tKoL 2012: Future Gifted

This Is The New-New America - tKoL 2012: ain't nothin' to see here


Lights, Karma, Action!!

Thank you to whomever is so generous to send this to me.

A Thing for Eggs


Ask Ty...December 6 [The Annual Evaluation Question]

It must be Tuesday, Middlespacers, because I'm answering your questions
Q: Dear Ty,

I just had my performance review at work. I do good work but sometimes I have difficulties meeting deadlines and I am quick to express frustration about mopey coworkers who don't get work that impacts me finished in a timely manner.

It must be nice to work for yourself and not have to worry about performance evaluations. What would you write about yourself if you reviewed yourself?


- Wall Street
"Please, sir, I want some more"

Ty: Good question and an even better observation, WS. Feedback is important in any relationship and the Annual Business-y Performance Evaluation is the bittersweet apple pie filling of the American business fiscal year.

Each and every year, we working stiffs must justify our work existence bowl-in-hand like Oliver Twist, by begging for just one more portion of gruel. It's a pain-in-the-ass brown-nose festival of smiling, schmoozing, and pretending everything is so important and crucial to "career" when we basically just want more money. Secondary reviews, one hundred eighty degree evaluations, promotion advocates, and bonus allocation is the year's-end vampire sucking the blood out of everyone's end of year work-lives. Productivity is only lower during the NCAAs in late March, WS.

Here at Middlespace Arts (or, informally, Middlespace Industries of America because the state of Maryland did not allow me to use "Industries" for my line of work), we take performance reviews very seriously. Our employees are our most important resource. Yet in these economic times, we have to be sure we have the right workforce for these challenging times. Our service experience is our brand experience! Kill me now.
So, WS, what would I write about Middlespace employee badge number 001 for the year?
- Ty has been a key contributor to tKoL/PMM/MIOA since 1996. He has earned the reputation as a diligent, hardworking, and enthusiastic employee.

- Ty's biggest deficiency is his tendency to rush when working with exciting ideas or tasks (as well as tedious and mundane tasks). His rushing has led to embarrassing and historical errors and the duplication of work. But rushing aside, he has demonstrated himself an obsessive archivist, able to find and recreate lost work in an acceptable amount of time.

- Ty can be quite a work-a-holic and is often encouraged to actually slow down his dizzying pace of production to focus not only on what is interesting, but on what is top quality (and what might provide the organization revenue).

- Ty has become a never ending source of ideas and original contributions. He works very well with outside contractors, clients, and collaborators. He continues to bring outside contributors to the workflow while staying attuned to the needs and skills of those in-house.

- Ty's overall set of skills continues to improve across a variety of media. He successfully published hundreds of photographs, and several EP-length recordings which culminated in his recent release, 2011 by tKoL. New to the year was a variety of short videos. He began the year strong with the photo essay, A Hundred Snapshots, and finished even stronger with the On Portraiture (pdf) piece and the In the Arms of the Lords video. And in-between he did a ton of stuff no one ever remembers during a review.
- For FY2012, it is Ty's top business objective to find both revenue streams and sales opportunities. It is his responsibility to support an increased production budget including profits. Marketing will be crucial to this effort.

- For FY2012, it is Ty's top creative objective is to solidify a cohesive, notable style unlike any previously explored or published. He should be entering his most notable creative period and can feel unburdened to explore new creative threads while keeping an eye on the above business objectives.
This should be an exciting year.

Just a guess.


RMOK 2011 - Before through After - $1,000

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On Portraiture - If You Have The Time [UPDATE]

On Portraiture
by Ty Hardaway

[This piece was to be originally published as an invited contribution to an art blog, but it never got published...not yet anyhow. That happens in this business sometimes. I just didn't want to have this work along with some astonishingly beautiful contributions to go unused. I thank all contributors for their generous time and their inspiring work. This posting is a late draft. The final version (pdf) is here: [clicky]]

We exist in a time where we have reached a point of constant and overwhelming bombardment of imagery, music, and prose. Arts abound. Ads abound. Noise abound.

Not only is everyone a photographer, a musician, and a writer now, but just about everyone has the ability to self-publish their work in what approximates real time thanks to smart phones and social media. Many people spend huge chunks of their live human-interaction and entertainment opportunities interacting almost exclusively with photo-telecommunications devices creating additional content and perusing new content. At live events, many people spend the duration looking into screens--instead of the actual event--broadcasting for the web. Constant content with extremely short shelf lives, has turned every consumer into the A&R department; everyone can have five seconds of someone's attention somewhere.

Supply of new content has almost completely drowned the demand for new content, and there seems to be fewer places where filtering for quality occurs. Editors are scarce even though, oddly, everyone is an editor. And every snarky anonymous commenter sits atop a critic's throne of rose-petaled gold. The Fine Arts, the photographic arts in particular, have flat-lined into a regressed average of what seems to be just good enough for most people, by most people. Everything is documented for audiences real and imagined and for largely undefined purposes.

Some folks, training or experience notwithstanding, have even taken the leap into the "digital SLR" world and suddenly find themselves with a hankering to open a studio or some sort of photography "business" since there's so much money raining upon the arts. We have seen this body of awkwardly posed and illogically-lighted work. And there seems to be no shortage of confident subjects willing to try anything in online model listings.


As I peruse my personal library, I see that there is a compelling history of--and importance to--portraiture. From Cartier-Bresson, Stieglitz, Steichen, Lange, and Arbus to the street photography of Sylvia Plachy, Gordon Parks, and Ricky Powell (NY), information about people conveyed through still photograph is in many ways the greatest legacy of photography. Forget landscape, fashion, celebrity, abstract, snapshot, or nude photography, well conceived and timely portraits of regular people doing regular people things seems to cast the longest wake. There is a certain beauty and grace to our everyday existence.

But in the teen years of this new century, as the ability to create and publish increases, the ability to discern has decreased. Who of us remain that can take rare moments to contemplate, study, and imagine? When was the last time anyone spent more than a moment getting inside a portrait? Maybe the photographic jungle is too dense. Maybe the ordinary and everyday doesn't inform as it did in the past. Maybe portraiture is dead.

Yet on a very basic human level, some of us still cannot help ourselves. Maybe a way to connect within and between ourselves is to stop time; to study moments. Some still possess a drive, if not addiction, to make the still portrait. Not for commission or client, and often not for publication or distribution. Just…because that's what our hard-wiring drives us to do. When I think about it, if I were forced to choose one artistic pursuit to ride into retirement, it would probably be a variation of portrait photography.

The bigger the iceberg, the smaller the tip.

In order to slow time just a bit, I present some work by people I've interacted with over the years in various capacities. I know that these people shoot people because they have to; that they have few choices. They are curious and they have no interest in trying to impress you or sell you any product or service. They aren't shooting for commission or stock service. None are attempting to shock anyone or really draw much attention to themselves. They shoot friends, family, and strangers. At the most they'll receive a rare non-asinine comment on a blog or a "like" on Facebook or Tumblr or Flickr. Someone somewhere might get what they do. And that's just enough.


So take your time and take a look all around yourself and situation. This is where we are right now. Here's a glimpse of some lovely work. Click images to enlarge.

Cassady Kissam
Northern California

"I've always thought about the fear among Native Americans of having their portraits taken. I think the belief was that a photograph could capture the soul. The resulting fear was that the soul couldn't be released; something called "Stealing The Shadow." I've always believed there may actually be some basic truth in that, but my interpretation is that once you let someone view that portrait then the soul is released. That, at its core, is what makes a good portrait, the ability to capture or portray a persons soul and spirit and share it with others."

Christine McGuinness 
Berkeley, California

"You can't control your subject's mood/emotion. You can encourage it, but you never know whether it will show. So much of the portrait is left up to the connection between you and the person being photographed. It's sweeter to capture a good portrait because it's never a sure thing."

Dave Blair 
South Florida

"I like to document real and fleeting moments. I, like many before me all the way back to the those who first made images in caves, have been compelled to document. This instinct is strange and strong. I like taking pictures of people so I can freeze a moment in time and study it, understand what is going on, there is so much going on."

Johnny Meadows 
New York City

"Shooting portraits, to me, involves capturing peoples' souls at moments when their guards are down, so that means it must be done without their knowledge. It's questionable whether or not my work is fair to them, but I feel as if I'm tapping into something deeper by doing so, and am always as moral and tasteful as I can possibly be with my work. Capturing real, live soul."

Lily Valle 
Washington, District of Columbia

"I am interested in capturing an aspect or feature of a person - the something that makes me "like" them or find them interesting aesthetically. If I know the person, there's an extra challenge of capturing who they are to me."

Robin Madel 
New York City

"I think people are the most interested in other people's stories and portraits tell those stories. The photos I shoot of people, especially in some odd or strange setting, always get the most hits when I post them."


We document people in little places in time. We document people with little pieces of time. We are compelled to make these vast bodies of work and we pledge to continue doing it until we get closer to "getting it right." In the photographic arts, images of people--portraiture--seems to be a sort of life blood. Clearly there are still those of us who want to thoughtfully or obsessively capture moments that tell stories about our planet mates.


For Henry, R.I.P.
Middlespace Industries of America