The Pre-RAW Experience: Try Anything, Nothing to Lose.

Hopes and Dreams

Ever since I returned from France in May, and really before that too, I have been trying to promote my photography – with the, perhaps naive and senseless, hope of attaining some sort of success within the industry and to really live out my dream of becoming a full-time freelance photographer.

I know what you’re thinking: “That’s SO hard!” (Shhhhhh, I know that – but this is my dream, remember?)

Step One: Get Known

Well, in order to pursue this avenue, while also applying for full-time jobs, I have stumbled upon some really awesome stepping stones.

I started out like anyone in my tech-savvy, social-networking obsessed generation might: the Web. I continued building up my website and blog, my Facebook fan page and my Twitter followers. This only got me so far…

I had decided that it was time to do SOMETHING with my, until then, mostly latent Linked In account – so I joined some groups and started participating. One has been instrumental in building my network and particularly in the recent success of my attending a show in NYC. This is the “Women in Photography” group. It’s created for any woman that does anything with photography – from hobbyists to seasoned pros.

Step Two: The Off-Chance

One day, while diligently skimming the daily digest email of new posts and comments, I saw one mentioning something called RAW: Natural Born Artists. At that point I was not sure what it was, but saw that it had a potential, so I decided to click the link, just to see what it was all about.

Once I saw what it was – a national organization that showcases underground and emerging artists – and that there was a group in NYC, I applied on a whim – never expecting anything to come from it. You know – just like the hundreds of job applications that return nothing. So, naturally, I forgot about it.

Step Three: The Shocker

Low and behold – one Saturday about two to three weeks later, I’m sitting at a cafe with a friend, and my Crackberry buzzes with a new e-mail, starting with, “Hello Artist …”

I do what anyone in this situation would do… get super tense and excited and attempt to make sense of the email on the tiny screen of my Blackberry flip phone, and get a bit overexcited and overwhelmed at the part saying that she “think[s] I would be a perfect fit” for the group!

Step Four: (Self-)Persuasion

Of course I was elated – until the sad reality of money brought me twirling back down to earth when my mom asked, “How much does all that cost?” And I read a little more closely… $200, the sale of 20 $10 tickets, or a combination of the two. Uh-oh. At this point I’m feeling rather defeated, though inspired that I really NEED to do this no matter what. I did not think I would find 20 people, in spite of the over 500 people in my Facebook Friends list and the growing numbers on my photography fan base, willing to put out the money, because, I mean, who was I really? I needed to convince myself, and fast, that I would have anyone ready to fork over the money. I sent out messages to, what I thought was, everyone I knew in the NYC area and then some. A few people responded yes or no – and then I said to myself, “What the hell, this is an amazing opportunity even if I have to pay out of pocket.”

Step Five: Ego/Emotional Highs and Lows

The show has no theme. I was completely lost. Mind blank and completely overwhelmed without the slightest clue of what to actually show. Should it be career related? Should I focus on my artistic vision? What was my artistic vision anyway?

So much time and energy in promoting, talking it up to everyone, even brand new people that I had just met.

This whole part of the process – the choosing and creation of the pieces and the promotion and fundraising was quite stressful, but exceptionally worth it in the end. I was really nervous and embarrassed to ask people for money. I still am, but I had to buck up and do it. And in the end, I exceeded the $200 and was able to put the rest toward the realization of the works. Which, yes, I eventually decided upon – after much painstaking time in front of the computer and many useless conversations with several people. I learned that after everything, the decision is mine because I am the artist. That’s both great and a disaster – as I am the most indecisive person ever.

Step Six: Objectification

As I am a mostly digital photographer, most of my works are composed of 0s and 1s, and not paper, ink, chemicals, etc. After choosing which images to print, I began the post-processing and finally ordered from WHCC, a pro printing lab. To economize, I did all the photo-finishing, after the arrival of the prints, myself.

The experience taught me how to cut foam core with a hard exacto knife, use spray Photo Mount adhesive, and actually assemble a mounted photograph. It was long and hard, but I finished with pride – and a sore finger. To see the final project, see this entry in my photo blog: Sentiments by Caylena Cahill Photography. To see what pieces are now available for purchase view: Pieces for Sale (from “Sentiments”) in my photo blog.

Step Seven – Excitement

Quickly after my art was ready, Thursday came and it was time to trek to NYC with my real-life artworks for my first exhibition in the great city. (I say “trek” but I just take the Metro North forever and the Subway – it’s really no big deal.)

The event went swimmingly (barring a few technical difficulties for the sound system), from set up to tear down, and I had a great time. My work also seemed to be a hit! What more can you really ask for?

(Read about the day of and the event in more detail: A RAWking Night in NYC)

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. You seriously have never had to cut foamcore and use spray adhesive?! You didn’t do that in school?

    1. Nope I didn’t have to do it in school. I did have to cut mat board, but the school had a bevel mat cutter and I didn’t have to permanently attach the photo. :-/

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