Archive for the ‘posts by Sue’ Category

Better late than never

by Sue Dawson

SO MANY people have been coming into the gallery and mentioning how glad they are to see Alison on Instagram, that I thought I’d ask her a few questions about joining into the social media craze. Just to give you a little background, Alison has a Twitter account, tweets very occasionally, and never follows anyone else. To be honest, she doesn’t get the allure of Twitter – perhaps because she’s not a movie star, politician, musician, or under 35. She had a personal Facebook page, but again, didn’t really use it. People kept friending her, she kept saying yes, and when she got to thousands of “friends,” she realized it felt too weird to post personal things to people she didn’t even really know. Not her thing to snap a photo of the pretty swirl in her morning latte, or pass along the latest political rant (actually, that’s more me). We switched her over to a business page (which we both monitor) and that works much better. 

Bottom line, Alison isn’t much of a social media type. But Instagram kept coming up. Everyone was encouraging her to jump in – friends, family, colleagues, students, gallery customers. She did sign up for an account, but never posted anything on it. People even started following her, with zero posts. Nada. So in April, I updated my “Marketing and Social Media” training for our Mentorship students, and found examples of prominent photographers’ pages on various social media outlets. I wanted the group to look at what’s out there, and I talked about each platform. And amongst the professional photographers’ pages, in all its glory, I surprised them all with Alison’s proud Instagram page…

instagram alison
We all laughed. Then this past June, Alison jumped into action. Seems like a great place to start our interview…

SUE: What did you think when I showed that empty page?
ALISON: Haha (sighs and leans back a bit). I think I said “Here’s a great example of ‘Do as we say, not as we do.’ ” 

Did it light a fire under you at all?
It really wasn’t until we were promoting our first show of my new SHORELINE series, that I thought, ‘what could be so hard about Instagram… If they can all do it, I can do it.”

Did you just start posting, or did you have a plan?
My plan was to do regular posts on that one subject, the SHORELINE series. I started at the end of June, a week before the show opened, putting out one new image each day. I actually amazed myself that I could keep up the pace and be consistent about it. It was easy, and fun.

And what’s been the response so far?
I’m now over 500 followers, growing each day, and I love seeing “likes” on my posts. And what’s so fun in terms of being a teacher, is that I’m keeping up with what my students are doing. The people I’m following are primarily either photographers whose work I admire, other photography professionals, and our students. I’m really using it professionally, not personally. I don’t even follow my own kids (sorry, guys). 

Do you think this will get you to shoot more?
I think it’s going to be motivating for me. With SHORELINE, I tried to do all new images. But I’m not taking a worthy new image every day – certainly not in the busy season. So I’m now dipping into my archives, and most of those are a new look at my lesser-known images. In the long run I think it will motivate me to get out with my camera, because eventually the archives will run dry. Over the course of the next month, I’m looking to dig back into my b&w Vineyard Gazette archives, to promote a show at Featherstone this September. One of our Advanced Mentorship students has just started on Instagram, and is promoting her future show by posting an image every day. She’s already sold two prints, just from promoting the show ahead of time.

Why is Instagram resonating more than the other social media?
It’s purely image-driven, and is super easy to use. I don’t need to be sitting at my computer – I can do it all from my iPhone. It’s clean, simple, and even I can understand it. No operator errors. I don’t have to be asking you every day to dig me out of a social media mess 😉

I’ve noticed that you’re regularly cropping horizontal images to square. Why is that?
I think the horizontal display makes the image too small, and the square is more interesting, classier, more concise. I find that 90% of my images survive the square crop. With verticals, I’m leaving them as a vertical, to keep the larger display. 

Interestingly, you’ve posted one personal image.
Not really. I’ve been posting in anticipation of events, and one of them was the Ag Fair. So I was able to sneak in a picture of Sarah (our daughter) and her blue-ribbon-winning pie, from well over ten years ago. I was being a proud mom when I took that photo, but it nudges over the line to a professional shot in this case. 

instagram

Are you gonna post through the winter? 
I hope so. That’s my plan. I hope we have an interesting winter, so I’ve got something to photograph. 

Any parting wisdom about jumping into Instagram?
Just do it.

SUE again: And thank you to everyone who pushed her to do just that! Here’s the link if you want to follow Alison’s Instagram.

Should you sign up for this year’s Mentorship?

T H E R E ‘ S    N O T    M U C H    T I M E    L E F T   .   .   .  

motionmailapp.com

 by Sue Dawson

I’VE BEEN having some great conversations with potential Mentorship students over the past week. They’re deliberating about whether to join this year’s program, which starts on Monday afternoon. They have questions about what to expect, what they’ll learn, how they’ll grow. I love these conversations – I’m sure they can hear me typing sometimes, trying to precisely capture their insights, so I can remember them later.

I thought I’d share some insights with you…

– One person said he loved Alison’s critiques in the workshop he just took with her. In other workshops, he hasn’t always agreed with the teacher’s critiques, and walked away confused, unclear about what’s “right,” and what’s “wrong.” With Alison, she’s so clear in her critiques, even if he doesn’t 100% agree, he totally understands why she’s saying it. He doesn’t have to wonder whether he’s “right” to disagree, because her clarity empowers him to make educated decisions. My take is that her teaching style leaves room for interpretation. She’ll say whether or not she likes an image – don’t get me wrong – but you’ll understand why. So you can decide your own take on it. She’s not saying “this is how to think,” or “this is how to see.” She’s educating you, so you can think and see for yourself.

– Another person said he’s been shooting a lot, and worried that he’s “all over the place” in terms of subject matter and style. But then he wondered, “Or am I? Is this all moving me toward something else?” He’s concerned about not having a “singular style,” a unique voice. Because his direction isn’t clear yet, he’s listening to advice and trying different things. This is a huge reason we added Masterminds to our Mentorship program. At each retreat, you’ll have a half hour to present something to the group, and get feedback from everyone. We’ve seen incredible things happen as a result of this process.

One time, a student presented some selections from her work at different stages, and was looking for a new focus. There was one photo she threw in at the last minute, of a wooden chair sitting in the corner of a room, with a beautiful pattern of light streaming across, from a window above. She said “I don’t know why I tossed this one in. It’s from my Quaker meeting. It means a lot to me, but it’s a one-off.” Everyone loved the image, and wanted to know more. So she talked about her faith, and what it’s meant to her. This image really spoke to her deeply. We all encouraged her to pursue this further. So she started taking more photos of meeting houses near her, and getting gorgeous, evocative images. She decided to visit all the meeting houses in Massachusetts, and I encouraged her to write about each one too, in a blog. Thus began a labor of love that has culminated in two Blurb books of images and text, that are her portfolio of the project. She made these to show at galleries and museums, and to potential publishers.

This is just one example of many. It’s hard to explain the energy that’s created in your Mastermind, where the whole room is focusing on you and your work. Alison and I just did a Mastermind of our own, at last weekend’s Advanced Mentorship retreat, and Alison’s more inspired than she’s been in years.

– One person said our price felt high, and gave us a couple examples of mentorships that cost less. We’ve done a lot of research on other programs, but just to be sure, Alison jumped in and did the research again. She looked at prices, duration, and what you’d get for your investment. Each one that cost less, delivered less. There are some great teachers out there, and wonderful programs. She just didn’t see another like ours. Our Mentorship is truly one-of-a-kind, and we’re very proud of that. Here’s what you get:

  • FOCAL POINT TOOLKIT – Set goals, and track your progress through the Mentorship. This sets your intention for the six months, and creates the velocity for your experience.
  • YOUR OWN PASSWORD-PROTECTED PAGE (new this year!) – You’ll have your own page accessible via our website, where you can find all program info, upcoming appointments you’ve scheduled, your list of goals, downloadable notes from your calls with us, and a personalized to-do list for your reference
  • SEVEN CALL HOURS with ALISON – These calls will be all about you and your work – developing your own unique creative style, staying consistent and keeping focused. You’ll send Alison jpegs of your latest work before each call. During the call, you’ll see her screen live on your computer, as you both discuss your photos, and she makes suggestions shown in Adobe Lightroom. Learn how to be your best editor, get custom training, feedback, motivation, and brainstorm ideas. Alison will give you customized assignments that will keep you inspired, and define your next steps toward your goals.
  • FOUR CALL HOURS with SUE – Get an Art Director/Gallery Owner’s eye on your body of work, and advice on your portfolio, graphic identity, website, book ideas, writing, and marketing. Talk about mindset, and open up your creative flow. Brainstorm project ideas.
  • SEVEN TRAININGS – Our in-depth trainings cover a number of topics,which have included: getting in touch with your deepest creative self; writing an artist statement and bio; marketing your work; communicating with galleries, and having a show of your work; Alison’s digital workflow; publishing a book of your photography; and a fine art printing Q&A with a master printer.
  • TWO 2-DAY RETREATS on MARTHA’S VINEYARD – Experience the island off-season, when all the locals can relax and truly enjoy this unique place. Starting with a Friday-evening drinks and hors d’oeuvres get-together, and culminating in student Masterminds on Saturday and Sunday, you’ll meet other students, learn a lot, and have the unique opportunity to get feedback from the group. Develop your artist statement, body of work, and project ideas with the support of other artists. Alison often talks in-depth about her work, sometimes showing edits, images that didn’t make the cut (and why), and her creative process. Sue will bring her designer’s eye to the discussion.
  • PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP – This is a great opportunity for feedback and technical support, from all past and present Mentorship students. Post your photos and questions, and get feedback, answers, and encouragement on your progress. Sue and Alison monitor the group page regularly.
  • 20% OFF IN THE GALLERY – For the duration of the Mentorship, you’ll get our best discount on all fine art prints, books, posters, and cards.
  • YOUR WORK ON OUR WEBSITE – Take advantage of our international audience. After the Mentorship ends, we’ll post a photo of you, your artist statement, and a slideshow of your best work during our six months together, with a link to your website if you have one.

I’m making appointments for calls, and have times available from now until Monday at noon. I’d love to talk with you! Just email me, sue@alisonshaw.com, and we’ll set up a time. Here’s the pdf with more info. And here’s the link to our student pages, showing their work and accomplishments. One more thing – we almost decided not to do the program this year, so we could focus on a couple projects of our own. But we’ve put those off for now. This means we may not run the program next year (not sure yet), so if you’ve been wanting to join, this is the year!

From one of our retreats

From one of our retreats  (Photo by Vincent Chahley)

So much to think about …

by Sue Dawson

WE’VE BEEN thinking a lot about teaching lately. Alison just finished teaching her week-long workshop here on the Vineyard, and we’re planning a weekend retreat for our Advanced Mentorship group. I’m also just starting to email people on the “interested” list for our 6-month Mentorship, which starts soon. But it’s funny what Alison and I talk about a lot these days…

First, picture us sitting at a cafe, drinking a latte (me) or a short latte with an extra shot (Alison), after a morning walk on the beach. Or maybe we’re hanging out on our back deck in the evening, with a drink and a deck of cards. Or working together in the kitchen. Usually, we talk about work, kids, family, cats, friends, and ALL THE STUFF WE NEED TO DO. See how I put that in caps? There’s always a lot to do, and it mostly fills the conversations we have, in a good (responsible) and bad (uni-focus) way.

But around this time of year – when the gallery season is almost over, the crowds of tourists have one more weekend of fun before things start to close for the season, there’s a chill in the air, and leaves are starting to crunch underfoot – we start to talk about what we want. Now that summer’s over, how do we want to spend this fall, winter, and spring? After such a busy season, what do we need? What will fill us back up again?

Alison wants to shoot more. She wants inspiration. Accountability. A project. A mentor – to push her, support her, and bring out the best in her. I want to create my own art – painting, writing, maybe try new media. I want inspiration. Accountability. A project. A mentor, to get the juices flowing, and support me in my creative life. And we both want to spend time with other artists, inspiring each other, and pushing our learning curve steeper, more challenging, and therefore more fulfilling.

In short, we want to take a Mentorship like ours. Seriously. We’ve fallen in love with the program we created, and we want someone to do this for us! I know, Alison’s already “there,” right? Wrong. There is no “there.” As an artist you need to keep growing and learning. And there’s nothing like doing that in a group of like-minded artists, keeping the bar just high enough to inspire, and holding you accountable to your dreams.

eelpond2016

I’d like to say we’re all setting the alarm for pre-dawn and jumping out of bed when it rings, so that we can be on location for that amazing sunrise we’ll be hearing about later on Facebook. Or making the first phone call to set up a shoot for a project we’re excited to start. Or writing that first draft we’ve been musing about for ages. But most days, to be honest, we’re going through the 12,893 emails in our inbox, folding laundry, or troubleshooting a hard drive crash – all things I’ve done today (and yes, I have that many emails in my inbox). We all need something to lift us out of the everyday grind, get us inspired, motivate  – and sometimes validate – us creatively.

So while we’re busy looking for a program for us, I’d love to talk with you about joining the program we’ve created for you. As of today, there are 9 spaces available, and I have 85 people on my “interested” list (I’m in the process of emailing each one). This year, we’re starting on October 24th, and taking a break between Thanksgiving and the new year (nobody gets much accomplished during that time anyway). We’ll pick up again at the beginning of January, and go through May 19th, 2017. All the info is here, but I’m happy to answer any questions you have. Just email me (sue@alisonshaw.com), and we’ll set up a time to talk.

Funny timing: As I write this, it’s flat calm, and the early evening air is cool. Alison just ran down the stairs and is heading out to shoot…

EPILOGUE
Just thought I’d share one of the photos Alison got, when she went out to shoot at Poucha Pond that evening…

_dsc1241

Hard to believe it’s been 10 years

by Sue Dawson

ALISON SHAW GALLERY began on July 20, 2006. Our first sale was a notecard, to Alison’s cousin’s wife, Jana. I tried to just give her the card, but she insisted on paying, so I asked for a dollar bill. It’s still in my desk drawer in the gallery, so I see that dollar every day. It’s really hard to believe it’s been there for 10 years already!

Ever since we moved into our little building in the Arts District of Oak Bluffs, we’ve been fascinated by the history of this place. In honor of our 10th anniversary, here’s some of the history we’re proud to be part of:

1914sm88 Dukes County Avenue used to be a one-engine firehouse – one of several in town, including the t-shirt shop across from Nancy’s Snack Bar (Engines 1 and 2), “Highland Hose” near the Ocean View Restaurant (on Church Avenue, Engine 3, now the home of one of our customers), and the building in town that’s now “Cottagers Corner,” which was originally Town Hall from 1882 to 1966, and over time also a police and fire station, before the Cottagers acquired it.

So let’s go all the way back to the beginning – in 1880, “Cottage City” seceded from the town of Edgartown, and established their own fire department. In 1907, the town name was officially changed to “Oak Bluffs.” Our building was built in 1914 – we found the date, along with three initials, on the shiplap upstairs that was uncovered during our renovation over 90 years later. 1914 was also, of course, the year World War I began.

Our building was “balloon-framed,” which means the studs went from ground sill to top plate (roof), and the second-floor joists were nailed to the studs. So the second floor was basically held up by a bunch of nails. This would turn out to be a problem for us, but I’ll get to that later. The piece of land we’re on is part of the MVCMA, or Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association – the “Camp Ground,” as locals call it. Turns out most of the cottages in the Camp Ground were built using balloon framing, which was the standard at the time. We believe the Town of Oak Bluffs built our building to house Fire Engine #4, in what was called the “West End” of town.

Nelson Amaral was one of the captains of Engine 4. From his January 2012 obituary in the Vineyard Gazette, “(Nelson) began as a junior firefighter at the age of 14, and spent 56 years in the department, 35 of them as chief. The Wing Road fire station in Oak Bluffs is named for him.” Nelson Amaral’s first cousin, Steve Amaral, worked with Engine 4 for 38 years, beginning in 1956. He succeeded Nelson as captain of Engine 4 in 1975, and stayed captain for 23 years, until 1994. Steve’s pictured below in 1961, in front of the station, next to Engine #4. By the way, Steve will be fishing in his 70th derby this fall (MV Bass and Bluefish Derby) – he’s only missed one, when he was in Korea. If you see him, say hi for us, and a big thank you for his many years of service to town and country.

Engine 1

In 1996, the building had been vacated for a few years, after the centralized fire headquarters was built at County and Wing Roads, to house all of the engines in one place. The MVCVA (Martha’s Vineyard Center for the Visual Arts), which was “formed in 1991 as a non-profit, non-competitive, unifying organization for visual artists,” bought the building from the town. The group of energetic and creative women who ran the MVCVA painted the interior, put in the glass doors we have today, and opened the Firehouse Gallery. They sponsored workshops, classes, and talks with local artists, and had a weekly drawing group (with model) that met upstairs. As you can see from the photo below, the group celebrated the building’s legacy with more than the gallery name!

mvcva dog

In 2006, we got a call from a member of the MVCVA and local painter, Renee Balter. She said that the group wanted to sell the building to a local artist, and encouraged us to submit a proposal. It wasn’t an ideal time for us, so we thanked her and said no. A number of weeks later, Renee called again. “I’m sorry, but I just see you in there!” She asked us to reconsider, thinking we’d be a good fit. Alison and I stayed up all night to do a proposal, buoyed by Renee’s faith in us, and submitted it literally in the last hour before the deadline. As you can surmise, the group chose us, and allowed us to rent the building for a few years first. We moved in at the beginning of July.

MVCVAthis

We had a LOT to do in order to open our gallery. We painted the walls white, and the floor teal. We used a deck paint for the floor that was pretty toxic, and I remember our neighbor Annie came by late one night and thought we were a little loopy from the fumes. I designed a sign using one of Alison’s seascapes – we had the sign printed as a huge sticker, so it’d be the actual photo rather than a painting of her photo. I knew it would fade over time, not being an archival print. So, I thought, photos fade to blue, so why not just start there? It worked. Melissa, of About Signs, made the sign, and her husband hung it, just before opening day.

signhangvertical

But there were a few setbacks…. Mold in the basement (bleached). Termites in the baseboards (exterminated and wood replaced). Rusty oil tank outside (removed). Lots of stuff upstairs, including a working sink (we’d deal with that later).

studio before 2

After builder Todd Leuenberger sheetrocked the center shelf unit to make a display wall, and built doors for the back so we could hang more photos, we managed to open our gallery!

firstopening

Our two kids were as excited as we were. Sarah (left, below) and her best friend Hallie (right, below), and Jesse (that’s his back, in the second photo) with Iris and Miles Albert, were here for the opening.

sarah&hallie

jesse&alberts

We were thrilled. And then…

This is the part where the balloon framing comes in. When gallery season was over, I asked our architect, Chuck Sullivan, to survey the setup, and see if he had some ideas about the upstairs. He came over to take some measurements, and I said “… and we’re ok with the weight of all our file cabinets, flat files, and shelves, right?” Um, that would be no. He went upstairs and jumped up and down a few times, and said “Not only should you not move any stuff up there, I don’t want YOU to go up there.”

So we moved it all out. The whole gallery we’d worked so hard to create. And we asked Harold Chapdelaine of Stonebridge Building and Design to fix things. He and his crew gutted the entire place. It’s an historic building, and needed to be preserved, so basically our building is one huge cabinet. It was a little wonky. Crooked. Settled. So they firmed it up by sistering things, bolting things, installing huge steel beams held up by wide supports in the walls and 6-foot concrete footings, and hurricane ties to keep storms at bay. We had a metal roof put on, and two square windows out front where there had been one. The radiators were removed, and a propane heat and a/c system installed. And I did my thing on the computer to design the upstairs space (see below), just as I had for our last studio on Circuit Ave.

studio layout

 

The upstairs studio turned out beautifully:

_DSC5816

fire lightHarold found clapboard under the shingles out front, so we asked him to put new clapboard on. We picked a paint color we still love (and give out at least once a year to people who want to use it). And we did one more important thing. We asked them to preserve the red fire station light. They kept it in place, and fixed it so we could turn it on if we wanted to. Jokes about our “red light district” ensued.

After around five years, we officially bought the building from the MVCVA group. Because it had been a fire station, we got an environmental study done, to make sure there were no issues with oil or gas on the property. Then we found out there was a cesspool – no septic. Bummer. So we tied into the new town septic system for a cool $20,000 fee. That’s the commercial fee, including everything a restaurant might need – even though we just had one toilet and one tiny sink.

We also asked the MVCMA (if you’re getting bleary-eyed from acronyms, that’s the Camp Ground, which owns the land) to please move their access road over and remove the asphalt from out front. It was a safety issue for our customers, as cars used to cut across right in front of the building. At first we just dumped some shells out there, for timing reasons, as this GoogleEarth photo shows:

gallery with shells

Then we hired Crosslands Landscaping to install our gorgeous bluestone walkway, lawn, and garden, which Working Earth has been maintaining and improving ever since. Ta dah!

this gallery

If you’ve read this far, thank you! And please join us tomorrow evening (Saturday, August 6th) from 5 to 7 pm, for our 10th Anniversary Party. Alison and Lew French will be signing their new book. Herring Run Kitchens will provide fantastic food. Joanne Lambert will pour you a drink. And Sue will be behind the front desk and her wall of computers (don’t ask). Hope you can come!

Join us this Monday, July 4th, from 10 to 2

by Sue Dawson

4th morning crop

PLEASE JOIN Alison Shaw Gallery and gallery josephine for 4th morning, our impromptu way of celebrating the revitalization of the Arts District in Oak Bluffs, and our newly-installed sidewalk! The highway trucks finished up today, just in time to toast the completion of our safe walkway between the Arts District and the Oak Bluffs harbor.

We’ll be open from 10am to 2pm on Monday, July 4th, serving delicious breakfast beverages, and tasty snacks. It’s a perfect way to start your morning – drinking a latte, sitting in our beautiful garden, and looking at stunning art.

We also just hung Alison’s new photo of her favorite Oak Bluffs jetty (the one on Inkwell Beach) on the main wall. We used our premium framing, with museum glass – I really love this one.

We look forward to seeing you on Monday!

Alison Shaw Gallery’s 10th anniversary season

may2016signblog

by Sue Dawson

WE’RE OPENING for the 2016 season tomorrow: Saturday, May 28th, between 10am and 5pm. This year promises to be different. We like to shake things up occasionally (keeps it fun for us). To celebrate our 10th anniversary, we’re hosting two parties – one on July 9th, and one on August 6th. Instead of hanging a full “show” each month, we’re going to just hang new (and retrospective) pieces when we feel like it. So the walls will be changing often. If you want to buy something right off the wall, you can take it with you. We’ll just hang a new piece in its place. We love the fluidity of being able to move things around, and hope you will too!

This summer, I’m planning to write a series of blogs about our building, which began as a one-engine firehouse. And by my count, Alison’s been a professional photographer on Martha’s Vineyard for 40 years (another milestone!), so I’ll do some posts about her too. We’re really looking forward to sharing this season with you.

Realizing your dreams

by Sue Dawson

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR. The holidays. But this year it’s also the time we’re filling the 12 available spots in our 6-month Mentorship. The past two years we’ve started the Mentorship at the beginning of November. But things got all mucked up with the holidays, to be honest. Between turkey and shopping and wrapping and cooking and cleaning and baking and doing it over and over again several times in one month, we were exhausted. So this year, we’ve decided to start the Mentorship on January 4th, and jump into the new year well-fed and ready to focus.

I’ve been reading through the Mentorship Facebook group page, past emails, and worksheets our students have submitted, and I came across this great quote, that I placed over one of the author’s gorgeous photos:

debquote1

Goals without a plan. I know this well. I’m good at reaching many goals, but the creative ones always seem to get kicked to the bottom of my to-do list. This is the stuff that means the most to me (after family, of course), but I don’t make time to pursue it. Maybe it’s because it can be a little lonely to work on my art, and I’m a people person. Maybe I’m scared of failing. Or maybe I’m scared of succeeding … didn’t expect that one, did you?

We’ve designed the Mentorship exactly as Deb hoped. It’s a roadmap – customized for you – to identify your dreams, and create a plan to achieve them. There are trainings on things like creativity, and putting together a portfolio of your work. You become part of a group of 12 peers, who support each other via our private Facebook group, and at the two weekend retreats. The highlight of the retreats are the Mastermind sessions, when each student has a block of time to present your work, get support, feedback, suggestions, and the group’s full attention. It’s a powerful experience to have 13 people (11 other students, Alison, and me) focused exclusively on you and your work – some of the best insights have come from Masterminds. Throughout the Mentorship, you’ll have one-on-one sessions with Alison, focused entirely on your photographs, your workflow, and your goals. And sessions with me, where we look at your website, writing about your work, and getting your photography seen and appreciated by others.

It’s hard work. It is. No sugar-coating that. Your results will be directly proportional to your investment of time and effort. But this is about your dreams, after all. It’s time to stop kicking the can down the road, and thinking you’ll be able to focus on your dreams some other time.

23 people have done this before you, each of them full of reservations and excuses, each of them nervous that they picked now to jump in. There’s a section on our website where you can see a list of some Mentorship student accomplishments, look at portfolios of students’ work, and read their thoughts on the Mentorship experience. I encourage you to look at all they’ve done, and picture yourself on this list next year.

For more info, go here, and click the blue link under the photo to download a pdf. Or email Sue: sue@alisonshaw.com. I’m looking forward to talking with you!

A surprise for Sue

FullSizeRender

A guest blog: by Sue Dawson

A FEW WEEKS ago, a really nice woman came into the gallery. Well, I didn’t know how nice she was back then. All I knew was that she was from Baltimore (her answer to my query), and since I grew up there, we started talking about our shared home. She asked me if she could bring anything the next time she visits. I got shy (this doesn’t usually happen), and said “Oh no, that’s ok, so nice of you to ask.” She responded, “No, really – if you could have anything from Baltimore, what would it be?” Without hesitation, I answered “Berger cookies. I haven’t had one for years, and you can’t get them anywhere else.”

“Done,” she said, and her friend said “She means it, you know. She really means it.” So nice. And yet, in the flow of spring and early summer, I forgot all about it…

…until today. I was upstairs on a call with one of our Mentorship students, when Toby dropped off the package. For the poor folks who have never heard of Berger cookies, here they are:

FullSizeRender-3

Two boxes of deliciousness. They look like hockey pucks (or worse), but they taste fantastic. Apparently each one is iced by hand, chocolate fudge on top of a cakey cookie. It’s not about the cookie on the bottom – you eat these for the fudge on top. Just like you buy Lucky Charms for the little marshmallows.

In case this isn’t clear, I am now six years old, and in Baltimore heaven. Toby, you just made my day!

FullSizeRender-2

Oh, and while I have your attention, Alison’s annual opening at the Granary Gallery in West Tisbury is this Sunday, from 5 to 7pm. Hope we see you there!

Introducing our two new workshop assistants

ws_wasque_point

Wayne Smith’s photograph of a fisherman at Wasque, where blues are running like they were in the ’70s.

A guest blog: by Sue Dawson

ALISON’S BEEN TEACHING week-long workshops on Martha’s Vineyard since the mid-1980s. They were first hosted by Atlanta’s Southeastern Center for the Arts (owner Neil Chaput then moved to Montana, where he founded Rocky Mountain School of Photography). Classes were held in a different place every year – even in Alison’s living room. Those were the days of shooting with film cameras, so Alison had an assistant who dropped off at least 50 rolls of film at the airport each morning, so they could be flown to Logan Airport, driven by courier to a lab in Boston, and rush-processed. He or she would pick up yesterday’s processed film – now slides – and bring them back to the group each day. No one knew for sure how their images would look, until they saw the slides. Students “bracketed” their shots, meaning that they shot multiple images of the same thing at different exposures, to increase the chances of getting a good one. When the slides came in, they’d be spread out on a light table, the best shots chosen, and loaded into a slide projector for group critiques.

Things are so different now. Classtime is held at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center, in a gorgeous theater with cushy seats and a huge screen. We host a group dinner Friday night, in a local restaurant, and a final slideshow Saturday morning that’s open to the public. All students shoot with digital cameras, so daily critiques include images you shot just hours earlier. You can see your images in-camera right away, but the technological “bar” is a lot higher these days. There’s still a learning curve for shooting, but now there’s also the digital darkroom, which is a daunting thing for many photographers. You need to have an efficient workflow, and know how to process your images digitally.

We’re excited to announce that we’ll have two assistants for our workshops this year, so that we can meet the varied needs of our students. Wayne Smith, a local photographer and surfcaster (see today’s Vineyard Gazette story about his fishing success here), will offer his many years of expertise with shooting, and managing a photo studio in Boston. Jeff Bernier, a local photographer and retired tech teacher at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, will teach what you need to know in Adobe Lightroom on our first morning together, and be available for tech questions the rest of the week. Long-time workshop alum and friend Jen Sayre will help with setup, errands, and all of your caffeinated beverage needs, as she’s done for several years. All of this added teaching and assistance will free Alison to do what she does best. Our team will support each student where they are, thus manifesting each student’s own best experience.

If you’ve been thinking of taking a workshop with Alison, this is a great year to do it. Grab your spot now – there’s a pdf you can download here, with details and registration info (look for the blue type).

Alison’s work appears in Sally Taylor’s TEDx talk

A guest blog: by Sue Dawson

I’M ON James Taylor’s mailing list (huge fan, since I heard his album JT in high school – we now own every single one), and he just sent out a link to his daughter Sally’s TEDx talk, “The Beautiful Dilemma of our Separateness,” in Nashville. It’s definitely worth your time. Sally explains how she came up with the concept for her Consenses project, which uses some of Alison’s photos. If you’re interested, you can read my blog post from last summer, to get the whole story. Anyway, please watch Sally’s talk. I was so inspired by her insight.