Photo Coleslaw

Photo Coleslaw is Moving

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This will be my last posting from Photo Coleslaw hosted at   Starting tomorrow, July 2nd, you will now be able to find the blog in a new format, with new features and content over at   Please change any links you have to the old address over to the new address.   Big plans for this summer – stay tuned!


Written by Spelman

07/01/2010 at 2:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

How to Be Creative

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Every once in a while you read something you really wish you had written.  Perusing Hugh MacLeod’s post on creativity over my morning coffee today, I had that feeling.  He touches on many of the boundaries we all face as we try to hone in bringing something original to the proverbial table.

Reminds me of that quote by Marianne Williamson,

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most.  We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?”  Your playing small doesn’t serve the world…”

Creativity in essence is seeing something differently than everyone else does.  It’s not shrinking from the voice inside that insists on bringing your unique perspective into the mix.  Nothing more, nothing less than yourself.  Maybe that’s why it’s such a vulnerable process – because creativity is a glimpse of ourselves without the security of any facade.  It’s a look into that inner light that we all tightly guard.

Written by Spelman

05/11/2010 at 10:14 pm

Social Media in Photographic Marketing

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Last weekend I attended a lecture by Rob Haggart (author of the blog, A Photo Editor)  in Santa Fe.  He discussed two topics that are foremost on many photographer’s minds these days:

– how to get work in a difficult photographic market

– how to adapt traditional marketing techniques into a structure that incorporates social media.

Rob talked about the value of a cohesive marketing plan that incorporates traditional media and social media. He stated that, “traditional media represents a 1 to many relationship, while social media represents a many to many relationship.”

That pretty much sums up the power of social media. Create a solid enough network and your message and photographic brand will begin to spread on their own merits, all while you sit back with a Heininken and watch the retweets.  Everyone’s creativity is given equal footing within the arena of public opinion – garner enough excitement about what you have created and the people interested in it will become your personal PR army.

Haggart also played a You Tube, called Social Media Revolution made by Eric Qualman that was an excellent look into where our lives in conjunction with social media are headed.  This line stayed with me from the video “We no longer search for the news, the news finds us.”

Social media is here to stay – the wise photographer will consider it to be as necessary in their photographic arsenal as their prized 50mm 1.4 lens.  See you around the new playground…

Into The Rabbit Hole with Michael Donnor

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Welcome to the 1st Installment of Guest ‘Slaw, where we get the story behind the photos from an invited photographer.

Michael Donnor, a commercial and fine art photographer, recently published a new portfolio called The Rabbit Hole. These photos were a departure for Donnor, a foray into the world of color.  These images aren’t sitting still, their world is one of mystery, intrigue and innuendo. If these photos were alive, they would be up over at the bar ordering a Jack Daniels, straight up. They represent the work of an artist willing to walk across the line of his own boundaries and also to ignore accepted conventional aesthestics.

I asked Donnor for some thoughts on his creative process and this is what he shared:

“In February myself and photographer Mike Sakas set out to create a photo shoot that would be a unique departure for us. We placed restrictions on ourselves; first budget – basically we had none, then time frame – we had one day to shoot, add in minimal wardrobe, 4 models, and one farmhouse… ready go! This portfolio represents the images that came from that one day.

The creative process for me begins by being uncomfortable. I knew I wanted to have a visual aesthetic that was different from anything I had done in the past.  I chose color film, used a flash for the first time in my life, and I never let myself feel comfortable. It was time to shoot and the models were the first to arrive, then the wardrobe, and everyone was ready, waiting for me… what was I going to shoot!?   For me to get to the frame I need, I have to work behind the lens. This went on for the whole day, a kind of uncontrolled chaos, not knowing what I was doing but knowing I was doing exactly what I needed to. I essentially boxed myself into a corner for this shoot, and then wanted to see how I fought out of it.  That also best describes how I worked with the camera, I like to photograph as if I am in a dirty scrapping fight with my camera, one I must win, I can never fail it is not allowed… “to the death!”    But when it was all over and the dust settled I thought I had failed miserably.

But then it came to the edit, which for me is as important to the creative process as shooting. When I edit I keep in mind the mood that helped drive the aesthetic, I use music and feeling, building it together into the cohesive body of work that was always there, but hidden. The same way every stone has a sculpture within, but the excess just needs to be chipped away.

When I was done I had the work I wanted to create all along.”

Basics of Digital Photography Class

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Finished up the Basics of Digital Photography class yesterday.  I told these guys to come well rested for their week because it would be intense… and it’s a good thing they did.  We started the week exploring the technical and everyone shot the week in manual mode.  But as the week progressed the technical took a back seat to the aesthetics and heart that go into a thoughtful image.

I would make a motion that none of these photographers are beginners any longer.  They all got it; that poignant imagery is about what a subject feels like more than what it looks like.

Workshops are a study in group dynamics – we all are so used to doing our art in a self-contained bubble, it truly is amazing to see what can happen when we all play and push and struggle together.

Memphis Barbree was my stellar Course Coordinator for the week.  She has some stunning black & white landscape work that can be viewed on her site.  Give it a look…

Right Brain Buzz

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Getting ready to meet a new class at the Santa Fe Workshops tonight.  That place buzzes with an intensity that’s hard to find in regular life.  An assortment of people come together and decide to eat, sleep and breath image-making and the creative process.  It’s incredible to see what that level of focus can produce:  usually some serious smoke out of the right side of the brain.

I recently heard about another Workshop that promises to be stellar.  Renie Haiduk and Eddie Soloway have decided to take their teaching skills to Africa this May.  Neither of these photographers are what would be considered traditional wildlife photographers  – which is exactly what makes this workshop such an interesting concept.   Africa is a place pulsing with universal themes and rawness.  I would bet Renie and Eddie help their participants capture the untamed feeling of the Serengeti in a more unqiue and personal way than it traditionally has been.  You can find more information on their workshop here.

Here we go…

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Today is my 30th birthday.  Birthdays are interesting occurrences – they’re almost like New Year’s, but just for you.  A time for reflection and evaluation.  This morning I found myself taking a personal inventory, thinking “I still don’t know how to fold a fitted sheet, but I am getting pretty decent at parallel parking.” By 30 it’s pretty much established whether you squeeze the toothpaste tube from the top or the bottom.  How you feel about meatloaf is finally settled.

The first thirty were about training. Acquiring some experience and establishing some convictions.  The next thirty are for action.  The pieces are set, now its time to play.  Just you, a looming game board and that intimidating figure known as “Your Existence”

Time to start focusing my photography.  Begin trying to tell the stories of our times.  Attempt images that speak to the rational and the irrational; that appeal both to mind and to heart.

I firmly believe in the ability for images to impact change.  Photography is all about creating an emotional reaction in the viewer. Composing highlights, shadows and midtones into a message.  Hopefully a message with an edge.

Lots to do.

But luckily that all starts tomorrow and today is one of good friends and family.  Thanks to everyone who made this day feel incredibly special, it will go down as one of the best birthdays I can remember.