Monday, July 30, 2007

Beyond Pretty

A pretty photography is one that superficially appeals but leaves you wanting more. A photograph devoid of intellectual capacity, asks no questions, has no point of view, is merely a record albeit one that is often well composed with harmonious colour arrangement.

It is a pretty photograph but it aint art.
Pretty is a one trick pony.

The photographer who gets up at 3am to get the sun rise shot of a particular scene is out to make a pretty picture of what most people see at midday. No doubt it will get the oo’s and ah’s at the exhibition but it is just a trick of the light. The art of the scene lies in the way it interacts with it viewers, it’s what the photographer feels and knows and how they use that knowledge to create a conversation with the viewer through their image. For any meaningful conversation to take place the language employed must be understood by both. And although I may be in impressed by the wonderful sun rise the place I know is seen in the harsh noon light. I am unable to relate, I must take the photographer at their word which makes the conversation decidedly one sided.

Great photography like great painting or great poetry or great music is not about images or words or sounds, it is about ideas and feelings and creating a conversation with the viewer about those ideas and feelings. The photograph taken in the harsh midday light that can talk about the soft light of dawn is well on the way to being beyond pretty, it is in the realms of art.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Orangutan Holds First Solo Exhibition in Germany

As the 201st post on The Expat this story just kinda sums it all up, except that my best beloved is still alive and kicking.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Skyline with Cranes


This is the latest addition to my Skyline series. The photograph was taken about a year ago and re-discovered whilst going through the archives and worked up into this. I always knew there was a good reason not to junk photos too quickly, you just never know when they will reveal their secrets.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Fractured Adgae

Came across this bon mott by Caroline Arnold's son over at Common Dreams Dot Org, my daily fix of liberal conservative bashing and it is so good I just had to share.

If you secure a piece of toast with the buttered side against a cat’s belly and drop the cat from some height it will spin indefinitely in midair and never land. Because cats must always land on their feet and toast always lands with the buttered side down.

Trust it brings a smile to your day.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Parallel Visions Exhibition

Had the good fortune to attend the opening of Parallel Visions at the OW Gallery last night. An exhibition of some stunning photographs by Manny Librodo and interesting water colours by his brother Boboy Librodo.

Manny is somewhat of a star on the Philippine photography scene with the Parallel Visions exhibition following hot on the heels of his Hues of Life exhibition at the Crucible Gallery at Mega Mall which closed 6 days ago. His Hues of Life exhibition was the first time I had seen a body of Manny’s work in the flesh, so to speak. It was a good exhibition of some very solid and well produced photographs but did leave me wondering what all the fuss was about.

Well, last night I found out, a different body of work that truly showed off his skill as a figurative photographer. His photographs of The Buddhist Monks, A Man on a Boat with Oar and the Woman in Red Kimono with Umbrella where the stand out pieces for me, with the Woman in a Red Kimono being the show stopper.

The Woman in a Red Kimono is a powerful work that invokes a series of questions not only about being an Asian woman but every woman with the form of the work underpinning its content. A Man on a Boat with Oar addresses the same issues but from a male perspective but a less harmonious interaction between form and content render it less effective. Then there is the dark and brooding photograph of the Buddhist Monks with its golden line depicting a partial outline of one monk which alludes to enlightenment very effectively.

Manny’s brother Boboy has a series of 7 water colours completed in the past couple of months hanging in the second exhibition space at the OW gallery. Water colour is an unforgiving medium that requires deftness of technique to be successful. I found Boboy’s approach to be tentative and explorative. That being said the abstract elements of his work work well with Still Life in Red in which form and content compliment each other to produce a well resolved piece.

If you’re in Manila do take the opportunity to see Parallel Visions at the OW Gallery, cnr of Sabio St and Don Chino Roces Ave, Makati City, it is well worth the effort.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The camera doesn’t lie?

Except when digital imaging software, like Photoshop, came into play, Right? Wrong and Joerg Colberg of Conscientious blog fame shows how quite nicely in his post “The Red Herring: Photoshop”.
The inventiveness of the human animal to perpetrate porky pies swirls around us on a daily basis and has done so since time began. As the 20th Century master, Pablo Picasso remarked “We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth, at least the truth that is given to us to understand.”

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Online Galleries - some thoughts

Selling art on line is big business and growing daily. For those artists whom commercial gallery’s never call back and institutional galleries can’t spell their name even when it is Smith, on line galleries are an alternative route to market and recognition. And like their real world counterparts they come in all shapes and sizes.

Below are my thoughts about some of the ones that have come to my notice whilst tripping round the net. They are ranked according to their Alexa traffic ranking which is shown in the brackets. I have estimated how much competition there is for your art to be seen (Inventory) and how much it costs to play. I then went through each site with my artist hat on and then again with my buyer’s hat firmly affixed to get a feel of how they are trying to sell their wares to each group. Then I summed it all up by comparing them to a real world equivalent. The last 3 categories are very subjective, just how I see it, feel free to differ.

Gallery: (2141)
Inventory: 300,000 plus artworks or so they say
Cost to Artist: 90% of sale goes to the company (they do the printing, framing and set the prices) plus set up fees for fine art printing
Pitch to artist: We’re the biggest
Pitch to customers: We’re the biggest
Real world equivalent: Big retail poster shop/art market

Gallery: Imagekind (27600)
Inventory: 189,000 artworks according to google search (includes commercial art posters)
Cost to Artist: The cost of the printing and framing the work (artist sets own mark up) plus $95 pa if you want a major gallery presence.
Pitch to artist: The quality of the prints
Pitch to customers: Our artists buy from us
Real world equivalent: Main Street Photo lab with a strong inventory of commercial posters

Gallery: (42631)
Inventory: 222,000 plus artworks as per a category count on July 7 2007
Cost to Artist: $5.00 per month plus 10% commission if company credit facilities used
Pitch to artist: We have a gallery space for you
Pitch to customers: ebay without the auctions
Real world equivalent: Local Weekend Arts Market

Gallery: Absolute Arts (46274)
Inventory: 145,000 plus artworks as per a category count on July 7 2007
Cost to Artist: If you want to be seen it will cost you $100 pa plus a one off jury fee of $25 and 20% commission to the company for each sale.
Pitch to artist: Well established with a World Wide Arts Resources tie up
Pitch to customers: We sort it all out for you
Real world equivalent: Regional gallery with a bargain basement

Gallery: PicassoMio (74701)
Inventory: Held at around 40,000 artworks
Cost to Artist: 33% commission to company for sales made by the gallery
Pitch to artist: Is your work good enough to get the nod from the jury?
Pitch to customers: Selected primary market fine art along with secondary market artworks available
Real world equivalent: Upmarket Commercial Gallery

Gallery: Red Bubble (83091)
Inventory: 42,000 plus (includes T-shirts & cards)
Cost to Artist: The cost of the printing and framing the work (artist sets own mark up)
Pitch to artist: Framing & printing made easy
Pitch to customers: All marketing seems to be pitched to contributors
Real world equivalent: Main Street framing shop with T’s and cards on the side

Gallery: Boundless Gallery (91675)
Inventory: 33,000 plus as per a category count on July 7 2007
Cost to Artist: 25% commission to company on sales through the gallery
Pitch to artist: no fees, low commission and can purchase front page listing
Pitch to customers: see what it looks like in your home/office before you buy
Real world equivalent: Art Gallery in a Home D├ęcor Centre

Gallery: EBSQ (112948)
Inventory: 210,000 plus artworks as per a category count on July 7 2007
Cost to Artist: $78.00 pa for gallery space with links to sales outlets
Pitch to artist: we understand and care
Pitch to customers: discover a diamond in the rough
Real world equivalent: Artists co-op Gallery

Now choose your poison. But before you sign on the dotted line do check your choice or choices out for yourself, don’t just take my word for it.


The dome of a mosque rises above the Metro Manila skyline.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Nothing succeeds like……..

Artists featured in the guest galleries have been making some waves of late.

Mark Velasquez the talented creator of “as dreams go by” has had a photo essay published in the latest edition of JPG Magazine.” Pretty is Boring” aka “The Kind You Don't Take Home To Mama” is about the joys of photographing amateur models rather than the plastic pros.

The very courageous and talented Nora Ness has published a book of her photographs entitled “Mirror Mirror”. MMM wonder where she got that title from?

And Steve Axford , the “Magic of Mushrooms” guy reports that he recently sold 4 of his fungi pics for a thousand bucks of the US kind, which when converted into his Aussie currency is a nice bit of change.

If you haven’t visited the guest galleries click on the link and see some amazing work. If you have a body of work that is out of the box, hey send us a link to where we can see it.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Skyline with Yellow Sky


Another from the Skyline series which was taken whilst riding the Pasig River Ferry.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Party Time


I finally got my sorry derriere into gear and abandoned my hermit like existence and ventured out into social scene of the Philippine photography community. I’ve been here 2 years now and thought it was about time to network with real people.

The occasion was the second anniversary of Pinoy Photography, a pretty vibrant photo club whose online presence can be seen here. Held at the Architectural Center & Club Inc, it was a 500php a head affair which included a sit down meal, inspirational talks by a couple of Filipino photographic luminaries, a small photo competition and a raffle that had as many prizes as attendees.

My stainless steel travel mug will be a cherished possession, I actually won something in a raffle, shame about the Canon printer and the Rooscapili prints. My luck in raffles and lotteries is up there with my success in photo competitions.

The proceedings opened with a prayer as are all occasions worth mentioning here in the Pearl and was followed by a welcoming speech by the club president Raffy Yllana. The MC for the evening was vice president Deo Patalinghog of Memento Creative Image fame whose brother Russell befriended the lone kano at the event. (Thanks mate, muchly appreciated)

Veteran advertising photographer John Chua was first to impart his words of wisdom to the assembled throng along with a slide show of his work, his impassioned plea, at the end of his talk to save Manila Zoo is timely to say the least. I had visited it a few weeks ago and although small its loss to the developers wrecking ball would be a loss for all.

Parc Cruz and Borj Meneses followed with a double soft shoe act and slide presentation on effective digital enhancement for photographers. ‘Twas a shame the slides were arse about, ah the best laid plans…………The last speaker was Manny Librodo whose basic message was keeping your pics in a shoe box under your bed is not good for you or your photos. A sentiment I agree with 110%. BTW Manny’s latest exhibition Hues of Life opens next Tuesday at The Crucible Gallery at the SM Mega Mall.

Interspersed between the talks was the drawing of raffle winners which also continued during the most important event of the evening, dinner. And a fine sample of Filipino dishes were presented and enjoyed, especially by your humble scribe. I also had the opportunity to sample the famed red bubbly of the Philippines, Novellino. It wasn’t as bad as the name suggests, a bit like red sprite with alcohol and most fortunately without the lolly water's cloying sweetness.

The evening was rounded out with a model shoot with 5 models that did their best to accommodate the requests of the gaggle of photographers who surrounded them. As my first sojourn into the Philippine photography scene, it was less traumatic than anticipated with a friendly welcome from all with whom I came in contact. Will I be back for more? Well, the exhibition opening on Tuesday sounds like it could be fun not to mention the free booze.