2015-13 About new work

Sometimes new work isn't new at all. 

When it comes to photography, there is such an ease for some images to be shown that there seems to be this self-imposed rush to share. I shoot something, and the whole world should know about it as soon as possible! Why?

I read recently where the restaurant industry is feeling the effects of photography. The restaurant experience has been altered by so many people spending time on their phones... Checking in to their social media accounts, taking pictures of everything, emailing, taking pictures of the person they're eating with, posting it all so they can gather a few more likes before dessert arrives, then more pictures of dessert, then more posts, then answering a few more messages, etc. etc. etc... Gone are the days where you would just go to dinner, have a conversation (with the person you showed up with), and take time to savour and appreciate dinner. Now it seems for so many to be an entire social media experience... 

The relentless drive to get more likes, post fresh images, increase your presence, drive traffic to a site, increase your SEO rating (search engine optimization), post, post, post... It becomes a full time job to have a virtual life.

But what happened to having a real life?

I imagine one joy that will be more and more valuable to many will be the ability to unplug. To get away, to not be connected, to have time to yourself without the constant need to share or justify or impress others with what you're doing.

So I'm going to release new images today... These pictures were shot last summer at the end of my season for shooting underwater work. I deliberately didn't rush to complete the work. I did it at my pace. Sure, I could have shot them, ripped through the edits, posted them before I went to bed the same day. But with work that is very special, I often feel it's better to wait. To come back and review the work when I'm not so immediately attached to every image. To see which images really stayed with me and why. I give myself permission to review the work on my own terms and timeline. Then when I think they're ready, I share them.

So these images are new. Newly completed, newly shared... But they were shot months ago. I just wanted to share them when the time is right.

Thanks for taking a few minutes to read my blog. If you liked what you read, I'd appreciate it if you let me know by hitting the like button below. Or leave me a comment. Either way, in this virtual world, you could have been anywhere right now, and you chose to be here. I appreciate it. Have a great week!

2015-12 Hey!!! That's ME!

This past week I delivered a first round of finished artwork to a local gallery. It's been awhile since I've had any kind of gallery representation so everything about it feels new to me.

 Here's stacks of completed images following signing and packaging.

Here's stacks of completed images following signing and packaging.

The entire process has rekindled my love of works on paper, as well as sparked a change in direction of sorts for personal projects. 

Seeing my work printed, made real, signed and editioned, putting together the presentation I felt was right for me... all of these things were extremely rewarding. A process that reminded me of some of the things I fell in love with about photography over two decades ago. 

My work is represented in Windsor by Nancy Johns Gallery & Framing. They're located at 4755 Wyandotte Street East, just east of Pillette.

 Image courtesy of Nancy Johns Gallery & Framing

Image courtesy of Nancy Johns Gallery & Framing

Nancy Johns Gallery & Framing specializes in both custom framing as well as carrying Windsor's local artists. It is an honour to be carried by such a wonderful local gallery, but also to be showing my work alongside many other talented artists from this area.

So when I saw the updated artists' list on the website...

 Screen shot from the website with big arrow by me :)

Screen shot from the website with big arrow by me :)

...I broke out in a big, giddy smile. It was exciting to see my name in such good company!

So that was Tuesday... 

On Friday, I returned from a day away with my family to a wonderful message that I had sold my first piece! How great is that?!?

I've mentioned before in previous posts how I am trying to live vulnerably and to put myself out there. My artwork is a part of me and knowing that at least one other person is valuing it enough to purchase it brings me great joy! It's never taken for granted. 


If you appreciated this post, please take a moment and hit the like button. Feel free to also share your thoughts in the comment section below. I love to hear your opinions and stories! Have a great week!

2015-11 March break - Time to reset

I shot NO personal work in February. NONE.

...And I'm really happy I took a break from shooting.

Here's the thing... I LOVE my personal projects! It's a compulsion to create things I guess... but I love being busy and I typically always have dozen of ideas swimming around in my head looking for a chance to create them. But for the last 6 weeks, I purposely didn't schedule anything new. Yep, all of February and up to yesterday. 

In January, I saw the calendar, knew I could fill it if I wanted, but chose not to. I wanted a break. Time to catch up on things, reflect on what I was doing, what I wanted to do, and give myself some breathing room. I've used the time in other ways and have greatly appreciated it. For someone that is used to a more go-go-go mentality, I'm learning to slow down, to find a pace that's more sustainable and rewarding. 

My wife is a teacher, my kids are both in school. Our year is so heavily influenced by the school calendar that our year is more chapters and blocks of months.

Christmas Break to March Break

March Break to Summer

Summer Vacation

Labour Day to Christmas

So after March Break is over, the next chapter of our year begins and it's like a clean slate, a chance to switch things up. Some people make New Years resolutions and vow to change this or that... I look at all these breaks or cycles of our year as an opportunity to reset things. The last few weeks were an opportunity for me to think about my future as an artist. I'm going to be doing a shift in some of my personal projects. I think I'll be happier and more satisfied because of it. I realized what work I'd like to invest more time and energy pursuing and what work I think I can step back from.

Taking a break, I can honestly say that in the last 6 weeks I've learned more about what really matters most to me by NOT DOING than had I KEPT DOING. 

So take a break if you need. Give yourself breathing room. Don't be discouraged if you're not being as productive as you would normally be for a short period of time. When you come back to the work you love, you'll come back with a fresh soul, recharged to take on the things that matter.


If you enjoyed this entry, if it resonated with you or have a thought on this topic to share, I'd love to hear from you. There is a comments section below and a Like button to the right. Have a wonderful week! 


2015-10 Putting a price tag on it...

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately... A LOT of thinking...

I've been working on pricing. My head is a jumble of numbers and ideas and opinions and facts, mixed in with emotions and ego and humility and fear and excitement.

When I started shooting creatively again a few years ago, I worked diligently to find my voice, practice my craft and challenge myself with new ideas and concepts. I wasn't concerned about putting a price on it because it was just for me. 

During the past couple of weeks, I've had a few meetings with a local gallery (I'll post more about this in a future blog) and they will begin carrying my work this month. So with that, I needed to assign pricing to my images. 

When people ask, "How long did it take you to make that?" really the answer in my case should be 42 years. It's not about the 1/125th of a second the shutter tripped. It's not about the small fortune in equipment it takes to capture, edit and create something. It's not the piece of paper it's printed on or the other materials used to protect and store it. It's not every single shoot that taught me something that brought me to that point. It's not the years in photography school, working in the field, living and breathing images and being consumed by it for the better part of my life. 

Actually, I lied...  It is all of that.

Wouldn't it be nice to live in a world where we could  follow our passions and just contribute? I could somehow magically be supplied with all the equipment and materials I need to make something wonderful with someone and it wouldn't have to cost us a thing. No thought to paying for gear, materials, insurance, putting gas in the car, buying groceries, being able to live. But the reality of our lives is that we all want to be successful, however we define that.  And so part of that has been for me to come up with a pricing structure for my art that I feel justifies the lengths I've gone to, not only create the images I have, but also for the quality I'm able to achieve and pour into the work I produce. Most importantly, I know that I'm not just paying for work that I've done, but making future work possible. 

So I've been looking at things now with a new perspective. Thinking more broadly about what I'd like to really do, what I really want from my artwork... How I can make it both accessible to people, but not forsake the standard of quality I feel I need to maintain. Make it a something worth having, worth cherishing. I think I've found my way and figured it out for this stage in my career.

At some point you just have to take that leap and go for it!

 © 2014 Joe Symchyshyn   "Wyandotte & Drouillard, Windsor, ON"

© 2014 Joe Symchyshyn   "Wyandotte & Drouillard, Windsor, ON"

If this resonated with you, I'd love to hear your comments by filling in the section below. And if you are so inclined, the like button at the bottom right is a nice way of showing this blog some love too! Have a wonderful week!


2015-09 When you have no deadline, make one

Parkinson's law = "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion."

I completed some edits this past week that have been on my to-do list for some time. It's not that I forgot about them, I saw them on my whiteboards every day for months and months now... Sadly, there are a few more shoots like this that also need my attention and I am currently working on completing those too. My goal is to not only get caught up with previous shoots, but to also develop a better routine for my personal image making.

This applies to anyone trying to accomplish anything. But in my own case, this specific art piece has taken me much longer to complete than I would have wanted.

I shot the components for this image in April of 2014. We shot it, I sorted out the preliminary images from the shoot, sent proofs to my model, and then it sat.

And sat...

And sat...

And waited for me to get it back to it. 

My concept was to make a dress that flowed from the model's upper body, as if it was part of her. Each image (there are three final images in the series) was built out of multiple images and required some careful image manipulation to complete. (read: That's gonna take some time.)

To make it more difficult still on me, we shot three separate concepts on that same shoot date to maximize our time together. One of the concepts was part of a wind/smoke project that I have been working on with multiple models. Because I was going to use some wind/smoke images from another model to be a part of an art show, and I didn't want to steal the thunder of that release, I put this set on hold too. 

"I'll get to it after the summer show," I'd tell myself. This became, "I'll get to it next week" which became "as soon as I clear up these portrait jobs" and led to a million other reasons why I couldn't get to edit some personal projects. Sometimes, even other personal projects get in the way of previously shot ones. Shooting new work has that initial excitement attached to it. Maybe the shoot requires less editing or they're easy edits to do or some other reason. But for what it's worth, the above image was no less important to me than others, it just happened this way.

So this week, after my model had asked about the status of things, I had the presence of mind to do the following and it worked for me.


Instead of getting my back up and feeling defensive, I admitted my failure to her and made the responsibility mine. I didn't try to whitewash the situation or come up with some lame excuse. I apologized and got to work. 

Forgive yourself

I felt badly. I really did... I wasn't just disappointing myself, but more importantly, I was letting someone else down. I want the shoot, the experience, the whole thing to be positive and creative. With creative collaborations, there is no specific timeline like paying work. For jobs, you have an objective, you create the work, you complete it by a deadline. But for personal projects, there is this neverending deadline for things at times. Moving forward, I wanted to feel great about the images I was working on, not doing it out of guilt or shame... Did I realize it was taking too long? Yes, of course. Could I change any of that? Nope! But I could be ok with the here and now and just get started and make it right.


How does one eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Get going dummy... Don't talk about doing it, just start doing it, and keep doing it until it's done. So this week, I cleared up some time in my calendar and my goal was to get that series completed.


The most important part of starting is completing. It's not enough to get started... I did that last April. What I needed now was consistent work to bring it to completion. Before the day was through, I had the files complete, put in my dropbox and shared with the model.  

So what did this all teach me?

It taught me that I do best when I consistently work on something and complete it.

It taught me that I don't want to get so far behind on projects again and I need to schedule my personal time more effectively.

It also taught me that instead of reacting emotionally, if I deal with the facts and just move forward calmly, that I'll love doing the work and not resent it. 

I look forward to many new projects coming up this year... I have an ambitious list of projects that I'd like to do. I know there will be more that I have not even conceived of yet that will also pop up. But first, I have some more editing to do...


If you enjoyed reading this, or have something you too would like to share, I'd love to hear about it. Please hit the like button under this post, and leave me a comment below.