For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved listening to people talk about ‘times gone by’. When I was a youngster my father would tell me stories about his childhood in rural Northern England. As a teenager, I volunteered at a Senior’s Home. My job? Listening and chatting with the residents. They were always eager to reminisce! During my university days, I worked in the geriatric ward at the University of Alberta Hospital. Once again, I was able to listen to numerous remember when stories.
My only regret is that I didn’t keep any records of the people or their stories. Many stories, world wide, have been recorded as family memoirs, documentaries, novels and scrapbooks. However, even more stories have been forgotten, never to be shared again.
Even though my parents told me stories of their past, none of it was written down. My brother and I have boxes of old black and white photos dating back to the early 1900s. We have no idea who some of the people are, where the photo was taken or how the photo relates to our family history. Peter and I are now the ‘Seniors’ of our family. We only have a chapter or two of family history to pass down to the younger Browns.
My oopoomoo project is to interview three ladies of the prairies and tell their story. You will be introduced to Freda, 94 years old, who lives in Manitoba, Elizabeth, 93 years old, in Saskatchewan and a yet to be found Alberta Pioneer lady. They will tell us about the trials and tribulations of living in the prairies in the early 1900’s and how ‘modern’ conveniences helped or hindered them….
WHOA!!!! STOP THE PRESS!!!! I just came back from a road trip to Saskatchewan\Manitoba and I’m interrupting this post. I’m changing my mind about my project. (Hey! I’m a photographer and I’m entitled to change my mind when I see something in a ‘different light’!) My husband and I went to Neepawa, Manitoba to pick up his mom, Freda, so she could come to Alberta and spend a week or so with us. While there, I met numerous people for the first time. I had a visit with my mother-in-law’s twin sister (these ladies are 94 years old!!) their grade 3 teacher (106 years old!), my husband’s cousin who is an antique collector , a portrait photographer and a fellow who has a snowmobile museum in his back yard quonset . I was very fortunate being able to visit with these individuals. Of course I had a million questions for them!
Don’t tell Sam and Darwin this, but I was a photographer’s assistant while on my trip. (They may think I’ll be wanting a raise.) Mitch was working on his own that day and I helped out with the lighting while he took portraits of Freda and Florence with their teacher. I felt at ease with all three ladies and was chatting with them throughout the session. Mitch told me that I was a natural portrait photographer…..
FLASHBACK to about October 2011 when Sam and Darwin gave me a challenge: “Catherine, you have a knack for chatting people up.”
(Was that a nice way to say I talk a lot?)
“We’ve noticed though that you steer away from using that all important skill when taking photographs . How many portraits do you have in your portfolio?”
“Well, we’re giving you a challenge. Take 3 portraits by the end of December.”
This challenge has yet to be completed. As mentioned in one of my other oopoomoo posts, they did not tell me WHICH December!! Oh, avoiding something that makes you feel uncomfortable is extremely easy isn’t it!? Soooo…I am setting the date today. By December 2014 I will have 12 or more portraits in my portfolio. I will also have stories to go with the photos. These photos and stories will be available in an oopoomoo ebook. Oh my! What have I done? I believe this is called a commitment and it’s out there on the internet for all to see and pull up when I try to deny it!! I have a tummy ache.
However, I have all my fans out there in oopoomoo land who will support me along the way! Right? Follow my project as I collect twelve or more portraits of people between the ages of 4 and 94 and they share Their Stories. If you would like to help me out with my project, please feel free to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. But – be prepared for lots of questions and laughs!!
This year marks oopoomoo’s second anniversary, and December 1 is two years since launch. Woot! We are fortunate enough to have lots of creatives who share their time on oopoomoo including Stephen, Catherine, Dave and John (watch for further info on their personal Projects coming soon).
This past year has been busy and exciting:
- oopoomoo hosted over 11 educational workshops, talks and free walks
- we updated our website with a spiffy new look (thank you thank you thank you to our designer, Stephen)
- we published 5 eBooks, including signing up new author/photographer Dave Brosha (watch for more from Dave soon, hint hint)
- creativity continues to be very important on oopoomoo, so we introduced the concept of Projects where oopoomoo team members can create inspiring works to share with the world — just ’cause
And we’re looking forward to another wonderful year sharing the awesomeness that is photography!
Speaking of sharing, we’ve created a special group on facebook called oopoomoo Workshops. This group is open for anyone to join — you need not have attended a workshop before. We created this page as a forum for people to share photographs from oopoomoo workshops, ask questions about the workshops, or just questions in general about oopoomoo and what we do. Although we publish participant images from the workshops on the blog, we know that you can’t always get through all your shots by our publication deadline…the group gives you another chance to share your work down the road. We’ll be hanging out in the group too, but definitely pose your questions and share your images with members of the group for solid (and unbiased!) feedback.
So consider this an open invite to join the group and benefit from the experiences and knowledge of group members!
A toast: To oopoomoo!
I park daily under a tree and, during the fall season, the car is often covered with leaves. I was convinced that there must be something I could do photographically, and last year, I started collecting them with the full intentions of making fantastic and artistic images. That never happened.
Now it’s a full year later and I still have that box of leaves. Actually, the collection is even bigger and that shoebox is now a bucket. It’s time to set the procrastination aside and make some hard commitments by talking about the upcoming experiments publicly through an oopoomoo project. At this point, I don’t know how the project will go. Maybe I’ll completely fail. Or maybe I’ll create something pretty cool that would earn a spot on my living room wall. Either or, it should be fun.
Equipped with a macro lens I don’t use enough, a light tent that was used only once, and a cheap focusing rail I just bought from eBay… I hope you’ll find this project as interesting as it sounds in my head.
What would you do with a box of leaves? I have a few ideas that I’ll reveal in the coming months. The results are yet to be defined but the pressure has officially begun.
It’s finally here!
Beyond a general site update and fresher style, check out some new features on oopoomoo:
Ya gotta do what you love. The power of photography as a means of expression has never been greater now that being your own publisher is so easy thanks to great platforms like WordPress (thank you thank you thank you WordPress!) And we’ve been burstin’ to get started on some new ideas that have been rattling around these ole heads of ours. So…we introduce projects!
What the heck are projects? In a nutshell, projects are creative ideas that unfold over time on the oopoomoo site and conclude with a definitive output. The idea might be an exploration of form as in Stephen’s study of leaves, or a whimsical way of viewing the world as in Samantha’s Pressed Landscapes. Team member-driven, you’ll see new projects starting here on oopoomoo as old ones are completed and shared with you in their final form. For example, Darwin’s first project is an eBook collection of 50 of his favourite images (and the stories behind the shots) taken over his long career as a photographer. From time to time, we’ll share updates and images from the projects on the oopoomoo blog so you can follow along and experience how the project unfolds, gain some insight into how we do the project…and maybe be inspired to create your own project! Click here to read more about the first three projects on oopoomoo.
Meet the Team
There are people behind the scenes here on oopoomoo who devote their time to making oopoomoo GREAT! Making the website beautiful, ensuring our workshops run seamlessly, or bringing their professional insights to educational products for you…these people can hide no longer! So, meet the team, and watch for exciting future projects coming from the oopoomoo team!
Apparently, the new site is device-friendly, meaning it should respond to changes in your browser window. We must be the only two people on the planet without a smartphone yet, so we’re waiting to hear from you if this part is as cool as it sounds to us. Try it out in our new photograph galleries!
Just a minor tweak to the logo…you may see both the old logo with its bounding box and the new one from time to time. We think the new logo really represents what oopoomoo is all about: we emphasize creativity, inspiring others through the sharing of artistic photography, and as always a strong component of high quality, accessible education. With a name like ‘oopoomoo’, sometimes you have to spell things out more clearly.
And We’re Still…
Committed to making the best eBooks and incredible workshops we can! Photography is our passion, and we love working and sharing with people who also nurture a similar spark. It’s a wonderful journey we’re all on. Oh, and of course we would never alter our sense of humour! Yup, expect the same hijinks and tomfoolery we tend to get up to around here.
We’re just putting the finishing touches on the new web redesign here, tying some bows and dotting some code. A big, giant, wet kiss to Stephen for all his work so far (I bet he’s happy he’s on the other side of the continent right now!). We’re pretty excited…and apparently it’s time since oopoomoo is approaching the terrible twos! Yikes! So Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all you Canucks and remember to eat lots of turkey — you’re going to need your strength for the BIG REVEAL.
We gonna be STYLIN’.
Long before I owned a camera, my interest in art was based on traditional inks and paints, and it was my fascination with tools like Photoshop that paved my way into photography. Creating something from a blank canvas and the creativity and vision required to do so has always been an eye catcher for me – and Caras Ionut is no exception.
I only recently found Ionut’s work through Facebook but it has quickly become a favourite. Not only is he creating interesting and artistic images that consistently hold my attention, but he’s doing it every day.
Using images that many of us would consider “snaps” or rejects, Ionut is creating – what I think – are incredibly creative and perfectly executed compositions that are so interesting, an entire story could be built around these images.
I wanted to introduce myself to Ionut and ask him to talk a bit about his approach for some insight into the artwork he is creating. Here is what he had to say:
I have been manipulating images for over 10 years and have reached the point where I now find interesting elements in everything I see around me. But being completely honest, before starting with my own pictures, I was practicing with other stock pictures, some of which I found using Google search. It was a good starting point but I have since realized the use of other photographers’ pictures is wrong and have since been building my own library of images. I now see the world around my house very differently.
I consider Sam Javanrouh one of the original photo bloggers and a friend whom I’ve never met. Back in the old days when a blog was still considered a “Web Log”, and the general public looked at you funny when you mentioned the word, the Toronto-based creative director launched a small website in 2003 to share his images with friends and family. The popularity of the site grew, achieving a life of it’s own, and I personally believe Sam helped define the term photoblog.
Sam also gets credit (although he doesn’t know it) for indirectly helping me select my first camera and lens. Yes, the first SLR camera I bought was because that was what Sam was using. If it was good enough for him, it was good enough for me.
Fast forward to 2013 and this past July 4th marked the 10 year anniversary for the Daily Dose of Imagery (ddoi). 10 years of a new image every day! With such an incredible dedication that is unmatched from any other website I know, I wanted to quickly talk with Sam to learn a little more about his past 10 years.
The first image you shared on ddoi was on July 4th 2003. To put 10 years in perspective, the Daily Dose of Imagery started before anyone knew what Facebook, Twitter or Flickr was. It would be another 4 years before the iPhone was invented. During a time when the general public didn’t even know what the word blog meant, can you tell us why you started an updated daily website with the goal of a new photo every day?
My mother, my sister and I moved to Toronto, Canada in 1999. I was 26 then and left all my friends and most of my family to find a new home. I was trying to find my place in this new city and share my experiences with friends and family back in Tehran. My first impression of Toronto was not great, and I decided to search for what makes it special. I got my first digital camera and started to take photos of everything and anything in the city. But I didn’t like the idea of sending photos through email, but I wanted to share my new home with people I knew. Around that time I found the idea of blogs interesting and then I realized none of them are really focused on images. Most blogs were either text only or had very little imagery. I had the idea of starting a blog for my photos with minimal text. I also wanted to have one post per page which led to the decision of doing it daily to make it more fresh than most blogs. That way I would force myself to walk around and find new images in the city regardless of the weather condition or any other problem. When I started ddoi in 2003, I sent an email to the people I know, letting them know there will be a new photo on this blog everyday in case they’re interested to see what Toronto and my new life in it looks and hopefully feels like.
And the obvious question, after 10 years, have you missed any days?
In the early years I almost missed a day a few times due to technical problems. I was around half a day late in those occasions. A couple of times there was no internet connection, and at the time there was no mobile network or other kinds of connection to use. I would copy the photo on a CD in the middle of the night and take it to an internet cafe and post from there. When I was on a trip it was difficult too, especially in countries where an internet connection was harder to find. Later on the blog engine I was using was updated with scheduled posting which helped for the times when I was traveling. And then there was a time when my credit card was not updated in my hosting account and my site went down for almost a full day. But at the end, no, I didn’t miss a day.
A big part of the Daily Dose is a representation of every day street photography of life in Toronto. The challenge of shooting and posting every day can be overwhelming and not always possible. An important key to maintaining a daily photoblog is to also maintaining an inventory archive to pull from when necessary. How big was your unpublished archive that allowed you a buffer for the days you couldn’t shoot new material?
Over the first couple of years I came up with a system to constantly prep images whenever I find time to build an archive for those days that was impossible to either shoot or process. My archive for ddoi is colour coded and yellow was for the images that are ready but not posted. When I stopped the blog in July 2013, I had more than 900 yellow images. But the problem is your standards change, and most of those images don’t fit my standard of the later years.
And from this archive, do you schedule the daily posts in advance or are you still processing images and posting daily?
I’d say 98% of the time I posted the images on the night before. I only really scheduled posts when I was on a trip or when my children were born!
Here at oopoomoo, we like to focus on the story. Do you have a memorable ‘behind the scenes’ story of the making of a photo?
There were many stories, and a few stand out. One was the portrait of Sandra. She contacted me with a great idea even though she was almost sure I won’t do it, since most of my shots were street photos and barely any portrait work. Sandra and her best friend Masa were daily followers of ddoi. Masa moved to Italy and Sandra was in Toronto, and as her birthday gift she wanted to surprise her by congratulating her on ddoi. I met with her and we went out shooting without any ideas what the end photo would like like, and then it started raining. I asked her to get inside a bus shelter and I shot a couple of frames through the glass. The surprise worked very well and the photo turned out great.
I attempted to maintain my own daily photoblog for a few years (Jan 2006 – Dec 2011) with questionable success so I can only imagine the late nights with the constant reminder that the website needs updating. How did you make the time for 10 years? Have you ever thought that it was just too much work to be worth it? And do you have any regrets about the project?
Yes there were many times that it became overwhelming. I have a full time job and sometimes work very long hours. And some nights I just really wanted to go to bed. But in the last ten years I barely ever had the opportunity to do that. There were times when I fell asleep on the couch just to wake up at 5am jumping to my workstation to post the daily photo. But I’m glad I kept it going. I do however miss many of the photos I wanted to make in my list. I missed complete neighborhoods in Toronto, specific places that I wanted to go back to and places that were gone before I had a chance to shoot them. Hopefully now I will make time to shoot some of those.
Your popularity has expanded beyond the photoblog community and has been very popular with many non-photographers in Toronto. What have been the most rewarding aspects of maintaining this website project?
The most rewarding aspect of my blog was the fact that it took my Photography as a hobby to a serious profession. When I started I was just documenting what was around me, but very quickly I started to take the Photography aspect of it more seriously. And through the blog I was contacted by many people in various fields which made it an unexpected and invaluable networking tool for me. I still work with many of those people and it’s all because of my blog. I didn’t know anyone when I came to Canada and I started ddoi to connect with people back in Iran, but incredibly it became the vehicle for me to accept Toronto as my new home.
My sincere congratulations on achieving such an impressive milestone. I don’t know of any other website that could claim similar numbers. Now that you have 10 years of experience, do you have any advice for others considering their own 365/day project?
Thank you and I’m now very glad I did it. My advice is to never leave home without a camera. These days with smartphones this is really not a hard thing to do anymore, but no matter what the tool is try to look around you with fresh eyes. Be a tourist in your own city. And take many photos. Nothing makes a better photographer. As Cartier-Bresson once said, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”
Now that this project has come to an end, what can we expect next from Sam Javanrouh, The Daily Does of Imagery and Top Left Pixel?
I’m still recovering from the sleepless nights, and am recharging my batteries. I uploaded the whole 10 years archive of ddoi to a new flickr account which makes browsing it much more visually pleasing at flickr.com/photos/ddoi-archive. For now I continue posting new images and video on my new tumblr blog, although not daily. I also plan on posting photography related articles on my Topleftpixel blog. I have a few ideas for more long term projects which I’ll post about when the time comes.
I want to thank Sam for taking the time to answer our questions. As one of the originals to define the term photoblog, the Daily Dose of Imagery remains one of few that I still follow daily. A staple among the photoblog community, the Daily Dose of Imagery has truly been an inspiration to many by setting the bar very high on what a successful daily photoblog should be. I can’t think of any other blogger that has been so persistent.
Ever since Darwin started this series two months ago, I have been thinking long and hard about when my turning point was on this roller coaster of a visual arts career. I was a painter and designer who did not buy my first camera until digital was affordable. A thousand dollar 3MP camera roughly 12 years ago but it was not until late 2005 when I made the decision to take photography more serious. This was my first turning point and the moment I started dedicating every moment of available time towards becoming better.
Photography has done many things for me and has opened my eyes to much of what I use to take for granted. Looking through the eyepiece of a camera, it has never been more visible how the landscape is always changing. Without purpose, it can be super easy to ignore the every day, and I don’t know if my turning point can be pinned on any single photograph. For me, my photography turning point was the gradual realization on how important a photograph can be as a record in time.
The photograph I have decided to contribute to this series was my first published image in a landscape dedicated publication. This publication was also the results of a contest from Darwin’s original blog and our first introduction that eventually paved the way to my involvement here behind the scenes at oopoomoo.
On an additional note, while my goal of this image was to tell the story of the lighthouse, this image also came shortly before the Canadian Government discontinued their support – placing all lighthouse’s at risk of demolition by abandonment. Although I believe that this lighthouse in particular will been saved, it was a very real possibility that this coastal view could have been lost forever. Something that never occurred to me as possible on the day I made this image.
I will continue to explore the artistic side of photography but photographs are much more than just a pretty picture of something random. And although I will always have fun photographing festivals, concerts or sportings events, it has been the changing landscape and the contrast between nature and man that interests me most. Stop by and say hi on Facebook.
For those of you venturing into Alberta this year, be aware that Kananaskis Country just west of Calgary, home of one of the premiere drives in the Canadian Rockies, will likely be closed all summer due to bridge washouts. Right now both highway 66 and Highway 40 into Kananaskis are completely closed – for updates please visit this site. To see a complete list of the damage done please download this PDF.
Darwin and I were planning on making a new eGuide this summer covering the Kananaskis region, but with all the campgrounds closed….we have nowhere to camp but our driveway!
We’re being silly, of course. What we’ve suffered is a tiny irritant compared to what so many Albertans have lost. Close to home for us is the situation of one of our oopoomoo eBook authors: John Marriott almost lost his house and is spending all his time and money trying to get his home back to normal. To see the incredible footage of what happened to John’s home, go to John’s You Tube page.
For a little background as to how John, Darwin and I roll, check out a video we made for our 2010 SNAP! Photography Seminar:
We know not being able to complete our Kananaskis book this summer is a pretty damn small inconvenience compared to what so many Albertans have suffered. We’re proud and humbled by the hours and efforts donated by so many in helping out. As a small gesture, we would like to dedicate this blog post to helping out John and his lovely wife Jennifer in their efforts to rebuild in Canmore. From today until July 31, 2013, we will donate our publisher’s percentage to John on all sales of his amazing oopoomoo eBook, Icefields Parkway: Wildlife Edition. The cost of the eBook is only $10. We will be collecting no proceeds on sales for ourselves — please share with friends and family to help John and Jennifer get back into their home! Every little bit counts.