Using Your Cellphone at the Museum

Museum Monday Header

Don’t forget your phone the next time you visit the museum. Seriously. Only a few years ago, it would have been considered “bad manners” to be using your cellphone in a museum setting. However, in recent years, museums seem to have found ways to embrace the technology phones provide. I have seen more museums and exhibits encouraging their patron’s use of phones. In fact, some are tapping into the social media marketing visitors can do for them – for free. Win-win. (I wrote about one such exhibit last year. HERE is the blog post.)

I recently read THIS article about museums using cellphones for audio tours rather than those expensive handheld devices you have to rent and return. I kind of like this idea. For the most part, it is a convenient, free tool for the visitor, and it saves the museums money. Again, win-win.

But, the uses do not end there. Some museums are creating apps. (HERE is an article) For example, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) has an app and has partnered with another company (Museum Hack) to develop some audio tours (Read about it HERE – it sounds really fun and innovative). Other museums are embracing the technology and developing apps that can include interactive maps, tours, language translations of wall labels, as well as detailed information. I see the benefits and the downside on some of these apps. As with all things, the golden rule (respecting copyright) and moderation are key. If this allows people to see, learn, and experience art. Great.  However, it gives me pause to think some might use the apps as a replacement when the original is right in front of you. There is nothing like experiencing a great work of art in person – not relying solely on the app, but IN PERSON. Not being truly present would be like visiting the Grand Canyon while viewing pictures of the Grand Canyon on your cell phone. At the end of the day, it is about seeing, experiencing, and learning. It’s about being present.

What are your thoughts? Would you use a museum app, QR code, and/or audio tour on your phone?

Books for March

Book Club Thursday

Digital Photography, Copyright
© 2017 SuZan Alexander


Did you read Artful Lives: Edward Weston, Margrethe Mather, and the Bohemians of Los Angeles by Beth Gates Warren? I have to admit, I was expecting a small book and a quick read. I am still amazed that the postal employee CRAMMED the tome into my small mailbox – with damage, of course. I am sure my neighbors got a laugh if they happened to watch me pry my latest read from the confinement of the mailbox. But I digress…

While it was no small book, it was a pretty quick read for me because (i) I was interested, AND (ii) I was traveling. Yes. It WAS a heavy book to be carrying around in airports. I am considering it my strength training exercise program for March, but I was grateful I brought it along because my travels include some flights that were delayed which allowed for more reading time. As a bonus, my travels and layovers were somewhat tracking the places I was reading about in the book. I love when that happens. It seems to make the pages come to life.

The author, Beth Gates Warren did a masterful job at cobbling together the story of Weston and Mather. It must have been quite a task because Mather… well, she re-invented herself so there was no direct line to her history, and Weston destroyed his “daybooks” prior to 1923. Weston’s destruction of these daybooks/journals, in effect, erased personal records concerning his early career from 1906 until his departure for Mexico in 1923. In so doing, he eliminated any insight into his relationship with Mather and her influence on his work. If you are interested, I found a video of Warren’s lecture at Santa Barbara Museum of Art where she discusses her research and the resulting book, click HERE.

I admit that I have long admired Edward Weston’s images, but I knew very little about Weston beyond the images that were introduced to me in a college art history course. I am sorry to say that I had never heard of Margrethe Mather, nor had I seen her work before reading this book. This read provided quite an education of both artists and illustrates how we have an influence on each other in the creative process.


Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland has become a regularly referenced and suggested book for all creatives.  I read this book many years ago and decided I should also invest in the audio version so I can listen to the words while working in my studio. As I revisited the book this month, I was surprised at how much information the book still imparts to me and my work. I decided that I need to put a reminder on my calendar to listen/read the book at least once per year. (As an aside, did you notice the many referenced to Edward Weston in the book?)

Did you read either or both books? If so, I would love to hear what you thought.

Just This Moment – March

Just This Moment of Life in Photos Header

“Just This Moment” is intended to be a collection of those small moments in which you are truly present in your life – at just that moment. The images may not be frame-worthy, but are moments that fill you with joy, allow you to experience a moment of gratitude, make you smile, touch your heart, and/or make your soul sing.

Ahhh, spring… the birds are singing, flowers are beginning to peep out from their winter slumber, and then there are the trees…

Digital Photography, Copyright
© 2018 SuZan Alexander

Okay, you caught me. The image in the bottom right (two white flowers) is from a blooming dewberry vine. Great catch. You have a good eye!

So, show me what is blooming in your neighborhood.

Two Amazing Edward Weston Photographs

Today is the birthday of photographer Edward Weston. Weston is considered one of the most innovative and influential photographers of the 20th Century, so I thought it might be interesting to explore a couple of his images. Why only two images when there are so many important images to choose from? Well, these are two images that are considered Fair Use for discussing his work without violating copyright. Having said that, please search on your own and enjoy looking at his work on web pages, like THIS one, that are authorized to show his art.

As a teen, Edward Weston was gifted a camera, which, in essence, began his photographic journey. Over the years, his photography style included soft focus pictorialism to pictorial realism. According to most accounts, his transition from the soft focus style to sharper resolution was the result of photographing the American Rolling Mill Company (ARMCO) in Ohio during the 1920’s. These photographic images were praised by Alfred Steiglitz and are credited as photography that emerged into the Modern era. Among Weston’s many contributions to photography were his designation of being the first photographer to receive a Guggenheim fellowship. He was also instrumental in photography’s designation as an art form, was an avid writer documenting and sharing the photographic process, as well as being the photographic artist that developed the concept of previsualization.

In my opinion, Weston’s strongest images are the common, everyday subjects like the two images below. Can’t you just feel your stress level dropping while looking at these beauties?

NAUTILUS, 1927 (aka Shell, 1927)

Edward Weston's Photograph of Nautilus

By Source, Fair use,

Apparently, Weston was inspired by Henrietta Shore’s large paintings of sea shells. He even borrowed some of the shells Shore had been painting so he might further explore a still-life series. After a few weeks of exploring different kinds of shell, backgrounds, and I’m guessing lighting, compositions, etc., well, this image titled Nautilus is one of the results of that exploration and discovery. It’s a good thing, because this photograph has been credited as one of the most famous photos ever.

(As an aside, if you are unfamiliar with Henrietta Shore or her work, I would be remiss if I did not encourage you to seek out some of her work. Consider it a BONUS to this blog post. I got you started with a link. Just click her name above to take a look.)





Edward Weston's Pepper No. 30

By Source, Fair use,

In the 1930’s, Weston began creating close-up images of fruits and vegetables. During his exploration of fruits and vegetables as subjects, Weston photographed green peppers for several days.

The peppers series is probably his most iconic set of images from this body of work, and due to their almost modern sculptural quality, these images have been likened to the sculpture of Hans Arp. Oh the lighting! Give me a moment to swoon a bit. Okay. I’m back. This beautiful, dramatic lighting  certainly lends itself to focusing on the form of the pepper. I think the light is what makes the photograph sculptural. And, can I say, Oh, la, la.




Happy birthday Edward Weston! Thank you for all your contributions to photography as an art form, as well as the eye candy we are still enjoying today.


Pictorial Souvenirs from Texas Big Bend Area

Travel Blog Post Series

Exploring Near and Far

I have been fortunate to say that I have visited the Big Bend area of Texas for many years now. I have been fascinated by the history of the area. I have watched the changes accumulate over the years. I have enjoyed the wide open spaces, learned a few of the landmarks, delighted in watching the wildlife, and, I have marveled at the sunrises and sunsets that are second to none. But, most of all, I love to visit this rugged, sparsely populated area of Texas to make new memories, and perhaps a few good images, as souvenirs until the next visit.

I recently created a photo book that included images from my many visits to the Big Bend area. Since I just worked on curating the images for the book, it is fresh on my mind and I thought it would be fun to “explore” the area with you all today. As for the visual part of our Wednesday Wandering, I thought I would share an image I included in the book, as well as a link to the preview of the book.

Texas Big Bend Windmill

Digital Photography, Copyright
© 2015 SuZan Alexander

This image of a rather battered and bruised windmill is one of my favorite images from the region. Some days, don’t you just feel like how this windmill looks? For those days that you feel battered, broken, about to fall… you get yourself all patched up and lean into the wind. Buck up buttercup, because the sunset view is coming.

If you are interested in seeing a few more images from the book I mentioned; HERE is the link. I hope you enjoy the “virtual” trip. If you have any tips for favorite places to stay, hike, and/or take photos, I would love to hear from you. Be sure to leave me a comment before you strap on your virtual hiking boots.

Motivational Monday

Edward Weston Quote on Composition

This quote by Edward Weston made me think about how I take photographs. I think there is a point in your progression as an artist, when composition… the rule of thirds, golden spiral… all becomes part of how you see and how you frame your work. What do you think? And, where are you on this path?