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Aftermath of the MFA

 

diBenedetto_MFA_2015_42Not to sure how or where to start…. I finished my MFA in August and a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Literally and figuratively. All I wanted was a break from school and I felt the day would never come. But now it has… and now I am like “well what do I do now.” I think the hardest part of graduating with a terminal degree is that school is officially over. Done. Fin!…..Right… I could start my PhD in Visual Art, but is that what I really want right now. Not a 100% sure. The thought has crossed my mind over and over again, but for now, I think it’s best to just continue to the practice. Which right now, for me is the hardest part… finding the time to create again. At least when I was in graduate school, I was pushed to make art all the time, be in the studio all the time and create create create.

Now that I have completed my program, I find it more difficult to make time… mainly because there simply are not enough hours in the day. Now with new job opportunities flourishing and doors are opening, (WHICH IS GREAT!!!!- WHO WOULD HAVE KNOWN THEIR WOULD BE 4 JOBS OPEN IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA!!)

BUT applying to exhibitions and applying for grants…. is like…. applying grad school every week… like every week… LITERALLY! I FEEL LIKE I AM APPLYING TO SCHOOL AGAIN ALL THE TIME. But just like one of my favorite art videos on Ted talk… Just do it. So how does one find time to create, research and write and then create more. Well here goes…..

I am learning that the push comes from within. It is now more than ever, more important to push myself. Nobody is here to check in on me. I am also learning maintaining the relationships I made in school are more important, more than ever right now at this moment. I valued my cohorts voices and opinions when it came to my work. So keeping that connection is very important right now. I also find it’s important to continuing reading and keeping up to date with whats going on in the contemporary art world. Joining mail list, artist talks, and even seeing more and more exhibitions has become so much more important than when I was in graduate school. More important… taking the time to rest. There is no need for those sleepless nights and endless writing and reading sessions. Of course I try not to procrastinate, but I work two adjunct positions full time and have my daughter, I can’t help but wait to the last minute at times. I have realized that I just need to be okay with that. And I am okay. I also realize, that it’s not worth the last minute push if I can’t sleep and get my mind right. I also find it very important to keep believing that my work is amazing because I am amazing. Confidence. That confidence I built in critiques and during my thesis…. that confidence that my daughter looks up too. Confidence. I didn’t just get a degree, I got a terminal degree. So I am going to keep moving forward… like always.

 

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Best Photo of 2015

 

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Sid

The best photo I took of 2015 had to be the photo of daughter Savannah and all her many activities. I call Savannah ““Multipotentialite.” She has this wonderful imagination about life. She often finds the adventure in everything and has this appetite to try everything. I wanted to create a fun photo showing all that emotion and really capture her identity. We set up the backdrop in my home in San Diego, Calif. We used different types of lighting kits, but I loved using the soft boxes. Savannah helped set up the shot on what she should wear and how she should place the books on her head and her soccer ball. She wanted to make sure we got all her activities just right…. a clear sense of balance into her life. I think I just enjoyed how my daugher and I collaborated, it was special moment.

I often find it hard to print my photos for the best quality. So this year I googled and found Social Print Studio. I love their Giant Photostrips and the metal prints! I found these to be the best print for our home and easy to hang up. I also like the different parts you can write on them. I plan to  use Social Print Studio  for part of my thesis project  for graudate school, that I am currently working on with Savannah. The series is called “Are you okay?” and comes from a project that Savannah and I started about two years ago.  Savannah has her own instagram called @Sids_world_  and it captures the everyday life of a kids world, it’s called #comeplaywithme. The series was inspired by Murad Osmann‘s photographic series called #followmeto. The reason I love Social prints Giant Photostrips, because it allows Savannah to write on the photos as well. They look great on our walls and are inviting for a fun perspective on things.

We often struggle these days with raising our kids to be the best and strive to introduce them to so much. Always college prepping and over booking every single detail in their day. We have become the generation of  “helicopter parents.” We forget that they are kids, and they need to have FUN! 

But this year Savannah wanted to choose every activity in this photo. (except swim.. she wants a swim team that swims in the ocean and be FREE!!) She wants to try everything and I respect and admire that about her. She is a resilient and tenacious kid and I know that she will find her niche and love what she does, but for now, I just want her to enjoy being a kid. 🙂

Yes, she is in Soccer, swim, piano, violin, Continuing Catholic Development, paints and draws and not to mention she is a pretty awesome Fourth Grader. She is amazing and often inspire me. She is the definition of what you call a “Multipotentialite.” This photo captures that and much more. It truly captured our year of 2015!

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Mercedes Jelinek Photographer

PhotoBooth Project

A few years ago while applying through grade school I met a wonderful young lady who was attending LSU. Her name is Mercedes Jelinek!! See her website here: mercedesjelinekphotography

She is an amazing photographer and I was so fortunate to meet her. I have been following her for quite sometime and I was fascinated by her Photo Booth Project! Here is what she had to say about it!

How did this project come about?
I grew up in a small town. I loved how everyone knew everyone else, people would wave as you passed by and I loved the sense of community but things changed when I moved to Baton Rouge.
I was finally charmed by Baton Rouge a few months after moving into my first apartment. It was just a tiny run down studio, in what was thought of as a drab and dangerous part of town – the longer I stayed there the more I realized the perception in no way matched the true nature of the neighborhood. I felt alone and separated from the environment outside my barred front door. I wanted that small town feeling back, I just needed to figure out how. One day I sat outside my front door near the street and greeted all those who passed by.

what artist inspired you to do it?
I am greatly inspired by Richard Avedon’s “In the American West” and Alec Soth’s ” Sleeping by the Mississippi” projects.

do you still continue to do the project?

Yes, I just had a show of both the Baton Rouge and Brooklyn Neighborhood Photo Booth in San Antonio Yesterday. It’s not really something I will ever stop. I am always shooting an much as I can ( except have been slowed down a bit by the good old New England weather). Once it warms up I will be right back out there between 1-3 times a week.

Why black and white? why film?

I wish I could remember the name of an artist I saw speak years ago… Anyway he was a ceramicist and he was discussing why he chose to only make black and white vessels for a large chunk of his career. He was actually quite heated when someone asked him why he would do such a thing when he had so many different materials at his disposal. He replied “Color has impure seduction.”. That really stuck with me. Our eyes are instantly attracted to colors… If we decide to get rid of that element you are left with focusing on just the light, line, shape and texture of a scene. This is really what appeals to me about the black and white medium. Another reason, is that the project has to do with being human. I photograph people from everywhere, with different backgrounds and experiences, but in the end we are all the same. We are just people trying to survive, trying to be happy, trying to figure out our next move. I think this is illustrated well by creating this kind of monotone connection between all the portraits. – (I can go on about this for hours in depth so let me know if you need me to elaborate on this later)

Why film?

Besides the fact that I still can see the differences when it comes to dynamic range between film and digital, I have to say it’s the tangibility of the materials. It’s something I can touch, it’s a beautiful chemical reaction that still translates into more megapixels than any (affordable) professional digital camera can offer. I can make something, I feel, is becoming more precious and rare in today’s instant gratification digital world. I want to make something more for the people who sit for me, something more then just a tag on Facebook.

Why the selection in the backdrop?

My backdrops are chosen from available materials bought or found from the neighborhoods I shoot and lived in. In Baton Rouge it was a grey sheet from my bed, in North Carolina it was a borrowed white sheet (more like a sail), and in Brooklyn in was some fabric I bought a few blocks away. I don’t want the backdrops to look like a professional studio or exactly like Avedon’s work. I love that the backdrops I used are placed loosely and move with the wind. This often gives hints of the neighborhood around my subjects as they do.

How do you get the prints to the people you are photographing?

I deliver them by hand or send them by mail.

Since I have been so inspired, I have decided to have my students at Cal Stat San Marcos University create their own photo booths in VSAR 302!! I am excited to see how they turn out!!!

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Proof…… The Photographers on Photography

Recently, one of my mentors from the United States Navy posted this on her Facebook. Chief Jennifer Villalovos was one of the first female photographers I met at U.S. Navy Fleet Combat Camera Pacific (FLTCOMCAMPAC). I was in the reserve unit training with active duty, so that I could learn more about being a combat photojournalist. I learned more in those three years from handful of mentors than I did in my years of college.

This video speaks about the labor of love in the field of photography. The video interviews 44 photographers coming through the headquarters of National Geographic.  They talk about how they found photography and never left it. Much like me, I picked up my first camera at the age of 16, but didn’t take my first real class until my first year of college. From then on, I never let go of my camera.  I knew I wanted to do something with photography, but didn’t know what. It wasn’t until I joined the Navy, that I realized, I was born to document, capture and show the emotion of people’s lives through the click of my shutter.

The words of these 44 photographers makes  you feel like you are traveling to endless worlds without ever-moving an inch. ” From my interviewer’s chair, it felt like traveling to endless worlds without ever-moving an inch. These were not your typical interviews; they were shop talk conversations that didn’t seem to start or end in that room. We recently premiered this first installment, comprised of excerpts, at the international photography festival Visa Pour l’Image in Perpignan, France. Consider this a sneak peek of each resulting individual video portrait that is to come.” – Pamela Chen

Watch the Video. Its amazing.

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http://proof.nationalgeographic.com/2013/09/15/the-photographers-on-photography/

Watch the video first. Then play the video without looking and LISTEN.. this is what I heard.

POWER… PERSPECTIVE…. INTENSE…. CAN’T EXIST ALONE…. STOP TIME FOR A MOMENT… GREAT PHOTOS TAKE TIME, PATIENCE, AND SUPPORT…. ONE RIGHT WAY OF LIVINGCOMPLEXITY AND BEAUTY... OVERWHELMING URGENCY TO SHARE… UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE… WHAT YOU DO WITH IT… ENGAGE… HAVE TO CARE.. HAVE TO CARE… HAVE TO CARE… ONE MORE.. JUST ONE MORE… ONE MORE AND THEN ILL BE DONE.. BUT YOURE NOT…  YOU CAN SEND US ANY PLACE ON EARTH, WELL GET THE JOB DONE…. STILL FRAME… PROOF… PULL IN THE READER… PASSPORT TO PEOPLES LIVES… TO PHOTOGRAPHY… WE WILL GO TO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD AND THEN UNDERWATER.. ADDICTION… ITS AN ADDICTION… ADDICTION …REALLY MORE … OPEN YOUR MIND… CHANGER YOUR LIFE… CONNECT TO THE WORLD… PEOPLE CARE…. UNDERSTAND… ONE MORE… JUST ONE MORE…. YOU PHOTOGRAPH TO UNDERSTAND… TO LEARN ABOUT THE WORLD… TO LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF...

ENJOY AND PASS ALONG.