Thursday, December 27, 2012

In Transit Winners (pt. 2)

Juror’s Choice winner Edson Scudder finds that his best photographs come from unexpected moments. The son of an amateur photographer, his long-held interest in photography has begun to grow only in the past few years. To improve his work, he made a habit of taking the same two or three mile walk through his neighborhood with camera in hand. At first, the pictures Scudder took on these walks were almost random, but he recognized that this repetition was developing his eye as a photographer. This habit of regular shooting taught him “to see both the new and the same things in different ways; to look down as well as up and around, to be mindful of detail and light.”


Evolving from that early process, Scudder now utilizes a mixture of planning and spontaneity in his work. Although not discounting the importance of planning his shoots, he finds that his best photographs still come from unexpected moments. As he puts it, “often the best pictures come from simply always being ready – having my camera with me and staying alert to the moment.”


His winning image, Priscilla, was one of those perfectly spontaneous moments: Scudder was ready with his camera in the right place at the right time. He chose to snap the shutter at that moment because the expression of the subject – his mother - was a very intense yet natural pose. The events surrounding the image were somber and personal.

[W]e were driving home after meeting with her doctor, the day he confirmed that she was terminally ill and had only a few months to live. … With so many images rushing past, she is the still center of that moment, enigmatic, private.  She passed away less than 60 days after I took this picture.
Juror's Choice image, Priscilla
As an emerging photographer, Scudder’s definition of success is evolving along with his craft. He began with small steps, creating work he felt was worthy of a submission, receiving positive feedback, and slowly shifting his mentality from hobbyist to artist. “This is a new way of seeing myself and I am both encouraged and inspired by it.” As recipient of the Juror’s Choice award, he has taken another step towards artistic success.


Monday, December 24, 2012

In Transit Winners (pt. 1)

“I grew very fond of the film noir with all its feel of loneliness and low light” explains Dominik Dunsch when asked where he finds inspiration. As In Transit’s Director’s Choice winner, Dunsch draws not only from the emotion and style of the silver screen, but also to the work of great photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Bruce Davidson. After branching out into color photography, Dunsch saw a whole new world opened up to him. “I just had to evolve, went to my first of two workshops with David Alan Harvey. David taught me a lot, especially about authorship. Also, my fellow students were a great inspiration and I have a deep respect for them and their work.”

Oh Lord

Much of Dunsch’s work is also informed by street photography, which is where he got his start.

Life on the streets, especially in big cities, tells you a lot about society. Well, it is society. You’re among people of almost all social and cultural backgrounds. It is pure life, filled with human emotion. Love, hate, laughter, stress, speed, aggression – but also silence, isolation, loneliness. That is something I’m really curious about: those silent moments within the big city noise.
His fascination with the nuances in daily life is clear in his winning image, R. Its focus divides between the countryside and a female passenger lost in her own thoughts. It embodies the routine of commuting on trains, separated from the land rushing by outside the window.

Director's Choice, R

While Dunsch always has an affinity for certain cities, such as New York, he loves to visit places he has never been. These new experiences set him out of his natural element, and allow for a new way of seeing.

I love diversification. It does not need to be a fancy city or a far away place - just something I have not seen before. It somehow reopens my eyes. On the other hand I keep on coming back to New York. Maybe because after so many times I do not feel the need to keep up with the speed. I can slow down while the life of the others passes by in a dizzying manner. While slowing down I perceive my surroundings in a different way. But most important of all inspiration there is: I love human emotion. And that's what strikes you most when you enter new environments I think.

At the Loft

This love of street photography and of different environments has served Dunsch well. But in the end, he feels that true success is achieved when his work speaks to others.

Well, success is a beautiful thing because it somehow shows you that you seem to be doing something quite right. But I think that there is an even more important question: what is success? To me, the respect of my collegues, fellow students, editors and critics is far more important than the financial success of my work. If someone can read my work it means that not only my creativity but also my emotions behind it are somehow understood. That's a very big deal for me, that's what I would call real success.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

You Never Know...(part 2)

A few months ago I wrote a post called “You Never Know... (part 1)” which discussed the value of getting your work out there regardless of how small or minor the exhibition/publication/review might be because, well, you never know who will see that work and what may come of it.  In this post I would like to take the “You Never Know” series in a different direction. While it is true that you cannot predict who will look at your work and what doors an exhibition might open, it is equally true that you never know what opportunities you might miss out on. The art world is a touchy place. There are a lot of egos, a lot of possibilities, and a lot varying opinions on both art and etiquette, and I would like to write a bit about being kind to our fellow artists, gallerists, and enthusiasts.

  1. Every great creative person had help getting to where they are now. No one was born great. The important thing to remember is that when they were inexperienced and unknown, they did not know where help might come from. Mentors, patrons, future clients, and bosses can come from the most unexpected corners of life. Because of this, do not dismiss anyone. Aspiring students, amateur retirees, professional photographers, and chatty enthusiasts are all worthy of our respect and attention. Not only is this good manners, but it is impossible to predict which one of these people could present you with your first big break, your next big paycheck, or valuable insight into life and art.

  1. There are no shortcuts. You will not get your solo exhibition in MoMA by mailing them a DVD of your work. Success comes from the strength of your work, to be sure, but it also comes from having the right people see it. Credibility as an artist, and as a good artist, comes from people seeing your name show up multiple times in the art world. There are people out there looking for the next big thing. If you are going to be that next big thing, having your name appear in multiple places will make you much easier to find.

  1. Galleries and clients value professionalism as much as talent. It is important to respect the time and other obligations of institutions or clients you are working with. This means being responsive. Whether you are shooting a fashion spread for Vogue or a family portrait, your client wants you to stick to your deadlines. It is important not to neglect projects that you may think are less important. Paying bills and responding to emails promptly shows others that you are a reliable partner. In an industry that relies heavily on word of mouth, your professionalism will go a long way in helping you reach your goals.

  1. Not everyone is going to like your work. Getting rejected sometimes is part of the game. This does not mean that your work is bad or that you are a poor photographer. It’s not personal. Everyone brings their own tastes to the viewing experience. If you don’t dust yourself off and try again, then you may be missing out on the next event where you will get selected. The process of getting rejected may also help you reflect on your work, making it stronger and more concise for when you enter the fray once more.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Announcement: New Call for Entry!

Deadline: January 17
Exhibition: February 27 – March 23
Opening Reception: March 1

From beloved pets to exotic wildlife, animals hold a certain fascination for photographers. They serve us as faithful guardians, trusted steeds, and loyal family members. We invoke them to highlight human traits both good and bad, but also search for our humanity within them. Photographing both the tame and the wild, we seek kinship that cannot be communicated with words. Whether as taxidermies for study, pets for companionship, or out in the wild, for Creatures, the Kiernan Gallery seeks photographs that depict our complex relationship with the animal kingdom.
Baboon in Window, Moscow, 2009 © Anne Berry

For this exhibition, juror Anne Berry will select up to 30 images for display in the main gallery, and up to an additional 40 to be included in the online gallery. All images will be reproduced in an exhibition catalogue available for purchase. A Juror’s Choice and Director’s Choice will also be announced and both winners will receive a free copy of the catalogue.
All photographic media are encouraged.
About the Juror
Anne Berry is a Critical Mass 2012 Top 50 and a 2012 Clarence John Laughlin Award finalist. She is represented by the Catherine Couturier Gallery in Houston, and has recently exhibited at the San Diego Art Institute, the Center for Fine Art Photography, and the Fence at Photoville in Brooklyn. Publications featuring Anne’s work include Shots Magazine, Photo District News, Silvershotz, The Portfolio Review, Esquire Russia, Lenscratch, CNN Photos, and Black & White. Anne attended Sweet Briar College (BA) and the University of Georgia (MA). Currently Anne is working on Behind Glass, a collection of images of primates in captivity. 

For more information and to see submission guidelines visit:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Announcement: New Call for Entry!

Methods (Alternative)
Deadline: December 15
Exhibition: January 30 – February 23
Opening Reception: February 1

Alternative process photography today is a hybrid of historical techniques and contemporary ideas. Old is new again and the resurgence of non-silver processes has led to The Kiernan Gallery’s second alternative process exhibition. Whether it is in reaction to digital, or a hybrid process aided by the technology, these techniques remain as evocative as ever, bringing a unique style to present-day ideas. For Methods (Alternative), The Kiernan Gallery seeks images that use any alternative processing technique for any idea you wish to express.
Joe Swayze, Maine, 2010 (wet plate collodion) 
For this exhibition, juror Christopher James will select up to 30 images for display in the main gallery, and up to an additional 40 to be included in the online gallery. All images will be reproduced in an exhibition catalogue available for purchase. A Juror’s Choice and Director’s Choice will also be announced and both winners will receive a free copy of the catalogue.
Photographic media may include but is not limited to: 
Albumen, Bromoil, Cyanotype, Daguerreotypes, Gum Bichromate, Platinotypes, Salt Prints, Temeraprints, Tintypes, Wet Plate Collodion. Hybrid or Combination images incorporating conventional (including digital) processes with hand-crafted applications are also eligible.  Conventional techniques such as Silver Gelatin, Digital, and C-prints are not eligible.

About the Juror
Christopher James is an internationally known artist and photographer whose paintings and alternative process images have been exhibited in galleries and museums in this country and abroad. His work has been published and shown extensively, including shows in The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The George Eastman House, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  The first edition of his book, The Book of Alternative Photographic Process, received unprecedented critical acclaim and was the winner of The Golden Light Technical Book of the Year award. In 2008, a greatly expanded, and lavishly illustrated 2nd edition was published by Delmar Cengage and has become universally recognized as the definitive text in the genre.  A 3rd edition is currently underway and will be published in 2013.  Christopher, after 13 years at Harvard University, is currently University Professor, and Director of the MFA in Photography program at The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University.
For more information and to see submission guidelines visit:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Unreal Winners (pt 2)

            Juror’s Choice winner, Emma Powell has always been surrounded by photography. The child of two photographers, she has been immersed in it her whole life. Though both of her parents have strong photographic visions, Powell found her own photographic voice with her discovery of alternative processes. Her winning image, Bear, is part of a larger series of cyanotypes. “Cyanotype was the first alternative process I ever used, and I think I was quick to dismiss it for shinier processes like wet plate, although I still make ambrotypes when I can. In the last few years I have returned to cyanotype for its flexibility and have been pleased by how it suits this series.” Made by exposing paper coated in cyanotype chemicals to UV light through a negative, Powell further enriches the tone of the image by staining it with either tea or wine tannins. “I avoid toning them all the way since I particularly like having some of the blue that is the trademark of the cyanotype process show through.”


            The series, titled The Shadow Catcher’s Daughter, a nod to her photographer parents, is inspired by Powell’s interest in “the use of art to visualize history.” Moving away from the literal, Powell aimed to create an imagined history, but also a personal narrative.

The first images were based on fantasy and escapism and a little of the Victorian sensibility left over from my studies of nineteenth-century Rochester, NY, and before that nineteenth-century spirit photography.  From there the series has expanded. I have found myself acting out narratives, which often correspond with something in my life. I leave them open ended and mysterious.
 Against the Storm

            Along with working on her own photography, Powell has been teaching regularly since earning her bachelor’s, and later her master’s, degree. Just as education has been important to her, Powell has leapt at the chance to shape young photographers.

Teaching provides me the opportunity to view different aspects of photography as a beginner. Each time I introduce the camera or black and white processing I discover or re-discover a new aspect of it. This gives me a fresh perspective that hopefully influences my work. I am always amazed by the creative ideas my students come up with. It helps me see my own work from new points of view.
Cat's Cradle

            And as the symbiotic relationship between her teaching and photography helps each evolve, Powell still recognizes that success really does just come down to each individual image.

I make photography for that moment when I see all the elements of the work come together as a final print. The are so many steps where things could and do go wrong: the initial conception, shooting the parts with myself as a model, working up the image and preparing the negative, and the printing toning process. When I am lucky enough to have each of these steps behave that is a moment of success.
The Unreal is on view through December 1, 2012.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Unreal Winners (pt 1)

            The Unreal Director’s Choice winner Angelina Kidd has created a wealth of mysterious and at times unsettling images over the course of her young career. Her wildly imaginative pieces are envisioned and brought to life through several alternative processes, which themselves serve as inspiration.

The use of alternative and historical processes—wet plate collodion, palladium, pinhole/Polaroid and gelatin silver prints, among others—is central to my photography. Not only do these processes tend to produce an antique, timeless effect; they also reflect, through their use and disuse, the passage of time within the art of photography itself.

             The Beginning
            For Kidd’s latest project, however, she found that these processes did not add anything meaningful to the work. “I don’t think alternative process should be used just for the sake of it. I believe there should be conceptual reasoning.” Creating silhouette images, like her winning image, The Beginning, has proved complex on its own. Printing with palladium proved unnecessary.

For now, I have accepted the idea that creating silhouette photographic narratives is an alternative way of working. This doesn’t mean I have given up on the idea of combining alternative process with silhouette, just that I have no good reason for the marriage at this moment.

                Life Ending
            Kidd was originally drawn to silhouettes after seeing the work of Kara Walker. “Her subject matter can be dark and I thought it was brilliant that she uses silhouettes for her narratives. The gentleness of the silhouette pulls you in before you are shocked by the theme.” Frustrated with her straight photography, Kidd decided to play around with silhouettes and was pleased to find herself infused with new creativity. Inspired by her own fascination with the afterlife, she created vignettes that tell the story of life after death. “I approach this emotionally difficult subject from a childlike perspective using silhouette imagery to create narratives and fables to provide hope that there is life after life.”

   Electrical Fire

            For Kidd, success means staying true to herself while creating work that she finds meaningful and that inspires others. In her own photography, this means remembering her past, which serves to inspire her dream-like work.

There were traumas in my childhood. As a child, I could control my dreams whereas I had no control in my waking life. Dreaming was my salvation and therefore as an adult, I have never turned my back on the power of the dream world. Life is full of sharp edges. I think we all need a bit of the surreal to survive.

The Unreal is on view through December 1, 2012.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Jock Montgomery

The Kiernan Gallery was thrilled to have Jock Montgomery as our In Transit juror. Below, we’ve asked him a few questions about his work, his influences, and how his extensive travel helped him as a juror.

With such a passion for adventure and the outdoors you could have easily chosen to pursue many different careers. What drives your passion for photography?

Let me answer in a round about way. I've been blessed to always have a focus (pardon the pun!) and a clear idea of what I have wanted to do. When I was 11 I went on a river trip in Maine that kind of set me on a course that I've never strayed too far from. I became a guide and outdoor instructor starting when I was a junior in high school and all through college. And after college guiding river trips and training guides is what brought me to Nepal in 1983. In the background I've always been drawn towards art and I took many art and sculpture classes in college, but it wasn't until I'd been living in Nepal, guiding trips, and was thinking about "career next steps" that I decided to pursue photography as a business. In 1986 I bought a new camera and 300 rolls of Kodachrome and I traveled around Asia on my own shooting for 6 months. I haven’t stopped looking and seeing since then.

So to answer your question, I've kept moving forward with these passions intertwined and driving each other—my love of travel, adventure and people, applies to both guiding trips (which I still occasionally do with private clients), and photography (I also lead private photography tours). I certainly enjoy the commercial photography, and again my skills in planning trips, leadership, and working with people helped me get assignments and retain a stable of repeat clients.

You have traveled all over the world. How do your experiences influence your photography? How do they (and your own work) influence you as a juror for In Transit?

My photography and my travels definitely influence each other. Much of my work involves people, and I find my shooting is a great way to meet and interact with folks. My camera helps me slip into a place where I’m the foreigner and it gives me a reason to hang out and get to know the people and the places. I’m not a loud person, and when I shoot I’m rarely brusque or hurried and I think that usually comes across in my work. When I shoot portraits I make an effort get to know my subject—form follows function—that kind of thing.

In terms of in-transit photography I find that I usually do my best work when I simply sit down in one place, I stay in the moment and I see what comes past. I love catching those ephemeral moments! I often experiment with combing a sharp stopped-image with, for instance, the discreet blur of a person’s hand.

Your work varies from landscapes to commercial work to everything in between. What is your favorite body of work? How does it influence your other projects?

I don’t have a favorite body of work per say. It’s always more about the next great moment, but definitely my favorite kind of work involves people and story telling. It could be a one off portrait that hints in the background of the person or a place, or it could be a photo essay.

After having lived in Asia for so long, what is it that continues to inspire you and draws you to this continent and its many cultures?

I’m afraid there is no clear explanation for this. To put it one way, there’s a certain chaos and lack of familiarity here that I would miss if I moved back to the west. It’s not always fun either—pollution, noise, etc.—but there’s a certain on-going energy that over the years I’ve absorbed and feel a synergy with. Daily life here—simply walking to lunch—is always pretty exciting!

Finally, we ask this of all our artists: How do you define success?

In terms of being successful as an artist there are at least two elements that help define success in my mind. One is technical success, simply “getting the shot,” the way you want it or expect it to be. The other is about creative success, and this kind of success to my mind is personal, slippery, and transitory at best.

If you ask me how many creatively successful photographs I’ve taken my answer is “certainly not many.” I guess one could say that I infrequently have little successes when I’m out shooting, (I normally would call them gifts). These gifts typically occur when I become fully immersed in the work and I feel I’m really “seeing”. I enter a sort of half-conscious state where my intuition takes over. I’m in a kind of ephemeral, visual trance where I’m striving to make better work and my camera becomes more of a palate than a tool. When I’m seeing in this way, and street photography is a great one for this, my photographs are usually a lot stronger in terms of capturing compelling light and composition, and so they tend more often to scratch at the surface of success. I’ve never read anything by Cartier Bresson, but I’m certainly familiar with his work and I think his photographs speak to this kind of seeing and success.

 Any photograph is obviously about a moment in time—Bresson’s “decisive moment,” of course must be mentioned here—And for me and many others like Bresson, it goes beyond this. It’s about somehow successfully catching these little glimpses of intuitive seeing amidst the chaos, the uncertainty, the ambiguity, and the illusive nature of taking pictures. This is what keeps me so continually enthralled and striving for the occasional gift of success. 

In Transit will be on view December 5-29, 2012.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Kiernan Gallery Presents: Matt Licari

This past Friday, The Kiernan Gallery hosted an in-studio solo exhibition for Richmond-based photographer Matt Licari. This exhibition was specifically designed both around the unique bodies of work and also his unique workspace. Matt's white cube-style studio was the perfect fit for his vibrant color images framed in white. We invited the public into his workspace, transforming it into a one-of-a-kind gallery for one night only. 

The night was a great success! Works were raffled off, books were signed, portraits were taken, and many people walked away with art.

Congratulations to James Creger of Glen Allen, VA who won the raffle for Teacher and to Laura Schwenner of White Plains, NY winner of Dock Workers

Here are some photos from the portrait studio part of the night:



Here are some photos of the event and the space:
The silent auction images line the hallway

Matt photo bombs our blog editor, Shannon and her husband

Reading about the art
(photo by Sarah Clarken)

 The artist at work and a very attentive audience

A special guest!
(photo by Sarah Clarken)

Important art discussions
(photo by Sarah Clarken)

A full house!
(photo by Sarah Clarken)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Still Life Winners (pt 2)

            Still life photographs are rarely spontaneous. They take forethought and planning, as well as perfect lighting. But for Juror's Choice winner Andrew Thomas Lopez, many of his still life images are delightfully stumbled upon as his son’s creativity blossoms into vignettes around the house.

                                         Juror's Choice Award: After Doug

I create Still Life images in a variety of ways. Sometimes there is complete control, as in the Pyramid Triptych, where I placed a laundry basket in the light near a window and my son began creating different versions of his Lego pyramid. However, in other instances, such as in Ascension and After Doug, I captured my son creating things that made sense to him. I controlled setup of the camera and waited for the right lighting. I believe Still Lifes can be found and spontaneous, controlled through the camera, just as much as they can be completely controlled and set up for the benefit of camera.
                             Pyramid Triptych
            As is evident in the Juror’s Choice Award image, After Doug, he draws quite a bit of inspiration from his son. The photograph is part of a larger series titled This Means Something… This is Important. “The series began as my direct reaction to my son’s diagnosis of autism and my attempts at trying to understand how he expresses himself through his interaction with toys and objects around him.” Being a parent and communicating with your child is challenging enough. For Lopez, his son Sebastian’s diagnosis felt like a huge barrier. As the series grew larger, the creation of these still lifes began to feel like teamwork and an avenue to understanding Sebastian, or Sabas for short. “Each image is like a performance – my son constructs the environment and I make the images. Our intentions are different, but the reasons for doing it are aligned, which is why I consider this series to be a collaborative effort.”


             Lopez draws inspiration from many different places and a large number of artists though nowadays his influences seem to have a common thread: subject matter, namely family or the exploration of parent/child relationships. In the end, his largest influence is clear.

The greatest influence, of course, is Sabas. Through the process of creating this project over time, I have seen my son grow into an increasingly interesting character. In the beginning, he started making things out of toys, just for pure enjoyment of play and comfort; but now when I set up the camera, I can see the light bulbs switching on, and his excitement is incredibly gratifying.
            As an artist, Lopez has many definitions of success. One kind of success is having his career be lucrative enough to feed and clothe his family, while another type is having an influence on the art world and making a lasting impression. The most important kind of success to Lopez, however, is the ability and drive to share his passion and knowledge of art with others.

I always despised the phrase, “Those who cannot do, teach.” That rhetoric insults both the purpose and meaning of art and academia. I believe that those who can do should always teach, whether through lectures, gallery exhibits, professorships, public or private schools – and helping others learn to appreciate and create art is a significant indicator of success to me as an artist and an educator.
                                        Blocks are People Too

Still Life: The Art of Arrangement is on view through October 27, 2012.