Oxymoron, you say? Read on. Contradiction in terms? Hear me out.
I am deeply grateful for this time of my life in which I am able to focus on what I love doing–not totally, as I still have obligations I mostly enjoy–but more than ever before. And what I love doing most is my photography.
I am deeply grateful that at 75, I can still hike and kayak where the wild things are. I am grateful that I am able to walk the streets of cities for hours taking it all in, engaging the people, the architecture, the happenings, and can afford to travel in moderation to do so. I’m grateful.
But I just spent 8 hours over two day at an arts market with my photographic wares. And it was fun. And I had several lovely conversations with interesting people about my work. But…. I went home at the end of that time having sold just enough to cover the price of my booth ($30) and buy myself dinner on the way home (~$30).
Meanwhile, the lady in the booth on my left took in cash hand over fist for massively over-scented (IMHO) candles and oils (giving me a headache the entire time) and the lady across the aisle from me doing same by calliagraphing names on glass balls to hang on the Christmas tree.
The attention-getter in my booth at this arts market was this… well, what can I say? …perfect image of a remarkable (worthy of a post in itself) bird.
So here’s a little bit of what it took to make this photo. And please note, I did not “take” this photo. I made it.
- About two hours standing quietly next to the tree waiting for it to come into range, sit for a moment and turn its head juuuuust so.
- Another hour or two in editing software figuring out the best crop, taking out a few distracting elements (because birds NEVER perch in picture-perfect places), adjusting contrast a bit, sharpening focus a tiny bit, working with the dodging tool a bit to bring out the eye.
- Printing–a challenging process. You don’t want to know.
- Then, when the first couple of attempts to print were unsuccessful going back to de-saturate the incredibly blue sky just enough that it didn’t overwhelm the grays.
- Finding the right frame; putting it all together.
- Equipment & Suppliies:
- $1500 camera body
- $2000 300mm lens
- $1000 photo printer
- Assorted framing tools (because paying others to frame for you is waaaaaaaay too expensive)
- Top quality photo paper (~$1 per sheet), printer ink (~$50 per cartridge), frame (~$20 if bought on sale), archival mat and back (~$20 for this 10×10 piece).
- Knowledge & skills:
- Naturalist: Knowing what you’re photographing helps a lot, where to go, where to stand, and more.
- Technical: How to use camera, lens, editing software, printer and printing software, and how to frame.
- Other: Patience, a heart for creation.
I could go on and list all the things one does to get into an arts market, get your stuff there, have an ample inventory of stuff to sell, set up a nice display, etc., etc. You get the picture.
*$100* That’s what I’m asking for this piece. I still have it. After all the oohs and aahs, I still have it. And some of the same people who oohed and aahed, walked next door and handed over cash for massively over-scented (IMHO) candles and/or calliagraphed glass balls.
I do not begrudge the lovely ladies the money they made. I truly don’t. And I am clear that what they do also takes knowledge and skill, supplies, equipment, etc. But I don’t get it. That’s my lament. I don’t understand how and why people pass up timeless beauty and spend hard-earned money on ephemeral baubles.
And at the end of the day, it kind of hurts, because…. I can’t keep doing this forever.
And I am still deeply grateful that, for now, I can.