Happy Weekend Update: Finally, it’s Friday. It being the first one in August, accordingly, it’s super-crowded here in Montauk but there’s a good reason for that. This year we are experiencing a glorious season that is providing ample and welcome respite from the many current woes of the world. My jaunt last Sunday out to George’s Lighthouse Cafe to hear my friends @lynnblueband encapsulated this. Montauk Music gleefully entertained Montauk People (whether residents or visitors, whether young or old, or somewhere in between) under the protective presence of the Montauk Lighthouse as Montauk Surfed’n’Rolled below. I wish everyone could get a taste of this. There are many challenges ahead for all so let’s enjoy the good times when and wherever we can. Respectfully and responsibly, of course, but: Keep rockin’!
GREETINGS FROM MONTAUK . . .
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We're experiencing yet another winter storm here in Montauk. So, it seems like a good day to relate the story behind a recent photograph.
One day back in January, I received a phone call from a lady who had been referred to me by the Montauk. Chamber of Commerce. Joan is an elderly woman who lives somewhere back towards the middle of Long Island and she had, as she put it, a “crazy idea” for a gift she would like to give to her son in celebration of his upcoming retirement. She was wondering if I might be able to help. Since she knew her son loved Montauk, her idea was this: would it be possible for me to go out to the point and get a photo of the Lighthouse just as the dawning sun peaked over the horizon, here’s the catch, on the exact first day of his new post-work life? I could only smile as a I scratched my head at this wonderfully whimsical notion. “Everyone thinks it’s kinda silly,” she said in her very cheery, optimistic voice, “but I really like it. Don’t you think it’s a neat idea?” Joan had no way of knowing that she was asking this question of a guy who, shall we say, has a lifetime of experience with pursuing crazy ideas. I knew immediately that this commission was not going to be the job that would pay for my new ‘whatever’ but, just as immediately, I said, “YES!”
Now, of course, I had to give Joan a few caveats. “Joan, I have to remind you that, while the sun does still come up every day, we don’t always see it. Especially in Montauk. Especially in February.” And, wow, this winter has been a doozy of drizzly days, storms, blizzards, etc. We’ve had five days of overcast skies and rain, followed by a day of “mixed sunshine” followed by a fives days of overcast skies and rain. I wondered if she wouldn’t just be as happy to take one of my photos from previous, fair weather dawns that I already had in my library of the sun coming up out at the point. She liked what she saw, but, no, the idea was that it had to be THE day. “Okay,” I said, “We will make it a date and cross our fingers.”
Then: the day of her son’s retirement shifted back a few days. Oh, no! That day and the next were “on hold” to photo a corporate event in the City. I checked quickly with my corporate client to see if there had been an update. A day later the news came back that . . . the corporate presentation to be photographed had been pushed back a week. Whew! Joan’s new date was free! Bullet dodged.
Of course, the weather on the run-up was the worst. The original day that had been scheduled was a TOTAL washout, but . . . the forecast was improving.
And wouldn’t you know it? February 27th, the Tuesday we had secured, dawned with mild temperatures and not a single cloud in the sky. It was like magic. Not only were the colors spectacular but with all the rain, they were also clear as a bell. In addition to Joan’s requested composition, I was able to achieve four other keepers of my own, which of course I emailed her in case she wanted an option. But she stuck true to her original notion -- the lighthouse with the sun just on top of the horizon line. We also decided then to add a line of text on the image so that her son would know that the image was created, as Joan like to put it, “that exact first day of the rest of his life.” The next day, the sky began to cloud over again and the forecast turned dim. We quickly consulted with her local lab and delivered the image file which was immediately printed up as a giant poster and ready for Joan by Friday morning. By that afternoon, a northeastern storm began to rage through all of New England and the mid-Atlantic.
When Joan got home, though, she called me. She said with a big smile that you could hear over the phone, “Oh, Ric, you should see your work. It’s beautiful!” And that brought my own big smile. Sometimes there’s nothing like “a crazy idea.”
And here's another crazy idea -- you can have your very own image like this one if you head on over to "Hat Tricks For Sale" & check out the items I have for sale there. Who knows? You might even get a crazy idea of your own.
Having been more marathon than sprint; more patient persistence than snap/slap’n’dash -- the dawn of my new site launch is finally here. It has all the bells and whistles: a Blog, several Portfolios, and, absolutely key, the very thrilling ECommerce section complete with my Grand Opening Super Duper New Site Celebration introductory 10% discount, and more. Aside from completing the architecture so that people can actually visit it, however, the truly exciting part for me is that it is actually less “the finish line” than the “starting line.” Hopefully, the launch is more a beginning of the new mission.
For a bit of background, the concept behind the entire endeavour is for it to be organic. In the past, there was “me working,” or “me looking for work” while the site existed as a kind of electronic portfolio. This, at first, was a huge plus. When I first began seeking work as a professional photographer the initial task was to have a portfolio. It was a classic Catch-22 -- how could you get work if you didn’t have work to show you could work? These portfolios were huge, heavy physical tome-objects that kept many a bicycle messenger in business. Further their weight was exacerbated by the fact that they also were very very expensive. The resultant limitations were obvious -- there was only so much work you could physically or economically afford to show. Ah, but times were changing: websites offered the possibility of both affordability and flexibility. Yet, they, too had limitations. Sites required entirely new skillsets, there was only so much they could do outside of whizz/bang design and, if you couldn’t do it yourself, there again was that “expensive” factor in the form of costly designers. But times indeed were rapidly changing. Along came platform services that offered adaptable templates where you could have cool design while making stamping it with your own look. This was great, yet there remained a shortcoming. Namely, these versions still felt like a static proposition -- the digital equivalent of a book that focused on the ‘greatest hits’ and sat there until the next time an image was worthy of being added. For up to the moment stuff, it was much easier to post something on Facebook. One could get easily lost in a new form of the Tower of Babel. Additionally, I never wanted to be only an assignment photographer but also an art photographer. and to be able to offer my efforts for sale meant another huge and separate effort requiring, curses!, an entirely different online platform.
Fortunately for me I stumbled onto the work of a guy by name of Austin Kleon (if you are in any way associated with our new “gig” economy, I highly recommend you check him out). He describes himself as a “writer who draws” and he has a couple of super-cool, best-selling little books out entitled “Steal Like an Artist” and, especially, “Show Your Work.” Reading his essays, following his blog, and closely studying his output totally opened my eyes to a brand new way of approaching all that I was doing. This charted a path to bringing it all together. His point of view de-emphasizes the idea (and accompanying pressure) of trying to be an authentic “genius.” Instead, he promoted becoming more of the Brian Eno-coined environment “Scenius”. In other words, we’re all influenced by others, all ideas are “stolen”. Therefore, he said, stop worrying and procrastinating because you think you should make yourself into the “one and only”. What’s key is to put a personal tweak on whatever influences you; share and credit your influences; and, most importantly “show your work!” He emphasizes doing this by setting up an all-functioning website of your own and, rather than sharing blindly on Facebook, he encourages blogging. It’s a direct path to informing/entertaining friends and followers with what you see along the way. Significantly, it provides a direct and immediate path to where there can be active participation in and support of your output. It’s a kind of home-grown, support-your-local-artist process residing in the global cloud.
After digesting all of this, here I am with my new site. The intention is that it not be a static representation of me. Rather I’ve designed it to be an active, changing, growing organic part of who I am and what I do. Therefore, it’s a place that someone can drop in from time to time and at any time to find something new and different. To be honest, it’s thrilling to have taken all this in and to have acted on it.
So, welcome to the new blog, welcome to the new site. I hope that if you’re looking for original photography you’ll check out my portfolio and get in touch. If you’re looking to decorate your home or office, please consider my Hat Trick Studio photo art output which is now available here for sale. Addtionally they make awesome gifts as well! Speaking of ‘for sale’ let me remind you that for my “Grand Opening” everything is also ON SALE -- 10% for 10 Days. Enjoy!
To some who have seen my photos, this news may come as a shock but it is not always sunny in Montauk. However, not unlike the fog I’ve often found myself in while assembling and arranging the ‘remix’ of my website, there is actually quite a lot of interest and beauty residing within all that sturm-&-drang
So it was Sunday. Even as I was gaining clarity on the website with the help of a crack crew of experts I’d reached out to for the site’s beta review, while also rushing to pack up the car with all the studio gear for some corporate portraits in the City, I still found it a must to quickly cruise to the Lighthouse and document the Icon adrift in a sea of mist and fog.
Working on a deep-channel update of a website is not for the faint of heart. However, it can be done. Indeed, the platforms available online these days offer a clear path as long as you stick to it & have faith while adrift in what at first appears to be a total whiteout of nothingness. But that’s why lighthouses exist -- to help wayward sailors steer clear of rocky shoals. So it was that a select group of friends were able to help guide me in the right direction to the safe shores of website launch.
It was in that spirit that I chose to squeeze in some adventure time out at the easternmost point of Long Island. Was it comfy/cozy? Absolutely not but it provided some beautiful contrasting imagery to the normal views and was totally worth the trip.
You can see a few more images from this jaunt over on my Instagram gallery -- please 'follow' me while you're there. And if you would like to see a few examples of the type of projects I’m working on this week in the City just click on over to my "Business Pros" gallery.
Meanwhile, the haze is lifting and the official launch of the site is coming into view.