Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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15 Minutes With A Tea Mug: A Photo Essay

I recently started reading Christine Valters Paintner’s new book, Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice. Photography has been one of my pastimes for many years. What drew me to this book was two-fold: Christine’s photography and my desire to learn again how to “see” images and not just “look” for images.

The online class that accompanies Christine’s book started this week. You might be able to still sign up for the class here.

I am working through the book at my own pace. The first assignment is a wonderful lesson in seeing a rather mundane object as something fresh and new. For me, this meant seeing my tea mug, which I use almost every day, in a new way. I set the timer for 15 minutes and received over 40 images in this short amount of time. Here are some of my favorites. (NOTE: Click on the first image in each set and you can see each picture in a slideshow.)

Tea Mug in the Kitchen

Tea Mug in the Dining Room

Tea Mug in the Family Room

Tea Mug on the Deck

Tea Mug on the Grass

Tea Mug on the Rocks

What is fun about this task is that once you open your eyes and heart to the object, you truly start to see it in a new light.

What every day, mundane object in your life could you look at in a new light?


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Tuesday’s Business: Be Prepared

Last week members of the Bolton Artisans Guild were offered the opportunity to submit a picture of their work along with a brief description for inclusion in the local newspaper’s holiday gift buying guide.  Three categories were offered under which we could include our work.  This was a great opportunity to have individual member’s work featured in the paper.  It was also very likely that our work would be featured on the front page of the paper…IN COLOR.

Wanting to take advantage of this opportunity I pulled up the Finder on my Mac and went about searching for the best photos to submit.  And there was the problem.  I was searching through various folders and files looking for the desired pictures.  I sensed another a-ha moment coming on.

More than a year ago a friend found herself in a similar situation; searching for some pictures of her work to submit to a publication.  Deb commented at the time that she needed to create a folder specifically for publication photos.  Brilliant idea, I thought, especially because I didn’t have anything of the sort myself.

And apparently I still don’t!

Well, it wasn’t quite that bad.  Sometime after Deb shared her idea, I did start a folder for publication photos…but I haven’t kept it current.

Here is what I’ve learned from this experience:

  1. Start a folder for publication photos if you haven’t already.  If you have one, keep it current; consider having sub-folders for each year too.
  2. Choose your best images; the ones that really capture the essence of your work.
  3. Give each photo a name that makes sense.  Make it descriptive.  Pick a naming scheme and stick with it.
  4. Start a folder (or sub-folders) for various publications.  This will help you to remember what photos you’ve sent in the past so you don’t repeat yourself, especially if you submit photos to a variety of publications.  It also helps you keep your work looking fresh.  If you need to put your name on the file for submission purposes, do it to these images, not the original files.
  5. If you’re unsure of the required image size and you haven’t time to ask (or specs aren’t provided), err on the side of “bigger is better.”  The image should be a minimum 300 dpi.
  6. If you want to be doubly prepared, save two versions of the image; one at 72 dpi for web and one at 300 dpi or larger for print.
  7. Get into the habit of putting pictures into your publication photos folder on a regular basis.  When you need to submit an image, you’ll be ready to go.
  8. If you haven’t written an artist statement, a bio, or some other descriptive text about you and your work, now is a good time to do so as you’ll most likely need to include something with the photo(s) you submit.  Much has been written about statements.  Some places you can check include Alyson Stanfield’s blog, and Ariane Goodwin’s site.

In the end, I submitted four images; individual pictures of four specific items I sell.  One was chosen for the gift guide (the editor contacted me and asked if a particular picture could be used as she could only use one.)  Had I been even more prepared, I would have had one picture that contained several of the pieces in one shot.  I was pleased, however, that the editor chose the picture below to be featured in the gift buying guide.

Fortune Pyramid Box

Fortune Pyramid Box

The gift guide for the first week focused on Unique Handmade Gifts and Home Accessories.  You can read the text of the ad, without pictures, here

Over the next two weeks, more Guild artists and their work will be featured in the following categories: Jewelry and Other Wearable Art, and Gifts That Keep On Giving.

And the ads did appear in color on the front page of the newpaper!