Pictures at an Exhibition- What Motivates You?

While hosting a shift at Harford Artists’ Gallery a few months ago, I was asked if I would be submitting any photographs for the Fall Juried Exhibition? At the time I had no idea what that was, but I was definitely intrigued. (You see, if you are a member of the HAA, you are allowed to exhibit up to 3 pieces of your artwork per show, completely of your choosing. This sounded, different.) It was then explained to me that unlike the other shows, a Juried show meant that you entered your artwork to be judged, and not all of it would be accepted. If you were fortunate enough to have your work chosen, it would not only be part of the Exhibit, at the opening reception there would be awards and cash prizes distributed as well.

To be honest, I didn’t even hear that last part about awards, what I heard was “submit your photography for judgement,” and with that came a quick, “I don’t think so.”  Thankfully God was kind to me that day, He surrounded me with some amazing artists (they know who they are,) who not only encouraged me to enter, but if I remember correctly, made me promise that I would! And just like that, since I try really hard not to back down from a promise, I started thinking of what I could submit. In just a few short weeks I was going to Eastern State Penitentiary to shoot with a friend, and I thought, maybe I would work extra hard to bring something back worthy of the show. The Penitentiary is about an hour and half away, in the heart of Philadelphia. The lighting although very dramatic, was constantly moving and changing, which meant my settings did as well. The former Prison is open to the public which meant dodging crowds, and being patient to wait your turn to get shots. As I lugged my very heavy tripod, backpack and a variety of lenses around, I was completely focused on the effects that I wanted to achieve in my photographs. And as I was editing them sometime later, I knew the images were hauntingly beautiful, and were truly representative of a lot of hard work. I was glad to say, I was proud of them. Even if I didn’t get in the show, the push was exactly what I needed to take my photography to the next level, and it really did!

I share this story with you because maybe you identify with me on this. I have continually found that over my 10+ year photography journey, I have always grown the most when I have had some type of deadline. Be it a class assignment, a donation I was asked for, or apparently, when something I shot is going to be submitted to a panel for judgement! So if you are not so self motivated like me, photography can be tricky to stick with, but don’t give up hope, instead use it to your advantage! Take a class, attend a workshop, join a photography club or your local art association! Most importantly, connect with teachers, mentors and other artists and photographers who encourage you and push you to grow! Because I do believe as it was in this case, the encouragement was the nudge I needed and the follow through of simple hard work paid off, no mater who or what motivated me to do it!

So with all that said, I am very proud to say that all three of my submitted photographs were chosen for Pictures at an Exhibition, and they will be on display at Harford Artists’ Gallery from now until October 27th, 2019. If you are local please stop in and see this amazing Exhibit, everyone in the show had to submit to the judging process, so you are sure to see works of greatness all around! Please let me know what you think of my Eastern State Pentitentiary series of photographs, as always, I’d love to hear from you! If find it hard to keep challenging yourself with your photography, keep going! If I can do it, so can you!


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