Since the photographers featured in the Local Photographer Showcases in each city are supremely talented and excited about reaching new audiences with their work, we will be regularly featuring them to give you more insight into their work and their experience Crusading. Next up is Sara Macel from the Brooklyn pop-up:
Tell us a little about your background as a photographer and where you are now with your work.
Born and raised in Houston, Texas, I left home to study photography in New York when I was eighteen. I got my undergrad BFA in Photo & Imaging at NYU in 2003 and my MFA in Photography, Video, & Related Media from SVA in 2011. Between my undergrad and graduate degrees, I worked as Bruce Davidson's studio manager and as a still photo producer at Art Department while working on my personal projects and exhibiting my work around NYC and Brooklyn. After getting my MFA in 2011, I began teaching photography at Rockland College upstate and shooting my own editorial and advertising shoots to help support my personal work. My first monograph, "May the Road Rise to Meet You," is coming out in Sept 2013 from Daylight Books. There's going to be a big launch party and panel talk on Sept. 21, 2013 at United Photo Industries, and I'm kicking off the exhibition and book tour with a show at Daylight's project space in Hillsborough, NC in late Sept-early Oct.
How did you hear about the Crusade, and what were your initial impressions?
I met Jennifer at Fotofest in 2012. She wasn't on my list of reviewers, but I knew about her and her gallery and wanted to make that connection, so I emailed her before the event asking if she could make a little time for me, and she was so gracious and said yes. During our meeting, she gave me some of the most helpful and honest advice I got the whole review and helped connect me with David Bram of Fraction Magazine who then featured my work in Issue 39. In the months that followed, Jennifer and David invited me to their Flash Powder retreat in Astoria, which I attended earlier this year. I knew about the Crusade from the beginning and followed its adventures, but it was at the retreat that I got to meet Lady Blue and become even more invested in supporting Jennifer and her vision. I was so happy when Jennifer asked me to take part in the Brooklyn Crusade soon after getting home from Astoria. I think it's a really creative way to get people into the idea of collecting art and meeting artists. And most artists I know are eager to build an audience for their work but not really sure where to start. I knew it might be a little awkward to walk up to a stranger on the street and say "Are you interested in collecting some art for free today?" And it was! But it was also a great exercise in practicing my "elevator pitch" and hang out more with Jennifer, which is my definition of a win-win.
Were you excited to participate in the Local Photographer Showcase? Why or why not?
Hell yeah! I love being part of Lady Blue's journey. It taught me a lot about creating your own buzz and finding ways to reach people so that they too become invested in your project. With my book coming out in September, it was fun to tell random people on the street about it. I brought a notebook and got names and emails of the folks I talked to about my work. For the people who walked away with my print, that's just even more incentive for them to check out and hopefully buy the book when it comes out.
How did the event go for you? Was it like you expected or different? Better or worse?
It was disappointing that the van couldn't join us in Brooklyn for mechanical reasons, but overall I was really excited about the people I met and who walked away with my prints. The first couple I met and shared my work with already collect photography from local DUMBO photo gallery Klompching, so that was great! And right after I talked with them for a few minutes, I met a female artist and we talked about making work and getting it out in the world. Despite the heat, I met some great people and really enjoyed hanging out with my fellow artists and Jennifer. The post-Crusade drink with the gang was also a highlight.
What do you hope will come out of the experience for you - personally and professionally? Do you think those are realistic expectations?
Jennifer is a powerhouse of great ideas, so it was worth it just to talk with her more about my book project and brainstorm ways of spreading the word about that. By getting contact details for the people I met, I helped grow my audience for future events, books, and shows. And if a print sale comes from this, that would just be the cherry on top of the sundae. In the end, I just like being part the Crusade for Collecting family, and if any future collectors come out of it, great!
Tell us about the image you gave away at the event and how to see more of your work.
The image I contributed is from my series "May the Road Rise to Meet You." The project is about my father's life on the road selling telephone poles, and the image, titled "Recognition Lifts the Human Spirit, Spring, Texas," is a bird's-eye view of his desk at home. The title of this image comes from an inspirational phrase he wrote to himself on his day planner. More info about the book can be found on my website www.saramacel.com and at www.maytheroadrisetomeetyou.com. The book launch party will be Sept. 21 in Brooklyn at United Photo Industries, and all summer until October you can see images from my series "Rodeo Texas" along The Fence at Brooklyn Bridge Park (http://fence.photovillenyc.org/) sponsored by Photoville and UPI. Please sign up for my mailing list on my website for more updates and follow me on Instagram and Twitter @saramacel.