And Now For Something Completely Different

July 20, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Photographers usually have a preferred niche. Whether it's landscapes, wildlife, architecture, street photography, cityscapes - whatever it might be, that's your thing. It's what you most often shoot. This does not, however, mean everything else is off-limits.  

Photograph what interests you. If you prefer to stick with one thing, do it - but there can be benefits to diversification even if it's only occasional.

Especially if you're in a creative rut, it can be helpful to try a new genre or experiment with a completely different style. Broadening one's perspective often jump starts the imagination.

Branching out also has the potential to augment your skills. You may learn something new which can be adapted and applied to the subject matter you normally shoot.

Some types of photography are kindred spirits. Consider how similar capturing fast-action sports is to making photos of birds in flight. If you're skilled at one, it's likely you'll be able to quickly adapt to the other. 

Finally, there's something to be said for a change of pace. A little disruption to the status quo can do wonders.

While I concentrate primarily on nature photography that’s not all I shoot. I'm always on the lookout for opportunities. Switching gears last weekend, my camera and I spent some time at the Idaho Falls Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival. 

There’s more to Teton Country than the national park, which is why the book I’m working on about this area is more broadly focused. What goes on in the towns located near the Teton Range is part of the visual story I want to tell. Whether it’s county fairs, rodeos, hot-air balloon rallies, torchlight parades, dog sled races - or chalk art masterpieces - I've made it a point to go exploring.

That said, I probably would have ended up at this festival regardless. I gravitate toward these types of things and enjoy watching what and how artists create, especially when working with something unconventional - like concrete underfoot.

The event took place adjacent to the Eastern Idaho Art Museum along the city's Riverwalk. More than 50 artists competed for cash prizes, registering in one of two categories representing different skill levels. It was a timed event. Participants were allowed to check in beginning at 5am and had until 4pm to complete their pieces. 

I planned my arrival for late morning since I wanted to observe the works in progress, and because the idea of being out there when the mercury hit the century mark wasn't especially appealing. That much of a masochist I am not! 

Many of the artists with whom I spoke told me they'd begun working as soon as the sun came up but still they were anxious about the clock. Some of the designs were extremely complex and there was much to be completed. Time was short.  

There was a wide variety of subject matter. An abstract rendering of Donald Duck (3rd prize). Elvis. A beautiful abstract of a bison. A cowboy riding a bucking bronco. An elk. A lion. A bear. Fanciful insects. Fish. Florals. Portraits. Sports figures. A 1952 Buick taxi (second prize). 

None of the works were stenciled.

Brothers Joseph and Jean-Michel Knickerbocker won top honors. Their piece, "The Refugee," is pictured in progress below and at the top of this post.

So much work and such impressive results, but oh so short-lived. The city kept the sprinkler system turned off through Tuesday so as many people as possible could come out and enjoy the colorful sidewalks, but when the water returned yesterday it quickly washed away the artwork. Ephemeral creations.

What's happening where you live?

Grab your camera and try shooting something new.



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