Thursday, March 5, 2009
I have had a brief and long distance relationship with the SL7 group. However I've known Kent Miles since forever. I remember we talked about going to Art School together. And, how exciting it was when Kent actually had the guts and self confidence and family backing to actually go to one of the best schools around at the time. I remember just prior to his leaving for school he bought a brand New Calumet 4x5 view camera and set it up in his living room. We walked around it in awe and wonder, neither of us having a clue as to how to use it. I really wanted to go too, but, well, parents being parents I ended up staying home at the U of U.
Anyway, I've been an admirer of the Miles clan since I met them some 40 plus years ago.
As far as photography goes, I've been doing it since I can remember.
I am now a professional photographer in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area and a coat-tail member of the SL7. When Kent told me about it I couldn't wait to become involved. I shoot weddings, portraits, and some wildlife. My vast preference is portraiture. I operate a small free lance studio in a 2 horse village by the name of Carefree a little north of Phoenix.
I am including a recent portrait that I like very much. It is difficult to balance the mercenary requirements of photography as a business, and the personal expression and passion of creating art. The hardest thing is to not start repeating yourself and taking an overly formulaic approach....
I want to participate with the SL7 group to the fullest extent possible with a nod to the obvious distance and logistic impediments of living 500 miles away. If you are curious as to my current work, you can visit me at www.bridephoto.net (currently being redone) and www.ed-wilson.blogspot.com
Edward Wilson, Principal Photographer
Photograph: Tianna, ©2009 Ed Wilson
Monday, March 2, 2009
I have always had a fascination with cameras. However, my ability to get good images has not always equaled my fascination on the mechanics of the device. With the advent of digital photography and my need to use this tool in my work, I have experienced a renewed interest in learning to move beyond snapshots towards creating more refined images. It is amazing that with a minimum investment in a camera and a computer and anyone can have an opportunity to learn to produce great photographs. While I have great admiration for those who develop and print using traditional methods, for me the technology has brought more convenience and ease of use. The photographs we use everyday on the job are critical in our mission to provide 24 hour a day /365 days a year connectivity to those we serve.
My friend and neighbor Bill Patterson approached me about joining the Salt Lake Seven Group. If I remember right he said: “we get together once a month and discuss and show our work. Its not a competition just conversation about our passion for photography”. For about 18 months I have been attending the monthly presentations and discussions. I find the opportunity to meet with others and share work of great benefit on a couple of fronts. First, it is motivational because in order to have something to discuss you need to take pictures. That in and of itself requires one to get out and do some work, try new things, learn new techniques. By doing this you can’t help but improve--experience becomes a great teacher. Secondly, participating in the discussions at the meetings gives one more insight into the processes to become a better photographer. In reviewing the work presented each month we are all able to see differing perspectives. That will make us all collectively better. Looking forward to March 10………
Photograph: Requiescant In Pace, St. Mere-Eglise, France
©2008 Steve Proctor
Thursday, February 26, 2009
In our monthly meetings we have often talked about the importance of looking at the photographs of others for the purpose of learning and inspiration. With this is mind I would like to share two books that have been a great source of inspiration to me over the several months.
The first is The Roma Journeys by photographer Joakim Eskildsen, text is by his wife Cia Rinne and with a introduction by Gunter Grass, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature.
At over 400 pages this is a very large book. It details the six year journey of the photographer and writer through Hungary, India, Greece, Romania, France, Russia and Finland as they explore and live with the Roma (Gypsies) in each country. What originally caught my attention of this book was the black and white panoramic images that introduce each chapter, I have used them as guides to help me see panoramically. However, it is the color portraits that keep me going back to this book. Taken with a Pentax 6 x 7 camera, the images have such warmth and detail that after months of looking through the book I always find something new. Many of these color images are what I imagine would happen if you were to combine Justin Hackworth with Josef Koudelka.
The text adds to the photographs and a CD of Roma folk songs is included with the book.
For Christmas this year I was given a signed copy of Paul Fusco RFK. Already I consider it one of the best gifts I have ever received. This is also quite a large book, but while The Roma Journeys is from a six year project the images from Paul Fusco RFK are from a single day, June 8, 1968, the day of Robert F. Kennedy's funeral.
Paul Fusco was commissioned by LOOK magazine to accompany and document the funeral of RFK at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York to his internment at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C.
There are several images of the funeral and internment that are interesting but it is the images of the funeral train that are the heart and soul of this book. On the day long train ride Fusco took thousands of images of the crowds that lined the tracks to pay their respects to Kennedy. At first glance these images seem quite alike and even redundant, assorted people, often blurred, standing track side. It is only after several viewing that the details start to come out. The layout of the book has the feel of being on the train itself, looking out the window as the world goes by. I now find myself looking intently at each image and seeing the details such as clothes people wore, their houses in the background, their gestures and respectful mourning representing all of America. Recently I have come to think of this book as the opposite of Robert Frank's The Americans. Frank showed an isolated, cold and distant view of America. Fusco shows the better side of America, one in which the color of someone's skin or standing in society doesn't matter, especially in the face of tragedy.
I have seen these images on the Internet and this is one example where the images are lost online, I strongly recommend getting a hold of the book itself.
Images from The Roma Journeys can be found here;
Images from Paul Fusco RFK can be found here;
Monday, February 23, 2009
I just wanted to touch base with you SL7 stalwarts and remind you that the Springville Salon entry dates are rapidly approaching. You can download the entry form here. Entries will be received from April 7-11, 2009. Your next assignment for our meeting on the second Tuesday of March (the 10th) will be to have a good selection of what you are thinking of entering in the Salon. I'd like to see SL7 dominate the photography entries.
Meanwhile, I have been thinking about the importance of being able to talk about your art. There is a fine line between allowing your work to speak for itself, and being able to speak about art and what it means to you. It is worthwhile to explore ideas and concepts and to discover relationships within your art and between your art and the work that has and is being done in the world. Can you express your philosophy of art? Cultivating this ability to talk about your work may even improve your ability to think about and create the work you do. At the very least, you will become more informed and knowledgeable about your craft and about how you fit into the world of art, which will only help you as you talk to clients, gallery owners and collectors.
What do you think? Please let us know.
Photograph: William F. Buckley at Alta Lodge, Utah ©1993 Kent Miles
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The February meeting evoked in me a mixture of excitement, discouragement, inspiration, and motivation.
I have taken my share of "pretty pictures". And while I have enjoyed them and appreciated the "oooh's and ahhh's" from friends and family, I am now at the point where I desire and aspire to move beyond that skill level. I am striving to gain a vision and understanding of what a truly artful photograph is.
And the effort to see what is, and then capture, artistic images is a challenging and elusive task.
But, our group is helping me (i.e. pushing and prodding – in a very professional, tactful, and caring way) to do that. I sense that my horizons are expanding (at least a little bit).
Salt Lake Seven
Photograph: Stairs In My Eyes, Chicago ©2004 Brian Buroker
It finally happened. I took the plunge and have entered the world of online portfolios.
I first set up my website 15 years ago. Maybe more. It was an outgrowth of my ad in the Black Book. They were on the forefront of starting an online portfolio service and they started with current advertisers. The same images I sent them I used for pictureline's initial visionary effort to start a portfolio service. Pictureline designed the page for me. The world wasn't ready right then for what Jens and his crew envisioned. When Jens pulled the plug on that first effort, I got the page they had built and put it on my own domain. And it has been there ever since.
The world has changed since then, but it has taken this old dog a while to learn some new tricks. Pictureline revisited their original portfolio service and it is remarkable. You can see it at http://www.pictureline.com/community/ . If you click here it will take you to my own portfolio there. Justin Hackworth, another member of Salt Lake Seven, has a portfolio here. It is a pretty big community, with photographers from all over the place. Some of them are very good. I recommend that you consider putting together a portfolio for the pictureline community. It is free. It is good experience. Who knows what might come of it?
This last weekend, though, I was resolved to take the steps needed to update my own website. And by chance I got some information about an online portfolio service called Parade. I went to it, tried it out, and voila! I have a legitimate online presence. I still need to create the link on my website to my portfolios at Parade, but that is a relatively small matter and should be done in the next few days.
So, do you want to see what's up? Check it out at http://kentmiles.paradepro.com/ The have a free service or upgraded service at a very reasonable cost.
And for the rest of you Salt Lake Seven, get with the picture. Load up!
Photograph: Eeka The Swamp Thing With Amber Her Pet Anaconda, Bangor State Fair, Maine ©1988 Kent Miles
Thursday, February 12, 2009
The regulars of SL7 have recently completed a new book, Time Machine, published through Blurb. It is available online at
The intent of this book is to provide a year end retrospective of where we have come from, and to have a cooperative piece to share with each other and with friends. Since most of us have not published a book before, it was an adventure and a learning experience. One of the best parts of the process of creating the book was the time spent reviewing each others contributions. The opportunity for feedback on the images we were thinking about including was valuable, and every one of us benefited from the process.
The following is the introduction for Time Machine:
Salt Lake Seven - Two Thousand Eight
You may notice that our numbers do not correspond to our name… there are eight visual artists represented in this collection. Last year, when we did our first book there were six of us. Next year the number may change. So you see, seven as we use it is something of an ineffable number, representing the nature of our group rather than the number of chairs at our table.
Meeting since the mid-1990s, we are accumulating a weight of yesterdays, and, hopefully, have become a force for encouraging new and better photographic work. New faces have joined us this year. These members bring new images and ideas that help keep all of us fresh. For those who are just now being introduced to Salt Lake Seven, I quote from our website [www.saltlakeseven.com] as a way of helping you understand who we are and what we do:
Great things happen when a small group of committed practitioners of any art form gather on a regular basis to show their work and share ideas. These gatherings become an arena in which creative, technical and philosophical challenges are made and accepted. Ideas are voiced, tried on for size, and kept or recycled. The group becomes a sounding board wherein people you have learned to trust respond to your offerings honestly, thoughtfully, fairly, passionately. Criticism is never an attack, merely a response. Therefore, you don’t feel threatened. Mistakes become keys that open doors to new possibilities. Successes become validations that give you confidence to take greater creative risks. Over time, as part of such a group, it is impossible to avoid growth.
For our group, as for everyone, another year has come and gone, like the opening and closing of a camera’s shutter. As photographers, what we really hold in our hands is a time machine. Time is the continuum of experience in which events pass from the future through the present to the past. John Szarkowski, photographic curator, historian, photographer and author has written,
“All photographs are time exposures, of shorter or longer duration, and each describes a discrete parcel of time. This time is always the present. Uniquely in the history of pictures, a photograph describes only that period of time in which it was made. Photography alludes to the past and the future only in so far as they exist in the present, the past through its surviving relics, the future through prophecy visible in the present.” (John Szarkowski, The Photographer’s Eye, Museum of Modern Art, 1966)
Our cameras hold particular moments in suspension, keeping them from belonging solely to the past. Our photographs – time exposures all – preserve the present within fractions of a second, defying the inevitable and irrevocable sweep of the clock.
And we thought all we were doing was taking pictures.
This year, as we sought new challenges, we wanted to have our own venue for sharing our vision, our experiences, our discoveries, and our creative journeys. This book is our annual venue. We hope that many more will follow.
Salt Lake City
Photograph: The Garden, Buenos Aires ©2001 Kent Miles
This post, and the next few that follow, are out of sequence with when they were first generated. I have gone back into the emails I've sent out to the SL7 group to post on the blog. If you want to follow any threads these may kindle, please feel free.
We had a good meeting last night, and a good start to the new year. This is just a brief review of our discussion:
1. No matter what our wishes are for traditional silver photography, the medium has always been the child of the marketplace. If film is being sold, then manufacturers will put money into research, development, marketing and supply of product. The current reality is that the market is moving toward digital. I have made very few silver prints over the last year. In part this is due to reduced market demand for traditional materials, so manufacturers have trimmed back their product lines or gone out of business. In part it is due to the rapid improvement of papers, inks and digital printing. I can make very, very good B&W ink prints that are at least as image stable as silver prints, and that are aesthetically satisfying. Yes, they are different than silver prints, just as silver is different than platinum/palladium prints. They are different but good, and much more practical to produce. So get used to it. Learn the new technology, and if you want to slog through making old technology prints, that is fine. Just know what you are getting into, and understand that the marketplace has changed.
2. Similarly with cameras. As much as I prefer shooting film, digital has advantages and is the area in which most new advances will take place. Learn to use the tools. You will need to eventually, unless you have a thousand rolls of film in your freezer and are prepared, sooner or later, to process your own film and make your own prints. I will continue to shoot film and scan the negatives. But I am also going to learn to use digital equipment. And the only way to learn to use it is to use it - the same process I went through in learning to use my film cameras.
3. Most people take pictures for fun or pleasure. That is how professionals start. But soon they take pictures for money. Or for Art (with a capital A). And then, often times that becomes the only time they take pictures. Fun is there on the fringes, but it is less and less of the motivating factor. When this happens, the kinds of photographs that are made are less adventurous, less risky, less fun, less good. It is important to periodically evaluate one's work. Is it only done as a job. Is one only making the same pictures over and over again, because that is the kind of work that you have become known for doing? You may not be in a rut, but you might be in a deep valley.
If this is the case, then it is time to have fun again. Make a point of taking pictures for the pleasure of it. Try things you haven't done before, or haven't done for years. Get out of the rut, out of the valley, and climb a peak and check out the view. One of our former regulars - Ben Jones - has made a commitment to himself (at least) to shoot something every day, to pay attention to the beautiful possibilities that are always around us if only we take the time to look. His Daybooks email postings are wonderful, and they inspire many of us who receive them to get back to our roots and make pictures for fun and pleasure, and for the sheer delight that comes with paying attention to life.
See you next month.
Great Portraits in a Classic Documentary Style
Photograph: Pierre's Stairs, Paris ©1983 Kent Miles
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
This is the premier entry for the Salt Lake Seven photo group blog on blogger.com. What follows is the body of text from the email I just sent to the group about last night's meeting. The group is invited to add your photos that we talked about. You may even want to add a before/after version of those images that we cropped in class.
Please Note: ANY PHOTOS THAT YOU POST MUST HAVE YOUR © INFO EMBEDDED IN THE FILE &/OR APPEAR IN THE IMAGE AREA. This will prevent your photos from becoming an orphan work which can be freely appropriated third parties.
Anyway, here goes:
Thanks to all who came out tonight. It was good to see our recent book effort in print. It looked very good. Kudos to all who contributed, especially to Carl who was the ramrod for the project. Well done. Now we can all order a copy, and should. It will be worth having. Go to
We covered some interesting ideas, particularly in relationship to the Eccles show and the upcoming Springville Salon:
85th Annual Spring Salon - 24 April - 3 July 2009
Entries for this exhibition will be accepted at the Museum Tuesday-Saturday, 7-11 April 2009.
One of the things we discussed is how the Eccles show is a community art center, and the intent of the exhibit is to display the best representative work being done by local photographers. It will tend to include more work than less, and the shows will tend to be more loosely juried. There will be a small portion of images of significance, and a larger portion of images that are "nice," which is to say boring. There will be too many pictures that look like pictures you have already seen, and usually have been done better. Those of us who participated and had work accepted feel gratified, but the greatest benefit comes from the process of thinking about what you want to enter, wrestling with how best to present it, and then realizing your intent.
Entering a photograph in a juried art museum show is another matter. The stature of the museum is on the line. The museum curator will not want to see images that are too derivative (meaning you tried too hard to make it look like something that got into last year's show) or too bland (meaning it doesn't have a sense of freshness of vision or idea) or that too little thought went into its making. It is not enough for a photograph to look pretty or to be technically well executed. For a photograph to hold-up next to other works of art it needs to intrigue, inspire, challenge, and satisfy the jurist. It will need to be intellectually and emotionally stimulating. Most of all, it needs to feel as though it explores new ground - at least for the artist if not for the art world. Submit work that you feel shows your effort to discover meaning through your art, and that reveals something important about you and/or about life. Don't be precious. Don't be cute. Do be thoughtful. Do take risks.
We had some good pieces shown in class. As I mentioned, I can see a significant trend upward in the quality of the work that is brought in each time we meet. You are getting better. I think it is a reflection of the interaction between those who come to class. You ask for and get thoughtful feedback, and you respond to the challenge to bring new work. I commend you all.
For our next meeting on Tuesday, March 10th, we are to bring some samples of the images we are each thinking of submitting to the Springville Salon in April. This will be your last chance to get feedback from the group of what you are thinking of entering.
See you all next month.
Kent Miles - Photographer
Great Portraits in a Classic Documentary Style
Photo: Place de la Concorde, Paris ©1981 Kent Miles