Tag Archives: Photography

Ladylike Artist: Sally Mann…

Sally Mann, photo by Liz Liguori

Sally Mann was one of the first photographers I was exposed to, one of the first photographers I could name to describe and recognize their work as being theirs. She was one of the first artists I felt I could actually have a conversation about which encouraged me to talk about her work.

Her work is easy to talk about in that it has a depth to it that continues to deepen the more you explore and discuss it. Her images are captivating but slightly uncomfortable. They challenge you to ask yourself, “Why is there this un-easiness? Why do I feel like maybe these images were not meant for me to look at?” Even her landscape photographs give you that slight feeling of trespassing.

Sally Mann, David. 2005

As a photographer you tend to photograph your surroundings, yet I struggle with photographing my children. Or maybe it would be better to say it this way, I struggle to share those photographs with others. I am not talking about the silly snap shots or videos that are shared with family, but these moments where I realize that I am not just capturing a snap shot. The image has crossed over that mythical hard to describe line into something more, something that could be art. Although my intimacy with my subject is what has allowed me to capture the moment, that intimacy has also made me incredibly protective of the image and of the subjects.

Sally Mann, Damaged Child. 1984

It could and probably is this completely differing approach that captivates me about Sally Mann. She photographed her children in those serendipitous moments and instead of hoarding and guarding them, she openly shares them with a world. A world that has often been very critical of how she has allowed her children to be seen. In her book, Holding Still, she talks about involving her children in the final selection process. She always gave them the power to say, “No, I do not want anyone to see that.”

My own children are still little, too little to offer permission or to even understand what it would mean to hang an image of them in gallery. Maybe when my children are older, when time separates the child I experience in my day to day from the one in the frame, I can have just enough of the detachment required to objectively consider them as something more.

As always, thanks for reading.


To learn more about the artist:

Ladylike Artists is a weekly feature on my blog where I write about a female artist that has inspired me.  My interest for learning more about women artists peaked when I realized that art history rarely talks about them, saving their stories and work for specialized classes and books. There are more woman artists than we realize!  I hope their stories inspire you to ignore whatever boundaries are stopping you from pursuing your passion.

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Now Available…

Part of figuring out my studio practice has been figuring out how what I make will interact with the world. Am I going to just make stuff and hide it with all of the other stuff I’m hoarding in my attic? Or in the heart of the labyrinth that is my external hard drive? If I do share it will it only be online? Or through a gallery show I submit the work too? Or a pop shop I run at the end of my driveway when the placement of Jupiter in relation to Saturn’s second moon feels the most pleasing? All of this thinking about what to do with the stuff I want to make is stopping me from making stuff and making the stuff I have already made feel like a weight around my foot slowing me down… Inspired by a story shared through the Artist Residency in Motherhood community (YAY COMMUNITY!!) I realized that I need to stop thinking so much, make a decision, execute it, and move on.

So I did.

I would like to make my work available to the public so that is what I am going to do. So I have started by putting a few photographs in an Etsy shop if you would like to order a print of one of my photographs. As it makes sense to me, I’ll add other work. Or if someone reaches out and says “hey! I really like this photo but it’s not in your Etsy shop, can I order a print?” then I’ll add that too. I am also going to select a photograph every so often to do a limited edition of 5 large prints. The goal is to keep it simple, laid back, and not to over think it.


Readied the Bow. The first Limited Edition Print available in my Etsy shop. 

I started getting caught up in whether or not Etsy was the right venue for what I wanted to do, if there is something better out there… but it does the job for now and if something better comes along I’ll try that. I would love to spend weeks reading about the pros and cons to every platform out there while considering whether or not this makes me a credible artist. I could spend the rest of my life trying to figure out the ‘right way’ to go about things if I’m ‘serious’ about art. But it’s just a distraction from what I’m really trying to do and that is to make art, or at least try to make art.

Make a decision, execute it, and move on.

As always, thanks for reading.


Stuff to check out:

-that etsy site I mentioned

And because some people are the worst:

All photographs and work is © Ren Albon. All rights reserved.




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It’s Probably Silly But…



Despite moving into our house a year ago we still have a number of boxes yet to be unpacked. Most of those boxes are filled with books, including a lot of books that I still haven’t read. Shelving to hold our library is in the planning stages but until that project is done they wait in boxes.  Looking for the next book to read requires a bit of a hunt, in my latest dig I was happy to find Instant: The Story of Polaroid sitting on the top of one of the boxes. I had received the book as a gift right before we packed up our library 2 years ago.

The book itself feels and looks like something made by Polaroid. I was surprised to find it was published in 2012 despite it’s 70s aesthetic. I usually just fold over the corner to mark my place but couldn’t bring myself to bend the stiff pages. The author, Christopher Bonanos, clearly dove deep into the history of the iconic company and it’s creator Edwin Land when doing research for this book. Yet he was able to use all the nuances and side stories to support the over arching theme without forcing in tangents that are interesting side bits but do nothing for the main point.  It’s an approachable and easy read while still explaining some pretty complex ideas. Bonanos style of writing holds on to the complexity of Land’s inventions while keeping it comprehensible.

The story of Polaroid is familiar, one that repeats itself in many American success stories. A quirky young man with an unique mind and passion for inventing changes the world with their way of thinking and creates a multi-billion dollar business in the process. I was surprised to find that Polaroid got it’s start trying to solve car headlight glare using polarized lenses. That they were already a well established company inventing technology for the war when Land came up with the idea of the instant photo. An invention that without argument changed the field of photography and American culture. Even more surprising was fine art photographer Ansel Adams’ involvement from the beginning.



Ansel Adams, Window, Bear Valley, California 1973, polaroid type 55

Curious about how this new technology would shape the field of photography Ansel Adams asked to be a field tester for the cameras and film Land designed. He sent back detailed notes to Land to be used as part of their research. He would also show up in person to talk with the inventors about ways he thought things could be improved upon or just to see what they were working on. This story within the story stood out to me in a way those types of stories always do. My insecurities about following where my own curiosity leads causes stories of others seemingly fearless pursuit to make an awe inspiring impression.


All of us have our own story involving a polaroid. Mine involves spending hours as a kid arranging my stuffed animal collection into various poses in order to take their portrait with my polaroid camera. I remember dragging a rocking chair into my room to make the photos look more professional. The instant polariod made my pretending seem more real. I was left with a tangible product of my imagination. Sadly those stuffed animal portraits are lost but I do have some of the polaroids I took when I was a kid. They were photos I took without my current set of self conscious baggage. I wanted to take a photo of my brother drinking his pepsi so I did without wondering what my brother thought, or what anyone else in the room thought, or what I would do with the photo once I took it, and what the photo said to the viewer, or why it is important to capture that moment, or any of the other existential bullshit lines of questioning I hide behind. I wanted to take a photo of my brother, so I did. I wasn’t worried about whether or not it was good or if someone else would think it was silly. I just did it.

As I get ready to dive back into the studio I hope to take the ways I was inspired by Instant and the childlike pursual of art of my younger self with me.

As always, thanks for reading.


If you feel inspired to pick up a copy of Instant: The Story of Polaroid check out your local bookstore first!

Stuff You Should Check Out:

The Impossible Project is keeping the Polaroid film alive having bought the last polaroid film factory right before is was shut down. Not only do they sell film but they recently released a new instant photo camera.

– This great article from New York Film Academy about some of the most famous artists that used Polaroid in their work.

– And from Polariod’s website where they announced the latest camera, Snap Touch, in September. A digital camera that can print instantly.




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I’m Not that Bold…

Earlier this week I caught the faint whisper that Mary Ellen Mark had passed away.

I was first exposed to her work through her documentary Street Wise. I had just moved to Philadelphia from Seattle, WA where her documentary took place. Although filmed 25years before I arrived in Seattle, the landscape was still familiar. I had just been introduced to the work of Diane Arbus and Dorothea Lange, these women who had created these relationships through the lens of their camera to give those that were being overlooked a voice. Watching the documentary, I was overwhelmed by Mark’s ability to tell this story without glamorizing the life of Tiny or Rat. She didn’t make me feel sorry for them either, somehow she found that middle road that so many struggle to find when dealing with this type of subject matter. I left the class and walked straight to the library to pour over her photography, in awe of the way she put herself and her camera unashamedly into this world that was not her own in order to capture it. Along with Arbus and Lange, the subject knows they are being photographed. Many of Mark’s shots imply that she was bent down, leaning in, engaging with the subject to photograph them. I wish I could be that bold.

You put a living, breathing, human being in front of my camera and my blood stops moving through my veins. Even if I know them, if they are willing to be photographed, or even if they asked me to photograph them the reaction is the same. My stomach tightens and my mouth goes dry as I fumble around with my suddenly foreign camera. I had to go out and shoot at least two portraits of strangers in Portland for the medium format class I was taking. It was one of the later assignments, I had made a few dozen photos already and was incredibly comfortable with the camera I was using. Then I went and tried to complete the assignment, waiting until the last possible moment to do it. I nervously stood on a busy street, trying to find the courage to stop biting the side of my thumb and wondering where I was going to find the courage to actually ask someone if I could take their picture. When I finally did it went horribly wrong. I quickly took two shots making so many mistakes you would think it was the first time I had ever attempted to photograph anything. For some their camera gives them this confidence. For me its not big enough to hide behind and instead draws to much attention when I am trying to go unseen.

As always, thanks for reading.


Check out…

Time Article about Mary Ellen Mark

Mary Ellen Mark Website

Diane Arbus Website

Recent article on Dorothea Lange from NPR

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Kindling for the Fire…

On Deck at Pea Patch Island. Diamond State Vintage Baseball Team 2011

This week has been an exciting one for my little studio. After a lot of consideration and months of second guessing I decide to use some of the money I generously received as a graduation gift almost a year ago to buy an Epson Film Scanner. Although nerve wracking, it was inspiring to invest in a piece of equipment that will allow more freedom in my studio.

My goal is to one day have a studio equipped to support my pursuits in various artistic mediums. With an extremely small budget for equipment and materials, my studio will continue to grow slowly. I have a pretty good idea of what I want my studio to look like and have been slowly adding pieces that are making it more of a reality. Things that allow me to continue to pursue art.

Diamond State Baseball. 2011

With a film scanner I feel more encouraged to use my collection of film cameras. Its easy to get the film developed (the next addition on the photography side of the studio will be the chemicals needed to develop my own b+w film) but well outside of my budget to have the film scanned for me. The frames aren’t always consistent on every roll of film because of the type of camera’s I am shooting with so there is the concern that the film will be cut to a standard size which could cut through the middle of one of my frames. So the rolls of film just sit. At least they did until this past week. I’m starting with scanning all the photos I took while attending my dad’s vintage baseball games. I hacked my 120N Blue Holga to use 35mm film to capture one of their games at Pea Patch Island in Delaware. Another game I took my Agfa box camera along and played with the framing options built into the 85 year old camera. I like the diversity of using the various cameras and the lack of control that I have beyond pressing the shutter and hoping for the best. I like that they force me to stop trying to take control and to just focus on what is in front of me. To finally see the fruits of those labors is exciting and rekindles the passion I have for going out and capturing the world.

This is not the start but the rekindling of something great… a fire that my insecurities and fear prevent from burning for to long.

As always, thanks for reading.


Check out…

Diamond State Baseball 

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New things happening…

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 3.39.05 PM


I updated my website, again. I had been trying to do it on my own, starting with a blank template and setting it up myself because some how I thought that would make me look more artistic. I am not a graphic designer or layout savvy and it showed. I have seen worse websites but my pride was getting in the way of presenting my work how I wanted it to be presented. So I stopped being stupid and got a template. Eventually, when I have money for such things, I will have a professional custom design my website for me. Until then a free template will have to do. And honestly, I like my website so much more now.

I also have decided to start offering photo restoration through my site. I eventually want to go back to school to get my masters in something involving history of photography with a focus on archiving and preserving. Until I start working with bigger collections I thought I would start small, helping people bring back to life their family photos.

If you have time check out the new site and let me know what you think.

As always, thanks for reading.


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Closet Feminist…


From the series Teenage Vendetta where I unknowingly explored feminist themes.

From the series Teenage Vendetta where I unknowingly explored feminist themes.

I never considered if I was a feminist or not until I was called one by a male professor. Well, he didn’t call me a feminist exactly. What happened was this, during a one on one critique in art school he was looking at my work and said, ‘Look, I get it. You have this whole feminist thing going on.”

Immediately my blood began to boil. Just because I’m a girl attending art school I am automatically doing the whole ‘feminist’ thing? Feminism had nothing to do with my work!

Or so I thought.

I was working on a series of still lifes for my advanced studio class. My idea was to show what it would look like if a girl in her mid-twenties was to take out her frustrations from the cruel reality of the world on her childhood barbies who made her believe the world was a pink safe place where dreams come true. One of the images is of three Barbie heads on spikes in a heap of Barbie parts. I was trying to reflect women’s experiences through my work, which is the most basic definition of Feminist Art and the Feminist Art Movement.

I had a feminist thing going on. Yet why did it feel so insulting to have someone identify it as that? Did it only feel insulting because it was an old white male saying it? What if it was one of my female instructors?

At the time I was doing the work I was unaware of what Feminist Art really was. I knew women burned their bras in the 70s and I knew about Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party which was explained to me as ‘a bunch of vaginas on plates that she was calling art.’ Sure, I am all for women’s equality. One of my biggest frustrations as a kid growing up was being told or treated like I couldn’t do something because I was a girl. It’s still one of my biggest frustrations. I just didn’t understand how a bunch of vagina plates were supposed to make the ‘Man’ treat women with more respect. I wrongly grouped all of Feminism in with my mis-understanding of one piece of art work.

I wasn’t alone. I can remember other female students being equally insulted by automatically being grouped in with feminist art just because, we often wrongly thought, we were women artists. Many of those female students were unaware of what they were even being associated with.   Even the famed photographer Cindy Sherman has tried to disassociate herself with the feminist art movement. Art History 101 mentions the feminist art movement in passing, as the beginning of performance art. If you really want to learn about feminist art or about any women artists in any time period you have to take a special topics class. (But that is a rant for another post.)  The more I learn about feminism on my own the more I realize many of my ideas are feminist in nature. It shouldn’t be an insult to be associated with these woman that forced the male dominated institution to take them seriously, to consider women as serious contenders in the art world. I’m not sure I would be able to dismember Barbie and photograph the doll’s head on a stake and get an ‘A’ by an old white male artist if it wasn’t for their work, if Womanhouse never happened.

Yet, I still find myself stuck in an identity crisis. I am leery of being called feminist or having my work associated with feminism because I feel like I am just being grouped there by men that don’t know what else to do with women’s art. But on the other side of things I really enjoy being married and want a lot of kids that I can stay at home with. I am hesitant to openly share how excited I am by those things because then I am not feminist enough, just another poor weak woman giving in to the male dictated role of submissive wife and child bearer. What is even more confusing is that I do not think loving wives and stay at home mother’s are weak or unable to be feminist. I could say that its just in my head but I have had to many conversations with too many people that have re-enforced that this is a very real way of thinking in our society. When I tell people that now that I have graduated college I am excited to have kids and be a mom, I am asked why I even wasted my time and money going to school. Sharing future plans my husband and I are making, the conversation’s focus is always on what I am giving up for his career.

I could follow the old adage ‘who cares what other people think, just be you.’ But if we are all honest, it matters what other people think. It matters how we are seen by our society and our peers.

Maybe I let it matter too much.


As always, thanks for reading.



Check it out:


Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party

More from my Barbie Series


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So far this semester…

The first month of school is wrapping up and I wanted to share with you what I have been working on so far. It also may be a homework assignment for a class I am taking to update a blog weekly but thats not important.

This is my first semester as a junior in woodworking. It is extremely satisfying to build things and explore 3-dimensionally. We started the semester with a week long project. The final product was supposed to represent our summer. After a lot of editing, I decided the major part of my summer was taking the workshop at Center for Furniture Craftsmanship and reconnecting with photography. This year I hope to marry the two mediums as often as I can in new and unexpected ways. The base of the lamp is a simple half-blind dovetail joint made out of cherry. The cherry was left over from the workshop and the joint was by far my favorite to learn. The lamp shade is made out of 8mm film left in a Kodak Super 8 camera I bought over the summer as well as 35mm film that I used to capture a few vintage baseball games while visiting my hometown in Delaware. Overall I am happy with the masculine industrial feel I think the lamp portrays as it lends itself to the images of the baseball game you catch glimpses off when the lamp is turned on.

I am also taking a photography class this semester. I am learning how to use a large format camera. It is extremely rewarding and exciting to learn how to use such a old method of photography and to get back in the darkroom again. The first half of the semester is focused on learning how to manipulate the camera and properly develop the film. I am learning so much and realizing just how much I already know. I am looking forward to the second half of the semester where we begin to work on a final body of work.









It hasn’t been all work and no play. I was lucky enough to be invited to go on a over night sailing trip with Maine Maritime’s Yacht Club. The trip was amazing and confirmed that a good part of my future will be sailing the world with my husband. There is something so romantic and invigorating about being out in the open salty air on a tall masted ship.

When I think about it, even the work has been more like play. Here is a shot from one of my class critiques from last week. The work was done by woodworking senior Hannah Merchant. You really can’t beat sitting outside on a beautiful fall day and discussing art.

As always, thanks for reading,


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Grouchy and Boxless…

Today I got annoyed because I have too much free time. Well I have been annoyed about it for the last few days but today was the first day I was able to identify why I have been so grouchy.

Who gets grouchy over finally having free time after months of being so busy there was rarely time to sleep? Crazy people that’s who.

I hate being annoyed so I am moving on to figuring out how to best utilize all of this free time I have graciously been given. I figured I would start with updating my blog.

Big things have been happening for me. Not only did I survive my first year at Maine College of Art but I survived my first year of marriage. Both very scary things to undertake.

I am beyond happy with my decision to transfer to MECA. The classes I have taken and the people I have met there has changed how I look at my future as an artist. I took an Intro to Metalsmithing class that was so hard this last semester at Maine College of Art that despite all of the effort I put in to it I only managed a C+ for my final grade. This was a huge hit to my pride. In my mind, there is pass or fail. If you pass you get an ‘A’ if you fail you get a ‘B’.  I realize that way of thinking makes zero sense but nothing I do really makes sense.  Looking back it is funny because I worked harder in that class then I worked in any of the classes I received an ‘A’ in. Not only was it a humbling experience but I now know, without a doubt, that I will never be a metalsmith. I have a huge amount of respect for anyone in that line of work. It is exhausting and so meticulous I do not know how a degree in Metalsmithing does not come with a life time supply of Prozac.

I think every one, especially artists, should take a class in something completely foreign to them. It changes your perspective.

My Intro to Woodworking class changed my perspective so much I am now pursuing a degree in Woodworking and Furniture Design. I literally made my self sick trying to make this decision (another one of those things I do that make no sense.) One week of excessive worrying over whether or not the world would end if I changed my major equalled one week of being stuck in bed with the flu.

The lesson I learned from that winner was that no one cares what my major is, not even me. Regardless of what my fancy certificate says from my fancy art school, I am going to pursue all different art mediums and utilize the ones that I feel best convey the ideas swimming in my head. For me it makes very little sense to isolate myself inside of one medium. I do not want to master one medium, I want to master art. I do not want to be identified as a Photographer or Woodworker but as an Artist. I am tired of trying to fit into neatly labeled boxes that clearly states who I am and what type of art I will produce. It does not work for me. It makes me cranky and takes all the fun out of art. I tried to fit into the Fine Art Photographer box and a year later I wanted to throw my camera off a bridge.

It’s taken me another year of trying to find the box I fit into for me to realize boxes in general are stupid, but I am extremely bull-headed and it takes a while for me to catch on. Hopefully I can stand by my anti-box stance and finally just focus on making art that I enjoy.

As always, thanks for reading.


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I’m in a Show…


The two pieces of mine chosen for the show…


If you are in Miami and able to check it out, let me know! Being in Maine I’m unable to attend but would love to know how the show turned out.

As always thanks for reading,


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