2012 in photos

2012 in photos

You can click on the grid to see a larger version, or view the individual photos:

1. tiny undulating arms
2. rained
3. easter
4. light grid
5. untitled
6. campus fence
7. crayon
8. the way monday morning should be
9. wishing stone
10. orange skiff
11. horizon
12. outside toad hall

Five of these were taken with a mobile phone, five with the fuji x100, and two with the Canon 40D. Two are double exposures (a technique I started playing around with this year), one is a composite, and one was with the lensbaby.

When I first saw this year’s grid my thought was that it was a quiet year, photographically speaking. Not that I didn’t shoot a lot (though less than last year, since I wasn’t doing a 365 project) but that I seemed to be finding, or looking for, some quiet in my photos. Not a bad thing to be searching for, certainly.

Quiet time with books

laundry day

I spent part of my Saturday in the library reading poetry. Though I am there almost every week, I don’t read much poetry. I should read more; there are plenty of worse ways to spend an afternoon than finding things like this, by Daniel Hall:

Short Circuit

For no reason,
all at once,

a dove and a jay
swerve and land

at opposite ends
of the clothesline,

and the clothes — mine,
all mine! — commence

to dance with reckless
love and joy.

Storytelling at work

The “new” job is less new every day — Friday marked seven months since I joined Blackbaud. (It is still awesome.)

Friday was also the first ever UX Day event at Blackbaud. It was a day filled with great talks about various aspects of user experience, and how everyone — not just practitioners — can benefit from learning more about UX principles. I was happy (and a little bit freaked out, in a good way) to be asked to give the keynote. As I was putting together my talk, here’s what I told the organizers I’d be talking about:

What can:

A Venetian boatman’s web-footed daughter,
talking animals,
Jesuits in space,
a storyteller with questionable ethics,
and a tiny red leaf

teach you about user experience?

Trust me, I’m telling you stories.

Fortunately, this worked for them and that’s the talk I got to give. I work with some really fantastic people.

If you are curious, you can grab this PDF version of my talk.

Learning

We went to our college reunion not long ago (my 19th, her 20th). I hadn’t been back since my graduation, so of course things were different: there’s a new science center, an arts building, and what would have been considered heresy in the early 90s, a sports complex. Things were also the same: the dorms with their not good for anyone’s back twin mattresses, the lawn in front of the main administrative building, the pillow room in the library. It was strange to see a place I hadn’t seen in nearly twenty years and still have it feel known. We walked into town — Bronxville is a very small, very snobby town in Westchester — and had burgers at the tavern where we sometimes went as students. Same location, new ownership.

Aside from the dinner and dancing (no one was more surprised than me and how much we danced) what I liked best was the new art building. It was open, as there had been an alumai/i show and reception the day before. There were photographs, paintings, and drawings from alums five to fifty years or more from graduation hanging in the gallery space.

Being nosy, we poked around and found most of the studios and workspaces open. Some still had leftover materials lying around and leftover art pinned up to moveable walls. I loved this space. I’ve always loved provisional spaces, places where imaginative work that I didn’t quite understand happened.

paint spattered stool

I found myself thinking that if I had it to do over, I’d do an arts third. At Sarah Lawrence, you could devote one-third of your time to art, or to theater. These weren’t necessarily single classese but an accumulation of efforts that in theory added up to the same workload as a seminar: you took three of those, and most of them lasted all year. (I spend a third of my time each year in fiction workshops, and most of the time another third in literature, with some anthropology and history thrown into the mix.) I was interested in an arts third as a undergrad but I was also scared, not believing I was an artist and believing that with the fiction workshops I was already full on my quota of classes that were probably never going to lead to a job.

As we kept poking around the space, checking out every floor and seeing which doors were locked and which were open, I realized the best part of a liberal arts degree is that it doesn’t matter so much what specifically I studied in college; I can take my arts third now if I want to. I can make it up myself, or with friends, with books and galleries and museums and the internet. Liberal arts degrees are good for teaching you how to learn. At least, mine was.

What about now?

Some email subject lines, like some return addresses on envelopes, create an
excitement and anxious anticipation I can feel in my chest. This afternoon’s “Cell Phone Show Jury Results” was that kind of email.

It contained good news: four of my photographs were selected for inclusion in Stonecrop Gallery’s “Can You Hear Me Now?” group exhibition of cell phone photography.

When I see calls for entry I often think of responding, but something usually gets in the way. Sometimes it is what I consider a questionable entry fee, but most of the time it boils down to not wanting to take the risk. Reframing so it isn’t about rejection (who wants to sign up for that?) but about hey, I created this stuff, and one of the reasons I did that was to share it (so why not try and see what happens?) means I actually submitted this time. Yeah, it feels good to be picked. It feels great to be willing.