“Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.” – James Baldwin
Where did it all begin?
Photography has been a passion of mine since I stumbled into it again in 2009 – I had enjoyed dabbling in photography in the past, but nothing I would call serious. And when I say stumbled, I mean I said “Give me that!” one afternoon that year to a friend, demanding use of her camera. Little did I know what hooks were sunk into me as I wrapped my fingers around the camera body. Before long, money was steadily trickling out the door directly equating to an ever-growing collection of cardboard shipping boxes in my basement. I went through a few upgrades and began to hone my vision. I took some workshops and made some friends. My vocabulary changed. I made some more friends. I started getting involved more and more in the local community. It was really fun and I was getting better.
I’ve been an admin of the Minnesota Photography Club for a few years now. When I started, there were a couple thousand members, at best. Over time, as I went through my own struggles with photography, I’ve watched that number continue to rise. I’ve also witnessed the work posted in the group continue to get better, and better. Then, one day, I sold my camera. I quit. I was frustrated because I wanted an outlet for my work. I wanted to get better and try to earn a living, or make even a dime. But, I didn’t know how to do that with photography. There are a lot of great photographers in Minnesota, which means there’s a lot of competition. I can hustle, but I was a fish out of water, not to mention I never really knew where my work stood and if it was worthy of payment.
As you might have guessed, I now own a camera. I bought another camera after a couple of years because I couldn’t take it anymore. Let’s just say I’ve been making up for lost time with it. I’ve been lucky that my skills only needed a little dusting off. Oh, I’ve made even more friends! The camera has brought me a lot of joy since our recent reunion. For some reason, this time around, I’ve been having a lot more success with prints and sales. I’ve also seen a lot of places where I can create opportunity, not just for me, but for others. That’s where Minnesota Exposure comes in.
With some trepidation, I reached out to a few of the rock stars in the Minnesota Photography Club and TCPG with an idea. I pitched the idea of what I wanted to do, and their response was receptive. So I decided it was worth going after and hit the bricks. Minnesota Exposure is a piece of a larger plan being put together with the Twin Cities Photography Group with the mission of bringing more opportunities to photographers. This means more than links on websites, though, that is part of the plan.
We will be building strategic relationships with local organizations, charities, and storefronts to help get your work out there in the world. The physical world. We’ll also be working out ways to get your work in front of commercial art buyers and ad agencies. It’s a daunting task to say the least, but a challenge I relish.
I’ve often wanted to create some books from the images that roll through the Minnesota Photography Club page, and now, we will. The talent pool is incredible. There are other organizations that are producing photo books, but I want to do it a different way. I’m not a fan of systems that can be gamed. Nor am I a fan of popularity contests. I’m not saying other systems are bad, I just believe that photography-based inclusions should be based on the merit of the image alone. For these reasons, we are incorporating competitions into submission system, judged by people. The competition categories will vary by competition which will be held Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of each week. Check the competition section for more information.
Online competitions will lead to print competitions, and from there we’re looking at the potential of gallery inclusion. So, if you’re a beginner, you can go from casual shooter to gallery invitee in a relatively short amount of time. If you’ve never shown, there will be opportunities for you to learn how to do that. There will be no money exchanged for entry into any of the competitions, all that is required is hard work. We will be supportive in your growth and will work diligently to ensure any feedback you receive is just and helpful. Don’t let fear stop you from competing, you will only be stopping your growth and story.
Beyond the competition and the books (and yes, a digital magazine), we will be spotlighting photographers in our region via interviews. I think it’s important to share knowledge in the community.
We have forged a path and will begin to follow it. For us all to be successful, we need your support. Enter the competitions, volunteer to judge (you’ll get more exposure), help us to grow and we’ll provide more opportunities. Like the Minnesota Exposure Facebook page, join the group. Get involved.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy the ride.