Thinking of new ways to express some of my work. Black and White images seems to help.
So I moved and I feel like I am still transitioning.
I moved 6 months ago. It's been almost half a year since I made this "transition", and yet I still feel wobbly in these new settings. I'm not sure if it's the disappearance of the Maine coast and dense woodlands, but my inspiration to make work has hit a lull. I will say, it would be mighty cool to be making some kick-ass work that I could be connecting to new people down here in Rhode Island with- oh and printing in the lab I work in - but it will happen.... no worries.
I do know there are a few people who are rooting for me to succeed and this is probably depressing on their end to hear, but again, not to fret, I will be on an upward swing soon enough.
IN THE MEAN TIME.....
I have been (slowly) settling in and making a new start with Andrew. We have been, for a lack of a better word, "blessed". We are both working artists... Meaning we work full time in fields that are directly related to our education and interests, as well as, making a go at creating our own fine art. I think we are a bit of an anomaly in Rhode Island, as well as the 20 something Artists, to have moved for a job to a state with one of the lowest employment rates, and score some pretty sweet working gigs.
Outside of work, Andrew and I are enjoying weekends together- another anomaly. In four years we never were on the same schedule, so to experience down time together has been fantastic. We keep busy by exploring the tiniest state in the US of A. We also have enjoyed making a home that feels truly "homey".
So yeah, we are doing pretty okay. Hoping to make my 25th year on this planet a good one.
So I found something incredibly cool and unexpected and I still have no words to describe my thought process about what I found.
Maybe a bit dramatic, but I found an article about my work on this blog from some people over in Ireland. I didn't submit or hear from anyone, but somehow they captured words for my work that I would never be able to come up with. CHECK IT OUT : http://www.mutantspace.com/emma-sampson-photographs-rooted-natural-beauty/
Quince & Co. is a beautiful yarn company based out of Maine that has a devoted large following , and for very good reasons. The company is currently run by Pam Allen- one of those people who you meet and instantly feel at home with and someone who you can only aspire to be. She hired me on as a photographer for a few months before I made the move to Rhode Island and it was one of the best experiences of freelance that I have ever done / will ever do. Pam was organized and willing / open to all suggestions, but also very good with her own eye for what she wanted the final photographs to look like.
Quince is a company who thrives on their followers to keep coming back for more. They post constantly new knitting patterns and are consistently upping their yarn game. They draw their following in with imagery that they post on the world wide web and the slew of social media that they dominate. I learned FAST how important my photography for them would be. Their look is clean, natural, and loving. Think of a beautifully knit sweater that is cozy to snuggle up to and make that look good- that was my job. Pam and I would schedule our shoots for before or after my work hours. So we would get up at 5 am and catch the rising sun, or raise the setting sun around southern Maine. Pam would hire the models that were naturally beautiful and dress them up in edgy but conservative clothing that any female would die to be wearing. The whole shoot would be fun and run without any real hiccups. It was just too good.
Now that I am in my winter nostaligic phase and reviewing the summer Quince photo shoots, I feel a pain for wanting to be back at the beach or in the Maine woods, working with Pam and the Quince models dressed in beautiful knits.
From only a few shoots, I have some favorites here. When I have time to go through more I will be sure to post more of my favorites. Enjoy and be sure to check out Quince & CO and support their wonderful efforts.
Before making the big move to Rhode Island, Andrew and I spent a week together in Vinalhaven. Last year's residency spent in Stonington was a wild success, so we wanted to emulate that same idea where we enjoy each other, our surroundings, and make our work.
Of course I was preoccupied thinking about the crazy move that was looming over me, so the productivity level was a bit off, but I still managed to make some images that I am super proud of.
I focused primarily on the new body of work " Poe vs. Thoreau". Vinalhaven was the perfect backdrop for images about nature. Where the ocean and land meet is where I planted myself for the week and created work that puts you in a place unique to your everyday surroundings.
Images will be posted at a slower rate- working and commuting get the best of me at the moment.
Overall, the week was exactly what Andrew and I needed. We needed to spend time with each other and be lost in ourselves.
Below are the few photos that I took during the week:
Summer 2014 might just be the biggest summer for me since I graduated college THREE years ago (holy smokes). I made a quick decision this spring to make a life change. I moved out of Maine almost a month ago, after living there for 25 years. You can now call me a "Rhody".
My friend Brittany Marcoux, did me a solid favor by offering me her position at a fine art printing company in Providence called iolabs. Most of those that are close enough with me, knew my passion in life was to somehow have a printing company. I find the OCD methodical act of color correcting and printing to bring some sort of order to my chaotic mind. Brittany knew this about me and helped me live my dream through sooner than anticipated.
The idea to move and make this change was easy. I felt like I had hit a grey patch in Portland, where everything was continuing down the same stagnant path that felt very dismal. I was not phased by my rash decision, in fact I was weirdly calm. I didn't freak out once- I know, surprising.
I was so quick to pick up and leave, in fact, that I had to leave behind my boyfriend and cat- only for a few months- but still. I needed out of Portland and I needed to do something for myself, while taking charge of my future.
Currently I am living in Newport with my aunt until September, when Andrew and the cat move down and we move to a cute apartment outside of Providence.
To all of you artists out there- check out iolabsinc.com, we do some pretty incredible stuff here and offer endless possibilities to making your work look like the bomb.
When I walk the woods in the winter, I am not worried about how I look- the animals are in hiding and humans are hundreds of miles away. I'm worried about snow in my boots, freezing to death, and making sure I don't get lost beneath the 4 feet of snow. Andrew and I went into the woods and I came prepared. SO- dressed to the nines, walking through the woods, Andrew says he wants to use the camera to take a picture of me. He said something about my hot pink nails looking cool, so I put my hand to my head so he could see them. The image below is the result.
Years ago, my uncle Gus gave me a very cool plastic 35 mm camera. It's so fun to throw in my purse and take as many photos as possible with. When I get the roll of film back, I can compose even more images, just in the way I cut or scan the film. It's also really good for me to let go of perfection. With the 4x5 I am making sure everything is spot on and perfect before using a sheet of film. I almost always know what I will get back when the film is developed and if there are surprises- rarely are they welcomed. With the 35 mm film from the sprocket rocket, I love the surprises and the overlapping of bodies, skies, and periods within my memory. I welcome the nuances, grain, and horrible sun-flare with open arms. Here are a few of my personal faves.
Two of the most inspiring places are where my parents live in Lincolnivlle and where my mothers family shares a house in Vinalhaven. They are both so peaceful and serene- it's impossible to not be in the element to make images and want to snap away at everything and anything in site. Sadly I'm not always the best at composing, or the bright sun or frigid Maine temps allow me to make some pretty mediocre images/ really not up to par. The images here are ones that I have collected in these places, that I haven't found a place for in any other work I have done, but still I can't let go of.
I'm not a wedding photographer by any means- to all of those who do wedding photography for a living, I bow down to you. It's incredibly hard and anxiety levels are at all time high (every second of the day) and it's just a plain kick in the pants for a straight 8 or so hours. Anyhoo- when I decided to take on a wedding, I make sure they know that I am NOT a wedding photographer. I am more like a guest at the wedding with a camera, that isn't afraid to boss some people around. Greg and Marissa found me through a recommendation here in Maine and they were the MOST relaxed couple on their wedding day and I am so happy that I said I would photographer their wedding. Everyone that I met that day was incredible! It was a thousand degrees and the ceremony was in a tiny little church in Cape Elizabeth with ONE fan (that the groomsmen positioned on them-for good reasons) and the bride and groom portraits they wanted at Portland Head Light (they are both marine biologists , so being by the water was key). Because it was so hot, we had to be super fast taking pictures before everyone melted, but I think I captured the light hearted spirit that these two brought to such a lovely day.
Most days, I wish that I had taken design courses while at Maine College of Art. The further into my career I get, I realize the skills a designer has are ever so important as a creative person. Designers literally have the sense to know what is “good” and what is “bad” when seen by the human eye. Admittedly, not every designer out there is great or has a total sense of what is “good”, but they at least are more ahead of me to creating some pretty kick ass stuff.
I am lucky enough, however, to be given the opportunity to grow on my design skills by being a part of marketing projects at my job and most recently being trusted by my partner to grow his jewelry business, And- How , into a solid brand. Last year, he was gifted a generous grant by the Maine Arts Commission to revamp his website and really get his work seen in the light it deserves.
The grant was the push Andrew needed to really think of himself as a professional and start from scratch to create an online presence. First, we switched website providers, picked a design template and started compiling ideas that would become Andrew’s brand. He’s a hipster, geeky, funny, young dude that makes work inspired by the sea- so we used all of these things to create one heck of a site. Andrew wanted to have images of his work on the coastline where they were inspired, as well as images that showed every detail of the ring on white or black. It was also his decision to include images from his favorite area near Portland, Two Lights State Park. From multiple trips to the beach, and multiple studio shoots with his work, we had galleries of his work that truly do it justice.
I had fun making the site for Andrew, and he had fun watching it all come together and see the progress of something huge for his art career come to a completion. He designed a logo as one of the last steps and it’s AMAZING! He certainly has some design talent as well. Together we make a team that hopefully can continue to help each other grow as artists. It’s truly rare to have this amount of support and I am counting my blessings at how lucky I am.
Here a few shots of the site, but be sure to check it out for yourself: and-how.org
Last year, Andrew and our good friend Abby participated in the juried Maine College of Art Holiday Sale. It's a great time of year when everyone is feeling festive and shopping for unique, one of a kind gifts for the holidays <----- this might also be totally untrue, as I have seen my fair share of personal shopping happening as well. The sale for the two of them went great!
This year, Andrew and I decided to have a joint booth and luckily enough, we were accepted to be among 80 other artists that would be apart of the two day sale. We were also EACH chosen as two of 20 artists showcased from the Holiday Sale, to celebrate the 20th year of it's existence. We both couldn't have been happier!
Now that the sale is over, I think it’s a great time to reflect on how my first “fair” sale went, and the feelings I have reflected on after putting my work out there for more than a handful of people.
I usually shy away from putting myself out there too much, due to silly insecurities about my artwork. Being out of school is so hard, with the limitation of feedback, and the small support system I feel I have- which leads me to consistently question what I am making and whether it will be good for anyone else besides myself- and most importantly in this scenario- will anyone want to buy what I make....
To be honest, I did the sale for Andrew. His work is AMAZING and has proven to be a crowd pleaser. I was hoping the sale would bring more attention to his work and start really taking off so he could afford to create more and more. I kept the idea of making any money of my own out of my head to shield myself from being disappointed if there was no return on my investments into the show.
After months of creating work and making a mess of our apartment and more than a few sleepless nights, the First Friday night came. It was INSANE! I can barely remember the 4 hours of the sale on Friday. There were thousands of people that came through MECA’s doors to look at our work.
Andrew and I were amazed at the reaction to our table filled with our collections, prints, barnacles, framed work, wood blocks, and much more. For the most part, the feedback was great. We had an interesting and eye catching set up. People wanted to get in closer and see why there was felted wool, woodgrain prints, and oddities galore. If I can remember anything, it was the great feeling of people being genuinely curious about our work.
The even greater feeling- was we have followers! There were multiple people that had either seen my work at other shows, or Andrew’s work gracing shops in town or the fingers of past customers. They visited us and brought tears to me later in the day when thinking of how grateful I am to have people that truly find something meaningful in my work. It made me realize I am not alone when creating my work. I am feeling incredibly thankful to those people. They have inspired me to become a better me. To create more and create often.
On Saturday (the second and last day) of the sale, we were still extremely busy. I felt a little less than human from exhaustion, but people still spent time with us and found us to have unique gifts from the rest of the artists. With it being a slower day, people had time to spend choosing their favorite piece and really falling in love with how something was made. It was fascinating to know that people were there for the love of art/making.
To everyone that came to MECA and supported every artist there, THANK YOU! I’m not sure if anyone else is as gushing with pride and appreciation, but they feel the same way I am sure. It’s important to know how hard it is to put your work out there for so many people, and when supported it creates a feeling of accomplishment - one of the greatest feelings to receive as an artist. To everyone that stopped by to support Andrew and I, we were probably too distracted to thank you at the time, but it was meaningful to see familiar faces and know people are happy with the decision’s we have made as artists. To the family and friends that gave us hugs, water, food, nutrition, strength, help, and ideas- we are better people because of you.
OH, lastly- will I ever do this again.... Before the show I would have said, probably NOT. But two hours after the show was over, I missed the interaction with people. I went home and didn’t want to clean up the mess, I wanted to keep creating and making. Andrew and I are now working on figuring out what’s next- I’m assuming next summer we will become busy bee’s once again, as we are gearing up to apply to shows throughout the state.
Since I'm horrible at keeping up with this blog, I have a feeling not many people know what it is I have been up to.
There was a period last spring where I took the time to really explore my options- career wise. For years I was working sporadic jobs, all in hopes that something great would come along. Instead, I discovered that it is true, opportunities do not just fall in your lap. It takes serious commitment and energy to get what you want. After receiving the amazing support from my boyfriend, I quit my job this spring and took time to write about 40 cover letters and send resumes blindly to a handful of jobs that I wanted.
My goal was, to find a full-time, salary paying, benefits, potential for growth, photography related, Portland based job.
Can I just say, that searching for a job, is one of the most frustrating and bizarre experiences that I hate to do..... Out of the 40 or so jobs that I applied to, I went on 3 serious interviews. I was offered all 3 jobs, but chose the one that I knew the least about.
Aurora Photos, is a stock photography company based out of Portland. It was started about 20 years ago, with the work from primarily National Geographic and Outdoor/Adventure photographers. As the industry has shifted, due to larger companies, such as Getty and Corbis, Aurora expanded their collection and now is a small stock agency that has an array of work.
When interviewed for the job, I was completely honest about what I did and did not know about the stock photography world. Surprisingly, they hired me anyway. I was offered everything I had wanted and have continued to grow at Aurora. My job allows me to be my own slave driver- I am in control of myself. My day consists of working on the computer, getting new images online, editing work, submitting to agencies around the world, and other random things that many people would have no idea what I'm talking about. At 5 o'clock I go home feeling done with the work day, and energized enough to want to make my own work.
I deal directly with a hundred or so photographers as apart of my job, and it's always making me want to better my own practice. These guys that submit stock photography, are dedicated and putting in a ton of effort to make money on their work. The work we ask of them is intense and overwhelming for the most part. Every week though, someone is joining on board and changing their practice and way of shooting to grow further and stay true to the times and challenges of staying relevant in the photography world. It's inspiring really.
Right now, I am also helping build a new Aurora website and building a new brand, completing a huge quarterly marketing plan, and recruiting new photographers. It's exciting to really be dealing within my field and using my creative skills and photography skills to not just make Aurora money, but also other photographers.
I plan to really push more people to check out what I am doing at Aurora, once the new site is up and running. It will feel good to show it off.
In the mean time, here is two volumes of a quarterly online publication I worked on with the amazing, Peter Dennen. We have some pretty amazing photographers and this really shows off their talent. Check out Vol. 1 and Vol. 2
If you look back a few posts on this blog, you will get to read about the immense excitement I had for the opportunity to go to Stonington Maine on residency at the Stephan Pace House. It's been over a month since we have been back and I'm still editing away at the images I took and reflecting on the work I made.
The week at the Stephan Pace house was a greatly anticipated one by myself and my partner, Andrew, who joined me on the residency to create his own work. Just a little background about the two of us- The residency was an idea that we both felt would be a great opportunity to really focus on what we love and absolutely nothing else. We are both just out of college and working to pay our way in the “real world.” For this reason, rarely do we find the time to create work in our down time. Besides working full-time jobs in our fields (sorta), we are both also freelancing our work (which is in fact, very different than creating the work that you make for yourself). OH, and we just so happen to live in the tiniest one bedroom where our studios spill over into our living space, making it uninspiring to create most days. The pressure that we were both putting on ourselves before and during the week in Stonington, to make an abundance of work and utilize every second of the days while on residency, was maybe a little overbearing and unpractical. However, this self-inflicted pressure, pushed us harder than one would expect, to create work in a short window of time. In summary- the week at the Stephan Pace home, was well needed.
During our week, which fell at the very end of the summer, we experienced one of the wettest/ foggiest weeks that we could have imagined. Maybe a blessing in disguise, it proved to be a productive weather pattern for art making. The rain kept me indoors, in a house that oozed inspiration and creativity from every inch of the home, allowing me to create the images I had dreamed up. Until the sun or a tiny bit of light decided to break through the fog and dark clouds, I was busy building scenes, collections, and compositions. The moment the sun peeked through, I would race around the house with my camera, snapping the set up images. For a few images, I even waited the entire week to get enough light in a room to photograph it how I had imagined it.
My work has become a slow process of collecting and building throughout the year. To give a background on my work- I’ve become obsessed with the slow process that comes with the 4x5 camera. I know that I can take my time with this wonderful machine, while controlling every aspect of an image. From this, I started seriously sketching out images. I would draw out and describe every detail of how I wanted it to come to life. This has become a helpful tool that has made every image a work of art. To have control over what exactly I was photographing, I came up with the idea to begin making collections. Most collections I make, come from nature, as it’s ever present in my life, oh, and I have always been inspired by anything and everything beautiful. I found the collections, scattered around, to resemble my very own WunderKammer. Each image has become a scene from my ‘Cabinet of Curiosity.’ In fact, many of Stephan and Pam’s (the owners of the home) belongings/collections, became subjects of my images as well, as they seemed to be the ones that gave that home it’s creative juices.
Although the rain held us back from really fully taking advantage of the beautiful sea town, we did take advantage of some of the many wonders of having a week off from work and feeling the relaxation vibe take over. We found mornings most enjoyable on the porch, drinking coffee, reading, and felting. We sat out and watched lobster boats disappear into the fog and eventually we too would leave the porch and disappear to go our separate ways in the house to each do our work. Often for a few hours during the day we would go to the beach, a short ways a way, and pick blackberries or beach comb for broken pottery or small marine animals. The beach was good to us. It was empty and it felt like it was only us two on the whole island. Most nights were spent building fires inside and reading sea stories. Although most nights were restless, as we are convinced the house is haunted by Stephan himself (maybe we have become too much of city rats- accustomed to our tiny apartment). Either way, the house certainly was alive with everything that the Pace family has left behind.
Was the week a success? My intentions at the Pace House consisted of creating and building about 30 or so images that I would take with my 4x5 camera. The image ideas came from a list on my wall, written in chalk throughout the year; waiting to become an image captured on film. During the residency I created only 27, which is indeed a major accomplishment. The images ranged from pressed and dried flowers, to slingshots and skeleton keys, to sardine fish that were stranded on the beach. As embarrassing and disheartening as this may come across, the total number of successful images I was able to create in one week surpassed the number of images I’ve made over the past year. Needless to say, the week was an incredible success with my strongest body of work only growing.
Since 2010 when I was first introduced to the Stephan Pace house, I have wanted to find a way back. For a short weekend trip that was shared with 13 other students in the MECA photography department, the Pace home was magical for the endless opportunities it offered. The small nooks and crannies, to the gigantic barn, the house was the perfect stage for images to be made and for one’s imagination as crazy as mine, to go absolutely wild. As the trip was designed around the education of large format photography, something that I had already been familiar and using as my medium for 2 years, I was helping students the majority of the time with techniques and common difficulties.
Even in just those few days, I found everything to be a perfect attraction to my aesthetic. I was able to capture the light that is only found in Maine and the nostalgia that comes from old homes and sea towns. Originally, I thought I wasn’t able to capture as much as I wanted because of the amount of people and the time not fully spent on my own work, but when I got home after 2 days, I gathered my film and realized I hit jackpot. The images that I took were not necessarily fitting for my Thesis work however, so for the time, they were pushed aside. Now, as I go back and look at those images, I am reminded of how much work there is left to be made at the Stephan Pace house.
As I know that work on Wunderkammer will be ongoing this summer,I plan to work on making images as well as writing in depth. As well as creating new photographs I will be spending time developing my ideas and finalizing the concept of the series. It takes a bit of solitude in order to immerse in my process and the Stephen Pace House is the perfect conductor for production.
Andrew and I will be going the end of August for a week to the Stephan Pace house as part of a Maine College of Art residency. We could not be more excited! The light will be changing and I will be focusing on writing as well as finalizing images that I’m desperate to make. Andrew will be working in the studio that hasn’t be used in forever at the Pace house. Can’t wait to see what we make!
These are images from the last time I was there….. Granted this time I won’t have these ladies to work with, but I plan on continuing with the still life set up and working with nature more.
Through the Maine Arts Commission, I was recently chosen by State Senate President, Justin Alfond to have five of my photographs hung in his office at the State House. Mr. Alfond chose photographs from my past series mnemonics and the newest series Wunderkammer. The photographs were taken with my 4x5 large format camera throughout Lincolnville and Vinalhaven. They emulate the spirit of the midcoast with the light they possess and the old time nostalgia of collections and nature that has stood still. While visiting the office of Senator Alfond, we talked casually and joked about the reactions that visitors to his office had when they looked at my photographs. The Senator appreciated the conversation that they had generated that steered away from the usual. It was a wonderful experience meeting him and sharing time talking about photography and my career, with someone so nice and appreciative of artists. The photographs are one loan for two years and I hope to run into Senator Alfond again.
The way scale plays a role in my work is somewhat of an illusion. Either you are viewing my work online and it’s dimensions are only as large as your computer screen, or you have the opportunity to see them in person at a scale that blows everything out of proportion. I can’t say whether people often understand how small or how large I’m working when designing each photograph. When making the Wild Strawberry image, I could barely see the minute spider that is placed in the center of the image. When blown up to print size, the spider appears average size and the strawberries are no longer the small succulent fruits that grow wildly in grass, but are the size of a store bought california strawberry.
When scanning and editing the image Charts, I was disappointed at how the large scale of the sea charts, was lost to the restricted size that was the film. When first printing it, people assumed that it was done on a table top, as if it would fit on an average kitchen table. I plan to redo this image next summer when I am in Vinalhaven, where I have the space to lay out multiple charts on the wooden floor of our boathouse. While taking the picture, my mom snapped a photo of me setting up the shot. It shows the scale and now if I could only figure out how to make it possible to show this in every image.
This is the most overdue post yet, but back in July of 2012, myself, Andrew, and my mother had a show at the North Haven Gallery. I showed work from my Wunderkammer series. It was well received, yet I knew there was more to be done to the series to make it cohesive. The week was one of the best of my life and hope to show at this gallery again some summer.