Tag Archives: photographer

Following a Dream in 2017 – Day 87 of 100

Alabama Night (1 of 1)

It’s Saturday, so I’m posting a picture that has a Saturday night feel to it. This photo was taken in Birmingham, Alabama, and I thought the building had some interesting designs to it. My only regret is I didn’t have more time in the city (and state) during my trip there.

-Vincent Lowry (Author of American Vineyard)

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Following a Dream in 2017 – Day 76 of 100

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Today is the last day of my thirties. I took a walk this evening to reflect on the past decade and all the changes that have happened in my life during the last decade. It’s amazing how much I’ve been through, good and bad, and how much is different today verses ten years ago. I won’t get into the details, but I will say it’s very surreal thinking about it. It’s almost as if my younger self is a different person entirely, and my memory of that young man is just some memoir I happened to read and mistake for my own.

All the same, I’m thankful for the years I’ve been given thus far. I know exactly what I’ll be wishing for when the big forty hits tomorrow, and I think most people wish for the same when wisdom of experience outweighs the arrogance of youth. I will wish for it tomorrow out in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Spring flowers will fill my eyes, and a spirit will fill my core with a beauty that is unrivaled and glorious.

And the vast horizon shall unfold the next journey.

-Vincent Lowry

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Following a Dream in 2017 – Day 29 of 100

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One step forward, one step back. I posted a live Facebook video today, my second art showing, and I’m quickly realizing that this is going to take work to perfect the world of live broadcast media. My tone was dull, my pitch was off, and one of my lights shut off after I accidently kicked out the cord. Oh my… And all of it was live!

The first story I ever wrote was called Skin of Iron. That tale wasn’t worth the paper on which it was printed (it was about a man who defuses bombs for a living), but the title has stuck with me through the  years because it rings true. Skin of Iron. That’s exactly what it takes to put yourself out in public and showcase your art for others to see. Some will love it. Some won’t. Most won’t even know it exists because it’s just another drop of water in an ocean of activity that consumes their day. I was told many years ago that if you cannot do your art alone and be happy with it, then you are never going to survive when you expose that same art to strangers for their views on what you’ve produced. The pleasure must come from within first. Only then can you have the skin of iron when others call your work crap, or brilliant, or inconsequential. And it will happen. Trust me. Again, and again, and again.

One step forward, one step back.

-Vincent Lowry (Author of American Vineyard and #LucysLetter)

 

 

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Following a Dream in 2017 – Day 12 of 100

Convict Lake (1 of 1).jpg

I created an ad today on Facebook to draw people to an art exhibit/seminar that I’m hosting at the Coffee Cartel in Redondo Beach, CA. I haven’t had much success with Facebook advertising (or any online advertising for that matter), but I’m more optimistic this time around because of some marketing tips I discovered thanks to my girlfriend. I plan on doing a second ad tomorrow for a separate teaching course I’ll be putting on sometime late next week or the week after. If these marketing tips work, I’ll share them on my blog. If not, there’s no need to mention them and force other readers down the same rabbit hole. While one could make the argument that mentioning ineffective advertising will at least put the reader on notice so they can avoid it, I disagree. As I said, I’m not a pro at marketing. I could just be following the advice wrong, or using the wrong strategy or product, so telling others not try what I’ve attempted isn’t a wise course of action.

I’m crossing my fingers I get to tell you something about it.

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Following a Dream in 2017 – Day 11 of 100

pacific-sunsetIt took me two hours to drive home today on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles. I would have been driven to madness from the frustration of endless traffic had it not been for the spectacular view of the vibrant clouds during sunset. The sky went from yellow, to pink, to purple. I saw flocks of birds dot the horizon as they soared westward toward the Pacific. The view was a stark contract to the bustle of the city. For a moment, it seemed like I wasn’t driving in LA, but out on a country road.

Of course, nature’s show didn’t last forever. The horizon darkened, and the full weight of the endless gridlock fell upon my shoulders. It reminded me how quickly the colors could vanish, a transformation that is somehow both subtle and abrupt when paying attention to it.

Now, if only traffic could move at that same pace…

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Following a Dream in 2017 – Day 9 of 100

salton-sea

I made a sale today! While it was to a customer who had purchased art from me in the past, I’m not going to pout about that fact. Businesses have repeat buyers all the time, so it’s foolish of me to be looking for new buyers every single day and ignore the customers who already enjoy my artwork. I must focus on both groups. Success will never come otherwise.

The piece I sold today was a shot I took a few years back of the Salton Sea with an Egret posed atop the remains of a destroyed pier. The scene struck me with a beautiful sadness. The town of Salton was flooded and destroyed many years back due to an engineering disaster, and the lake has suffered extreme pollution from agricultural runoff and abandoned garbage. The smell is awful. Fish bones, from countless poisoned species, now cover the recreational beaches where tourists used to bask in the California sunshine. And strange relics, such as a smashed out TV set, litter the edges like something out of a warzone.

In other words, it’s not a place to take your family or friends for a vacation.

But the place is a visual feast. The water is amazingly calm, almost like glass. The skies are often clear and blue. And the wildlife that survived the slights of the past, such as the Egret in my photo, carry a peaceful resilience that I find both mystifying and inspiring. It’s a timeless place. Salton Sea’s past, present, and future somehow seem all rolled up into one, and if I were to use one word to describe how a photographer can best capture the spirit of the site, it’s patience. You have to ignore your other senses which tell you to immediately leave (the sense of smell shouting the loudest) and let your eyes take in the uniqueness that surrounds you. Only then should you take your photo. Let the mood properly settle upon you.

You’ll be surprised by the result.

(Vincent Lowry – Author of American Vineyard and LucysLetter)

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Following a Dream in 2017 – Day 8 of 100

mississippi

I listed to the President’s farewell speech tonight. This is not a blog post about Democrats or Republicans, nor is it a an opinion about the current President or the incoming one. You have your opinion on that already. It has been well formed over your lifetime, I’m sure. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites will continue to feed the political fire today and years to come for anyone seeking to read or vent about the leadership and laws that impact our lives. Adding fuel to that inferno really isn’t needed here. Not on this blog post. Not by me.

I’ve visited about half of the United States so far in my journey to photograph every state in my native country,  and I can say with assurance that I’m a changed man as a result of doing so. This nation is so strikingly beautiful that it’s impossible to capture the true essence of that beauty in a picture, or a series of photographs. From mountains, to rivers, to desserts, to swamps, to coastlines, to cities–it’s mindboggling that so much could be called home to one nation. Simply seeing it on the internet doesn’t do it justice. You have to experience this land firsthand. You have to breath that winter mountain air, see those dessert sunsets, touch the cool waves lapping against the coastlines. I’m convinced that if more Americans did so, we’d find a new appreciation for what we have, and a new respect for what we must protect and pass on to future generations, most importantly our Democracy itself.

I’m not under the illusion that the bulk of our problems can be solved by a state-to-state road trip, and I know that some issues are likely to continue far into the future. I need only to look at the history of our country to understand that fact. My expectation, instead, is a rather modest one: step out, see something new, and take a picture of it to share with others. You might brighten their day a little in doing so.

And that is always a good start to building a better America.

(Vincent Lowry – Author of American Vineyard and LucysLetter)

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Following a Dream in 2017 – Day 7 of 100

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Am I supposed to be here? I ask myself. Am I selling out on my 100-day goal of following a creative dream by being back at the office, assisting former coworkers with job functions that I used to handle? Am I going to later curse myself for being naïve, uncourageous, and perhaps selfish?

I ponder these questions as I sit in an office and explain an assortment of computer files that I thought I’d never see again. Faces pop in the office doorway to say hello to me–faces I said goodbye to and thought I wouldn’t see again for at least a year or two down the road (and that would be for only nonbusiness purposes). I cannot help but feel that I’ve cheated myself a little. That I should be sweating it out in Starbucks thinking of the next big creative strategy. That I should be putting in 100% of my time on my dream or else I will flounder in the face of others who put in the requisite hours and days coming up with better business plans. That I will be licked by competition.

But I know these thoughts are impractical and I cannot have the 100 days completely the way I envisioned it. The truth is I need this part-time, per diem work to help cover bills. If going to the office ten to twenty hours per week means I won’t worry quite as much about my expenses (in other words, getting better sleep at night), then that’s the price I’ll pay and make up for those hours by working even harder to achieve my dream. It won’t be easy. But I knew that all along: achieving one’s dream is never a straight path, and you must do all that you can to make ends meet and keep moving in the direction of the goal.

The dream is clear. The choice to follow that dream has been made. That won’t change with part-time work.

And, in the process, I’ll get to see some friends from the office sooner than expected.

(Vincent Lowry – Author of American Vineyard and LucysLetter)

 

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Following a Dream in 2017 – Day 6 of 100

fullsizerenderMy girlfriend just left to use the restroom; I’m not certain she is going to return. I’m sitting in a couch in a stylish lobby at the Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes, California, and I have two large 24×36″metal prints on a coffee table in front of me. The hope is that passing guests will see the prints, fall in love, and make an offer of some sort to take the artwork home with them. That is the hope. Unfortunately, it’s not looking promising.

My first problem: guests think the metal prints are part of the table itself. I obviously didn’t consider this issue when I first placed the photos down, and I’m now stuck wondering how I can prop the art up on the surrounding leather chairs in the lobby and not get kicked out by management. I’m already seeing suspicious glances from men dressed in sharp suits, wondering what the in the world I’m doing at the resort with such ridiculously oversized shots of the Santa Monica Pier and the Maine coastline. Nothing has been said to me yet, but I know words have been exchanged among the staff. My girlfriend believes so, too.

Say, where is that girlfriend?

I stop a marketing program on my laptop (more sales advice for rookies such as myself), place the computer beside me, and move one of the metal prints so that it’s leaning against the coffee table rather than laying on top of it. It’s my sad attempt to prove the table and the photo are separate items. I’m not selling a fine art photography coffee table. But should I? Hmm…it get’s me thinking.

The sun is setting on the Pacific, casting a warm orange glow behind a layer of scattered clouds. As a photographer, I’m itching to get outside and capture a few shots before I miss the opportunity–especially ten minutes after sunset, when the day’s last light sometimes produces amazing, ignited horizons.

I put the computer back in my lap, look up, and smile. I see something better than the view outside. A beautiful woman strides gracefully toward me carrying two large cups of cappuccinos. I had forgotten that there was a café near the restroom.

I’m a lucky guy, even without print sales.

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Following a Dream in 2017 – Day 4 of 100

sunset-day-4

Who is Randy? Is he still in the photography business?

These two questions pop in my mind as I enter a pizza restaurant in Los Angeles and see several photos of Randy’s work hanging on a dining room wall. The pictures are nice, but a bit worn with age. One framed print has noticeable ripples. Another print looks a hint yellow, like a newspaper starting to age. On each photo is Randy’s cursive signature at the bottom right corner–a warning for photographers like myself to stay away from his territory.

Rather than walk back out, I timidly approach two employees standing beside the register at the front counter.

“What would you like to eat?” Janice, as per her nametag, asks me.

“Um, well…” I start. Here it goes again. The speech. It’s time for me to explain that I’m not really a customer, what they expect, but a salesman. “I do landscape photography and I thought some of my metal prints might look great for your restaurant.”

Their eyes narrow. My status has instantly changed. I can hear alarm bells sounding in their heads, and I can feel the awkwardness between us like a thick invisible field. I reconsider leaving again. For some crazy reason, I stay and share a 4×6 promotional photo with my info on it, as well as a 16×20 sample metal print to show them my art.

“Are you Randy’s competition?” asks Ben, the employee standing next to Janice.

“No. I don’t want to remove his stuff,” I say, looking behind me. “He has some good shots.”

“That’s pretty cool,” Ben adds, now staring at the metal print in my hand. “How much are you selling that for?” I quote a price. Ben and Janice whistle as if on cue. “But what does it cost to make the photo? How much are you making?”

I want to ask them how much it costs for them to make a slice of pizza and how much of a slice they are taking from their customers, but I hold my tongue.  Business 101: negotiate, don’t argue.

“Well, we can work something out,” I say.

“And take Randy’s stuff down?” Janice asks. “We’ve known him for years. We can’t do that to our friend.”

It’s at this point I make a beginner’s mistake. I accept what they’ve told me as rejection and start packing my metal print back in my bag.

“What do I do with this?” Janice asks, still holding my promotional 4×6 print.

“It’s no big deal,” I say, getting it, wishing I now had an invisible cloak. “I’ll take it back.”

“It’s a really nice photo,” Janice says, handing it to me.

“Thanks. I’m sure Randy can get one just like it.”

I wince a little at the unexpected catty remark that escapes my lips, but I’m also glad I said it. I’m a bit tired of hearing about Randy.

I finally exit the restaurant.

(by Vincent Lowry – author of Lucy’s Letter and American Vineyard; vincentlowry.zenfolio.com)

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