. It's a little outside my comfort zone, but it feels good.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween... Flash Contest!

So I'm in the mood to hand out some treats... That means I've got a two-part flash contest for you!

The rules are this: Take a look at the image I've posted for this contest.

What do you see in this picture that is not really there?
The first person to message me the answer via my Facebook fan page will win a 6-note Floral Thank You gift card pack from my Portraits from a Moonlight Garden series.

But I'm not done!
Tell me a short story (150 words or less... and less can really be better here!) about the image. You've got until Midnight tonight (East coast time) to get your entry in. Whoever sends me the best story via my website Contact page wins a floral pendant from the Portraits from a Moonlight Garden series.
Please pay attention to the rules... They're simple, but you have to follow them to be entered in the contest and win!

Happy Halloween... Take 3

Got Gothic?

Happy Halloween... Take 2

Have you ever looked around and just thought about what exactly is growing close to you?

Happy Halloween... Take 1

The obligatory pumpkin shot... just in time for Halloween...
It only gets abstract from here...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Happy Monday

I'm still going through images from a recent jaunt out to Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens in Belmont, NC. People are incredulous when I mention that I like to shoot there all year long... "Is there anything worth shooting right now?"
Always! You just have to open your mind to the tiny, demure beauty that just is...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Photo for a Sunday Afternoon...

We, as humans, often attribute human characteristics to nature... Such as nature is cruel or mean or heartless. Sometimes it's inviting or seductive.

Nature is really none of those things. Nature just is.

These mushrooms sprang up in Freedom Park after a recent flood there. They weren't long for this world because, well... quite frankly, mushrooms are not really all that durable. But they did mark the event.

Sometimes I think that it would behoove me to follow nature's example of just being. But as a photographer, that's not my nature. My nature is to capture fleeting moments of life and archive them so we don't forget.
Life moves fast but it is ultimately made up of individual moments strung together.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Autumn Color

Trees are not the only source of vibrant color in the fall... Kind of strange how a photographer who specializes in, and pretty much thinks in, black and white can be so happy about color.

So I tried a little experiment with this image. Above is the image as it came out of my camera earlier this month. It's part of the exercise of me pushing my own boundaries.
Below is the same image, but how it would normally end up... I think I'm still growing as a photographer...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Autumn Light

I love Autumn...

Life has been stressful lately. Things have not all gone as I had hoped. And there are quite a few days when I would prefer to just duck under the covers and wish it all away.

But then Autumn happens to mosey in... Maybe it's the golden hue everything takes on.... That burnished light seems to give me a sense that there's a promise that will finally be fulfilled right around the corner.
And I hope again...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Altering Your View

This image is another from my Polaroid transfer experimentations.

The original image, shot with my Bronica SQai medium format camera on Ilford Delta film, is one of my favorites. The original image is 6X6 square, however, the Polaroid film is not, so I end up with a crop.

I really lucked out with the tearing of the emulsion. I don't think I could have planned it better!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Photo for a Sunday Afternoon

Just posting something pretty and vibrant before I have to go out and mow the lawn... You'd think with the fact that I am a floral photographer that I would love yardwork. I don't. It just has to be done and I'd rather share something beautiful with all of you than go plug in the mower.

Okay... I don't think I can procrastinate any longer...
Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Shooting for Myself

Today was the first day I've gone out and shot purely for my own enjoyment for a long time. You see, it's a birthday present to myself. No, my birthday is not today... but this is the first day of my birthday month. In my family we celebrate for the entire month... partly because there are so many of us born in October, partly because life sometimes dictates that you just have to celebrate whenever you can.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Experimentation Does a Girl Good

I've always been a fan of everything Polaroid. I got the chance to take a workshop in Polaroid transfers at the Light Factory several years ago. I wanted to be able to play with my images.

We went through all the normal procedures... and then I asked the instructor if it were possible to do a "double exposure" using two different slides.
She thought for a second and then said, "I don't know... why don't you try it?"

Hope & Roses (above) is the result of that little experiment.

Sometimes it's a drag to experiment... It can cost a lot of money (the Polaroid transfers are pretty cost-prohibitive) and when/if you don't get a result you like, it can chip away at your creative bravado. The truly difficult part is not thinking of ways to experiment, but accepting the result, good or bad, and embracing it as your own.
I guess that means I should dig up one of the images I didn't really like from the workshop. But the truth is, I liked them all.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


My mother is an intelligent woman.

I'm not sure if it's an official "rule", but it's encouraged when visiting her house that before any of us kids leave, we must visit the basement and collect something from our childhood. It's a slow way to clean out all the clutter, but it keeps us from having to clean it out all at once (which is a frightening prospect!).

Even though I know, when I go down those stairs, I'm going to experience an arachnoleptic fit at some point while I'm in the basement, I still go willingly... because there is always some treasure to find. Like this:
That's the Polaroid camera (on the left) my mother used to document our family when my brother and I were kids. It weighs about as much as a brick and it'll smash your fingers when you close it. But it holds great sentimental value because it lets me see what my mother saw when I was little.
My mother has always been supportive of my creative endeavors with photography. She never pushed it on me, but she did always express her approval. I think I inherited my mother's (and even her mother's) desire to document the important, quiet moments of life with a camera.

I should probably have saved this post for her birthday... or for Mother's Day. But I couldn't wait.
I'm going to go see if I can dig up some film at the Impossible Project. If they don't have any, I'll keep looking and see what I can come up with...

Thanks Mom!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A New Direction...

I've come to the conclusion that I am, for all intents and purposes, really a flower photographer. But I have to keep reminding myself of that fact over and over again. I'm not sure why... I do try my best to make things more difficult than they should be.

This image is from a new flower series that I started last year. I've posted some of the images I've been making along the way. What I think I've learned from this series is that making things simpler ends up making me happier.
The series is still evolving, but now that I've let go of some of the shtick that I started with, it just feels more right... more of my own mind... simple but in an elegant way. And it's even in color!

(And fyi Peter, it's not shot with that lens you despise...)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Seeing a Little Differently

I started visiting Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens in 2010 because I needed a second field trip for my Intro to DSLR students when my classes ran for 8 weeks instead of 6 weeks.
I decided that first trip that I would limit myself to one lens. I chose my Lensbaby because, quite frankly, I needed to practice with it. On subsequent trips, I even limited myself to one aperture.
I didn't necessarily make these initial choices based purely on creative criteria --- I never like weighing myself down with too much equipment.
My laziness in lugging stuff does however benefit me creatively! Limiting myself on available equipment forces me to rely on those technical aspects and fit myself and my subject into those parameters... Kind of like in college when my costume design professor assigned our class the task of designing costumes for Romeo & Juliet using only two colors. The limits worked for that class and I believe those limits still work for other creative endeavors.

I've actually got enough of a visual theme from that experimentation that I now have a fresh floral series. I've started editing it and plan to post it on my main website within the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Photo for a Sunday Afternoon...

"A Play of Light"

I received an email from my Creativity and the Photographer II workshop teacher, Sean Kernan, earlier this week. He attached a blog post from another photographer that really resonated with me.
As I slog my way through my life as a photographer,
I often encounter the voice of self-doubt. I hate that voice.
But luckily I have a great group of supporters who cheer me on when I become moody and morose.

I know some people would look at the image above and say that it's not a good photograph. I disagree. It is the epitome of "writing with light" and it makes me happy that I shot it.
Needless to say, I'm in a bit of a period of transition with my shooting. I'm not exactly sure where it's leading me, but things look more like what's going on inside my head --- not exactly perfect, but oddly beautiful and new. If I get to where I think I'm going, I really don't think that voice of self-doubt can be heard there...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Little Preview...

Here's to testing the waters.... I am exhibiting and selling some of my work at the NoDa All Arts Market tomorrow night, September 2nd, 2011. It's an exercise in what I consider to be one of my toughest challenges --- promoting my own work.

I believe in my own abilities and the validity of my own work... There just seems to be a disconnect when someone asks me to explain why they should like my work enough to pay for it. This always stumps me --- I mean, if you truly like something and want it, why would you need someone to explain your own wants s& desires to you? Curious.

In any event, if you're going to be near the corner of North Davidson and 36th Streets in Charlotte, stop by the Neighborhood Theater and visit me at booth #230. We can have a philosophical discussion and maybe even a frosty adult beverage.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Happy World Photography Day

Today is World Photography Day...
To celebrate, I'm posting an image that I don't think I've ever posted before, even though it's one of my favorites.
I shot this back in 2005 with my Olympus OM-1, the camera that I learned to shoot with... my first "real" camera. I worked as a camp counselor one summer to earn the money to buy this particular camera and I still use it to this day. I think I've got a roll of Ilford Delta 3200 film in it right now that I need to finish off.
I thought this image would be appropriate because I shot it in Paris. On this date, 172 years ago, the French government proclaimed the invention of the Daguerreotype by Louis Daguerre as a "Gift Free to the World".
There's some controversy about whether the Daguerreotype or the Calotype (discovered by William Fox Talbot) was first. For my part, I'm just glad these people were up for experimentation.

Thank you gentlemen... and all the other photographers I've been priveleged to learn from as well.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Dealing With Kudzu

Kudzu was introduced in the South from Japan... I remember riding along the interstate with my family between Charlotte and Statesville during the summer months and joking about staying clear of the vine that was choking out most of the indigenous vegetation --- It moved so quickly that, surely it could overtake a human being loitering along the side of the road.
Talk about invasive.
Nothing kills kudzu. It would probably remain healthy and intact after nuclear devastation.
Finally, though, we're figuring out something that can battle the "mile-a-minute" vine:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Chains" is Coming...

Yes, I know my syntax is a little wonky in today's article title, but I'm working on a theme...

This is just a preview of some of the things coming down the pipeline here in the "Creativity Chambers" at JAWiley Photography...

Friday, March 25, 2011

An Oldie but a Goodie... The Friday Photo

I decided sometime ago to post random images on Fridays.... giving no explanation as to what they were or where they were taken. I'm diverging from that goal today.

I shot this image several years ago when I was in Paris. I was still shooting film regularly and was quite frustrated with my work. I decided to treat myself by giving in to the tourist in me and devoting some time to shoot my own interpretation of the Eiffel Tower.
What makes me proud of this shot --- besides the fact that capturing it helped re-energize my creativity --- was the fact that I captured the bird as it was. It is not an edited shot. I saw the pigeon land on the planter and waited for what seemed like five full minutes for it to fly off. I even resisted the urge to toss a pebble in it's direction to force it into flight so I could keep walking.

I'm getting ready to add Intermediate DSLR classes to my teaching roster at the Light Factory. I think I may introduce the students to some of the old school ways of shooting to really give them command of their equipment.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

This is Oxalis Regnelli, otherwise known as a Shamrock. This image is part of the flower portrait project I've been working on.

I usually only purchase cut flowers because, I am ashamed to say, I am not gifted with a green thumb. But I figured I would give it a try since I like this plant.
I have it housed in a mini-greenhouse beside one of the windows by my front door. This is not just for decorative purposes, though. I have a cat that I love very much and oxalis is toxic to kitties. And horses, actually, but I don't usually keep a horse in the house.
And none of this actually has anything to do with St. Patrick's Day... but it's almost 2:00pm and I missed my coffee this morning.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

On the Warpath: So What's It Worth to Ya?

One of the perils of being a photographer in the world of digital imagery and the internet is copyright infringement. Some people believe (or try to convince themselves) that if they can find an image on the internet, it must be in the public domain.
This thinking even bleeds into places where people are “in the industry” and should know better --- I received an email from one of my fellow APA members recently warning of a “rights grab” that was thinly veiled as a contest benefiting a charity. It was a rather nasty rights grab as well, with the sponsor stating “All entries become the exclusive property of … "Sponsor" and will not be acknowledged or returned.” I don’t think this company would respond well if someone proposed that they supply their services for free… So why are they trying to trick new talent into giving their efforts away?
I routinely surf the web, searching for my own images that have been used without my permission. I mean, come on… I know who my clients are and what we’ve discussed in terms of who can post what. I have had some clients who have purchased prints, then scanned those prints (very poorly) and have posted the bad scans. Not only is that stealing from me, that’s presenting my work in a poor light and can cost me other clients if they think the poor scans represent the quality (or lack thereof) of my work.

I even had one person argue with me about use of my images. I had shot an event for a non-profit, and even though I gave them permission to use the work for a specific purpose I still maintained my copyright. I chose to give them a discount, but I did get paid. This person called and asked to use an image from the event for a newsletter for a for-profit entity that had nothing to do with the original client. She got quite frustrated when I would not give her the image for free, saying “But you’ve already been paid for it.” Well, yes… but I had not been paid by the for-profit company.

I have been known to contact clients (or just general people who have no rights to my imagery) and inform them that they are in violation of my copyright. I think I inherited this from my very proper, somewhat petite paternal grandmother…. One day she came back into her office to find someone had wandered in off the street and was going through her desk to grab her purse. She chased him back out into the street. And she got her purse back. So if you plan on “grabbing” the work of me or any of my creative buddies, be forewarned: I will chase you back out into the street and get my work back.