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Jim Setzer is a successful IT manager and part-time photographer.  Denise is a full-time paralegal and burgeoning healthy living consultant.  Together we are embarking on a journey to re-invent ourselves as we discard the corporate life, downsize our material footprint and embrace our passions together for the future.  This blog is designed to document our journey and share the details of our passions along the way.

Slow Art Day

In our fast paced, 24/7 connected, multitasking world many important skills atrophy.  For example, the practice of art appreciation has eroded to the point that now the average interaction with a work of art is about 10 seconds.  Establishing a personal connection with a piece takes a bit of careful contemplation, deliberate exploration, and self reflection.   

Back in 2008, Phil Terry, the CEO of Collaborative Gain - a pioneer in customer experience, was contemplating this sad phenomenon while visiting the exhibition “Action/Abstraction” at the Jewish Museum in New York. As he spent an hour in front of Hans Hofmann’s Fantasia (1943) he got the idea for Slow Art Day - a movement to encourage people to slow down, get to know a piece or two of art and hopefully make a more personal connection.  Terry explains "When people look slowly at a piece of art they make discoveries.  They discover the art of discovery - i.e. by looking slowly they find that they can see so much more than by looking for only a few seconds.  They also discover that they can participate in the art experience - i.e. that they can see and experience art without an expert (or expertise) and that they have a lot to say about the art after a period of contemplative looking."  What began as an experiment involving a handful of his friends at New York's Museum of Modern Art in the summer of 2009 has grown to be an annual international phenomenon.  This year Slow Art Day is April 8th, 2017 with volunteers hosting events at 176 venues around the globe.   

There are no hard rules that the hosts must follow - just get participants to spend 10-15 minutes each with selected art pieces in order to give them the opportunity to connect.  Since different art and different venues are all unique, no two Slow Art Day events are exactly the same.  

©2015 Images by Design

©2015 Images by Design

I've been involved since 2010, playing the host at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) here in Virginia Beach.  Each year has been more rewarding than the last.  As a group we've explored every kind of artwork imaginable from traditional media such as paintings and sculptures to videos, 3D printed jewelry and clothing.  I give participants the list of works to explore, some encouraging questions and tips to help guide them, and an hour in the galleries to explore each piece in no particular order.  During that hour I float around seeing how everyone's doing and try to help if they seem to get stuck.  After the hour is up, we head off as a group to a local restaurant and talk about our experiences.   The conversation is amazing!  Everyone has had something to say and without fail they've all managed to make a personal connection to at least one piece in the set.  

For the readers here in Hampton Roads, please join me at 11:00am this Saturday at Virginia MOCA.  For everyone else, go to the Slow Art Day web site and find a supporting nearby venue.  Experience the transformative power that slowing down, exploring and connecting with art can have.  You'll be happy you did.

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Where did we go?

Just before the holidays I was on a roll - adding to this blog just about every week.  January came with all of the new-year distractions.  Events (like birthdays) come weekly in our family the first two months of the year.   Lots of magazine work, several new customers, and life in general provided plenty of excuses not to take a few minutes to write here.  

I volunteered to shoot a "Trashion Show" in February - High School aged designers upcycle discarded materials into high fashion.

I volunteered to shoot a "Trashion Show" in February - High School aged designers upcycle discarded materials into high fashion.

But all those are just that - excuses.  When I started this blog I promised myself that I'd be diligent and persistent in keeping this up to date.  More so to help keep myself on track and also for the small but steadily growing group of you that are following these.  This morning I read a fellow photog's blog about the importance of regular blogging.  Thank you Judith for reminding me I've let this slip.  Let's catch up.

1) I'm just about done with the formal incorporation of "Images by Design, LLC."  I've hired a talented attorney (Denise's boss) to help set it up and have taken the advice of my CPA for the tax and bean counting details.  I've run my own businesses in the past, but this time I have a more ambitious long-term strategy so I wanted to make sure I started this corporation with the ability to grow into that desired end-state.  I've got a few odds and ends to wrap up like my city business license, but that's just a quick trip to Commissioner's office. 

2) We're bringing in more paying customers.  While we love creative projects and model shoots, in the end we need regular customers to make this whole thing fly.  So far those customers have been fantastic and seem to have genuinely enjoyed their products from simple digital image sets and large prints to professional albums.  The traditional photography business stream is developing steadily. 

3) Denise's business is moving forward too.  Just this past weekend we spent time creating a new pH balancing beverage.  Denise had been using a commercial product but it was expensive and not always in stock.  So we formulated our own that has the same effects - when I drink this before bed, I clearly notice that I'm not at all stiff the next morning.  And our version actually tastes better too.  Speaking of taste, I challenged Denise that I wouldn't drink protein shakes unless they tasted like a hot-fudge sundae.  Well, after much playing around (formulating, actually) she now has created one that tastes just like a banana split.  Even better!  Our next challenge - create a protein smoothie that you can blend up on Sunday evening that stays fresh in the refrigerator for a whole week.  The idea being that a lot of folks might like to have a nutritious protein breakfast but don't, simply because of the time each morning it takes to prepare.  Oh, and Denise passed her latest Feng Shui certification she's been working on since November!

4) As part of the many facets of the business, I'd been considering aerial imagery as a necessary (and fun, I admit it) component to differentiate my offerings from others and foster other business opportunities like agriculture analysis, commercial surveys, etc.  I bought a professional quality drone to replace the "toy" I'd bought years ago and passed my Federal Aviation Administration Part 107 Small Unmanned Air System Commercial Pilot's Certification - that's a very long title to say I can fly a drone for hire.

Some of my magazine work that was published this month...

Some of my magazine work that was published this month...

5) The magazine work is keeping me busy too.  This month I have my photos on the covers of and in the supporting articles in three separate publications.  While none of them have a national circulation, it does help explain where all of my time has gone. 

Jim Setzer3 Comments
Winter Fashion

I used to love the cold.  On camping trips I'd be the guy wandering around the site in my shorts and a sweatshirt while everyone else was bundled up with heavy coats and gloves.  I guess I'm getting older and since I live in an area that doesn't have severe winters, my blood's thinned a bit.  Suffice to say, I'm not a fan of the cold these days.

©2016 Images by Design.  Model: Cassie P.

©2016 Images by Design.  Model: Cassie P.

That hasn't kept me from getting out to shoot this winter.  I've hooked up with a few models willing to brave the cold (at least for a few minutes at a time) to try my hand at winter fashion.  It's another genre I don't have a lot of experience with, so forgive these images if they seem a little sophomoric.  My takeaway so far is that lighting is difficult and Depth of Field (DoF) is paramount to getting the desired look.

I guess shooting so much in studio has spoiled me for having total control of the light.  For this golden hour image of Cassie, I wanted mostly front lighting so I didn't lose her face to the shadow of her big parka hood, but off axis enough so her face had some definition.  What do you think?

©2017 Images by Design Model:Tabitha K

©2017 Images by Design Model:Tabitha K

For Tabitha's Session, the first warm day after a rare snowstorm brought fog over the the farmlands, providing this great background to shoot against.  I haven't decided if the blue in her jacket is too much for this shot.  Part of me wants to mute those colors but I don't want to lose her striking red hair and eye color.  I may have to keep working this image selectively to find a pleasant balance.

The fog lifted way too soon and we had to drive around to find the foggy patches in the fields that hadn't been warmed by the sun yet.  It made for a fun afternoon of fog chasing, if that's a thing.

©2017 Images by Design Model: Matt H.

©2017 Images by Design Model: Matt H.

We met and worked with Matt for the first time just yesterday.  For only modeling about 9 months he needed little direction and knows the poses that fit him well.  Carefully adjusting aperture to get the desired DoF allowed me to show  an urban setting without detracting from the subject.  While I really like this shot, I think another  stop smaller aperture would have been better - getting more of the camera in focus and defining the high-rise behind him.  If you've been following this blog, you might recognize my old Olympus OM-10 35mm SLR as a prop.    

©2017 Images by Design

©2017 Images by Design

I'm most excited that Denise is willing to come out and be my lighting grip for some of these sessions.  She's a real trooper dragging around this lighting rig.  The big octabox (Sail) wants to carry her away in even the slightest breeze.  Thankfully she's got this heavy strobe body to keep her feet on the ground.  

I'll keep plugging away and shooting more of these when I can this winter.  I'm enjoying them more than I thought.  It just goes to show that if you're willing to try new things you might SURPRISE yourself.  Even an old dog like me.

I still want to get out to do more winter wildlife.  Raptors are more visible this time of year with the foliage thinned and food  scarce.  But that requires hanging out in the cold for much longer than my (relatively) willing human subjects.  I'll just have to get out there to thicken up my blood.

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2016 wrap up

All in all, 2016 was a very good year for us and our journey.  Denise pushed forward with her Healthy Living business on a number of fronts including revamping and rehosting her web site, sponsoring events, participating in tabletop shows, landing new customers, selling products, experimenting with healthy recipes, training and completing her first half-marathon and much more.  

I continued to challenge myself to improve my photography in a number of genres, I partnered with a national publication to become a staff photographer, increased my customer base and doubled my photography revenue. 

Together we did a number of things to prepare for a very different lifestyle.  I started getting the house ready to sell next year and Denise had some corrective foot surgery.  We met with attorneys and financial experts to plan for our big transition.  2017 is going to be a major year for us.

We met so many amazing people this year too, from business contacts to customers to models and other photographers.  Everyone we've shared our vision with has been supportive and excited for us.  

Models we worked with in 2016.   ©2016 Images by Design

Models we worked with in 2016.   ©2016 Images by Design

Oh, I almost forgot.  One last big step on our journey forward.........

Anyone else suprised that she said yes?   

Jim Setzer1 Comment