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Art Commentary Featured Photography Profiles

Profile: Bill Baker, Photographer

I am Here- An Austin Photographic Retrospective

This summer Austin features one of its own in a solo photographic exhibit of the current body of work of Bill Baker.  The Smokin from Shootin Studio emerged onto the SoCo scene within the past year and represents an iconic series of progressive Austin images in digital.

From classic urban architecture and figurative study to natural scenery, Bill Baker’s work represents a world where futuristic hope springs out of the wreckage of industrialized technology.  Described as “a way out” and “a train to everywhere” these images stand as portraits of the future eternal in a time when doubt reigns as the zeitgeist of the day. 

It would be difficult for me to report objectively about this newly minted progressive archetype of an artist without coming clean:  he’s my brother.  But in my defense I feel that I stand not only as his biggest fan but probably his biggest critic.  We are hard on each other for a reason.  Caring always requires that.

Bill Baker is a force. Not just your ordinary man about town with a mission but a forward thinking rattler.  He touches base with the people, artists of every type, and he understands at a very basic level what drives current expression in one of the most progressive cities on the planet.    His images portray every inch of that.

Since the very time of our upbringing in a home filled with artifacts of human creativity, art absolutely everywhere, he embodied a way of seeing things for what they were and not getting caught up in social protocol of how they should be.  He calls it straight.  If it was a lemon, he’ll label it a lemon.  If it was a priceless paramount in time and space, you’ll hear it.  His body language will shoot straight out and there will be this wince that comes out of his left eye.  You get the feeling when you see an image he has created that it is part of a piece of truth.

As an artist, Bill Baker is sincere – painfully so.  Progressive culture needed of shot of Bill in the arm.  We need someone with pointed vision to steer us clear of the fungus and the glam.

Here comes my own honesty…

One day, I received a call from Bill and it went something like this, “You know, Beck.  I’m ready to shoot.  What do I need?”  Threw me back against a couch! Wait, wait, wait a minute Bill.  I OWN that.  It’s MY sport. You don’t just change family labeling at the slightest little whim.  There’s a pecking order here!  I’m the artist.

I’m the one- for years slid off her clothes at the slightest adrenaline thought in front of my Nikon F and a timed shutter.  I printed those silver halide images by hand under my stairwell using the kitchen sink with fixer.  I’m the one who dragged that Hasselblad 500C handheld through Southern Mexico for three months and threw up an exhibition in a law office by hanging wire from the ceiling rafters.  I’m the one who searched mountaineering supplies like a rabid cat for a watertight bag so that I could throw my Nikon D200 in a kayak and capture abstract water and light reflections at dusk!  I was a little bit put off!

It’s funny how time skews all things into familiarity.  Bill grew persistent and manic about his practice of photography, technical even. 

Within one year he carried around at any given time the Canon G10, Holga toy camera, Canon RXT converted to infrared, Canon RXS, my old Hasselblad 500c (with a digital back in negotiation) and one of the Fuji instant cameras, all digital.  There was no stopping him.

In his own words, which are golden, he states:

“The G10 is what I carry every day now.  It’s the best. I have the Hasselblad but have achieved nothing out of that soul…yet.  It will become part of my workflow soon and likely, once I have the digital back it will be everything and all of what I carry on a daily basis.

I poked a hole in a body cap and put it on my best camera and walked around for a week taking digital pinhole images.  I dream of having a Holga lens fitted to my Hasselblad with a digital back.  How cool would that be…  I love the experimental relationship that I have with my cameras.  I am constantly trying to incorporate the soul of film into my digital work.  There’s a film hole there that I am trying to fill without actually loading film.  But truthfully I need the immediacy of the digital format. If I could put a digital back on a Brownie, I would.  Having the opportunity to put a digital back on my Hasselblad would be priceless. 

I use Adobe Lightroom for post-processing but have not yet used Photoshop.  I haven’t found a need for Photoshop in my workflow because it would tempt me to make more changes to my images than I think I should.  I want to stay as pure as I can.  I missed the whole film thing but have so much respect for it that I want my images to be as real as possible.  But real is relative when you’re talking about photography.  You have to manipulate the image just enough to convey the moment or the feeling without running astray of reality.  But sometimes I run amok and it feels good.

I know what my sister is trying to tell me.  I dare you.

When I think back now the days of photographic passion and intrigue that revolved around the silver halide of my youth, it brings me a sly grin.  I remember thinking that it would be impossible for me to share this with anyone that would truly understand, not really. 

I realize now that he was there all along.  We share it and it exists between us.

Bill’s work can be seen at http://www.smokinfromshootin.com

 

Categories
Media The Not-So-Daily Edition

Virtual Networking in a Brave New World

The Social Network As It Was.

Remember when networking was something that was accomplished at blazer-wearing cocktail parties and on the golf course followed by a cocktail?  Even if you don’t remember that, one must realize historically there was such a thing.  Leaving the house and beating the streets socially was absolutely the only way possible to network in the community and create a name, credibility and resource.  It was an era of creating importance amongst people of importance.

Enter the Digital Era of Networking

Got a computer?  Of course you do.  Well, throw away your taste for shrimp cocktail and the smell of freshly cut grass coupled with too many gin and tonics.  Your social and business network has not only become easier to access but absolutely endless.   You are a rock star in the infinite world of your own virtual networking.

There are no people of self importance.  We now understand that importance is relative to the task.  And we also understand that the tasks are constantly evolving.  It’s a better day.

Modern Party Chatter and Tee Off Times

The basic difference between networking in the past and networking now is the comparison of a closed circle to an infinite web.   There are no limits to a social web presence, guaranteed.  And you don’t have to hear the rancid gossip either.

Creating a brand name or identity in the digital era involves a very simple infrastructure of URL presences coupled with what we in the digital social networking industry like to call maintenance.

The infrastructure is the name branding and the maintenance is the social trust building.

Digital Social Infrastructures

Social networking sites are ever evolving.  They change faster than you can beat an egg.  The sites of interest to networkers today are: Face Book, Twitter and Linked In.  These URL’s maintain groups of social networks that constantly interact, change and identify.  It is imperative in modern social networking that you do not only have one presence but many that interlink.  They work together.

Other important factors that assist in connecting equally are:  e-mail accounts, personal or professional websites and blogs.  Each one of these is a necessary piece but not one of them more important than the others..  That chain is the infinite web of digital social networking.

The system works perfectly.

The Hitch

Quite frankly, even though this system is an extremely effective method to achieve niche recognition – there is one major drawback.  It takes a great deal of time to update, connect and communicate.  There absolutely aren’t enough hours in the day to run a business AND keep an interactive web presence for marketing purposes.

It can be done.  It has to be done.  But it doesn’t have to be done alone.

But not to worry, mind you.  You will notice more agencies that specialize in the area of social networking maintenance to assist in the process.  

And you will notice more specialized niche business coming your way as well as higher sales in the process.

And lastly, you never had to lift a cocktail fork or listen to so and so go on about his bum knee and his bad marriage.  Imagine that.

It’s a brave new world.
 

Categories
Commerce Workflow

Marketing in a Digital Era

A new landscape in the world of marketing is appearing now.  The strength of a company is defined by its digital web presence and that standing is critical to its profit margin and ultimate survival.

Almost everyone has dabbled in throwing up a web page to promote their business.  With the invention and discovery of the internet, I think all of us have considered the latent power of owning web real estate.

Some web pages are extremely well designed. They satisfy the creative eye, are informative and insightful.  But do you ever feel like your site is just sitting there in the vast galaxy of time and space going unnoticed?  Wouldn’t it be nice to get a little more traffic and create some sales out of it?

I know many of us have had that thought run through our heads.

Categories
Digital Lifestyles Photography

EXPLORING DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY & GROUP THERAPY, TOGETHER

When I studied traditional photography over twenty years ago I did not see how much the art would shift for me in the way I executed it and what it meant for me.   I believed like many of us that the silver halide was a thing of exacting beauty that could never be replaced.