Continuing on with my concept of the gathering place and lifeblood of the town square, I also tried to venture outside of my comfort zone a bit. While walking around “The Square”, I decided to apply some of the suggestions from our critique this week. I introduced myself to a few strangers and told them what I was doing with my photo project. I asked if they would mind if I took their photos and to my surprise, a few of them said yes. I made the images more straight on, with the subjects looking at the camera. Hopefully with more attempts at getting closer to my subjects, it will get easier. Looking to find new ways to add to my project and keep it fun is my goal. This week was a little more challenging for me but I’m positive that this challenge will be worth the effort.
Small towns have their own kind of life. Often towns are centered around a town square or gathering place. North Texas is no stranger to this type of central area in their towns, especially Denton. I grew up in a small town in Illinois, population around 20,000, so I am drawn more to the small town-ness of Denton than that of the metroplex of Dallas, even though I lived there for many years. My vision for this project was to portray the lifeblood of these small towns, which to me center around the town squares. The architectural features are what give the square it’s foundation. The businesses and activities conducted around the square provide life and support, drawing visitors and shoppers from all around the area. At pretty much any given time there is some type of gathering taking place at the square. My intent is to capture several different towns in the close proximity of Denton, providing a variety in structures and activities that do indeed portray the life surrounding the town square.
I like to read the text first before I really engage with the photos, even if the photos are posted before the text. Reading the meaning and thoughts that go with the photos help me to visualize and have a better understanding of what the artist is saying within the photos.
I had a couple of successes this week. One was being able to make photos at the time of day I preferred in order to get the softer light I desired. The other was being able to take the photos of the structures that help make up the town square without a lot of traffic and people. I wanted to focus on the structures themselves as much as possible. Many of the buildings were built around 1900, the courthouse was built in 1896, thirty years after the city was founded. The timing for having less traffic happened to work out this time.
I chose the fine art landscape photographer Elizabeth Carmel. Her work consists of landscape portraits both in color and black and white. I love her images. For me, I would take landscape photos over anything else because I love seeing the beauty that is around me and the feeling of calm and peacefulness that I get when I am photographing nature. The experience on my computer was pretty good. Her page is straightforward and I found it user friendly; it was easy to read and navigate. On my iPhone – the print was a little small to read but I increased the size and was able to navigate with ease. My experience with Elizabeth’s site was very similar on these two devices, but because of the size difference, I would prefer to see the website on my computer.
Elizabeth’s design and font choice were pleasing to the eye. She chose a combination of light, medium and dark gray for the background. I think this made the white, blue and black font colors to able to be read without difficulty. The page itself seemed a bit busy when I first opened the page, but then I could see that she had included necessary headers, photos and links to her work. I liked that she included photo choices of her multiple portfolios and then also a text only list of those same portfolios. When clicking on the individual portfolios, she has included thumbnails of the photos included there. Once you click on the single photo, it appears in a smaller format, but there is also a button that can be clicked on to see a larger image. If you want to purchase one of her numbered prints, that is easily done with a secured website. Getting around in the website is not complex and you can get to other portfolios, gallery information, contact information and bio, books, etc. with out having to go back to the homepage each time. I like that feature.
Elizabeth’s website includes a blog, links to purchase her limited edition prints, books, DVDs, calendars and notecards. She also has links to Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube and Flickr. There are several locations that you can connect to any of these – through the connect header at the top of each page or at the bottom left of each page with the social media icon links. While looking around her site and reading the testimonials, it seems that Elizabeth’s target audience would be people that have either been to the locations where she has photographed and they would like a print to remember their time there or simply those who just appreciate beautiful prints of nature. She has done some gorgeous works and many not from the usual viewpoint that is seen so often. My impression of Elizabeth Carmel, after visiting her website, is that she is a talented artist/photographer that takes great pride in her images and the detail that she captures. I could see her passion, love for nature and her desire for others to appreciate and connect with nature. While looking at her images I feel like I am right there where she is taking the photos.
My initial project idea for this course was to photograph the architecture of “small town” downtown areas, making the photos more fine art than just documentary. The project has taken on a different focus as I work each week to find and create new images of it’s life and activity of “small town” downtown locations. The life is seen and felt in both the buildings and the people that gather in the downtown area. This has been more difficult than first anticipated, but not impossible. The photos this week show some of the people that come to the square, and how some arrive there. Most small towns have businesses around their downtown square, especially coffee shops. One of the photos portrays patrons enjoying their coffee on the patio of the local coffee shop, capturing several types of customers that include the business man, the work from home business man and a farmer. The downtown square draws people for business and also for relaxation as shown in the photo with the man taking a break on a shaded bench. Modes of transportation to the downtown area vary depending on the town. Here in Denton, bicycles are a very common means of mobility as depicted in the photo. Growing up in a small town atmosphere and then moving to a major metropolitan area has given me a greater appreciation for the slower “small town” feel. In making this an Americana type collection I believe that it would have a more aged audience appeal, likely in the 30+ age range.
“A town square is an open public space commonly found in the heart of a traditional town used for community gatherings. Other names for town square are civic center, city square, urban square, market square, public square, piazza, plaza, and town green.”
Living in a smaller town such as Denton, I’ve found there are many activities that surround and fill the Downtown Square, or as the locals call it “The Square.” The old Courthouse on the Square is a gathering point for many of those activities. On this particular weekend, I encountered a group of Folk/Bluegrass musicians gathered in the shade having a good time with their music. Each one taking turns choosing a song to perform together. They were absorbed in the music, some almost oblivious to the crowd that gathered around their circle. I ran back to my car to retrieve my camera and was able to capture some of the musicians while they performed. When taking the photos, I wasn’t able to get closer as I didn’t want to intrude into their circle. I didn’t have my telephoto lens with me, and this was a good reminder to bring my entire bag of equipment. The small town gatherings are unique and give a sense of community to me, something that I don’t think can be felt in a large city.
Managing my time well is usually one of my strong traits. Or at least I used to believe that. I was aware that I would look at my phone to check Facebook and email, but had no idea how often that was or how much time it consumed. I was given the task of tracking all of my interaction with technology for a 24 hour period. I look on my phone to see the latest posts and messages on Facebook, and it has become so automated that I don’t even realize how often I do. Checking email, viewing and posting to Facebook, using the camera on my phone, and texting, are all activities that seem to eat into my time. I chose Saturday to track my interactions with digital technology. I was spending the day with my husband so I didn’t have as many texts with him throughout the day. The number of times that I did reach for my phone to check Facebook and email was frightening, as well as the amount of time that was used up doing these activities. This exercise was an eye opener and hopefully will be enough of one, to help decrease the number of instances when I thoughtlessly reach for the phone throughout the day just to check Facebook and email. I know there are more important things to do in a day than to waste precious time connecting in mass amounts of digital activities that are not necessary.
7:30 – 7:50 am – Cellphone – Facebook, Yahoo Mail
8:24 am – Cellphone – reply to text message
8:29 am – Cellphone – reply to get message
9:10 – 9:24 – Cellphone – Facebook, Yahoo Mail
10:07 – 10:45am – Digital camera shooting for Class
11:12 – 11:20 am – Cellphone – Facebook, text reply
12:18 – 12:23 pm – Cellphone – Google, Google Maps, Notes
1:10 – 1:14 pm – Cellphone – Facebook
1:23 pm – Cellphone – reply to text message
1:29 – 1:33 pm – Cellphone – reply to text messages
1:40 – 1:42 pm – Cellphone – camera
1:44 – 2:20 pm – Cellphone – Grocery IQ
2:23 – 2:45 pm – Cellphone – Facebook, Solitaire
2:45 pm – Cellphone – Set alarm on phone
3:20 – 4:30 pm – Laptop – Safari, Blackboard, Yahoo Mail, Facebook, Pic Stitch
4:50 – 5:10 pm – Cellphone – phone call
5:45 – 5:50 pm – Cellphone – Facebook
6:12 – 6:18 pm – Cellphone – Calendar, Notes, reply to text message
7:00 – 11:30 pm – Laptop – Safari, Blackboard, WordPress, My Art Lab, Bridge, Photoshop CS6, Facebook, Yahoo Mail, You Tube, WFAA News, WFAA Weather tracker, Racefan Ultimate
12:10 – 12:20 am – Cellphone – Facebook, App Store, messenger
6:40 – 6:50 am – Cellphone – Facebook, Yahoo Mail