Alameda On Camera 2017

It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me, I know.  Life has become VERY busy for me lately . . . so busy in fact that I wasn’t able to attend the Alameda on Camera exhibit at the Frank Bette Center for the Arts this year.  This is the first year since 2011 that I missed participating in it, and I really felt the loss in my soul.

However, I was able to help volunteer at the opening night gala for the exhibit and got to see all the lovely pieces that this year’s artists produced.  There were some old favorites (like a quilt by Susan Lea Hackett), and some new blood (this is the second year in a row that FBCA has included a “Youth” category of photos), and it was great to see people’s interpretations of whatever section of Alameda they had chosen.

For instance, Patti Cary created this very interesting sculpture, titled “Return.”  I’m not sure what section of the map she drew, so I don’t know if the leaves on the branches are the photos she took, or if the other items on the branches are things she found on the streets or sidewalks of wherever she was.  Regardless, it’s a fascinating piece.

Because the 48 sections of the map of Alameda don’t change, there are a few sections where people seem to produce the exact same image every year, no matter who the photographer is.

For example, one section includes an abandon warehouse that used to house a Del Monte factory.  This building is so long that it takes up two blocks, and its own section on the map.  It can be very hard to make a photo of such a long building look interesting and different from every other photo (as you can see in the photo to the right), but one artist, Alisha Laborico, was able to capture what was (in my opinion) the BEST aspect of this building I’ve ever seen before.  (I’ll have to update this post later when I can take a picture of her image to share with you.)

 

UPDATE – Alisha was gracious enough to share her image with me, so here it is.

As anyone who’s seen my work for long enough will tell, it’s no wonder I loved her image.  The repeating patterns, the unusual angle, & the curving movement are all tricks I use in my own photography.  So, when I saw Alisha’s picture of the Del Monte building, I knew I had to write about it this year.  If you compare the image above of the building to the one to the left here, they almost don’t look like the same building.  And this old factory will be renovated next year, so it won’t look the same ever again.  But I’m thrilled that Alisha found a way to make this building look more interesting (to me at least).

 

 

Anyway, even though I wasn’t able to spend a weekend in February walking around this lovely island, capturing unique photos in my section, I was glad that I was able to see the work produced this year.  And you can believe that I will do whatever I can to ensure I’m able to attend this event next year.  After all, I’ve only taken pictures in 5 sections of Alameda . . . there’s SO much more of this lovely island to explore.  :o)

Merchandising

Craig & I know that we have some fans out there who enjoy our art, but might not want to hang it on their wall.  So we’ve decided to branch out a little bit & see what kind of response we’ll get by offering our art on various pieces of merchandise.

We’re just in the beginning phases of this, & as such, we’ve got limited quantities of each piece.  This is really more of a test to see if it might garner any interest, so we’d love to get your feedback.  As a reward for your comments, one lucky winner will receive one of these gifts for free!

The first item we thought would be of interest to our customers is a mouse pad.  We realize that many people are using their phones to surf the net nowadays, but I personally know lots of people who still use a desktop computer at home.  So we came up with a few options:

mouse-pads

The next thought was coffee mugs.  Craig’s stipple of Marilyn Monroe looks great on these, and my Psychedelic Flower Wheel does, too . . .

mugs

We also thought coasters might be a fun idea.  Here are a couple of the ones we chose to start with:

coasters

And then–because we both love to play card games ourselves–we thought playing cards would be a great idea too.  We’ve definitely bought novelty playing cards from some of our trips, & are guessing others might as well:

playing-cards

And finally, my whole family enjoys doing puzzles; the more challenging, the better.  And many of my photos would make lovely puzzles (as well as a couple of Craig’s stipples).  We’ve gotten just a couple options to test the waters, & these are small count pieces (about 250 pieces each), but they would still likely take the owner quite a while to put them together.

puzzles

Anyone who leaves a comment will be entered in a drawing to win an item of his/her choice.  And for those of you who don’t win, if you’d still like to purchase one of the gifts, drop us an email at info@masartwork.com.  We’ll happily sell you what we currently have in stock, & that will also let us know which ones would be great sellers.  The prices will likely change once we start ordering them in bulk, but for now, the pieces cost:

Mugs – $25
Mouse Pads – $15
Puzzles – $15
Coasters – $10
Playing Cards – $5

These are just a few ideas of where we might go with our merchandise, so please feel free to let us know if there are other products you’d like to see offered with our images on them.

A Clear Picture

Being a photographer who loves taking pictures of architecture, one thing that bugs me a lot is when things obstruct the view of whatever building I’m shooting.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a tree, street sign or a person.

I’ll use all sorts of tricks to make sure I capture just the building, and not the unwanted obstructions.  If people are in the shot, I’ll wait until they clear out (sometimes, waiting up to an hour for tourists to move out of the way).  If it’s street signs, I’ll find a different angle where you see just the building.  In fact, I took a photo of Windsor Castle one time where you only saw the top half of the structure, because of all the street signs AND tourists in the way.

But sometimes I can’t “cheat” my way to a clear picture, and so I try to take one with as few distractions as I can, and then edit them out in post-production.

 

portland-maine-021This photo, of State Street Church in Portland, Maine, is a lovely mixture of multi-colored bricks, with some very cool towers and other elements.  And thankfully, the telephone or cable wires are only in the sky, so I could easily use Photoshop to get rid of them one way or another.  I wouldn’t consider the trees an obstruction in this case because–with the fall colors–it just adds to the charm of the church.

 

 

 

 

These next two images would take quite a lot of manipulation in Photoshop.  I might be willing to mess with the church on the left, but probably not the house on the right, no matter how lovely all that ivy looks growing on the side.

portland-maine-010portland-maine-042

 

 

 

 

 

But even though I might or might not be willing to edit them in Photoshop, I still like taking the picture, if for no other reason than to remember some lovely element of the image (more on that in another blog).

portland-maine-107Now, this last picture is a Photoshop editing nightmare, and I DEFINITELY wouldn’t undertake it.  The Victoria Mansion (also in Portland, Maine) is a lovely structure, with lots of cool columns and whatnot, but I wasn’t able to capture the entire building without being across the street (with the lenses I had with me).  Unfortunately, being across the street meant that EVERY electrical wire got in the shot.  Even just editing out the wires in the sky would take a good couple of hours . . . forget about where they cross the building.

 

But, I liked Portland, and definitely plan on going back some day.  So I’ll be sure to bring some other lenses with me, and maybe I’ll be able to capture these buildings without any obstructions in them next time.

 

Site Redesign

As an artist (in any genre, really) it can be difficult to assess what constitutes your best work.  For me, many of the images on our website are a part of me.  Plus, just tweaking an image a little bit here and there offers a new story or perspective on your subject.  So, for me it can be difficult to narrow it down to just one shot of a particular subject.

That’s why I reached out to a wonderful photography teacher that I know for some advice.  She’s got years of experience, and also juries for gallery shows and art fairs, so I was thrilled that she was willing to help me.  So, one Saturday afternoon, she offered an objective evaluation of my images, and gave me three suggestions.

Her first critique was that I had WAY too many images up.  I knew that was the case, but again, I needed her guidance to weed out the weakest photos, which she did.  The next suggestion was to separate the black and white images from the full-color ones.  Apparently having them intermingled as I did wasn’t uniform enough, and the full-color images often took focus away from the strong black and white pics.

I took those suggestions and updated the photography website, which you can see here.  Her final recommendation was something I wasn’t able to do before this blog was due, so you’ll just have to come back and see the next round of improvements.

While you’re looking around the updated site, you might notice that Craig’s photos are no longer there.  Craig has decided to focus more of his attention on his stippling and illustrations, so his photos have gone away from our site.  We still have them, and we’re in the process of figuring out how to keep them available for those who want to purchase them, but since I had more photos on the site, we decided to separate things out a little bit and make the photography site more for me, and the art site more for him (you can see his site here).

We’ve also made one more adjustment . . .

We’ve partnered with PayPal Credit to offer a great deal on our images.  Any purchase over $99 will be allowed to be paid off in 6 months without being charged interest!  I’ve used this feature before with my own online purchases, so I know what a convenience it is, and we’re glad to be able to offer it to our customers.  With the holidays coming up, this makes it a great time to purchase all the images you want for your family and friends, and get a break on paying off the bill.

AND, we’ll go even one better . . . any purchase over $99 will receive free shipping through the holidays!  Yep, you read right.  From now until January 1st, you won’t have to pay anything more than the cost of the image(s) (provided you buy at least $99 worth).

So there you have it.  A revamped website, and two great deals on your next purchase!  Enjoy!

Alameda Art & Wine Faire Wrap Up

Well, last month was our second art fair of the year . . . The Alameda Art & Wine Faire on Park Street.

With temperatures in the low 70s all weekend, we couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather.  And that wonderful, sunny weather encouraged thousands of visitors to walk the festival.  We had tons of new people in our booth, admiring this photo or that image, and Craig was even approached by a couple of people about possible commissions (which he does . . . check out his portraits site here).

We also got to meet some other nearby vendors to get their take on things, and pick up any tips we could about how to improve our festival experience (remember, we ARE still relatively new to this).  One fellow vendor even offered suggestions of some other venues we might check out for next year.

We even had a great lesson in not assuming who will or won’t buy our art.

A younger gentleman walked into our booth toward the end of the day on Sunday.  He was admiring some of the stipple art that Craig had up, and mentioned that he, too, was an artist.  His specialty wasn’t stippling, but he admired Craig’s patience, and they got to talking more about art styles.

As I said, this gentleman looked to be young–maybe even college age–and so we assumed he didn’t have a ton of money to spend on art.  So we just sat and enjoyed our conversation with him, and answered his questions about certain pieces as he rooted through our print bins.

But he actually found one that he couldn’t part with and wound up purchasing it!  YAY!

We also did another contest giveaway for a free print.  People who came into our booth were encouraged to sign up for our newsletter, and doing so would enter them into the contest to win one of our images (valued at $65).  Many of them did, and our latest winner is Simon Boyd!

Santorini SunriseThe print he chose was Santorini Sunrise . . . the same one chosen by our previous winner.  Hmmm . . . maybe we need to bring that one to the art fairs next year.  :o)

 

 

 

 

But Craig and I got to thinking that we’d like to expand the contest next year.  So what we’re going to do is include all of you, our blog and newsletter readers, in future contests.  Some action will be needed on your part, but it’s simple.  Just comment on our blog to let us know which image(s) you’d like to own and your name will be included in our next drawing (don’t worry, we’ll remind you of the “rules” when we let you know about the next art fair).

Anyway, we had a great time at the Downtown Alameda Art & Wine Faire this year, and we can’t wait to see what art fairs we’ll be doing next year.

Thanks for reading!

Our Next Art Fair

We’ve been silent for a little bit, but it’s because we’ve been gearing up for our next art fair . . . and it’s nearly here!

The last weekend in July (30 & 31) is the 32nd year for the Downtown Alameda Art and Wine Faire, and we’re excited to be a part of it again this year!

2016 Park St Art & Wine Faire

When we began planning to join art fairs, we learned that brand recognition is key for making sales.  That it takes anywhere from 3-7 times for someone to hear or see your brand before they really feel like they know you.  That’s part of why we were happy to be allowed back this year.

The other part is that it’s great to walk the event and see what the other artists have to offer.  Last year there were a few photographers, but there were lots and lots of other handmade crafts and hang-able art.  Craig and I would each take turns leaving our booth to check out what else was available, and we can tell you there’s LOTS of cool stuff to come see, not just our art.

For those of you who have visited our booth in the past, stop on by this year, because–in addition to our fan favorites–we’ve got some new pieces available.  We’ve also got a few surprises up our sleeves this time around.

So, if you’re going to be anywhere near the San Francisco Bay area next weekend, head on over to the Park Street Art and Wine Faire in Alameda, and be sure to look for our booth.  We’ll be giving away another free print from this event, and we’d love to see some friendly faces.

See you there!

Congratulations to our Free Print Winner…

During our last Art Fair, The Alameda Spring Festival, we ran a drawing for a free print for all those that signed up for our newsletter blog. Congratulations to our winner, Tom Wilson.

Tom has made his choice for his free print. He has chosen the image “Santorini Sunrise“.

Santorini Sunrise

This image is really special to us. This was taken by my wife on our honeymoon, on the gorgeous island of Santorini (famous for it’s buildings with the blue rounded roofs).

Come see some of the other images we took in Greece here, and look around at some of the other places Alyx and I have been. And, as always, leave us a note so we know you were there.

Stay tuned for details on our next Art Fair coming up at the end of July in Alameda, CA! Hope to see you all there.

 

Craig Smith