Contact Us

Have any questions? Fill out this form and we will do our best to contact you within 24 hours. Thank you!

Name *
Name
         

123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789

email@address.com

 

You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.

VISUAL ARTS

Filtering by Category: Photography

Artist Tips: Dealing With Criticism and Disapproval

Arthur Benjamins

By Arthur Benjamins

There are two methods of criticism and disapproval

1 – Verbal

2 – Non-verbal


The reasons in which the verbal manifests itself can be split into several camps.

1 – Ignorance

2 – Genuine attempt to assist through criticism

3 – Genuine attempt to be hurtful.


It is fully understandable from the artists' point of view that all criticism is hurtful no matter how it is worded. Many people simply do not possess the power or ability to bring their thoughts into a manner which is both positive and constructive. Even the people who have been asked to give their opinions on what you've created may not have the proper ability to do so.

Although countless artists have created work for many years, showing it to the general public is a great deal different than to friends and family, those who may patiently indulge you. Like stand-up comedians, bringing it to the masses is a memorable experience that will either make or break you. Two clearly marked choices determine if you're going to slink away with your tail between your legs or get up, dust yourself off and stay on your path. Far too many times have I needed to talk real courage into artists when their very first show didn't meet their expectations. I was right there, July 1979 for my own first solo show in London.

Science Fantasy art from Arthur Benjamins’s first solo show in 1979

“Beth” by Arthur Benjamins

“Beth” by Arthur Benjamins

 
“Broken Bridges” by Arthur Benjamins

“Broken Bridges” by Arthur Benjamins

I didn't realize for one second that the gallery owner had her own coterie of narrow-minded clientele and who would not be interested in my automotive paintings. It was a major lesson to me, it hurt like hell but I got over it and became much stronger.


Sucking it up:

One of my own steps for survival has become a total shift of attitude and a different viewpoint that does not run parallel with the usual manner of reasoning. Instead of becoming bitter and twisted and becoming obsessed with criticism by a gallery owner, potential client, magazine editor, etc., simply look at it from an audacious new direction.

Despite your work being the best thing they must have seen for many years and ALL of your tremendous and hard work, they forced you to take them by the scruff of the neck and make them listen up. They simply did not have the wherewithal to recognize your genius and to join you on your path all the way to the top! In short – they all missed your boat towards a fresh new future.

There – doesn't sound that more uplifting?

This may sound big headed and pompous, but you are not in the business of catering to the preconceived ideas of others who think differently as to how artists should present themselves to the world.

When you let your art speak for itself, you can also let your art views be known in no uncertain way. Artists are not known to be verbal, so be different. Speak out. SHOUT out..

The above suggestion should only be considered when you've been in the game for a long time. A critical outlook on the clientele world through artists' eyes is a serious privilege that should be earned and not taken on at the start of one's career.

A good artist automatically knows when his/her work has reached a plateau where they can wear the coat of an artist who is ready for the world, and on your path you will meet dissatisfied artists who are nowhere near that point yet.


Legitimate criticism:

I recently asked a friend of mine - a well-known and very accomplished artist who produced the very first 'Star Wars' poster and who's name remained very high on the firmament of strip cartoon art and beyond – just how he dealt with the criticism (and more) from his agent & manager.

Now consider that this particular criticism would come from an exceptionally capable source which should be seen more as guidance than anything else - his answer still rung a distinct bell with me as it mirrored my feelings when my own agent & partner passes criticism on any of my own works – I become very defensive.

In his case, his agent suggested a subject he should paint and to which he reacted negatively. He painted it after all, and it sold within a week for an excellent price!

It is very important to have a reliable person who will be totally honest with you even if you are told things you don't want to hear. In many cases the opinion will be worth it and much of my work has been greatly helped.


Interaction:

As mentioned earlier in the article on my interview, the non-verbal side of criticism is a treacherous one, as the viewer does not communicate with you which may seem fine but it won't allow you to interact with them, getting the necessary and intuitive response experience which can turn a neutral or potentially negative situation into a positive one. As odd as it sounds, you need the bitter experience with all the 'hecklers' out there.


At the very least, ALL 'criticism', regardless of the source should be considered. It's up to you to process that in any shape you wish to. In the same manner that every cloud has a silver lining – every piece of unhelpful or negative commentary DOES build you up and make you stronger.


Motor Racing art rom Arthur Benjamins’s first solo show in 1979

“917-10 vs McLaren” by Arthur Benjamins

“917-10 vs McLaren” by Arthur Benjamins

“Lauda at Monaco” by Arthur Benjamins

“Lauda at Monaco” by Arthur Benjamins

 

Behind the Scenes Look into KBR's Basic Lightroom Editing Techniques

Kassandra Ramirez

By KBR

After graduating with a Bachelors of Science in Photography in December, I made the decision to challenge myself and advance my skills in teaching photography. When I was barely almost a teenager, photography started off as a mere hobby of mine. However, after ten years of experience using a camera and getting a formal education in photography, I have seen my technical and creative skills thrive.

Since going professional, all of my clients are always falling in love with their gallery, and I wanted to offer a behind the scenes look into my basic editing process for any artists looking for insight.

Before: Unedited Photo of Maya Morris by KBR

After: Photo of Maya Morris by KBR after Adobe Lightroom

In this video, I will be sharing a behind the scenes look into my basic Adobe Lightroom techniques, as well as a few tips to consider when editing. I captured these photos last week while hanging out with my friend Maya near my place. After falling in love with this location, I thought this edit would be the perfect opportunity to share my process.

When using Adobe Lightroom, I have additional tips I always recommend when photographing and editing to make the process smooth and seamless.

Adobe Lightroom Editing Tips

  1. When importing photos, I usually uncheck all the photos prior to the import and manually select all photos I would like to keep and edit. This is helpful with saving space because Lightroom automatically selects all new photos to import, essentially wasting space with unwanted photos.

  2. Experiment with the color temperature of a photo. While I would typically recommend staying close to the color temperature of the original image, changing the color temperature to be warmer or cooler can change the entire feel of the image. I always recommend making subtle changes, but experimenting with the color temperature can make an image more interesting.

  3. I always prefer not to crop my photos, but consider that a simple crop of a photo could entirely change the composition of an image. When cropping a photo, my favorite rule of composition to obtain is the rule of thirds. While I only crop my photos occasionally, I only do so if it makes the composition better.

  4. When editing or cropping a photo, consider the dimensions if you plan on printing the photo. Typical sizes for photo prints are 4x6”, 5x7”, 8x10”, 11x14”, and 16x20.” There are places where you can print different sizes, although it is usually more expensive. Some of my favorites dimensions for photos include 6x9” and 12x18”. The size is important because printing in an incorrect size can crop your photo.

  5. Always photograph in RAW, which is a much better format than .jpg or others because it allows for a bigger image file when capturing the photo. This allows you to bring back some of the details hidden in the lights and darks of a photo in editing. RAW is also much better for printing a photo because of its higher quality.

  6. If you are unsure of which edit looks better, try taking a short break. Taking a break from looking at the same photo for a long time and then revisiting the photo is usually very helpful in making it clear which edit is the better option. I often ask a friend for their opinion as well; I find it extremely helpful getting a second pair of eyes to overlook my work.

Although there is endless photography advice I have to offer, I hope this behind the scenes look into my basic Adobe Lightroom editing process is helpful for aspiring photographers. Please feel free to comment with any photography questions, and I will reply with any advice I have.

If you are looking to improve your editing skills, I am offering 1-on-1 Adobe Lightroom Workshops in-person and online! In a 60-minute workshop, I will work with you on one of YOUR photos and give you a step-by-step tutorial using my editing process. Click here to book now!

Interview with Self-Portrait Photographer Natalie Wheeler

Kassandra Ramirez

By KBR

A key element to growing as an artist is discovering artists that differ from your aesthetic. Artists all around the world are constantly expressing their emotions differently, with their own personal techniques and inspirations. In an attempt to grow as an artist every day, I am always eager to learn more about the creative process of the succeeding artists around me.

Last fall, I had the incredible opportunity of showcasing my photography at Connect, an art show put on by Raw Artists, and had the pleasure of sharing a display with photographer Natalie Wheeler. I was immediately grateful for Natalie’s kindness when she let me borrow a lighting for my display, but was further inspired by her work when she handed me a business card with one of her thought-provoking images.

Photo by Natalie Wheeler

Photo by Natalie Wheeler

While Natalie Wheeler has experience in various photography styles, her niche is undoubtably self-portraiture. With a much darker aesthetic than myself, I decided to reconnect with Natalie for an interview about her photography process and share with the art community.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

How would you describe your unique style?

My photographs are just a representation of what I see and how I feel.  I take photographs of what moves me and that’s a very big spectrum.  I am often drawn to dramatic light and shadows-and the feelings evoked by those juxtapositions.  Perhaps that’s why my style tends to be on the moody/edgier side. 

Why are you a photographer?

I am a highly visual person, with a deep need to express myself artistically. Looking back, it seems very possible that I could have wound up being a visual artist using mediums other than photography.  I suppose it’s the confluence of having the tools I needed at a time in my life when I was ready to give it my all.  There are many other artistic pursuits I dream of taking on, like learning to play the guitar and piano, making ceramics again (something I fell in love with in high school), but until then, my main instrument is my camera-- maybe it is my purpose.

When did you first become enthralled with photography?

I started getting more interested in taking photographs when I got my first smart phone in 2009.  I soon got hooked on the Hipstamatic app that allows you to mix up different film and lens combinations. That outlet became an increasingly important vessel through which I could focus and unleash my creativity.  Then, I got my first DSLR camera in 2010. Really I just wanted a camera that would take better pictures of my children, who were toddlers then. At the time, I had no idea that photography would become the primary vessel through which I would develop my craft as an artist. 

My photography is very personal and reflects my journey in life. I have always had a deep need to express myself artistically, but it wasn’t until I reached my thirties that I fully committed to that need. Now I can’t imagine living my life any other way.

When did you start experimenting with self-portraiture?

 My process into self-portraiture from lifestyle and documentary photography happened very organically. At first I was just testing out different lighting environments and taking my own photograph for bio pictures, but a bigger shift towards self-portraiture started in 2016, when I started taking self-portraits as a means to explore my inner landscape.  I found the process to be very cathartic, healing, and helpful in so many ways.  It seemed as though I had finally found the voice I had been struggling to find my whole life.  

What is the biggest challenge of being a self-portrait photographer?

The biggest challenge in self-portraiture also feels like the greatest gift.  Sharing the parts of myself that are so vulnerable, exposing deep-seated, life-long fears has been difficult.  It was more so when I first started than it is now.  But it is sharing my work and standing behind it, and who I am as a person and an artist, that has given me a level of self confidence and self acceptance that I don’t think I could have attained in any other way.   

From a technical perspective, setting up your camera to take a photograph of yourself when you can’t be behind it or holding it to focus means you have to find and set the desired focal point in advance. I either place an object in my stead—where I will be when the shutter releases or focus on something close enough to where I will be to achieve the focus. I don’t get hung up on perfect focus though, because sometimes “creative” focus can make an otherwise ordinary photograph much more emotive. 

Photo by Natalie Wheeler

Photo by Natalie Wheeler

Another other tricky part is using the ten second timer, getting to where I want to be in the frame, in the pose, and holding on to the emotion—and keeping all in sync for when the shutter goes. Oh and dealing with tripods…it’s hard to find a good one, and there has been a lot of sweet talking and occasional swear words trying to get it to cooperate!

Give us insight into your creative process.

Creating my self-portraiture requires I take time away from everything and everyone else completely—so that I can focus entirely within to make my photographs.  This is a crucial part of the process for me, and logistically it poses a challenge because it’s rare that I have moments of solitude when all the other forces (light, inspiration, ideas) align for me to create.  

It’s also important to push through feelings of frustration and discouragement when the creative pieces don’t fall into place right away.  When I begin, I usually go in with at least one or two ideas/emotions that I want to convey in the photograph.  More often than not, these ideas morph into something else—sometimes only slightly, and sometimes to a large degree.  As I’m working, I look at the back of the camera’s LCD screen and make modifications.  I might even end up moving to a completely different area—I’m constantly changing the perspective---it’s all very fluid and dynamic as I go along.

I have learned to be patient and trust the creative process. Being open to the process and its challenges is what sustains me, enthralls me, and helps me to grow and develop as an artist. 

InThisBox.jpg

 

Who are some of your biggest inspirations in photography right now?

Oh! Well, there are so many!  I will narrow it down to a few artists who have created self-portraiture, but this is very far from a complete list. I love the work of the great Francesca Woodman, Robert Maplethorpe, and Vivian Maier.  

I am very active in the self-portraiture community on Instagram and I am constantly inspired by what people are creating.

I help run a self-portrait hub on Instagram called @theechoesinside with the talented Michelle Pellachini, Tuyen Nguyen, Fiona Seaburn, and Cindy Knight.  These ladies mean the world to me and their talent is other level.  We feature inspiring self-portrait artists Mondays thru Fridays.

What is your dream photo shoot/location?

I love creating self-portraiture in old hotels.  I shot my first old-hotel self-portrait at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba in 2016.   Then I did a two series at the Hotel Vendome in Prescott, Arizona, and Hotel Congress in Tucson in 2018. I hope to explore many more places like this in the future!  In general though, I find new places are almost always inspiring to me.  I love creating art as I travel.

Photo by Natalie Wheeler

Photo by Natalie Wheeler

What can we expect in the future from your art?

I want to continue to push myself out of my comfort zone and travel to new places to create self-portraiture.  I am also starting to photograph others in a similar style to how I create my self-portraiture in what I call “moodoir” sessions.  You can read more about that kind of session here: http://www.actnaturallyphotography.com/moodoir-sessions/

What is the message you hope to share with your visual work?

The intent and messages behind my self-portraiture are at the core of my being. I can only hope that I leave people feeling inspired—this is a lofty goal indeed!  It’s not important to me that the messages in my art come across to others as I feel them or see them. One of the many beautiful things about art is that people will often see more of themselves reflected in artwork than they will of the artist—sometimes it might even shed light on parts of their being they didn’t know were there before.

Visit Natalie’s Website for her full portfolio!