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Great Light, Beautiful Photographs and a Picnic Lunch . . .

Canopied Picnic Tables, White Sands National Monument, Amamogordo, New Mexico  2014  Photograph by ©Craig Varjabedian

Appearing like a mirage in the heart of gleaming white dunes, these surreal canopied picnic tables await visitors to White Sands National Monument. Designed by Lyle Bennett, the principal architect of the White Sands Visitor Center (built in the late 1930′s) these works of functional art reflect his preference for modernist architecture and his appreciation of the work of architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

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Photograph what you love . . .

Only What You Love, an article by Kate McGraw in the December 6, 2013 issue of the Albuquerque Journal

Only What You Love, an article by Kate McGraw in the December 6, 2013 issue of the Albuquerque Journal

I remember years ago that my college English teacher Robert Kraft admonished us that to truly write well, we needed to write about the things we love.  I think the same can be said when it comes to making good photographs. Otherwise, as author Kahlil Gibran once observed, “all else is a form of waiting.”

So when Albuquerque Journal Reporter Kate McGraw queried me recently about how to make a great photograph, I shared with her the sage wisdom I learned from Dr. Kraft in that early college english class.

I invite you to check out Photos Focus on Landscape: Only What You Love in the Albuquerque Journal.

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An Invitation to Under A Western Sky

Under A Western Sky, An Invitation to an exhibition of photographs by Craig Varjabedian  Photographs ©Craig Varjabedian

Under A Western Sky, An Invitation to an Exhibition of Photographs by Craig Varjabedian  ©Craig Varjabedian

We work. We search for those incredible, once-in-a-lifetime moments to make photographs of. We toil away in the dark or behind a computer screen to make those epiphanies—those gifts from the universe—come alive. And then, when the stars align, we have an exhibition to share our hard-won efforts . . .

The pleasure of your company is requested at a new exhibition of my photographs titled UNDER A WESTERN SKY. This event at William Talbot Fine Art will take place on Friday December 6, 2013 from 5-7pm. The gallery is located upstairs at 129 West San Francisco Street just a block east of the Lensic Theatre in beautiful downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico.

I hope you can attend.

Check out William Talbot Fine Art

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The Grace of Music

Composer Michael Mauldin's Music CD's

Composer Michael Mauldin’s Music CD’s

The dictionary defines grace in many ways. My favorite definition is the bestowal of blessings. Author M. Scott Peck (Road Less Travelled) defined it as an unearned miracle.

Recently I clicked the “LIKE” button on composer Michael Mauldin’s Facebook page. Yesterday a kind letter arrived from Michael that spoke of our mutual love of New Mexico and an appreciation of my photographic work. The letter also included two CD’s of his music titled “Enchanted Land” and “Earth Spirit.”

I played the CD’s later in the day and what I heard was grace set to music. I am in particular awe of his collaboration with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra on the CD “Enchanted Land” and his piece “Three Jemez Landscapes” which harmonizes with music I often hear in my head while I am out on the land making photographs. His music is overwhelmingly beautiful.

I think of gifts like these as unearned miracles. They were not asked for certainly and I don’t think they were particularly earned; at least in a traditional sense. I am grateful to Michael Mauldin for the gift of his music and for sharing it with me.

Learn more about Michael Mauldin’s music on his web site.

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My Teacher Norm Stewart

Me, Norm Stewart and another Guy, Bloomfield Hills Lahser High School, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan  c.1975.

Me, Norm Stewart and Another Guy, Bloomfield Hills Lahser High School, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan c.1975.

I awoke to Paul Simon on the radio this morning:

“When I think back
On all the crap I learned in high school.
It’s a wonder
I can think at all . . . “

Somewhere along the way I found photography and then life began. I am grateful for all the teachers who came into my life and helped me on the journey. This is a picture of my high school photo teacher Norm Stewart—one of the best. And I’m the guy in the middle in the checked shirt staring in wonder at a print as it is pulled from the tray. To this day that wonder has never ceased . . .

A heartfelt thanks to the “legendary” Mr. Stewart.

P.S.  I posted this previously on Facebook and many kind comments were left. I like this one in particular:

Thanks for your kind words Craig. As a young teacher just starting out in the late 60′s, I learned early not to get in the way of gifted students with heart, drive, vision and passion. You were among those and your success is evidence of that.

—Norm Stewart

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Landscape Dreams, A New Mexico Portrait Wins 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award

Landscape Dreams, A New Mexico Portrait wins 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award

Landscape Dreams, A New Mexico Portrait wins 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award

So . . . I just returned from Albuquerque last evening after an afternoon making portraits of my friend Ole Guy and his pal Dr. Bob. I checked my e.mail for the last time before turning out the lights and very much to my surprise a message awaited informing me that my book Landscape Dreams, A New Mexico Portrait had won a prestigious New Mexico-Arizona Book Award.

In this moment I find myself humbled and without words yet a line from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night crosses my mind, “I can no other answer make but thanks, And thanks, and ever thanks . . .” I send this thank you out to the good jurors of the book award and to everyone who purchased a copy of the book.

And thanks as well to Jeanetta Calhoun Mish for her thoughtful essay about my photography that appears in the book and of course to my publisher the University of New Mexico Press.

You can check out Landscape Dreams, A New Mexico Portrait right here on Amazon

New Mexico-Arizona Book Award for Landscape Dreams, A New Mexico Portrait.

New Mexico-Arizona Book Award for Landscape Dreams, A New Mexico Portrait.

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My C.M. Russell Photography Workshop

Cover for 2013 Workshop Album, Craig Varjabedian Photography Workshop at the C.M. Russell Museum, Great Falls, Montana

Cover for 2013 Workshop Album, Craig Varjabedian Photography Workshop at the C.M. Russell Museum, Great Falls, Montana

The participants who attend my workshops make inspired photographs. That seems to be a fact. Back in September I taught my yearly workshop at the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana and the images my students made were nothing short of amazing. While the ages of the participants ranged from 13 to 82 and their skill levels varied, that didn’t matter. Everyone helped everyone and had a great time photographing a place that the great western painter Charlie Russell himself called “heaven.” I invite you to view this Photo Album of images created by the participants in the workshop.

View the 2013 Album for the Craig Varjabedian Photography Workshop at the C.M. Russell Museum 

 

 

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Teaching

"Learning to compose" A photograph from the 2013 Craig Varjabedian Photography Workshop at the C.M. Russell Museum. Photograph by Kim Kapalka, Museum Education & Program Manager

“Learning to compose” A photograph from the 2013 Craig Varjabedian Photography Workshop at the C.M. Russell Museum. Photograph by Kim Kapalka, Museum Education & Program Manager

Teaching is a big responsibility. At least it is that way for me. People come to a workshop to learn from you and this must be honored. I can’t tell you the number of times that a participant in one of my workshops has told me about some other course where the instructor was too busy making his or her own pictures to help the participant make theirs. I find myself indignant.

I teach workshops to help students become better photographers—that’s the bottom line.  And this must be distinctly understood . . .

If you’re interested in some of the workshops I teach, check out Eloquent Light Photography Workshops

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My Book Landscape Dreams is a Finalist for a New Mexico/Arizona Book Award

Landscape Dreams is a finalist for a New Mexico/Arizona Book Award.     Photograph by ©Craig Varjabedian

Landscape Dreams is a finalist for a New Mexico/Arizona Book Award. Photograph by ©Craig Varjabedian

There is something about awards that makes me feel a little uneasy. I did the work that I am being acknowledged for because I had a powerful reason to do so. So here’s the dilemma. On the one hand I am grateful for the attention that my work is receiving—thank you very much. On the other I am terrified by the attention that my work is receiving. For me it’s a double edged sword. In any case, I wish to humbly share the news that my latest book Landscape Dreams, A New Mexico Portrait is a finalist in the Arts Book Category for a New Mexico/Arizona Book Award.

A selection of pages from the book (albeit poorly reproduced) can be viewed on Amazon.com “Click to LOOK INSIDE” to view:

http://www.amazon.com/Landscape-Dreams-New-Mexico-Portrait/dp/0826348793/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1383523832&sr=8-1&keywords=landscape+dreams

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An Extension of the Eye

An Extension of the Eye: The Ebony SV57UE     Photograph by ©Craig Varjabedian

An Extension of the Eye: The Ebony SV57UE Photograph by ©Craig Varjabedian

A camera is but the extension of a person’s eye . . .

I have been thinking a lot about my view camera lately. In a world of megapixels and Bayer sensors and more electronics than I will ever hope to understand is my simple hand-made tool of ebony wood and titanium. The camera gets used a lot making pictures of the world I live in. And while it requires me to take my time and it demands a tripod when using, it helps render what I see so beautifully with its 100-year-old Carl Zeiss Protar lenses and Kodak Tri-X film. In a world where we can make things happen with just the click of a mouse and FedEx can deliver it to you overnight, my view camera, by its very nature, requires me to stop and linger . . . to consider and to contemplate. Now don’t get me wrong, I use a digital camera too when the need calls for it but the view camera suits me, it suits my temperament and it suits the way I like to make photographs.