Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Putting your best photo and art forward

Hi everyone,

If you are like me you are always trying to get better photographs.  Whether it be family photos or references for paintings I always want my photos to look professional.  I spent my younger years around my Dad who is a professional photographer.  He was always trying to tell me about taking pictures but as with most kids I wasn't very interested in listening.  I never got past the line "The camera is like an eye" before it all glazed over and sounded like the teacher from Charlie Brown.  Now in my adult years I wish I had listened.

I was very excited when I saw a segment on The Nate Berkus show.  He has a photographer Me Ra Koh that has been on a few times and she has terrific information.  As I was listening to her tips I realized that these ideas easily can be used in our art and compositions.  Here are her  tips:

1.  Look for defining moments.
 Her example on the show was instead of having a staged or studio photo, try to find those little moments that you want to remember.
photo by Annie Ciotola an amazing photographer
This photo is of my youngest son when he was only 2 weeks old.  I love this photo because it isn't your typical baby photo, he's mad and you get to see his little toothless mouth. This is the face I saw quite often in that first month and I love that I have it documented

2.  Capture moments of tension or emotion

This photo documents my ever constant battle with my youngest son trying to keep his toes off the table.  To me it captures his stubborn nature.  He is always pushing it to the limit and this is a snapshot into his 2nd year of life.

3. Take photos of memorable settings

I love this photo of my oldest son.  Most afternoons you can find us in our dining room counting rainbows.   I call this our Pollyanna moments.   These rainbows are cast from the chandelier my husband and I scoured the Czech Republic to find.  This was the only chandelier we agreed on and it has hung in each house that we have lived in.  I just love that this chandelier is now the high-light of my boys day and will be a memory they will remember their whole lives.

After reflecting on these tips that I will be implementing into my family photos I realized this is what I also strive to create in my art.  After an art critique where the juror said to me your painting is too literal, I embraced that critique and translated it to mean that I needed to have emotion and a story with each of my paintings.  I think that added element really shows through and definitely connects me to each painting and hopefully everyone else.

Here are some examples of my paintings that I've had a great connection with.
A black and white watercolor, "Smitty", of my Grandfather.  This to me is the epitome of him, he was an auto body guy.  I remember that jacket and those pants, even though I was 6 when he passed away.
Black white watercolor, "A Mother's Love", that I painted from a photo that my husband took.  I just love the expression on my son's face, that look of innocence just melts my heart.  Just reminds me that he is a gift to me.
My most recent painting "Reminiscence".  A chair that has been in my family for generations.  I have seen this chair on my Grandmother's back porch my whole life and my Mother saw this chair at her Grandmother's her whole life.  It was my Great Grandmother's wash tub chair.  The history of this chair is amazing to me.
So put your best foot forward in your photos and paintings.  Really think about what your painting or photographing and make it count!



  1. Fabulous, fabulous tips Carrie!! And I love seeing this little slice of your life and into your mind as a mother. So glad you shared this with us. :D

  2. Really great advice -- thank you for sharing! (And the painting of your grandfather touched my heart.) :)

  3. Love the stories and the paintings!

  4. Beautiful and inspirational post, Carrie. I love what you do with a paint brush and the way you see things.

  5. Carrie, what an outstanding post! informational, touching, inspiring and just what anyone searching for an artistic identity might need. moi! i paint so many different subjects in so many different ways because i have no idea who i am. it occurred to me while reading your words that perhaps that is my identity! yours painting take my breath, you are indeed gifted. thanks for sharing this!

  6. I loved reading this post. And I enjoyed looking at all of the paintings and photographs. I too think that sentiment is such an important part of art and I always paint better when I am touched in some way by the subject. Your babies are absolutely adorable little poppets! :0)

  7. Wonderful post- great tips and thanks for sharing!

  8. This is a great way of looking at things, Carrie. The shots you show are so much more interesting than posed ones. I love the one with the toes on the table. Such defiance in that little face!

  9. Une très jolie publication que celle-ci...
    j'ai eu beaucoup de plaisir à lire tous vos conseils et à admirer votre ressenti qui transpire dans votre travail. C'est ce qui en fait une peinture généreuse.
    Gros bisous.

  10. Very nice post, Carrie. Great snapshots and paintings. I agree, candid photos are almost always more interesting than posed pictures. They are more real and usually capture someone's personality better.

  11. Carrie, thanks so much for sharing .....a great read and photos were a treat too! I agree, our art has to be personal...a part of us in everything we do...if not, then it's not what it's meant to be.

  12. What a beautiful post, Carrie!! love your photos as well!!