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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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 . . .
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:
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.
When scattered clouds are resting on the bosoms of hills, it seems as if one might climb into the heavenly region, earth being so intermixed with sky, and gradually transformed into it. —Nathaniel Hawthorne
Every visitor to Grand Tetons National Park photographs the Moulton Barn. Or at least it seems that way. Just outside Jackson Hole, Wyoming in area called Antelope Flats, the barn is located between the towns of Kelly and Moose on a road known as Mormon Row. It was built by Thomas Alma Moulton and his sons between 1912 and 1945 and according to Country Extra magazine it may be the most photographed barn in America. I can believe that.
On the many photographic trips to the Tetons I have taken over the years, I have always made it a point to stop by the Moulton barn early in the morning. There I join the gaggle of photographers poised to photograph the picturesque barn and the Teton Range at first light. It is an amazing sight to behold on so many levels. Continue Reading →