May 2017 Meeting - Lance Keimig

Lance Keimig was the featured speaker at our May 9 meeting. Lance is a highly regarded photographer and educator specializing in Night Photography. Several of our members had taken with workshops with him and recommended him as a speaker, and we're glad they did! There was a great turnout for the meeting - we kept having to bring out more chairs.

Lance first talked about the history of night photography, showing a series of images from the earliest practitioners of the art and describing how it has evolved along with the development of new equipment. Next up were images to illustrate the aesthetics of the genre, the special contrasts and colors you can only get at night. Then on to the equipment needed for night photography - recommendations in regard to tripods, lenses, flashlights (for seeing your camera controls and for light painting) and more. Lance then covered the procedures, including preparation, exposure and other camera settings, key details like when to use long exposure noise reduction, and high ISO exposure testing. He talked about the characteristics of the kinds of light sources you are likely to encounter in the field at night, both natural and artificial and their effects on images and implications for white balance.

All in all it was an extremely stimulating and informative evening and was well received by the attendees. For more information about night photography, Lance Keimig, and his workshops, visit www.thenightskye.com. Go the Downloads link where you can access a pdf on the history of night photography along with other useful information.

Lance is also one of five photographers who comprise National Parks at Night. The web site is well worth a visit, and they offer an interesting blog on various aspects of night photography. 

January 2017 Meeting - Michael Hintlian

The BCA Photo Group was privileged to have Michael Hintlian as our speaker on January 10. His topic was ‘What is your Big Dig project? What it takes and why you should do it.’ He gave a very personal presentation on his self-assigned, self-funded, multi-year, completely unofficial project to document Boston’s Big Dig. Armed with a hardhat, vest, camera, thousands of rolls of black & white film, and nerve, he repeatedly ventured into Big Dig work sites at all times of day and year to photograph the work and the workers.

The nature - and necessity - of a long-term undertaking was clearly explained in his talk. Michael recounted why he undertook this journey and how even after several years of shooting it was not completely clear to him what his project actually was – the core of what his project meant to him and how he was trying to communicate it. The heart of the work was present but not yet recognized in the thousands of shots he had made. A review of his work with another photographer gave him the final insight into the story he was trying to tell, and from there the work gelled into a unified whole.

It was an important lesson. Transformative work demands dedication, experimentation, repetition, and just plain living with a project long-term to reach the insight needed to execute a project in a way that satisfies the toughest critic of all – the photographer him/herself.

To see Michael Hintlian's work, including images from his Big Dig project, visit his web site.

November meeting - Arlette and Gus Kayafas

The November 29th monthly general meeting was a bit of a departure from our format. Rather than the usual digital projection, we were fortunate to have Arlette and Gus Kayafas from Gallery Kayafas bring out framed original prints from their personal collection and discuss them with us. As collectors, Arlette and Gus are second to none and have donated thousands of prints to several major museums. They also are current overseers of the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum.

Gallery Kayafas opened in 2002 and is one of the premier art galleries in the Boston area. It was named Best of Boston by Boston Magazine in 2013 and 2015 and by Improper Bostonian in 2016. What makes Gallery Kayafas special is both that its prime focus is photography and that the work shown must be creations that Arlette and Gus feel strongly about and would own for themselves. The gallery is the result of their desire to share their large collection, which they have been accumulating for almost 50 years.

The main feature of the evening was a 'show and tell' of eleven of their favorite works from that collection. These pictures normally hang on the walls of their own home and it was a special event for them to make the trip to Bedford. Gus and Arlette were kind (and brave) enough to bring originals so we could immerse ourselves in the full experience of the works. They were all displayed on easels and at the end of the discussion we were able to examine the pieces up close.

Ten of the  photographs were black and whites by such luminaries as August Sander, Minor White, Aaron Siskind, Harry Callahan, Diane Arbus and Peter Kayafas, their son, whose work is in major collections and museums. The sole color image was Harold ‘Doc’ Edgerton’s iconic shot of a bullet cutting a playing card in half. You can see the complete list of what they brought at the bottom of this post. Each is worthy of your exploration online. Almost all these pieces were personally given by the artist to Arlette and Gus, usually in some form of trade. We got to hear the stories of how these works entered their collection.

All of the work was impactful, but for many the highlight was August Sander’s piece, My Wife in Joy and Sorrow. The image was taken in 1911 of his wife holding their twin children just after birth. The overwhelming aspect of the piece is that one of the babies was stillborn. The picture itself is emotionally wrenching but as challenging is the simple idea that Sander could conceive and execute the picture in such a moment.

While the clear highlight of the evening was the detailed discussion of each of the pieces, Arlette also covered several broader topics of interest to the group including how to start as collectors and how to approach galleries as artists.

Though they have one of the largest private collections of significant photographs, Arlette emphasized that each picture is a collection unto itself and that every one of us can and should be a collector. The goal should not be to have a “collection” but to have images that you enjoy looking at, that move you.

She gave some specific advice about how we can begin our collections:

  • Share amongst ourselves. As she pointed out, we are good photographers so if we like each others’ work, we should find a way to do some “horse trading”. 
  • Go to galleries. Every type of gallery we can think of. You never know what you’re going to find.
  • Go to auctions. While a lot of auctions have high priced items, many others feature up-and-coming new artists. In particular, charity auctions are a great place to start, with MassArt’s annual April auction being one example.
  • Go to Open Studios.

Of course, a lot of us are also very interested in having our own work shown in galleries and other venues. Arlette pointed out that probably the most important thing is to get known. The art world is hard to break into and you need to work at it to succeed. Perhaps not surprisingly, her advice on this topic wasn’t much different from that about collecting: go to galleries to see what’s out there and meet people, submit work to shows and auctions, etc. 

She did, though, have some specific suggestions:

  • Don’t walk in cold to a gallery and try to show work to the owner. Develop relationships.
  • Subscribe to Photograph Magazine (http://photographmag.com/) as a resource for finding galleries and what’s going on.
  • Get to know people at local venues that welcome new artists, such as the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester and the Photographic Resource Center (PRC) at BU.
  • When you do have a chance to show your work to gallery owners or critiquers, be prepared. The person will want to know who you are and what you’re trying to say. You should do this in 10-15 images that can stand alone but that also work together to tell your story.

We are truly grateful to both Arlette and Gus for coming out to the “burbs”. It was a full evening of experience and information and was very well received. We had over 50 attendees, one of our larger meetings ever. If you enjoyed this type of presentation, please let us know and we’ll plan for more like this in the future.

Works Displayed

Diane Arbus - Albino Sword Swallower (1970)
Harry Callahan - Three Trees Rome (1963), Eleanor in the Water (1949)
Harold E. Edgerton - Cutting the Card Quickly (1964)
Peter Kayafas - North Dakota (2010), Totems Series
Nicholas Nixon - Watermelon Girl (1992), Perkins School for the Blind Series
August Sander - My Wife in Joy and Sorrow (1911), Pastry Cook (1928)
Aaron Siskind - Jerome, Arizona (1949), Durango, Mexico (ca 1953)
Minor White - Hands and Bowl (1969)

Blog photographs by Joe Gallagher and Charles Mazel

 

BCA Photo Group kicks off our fall monthly meetings with guest speaker Dominic Chavez

The BCA Photo Group will kick off another year full of meetings September 13, 7-9 pm, at the First Parish Bedford, 75 Great Road, Elm Street entrance. The first of five guest speakers for the year is Dominic Chavez, a freelance photographer based in Boston, Massachusetts. Chavez will speak on “Photographing the Human Condition: Finding Your Voice and Telling Your Story”.

Chavez has spent much of his career on the road working in some of the world’s most challenging places. He has recorded the effects of war in Colombia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Angola; the AIDS crisis in more than a dozen countries in Africa; and the battle to eradicate polio in countries in Africa and Asia. In addition, he has covered stories locally and nationally, focusing on the aftermath of 9/11; homeless populations; and those addicted to drugs.

His professional career includes positions at the Denver Post and the Boston Globe. His work has been nationally recognized with many awards, including the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Media Fellowship as well as the Pictures of the Year competition. Chavez has helped produce eight books and his photographs have been exhibited internationally. He has presented a talk at Tedx Connecticut and has been interviewed on WGBH-One Guest.

The Photo Group is composed of nearly 50 members.  Unlike most photo clubs, the Bedford Group is non-competitive, emphasizing education and information sharing. Other speakers schedule to appear during the year include Arlette Kayafas (Nov. 29) and Michael Hintlian (Jan. 10, 2017).

Every other month,  the meetings are non-competitive image sharing sessions where members’ work is shown and discussed.  Guest “critiquers” from the New England School of Photography and other institutions provide helpful and supportive feedback.

A third series of meetings generally falling on the 4th Tuesday of the month deal with more technical (how-to-do-it) issues.  Led by member Dennis Rainville, Mark Levinson, Michael Milicia, and Marv Goldschmitt,  these sessions will include information on equipment, image capture, post-processing, printing, and different genres of photography.

Guests are welcome at all meetings.

Bryan Peterson Workshop Saturday May 7th, 2016

We are excited to host Bryan Peterson for a day-long seminar. Bryan is a successful commercial photographer whose clients include American Express, Kodak, UPS, Phillips and Citibank. He has received awards from the Communication Arts Photography Annual seven times, Print Magazine four times and has also won the prestigious New York Art Directors Gold Award. He has also served as a contributing editor at Popular Photography and Outdoor Photographer magazines. Bryan is the co-founder of the Perfect Picture School of Photography, the world’s number one on-line photography school.

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Amy Giese Workshop Saturday February 6th, 2016

You may remember Amy Giese led a fantastically informative session at our final Photo Group critique meeting last spring. We ended up discussing not only the content of the images, but also what members were aiming for when they took the shots, and how we make our decisions about the subjects and style of our photographs.

We are very pleased that Amy has agreed to offer a one-day workshop on this topic.  We need a minimum of 10 people to sign up, and are limited by space considerations to a maximum of 20 participants.

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Brown Season - What do I do? - Dennis Rainville

Hello everyone, well we are coming into what I would call the "brown season" from a landscape photography point of view.  The colors are gone, the leaves have fallen, and what do we do with the photographs that lack color and interest as is?

Turn them into black and white!

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Capturing Spider webs - Bob Bicknell

Hi all!!

Time to think about getting out and photographing spider webs out in the fields. It's that time of year again. Best time is now until early To mid September.

This is probably the best time of year to photograph the webs of field spiders. 
The grass is knee high or better, mornings are nice and dewey and the sun is coming up at a reasonable hour.

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