Sunday, September 28, 2014


The Big E of 2014 is now over and I am so very relieved to say that it was such a positive experience.  Just calling it a night now and will pack up tomorrow and head north.  I will post more in a day or two, but for now... just wanted to let you all know that there were no casualties and I'm still in good spirits!!!  A HUGE thank you to all who showed encouragement, support and help ... I could have not done with without you!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Day 15 at the BIG E... almost done!

Today will be Maine day along the Avenue of States and the Maine building will be bustling!  Thankfully Lara Max has shown up and her presence rejuvenates me!`  Lots of little quick notes to share, but have to get out the door even earlier today.  They may have to wait until I get home, as time is running short and there is much to do before and after the hours we are at the Maine Building.  Tomorrow evening,the take down begins.....

So, everyone have a great day, for now. I have to find the energy to do this just a few more days.  Thankfully, it's eaiser than I expected.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Day 11 (?) at the BIG E...

It's hard to keep all the dates straight, without looking at the big calendar page that I ripped out from home and stuck to my wall here at the Big E.  I have to cross off the days to really keep track of where I am within the 17 days of the event. Yesterday  morning my friend Carol and I did some rearranging out in the truck and if felt so good just to be outside!!  It was a glorious morning and the fresh air felt wonderful.

As we enter the gate, we are always greeted each morning by the beautiful smile and sweet, positive words of a wonderful woman named Grace.  As Carol so perfectly worded, her welcoming demeanor sets the tone for a positive day, no matter how tired I might be.  For that Grace, I thank you!  Her sister Martha and "the boys" are always a fun and entertaining way to start another day there.

 One of my favorite parts of the Big E are the quiet mornings before the crowds start, chatting with Grace and the clan at the gate, and watching the Clydesdales on their morning walks while the grounds are not yet bustling with crowds.  They are such amazing creatures!  (and they handle the crowds so much more gracefully than I do!)

My other favorite part, is watching the reactions and expressions of people as they first view my work. I wish I could have some of them on video!  I have folks walk by my booth and do a double take, then have to come back, enter my booth and look more closely.  I hear ooohs, aaaahs and WOW!  It's wonderful!  Just yesterday, I had two different wonderful women who were brought to tears by an image that spoke strongly to them.  I can't tell you how much that means.  When I am out in the field photographing, my therapy is just being out there. I consider my "job" successful if I can bring back images that speak strongly enough of my first hand experience, that it as the same or at least a similar affect on my audience.  Not everyone is affected the same way by my work and plenty of folks really could care less.  But there there are the others who "get" me and what I have tried to accomplish.  Every image has a story and when they ask the story, even more of a bond is formed.  It's magical at times!  LOVE IT!  It makes up for all the other interactions where someone wants to steal am image with their cell phone and not give it any further thought.   I love the look of awe, when folks are sucked in by the 40 linear feet of images that surround them once they step into my booth.  You can just see their demeanor change!  It's wonderful!

Also yesterday, I had a gentleman jotting down words along the edge of my booth. Then,as he stepped in he handed me the poem below that he had written on the spot, about my image "Strolling into Autumn", which printed on canvas and measuring 30"x40" is a strong presence in my booth.

In the Woods:

Lost in the woods
and yet on a path
I take in its warmth
as if in a bath.
The trees all in colors
by the path are the fern.
With all of its beauty
my head it does turn.
The path in the forest
to follow along.
To see all this beauty
I break out in song.
Lost in the woods
and yet on a path.
I take in its warmth
as if in a bath.

4:14pm  9/23/2014
by Mr. Cliff Slate

All in all, another wonderful day at the BIG E!!  
I am grateful for such a positive response to my images.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Lost count....

It's Monday night and I managed to beat the traffic back to the hotel room this evening.  YAY!  I am falling behind in my days and sharing thoughts and happenings.  I was hoping to get another day documented this morning but I ran out of time.   

HOWEVER...  I am a lucky woman!  I awoke so exhausted on Sunday morning, but thankfully I had friends and family show up right from the start and recharge me all throughout the day.  What a great day it was!  Living in Maine, but growing up in Connecticut, I really don't get to see friends and family often enough. I would like to thank everyone who came out to support (and yes, harass me).  It was just what I needed.  Denise & Chip Pettengill came down from Lewiston, Maine to help out and keep me company over the weekend, wonderful friends Carol & Wayne Dubois came by and Carol has been helping me some days during the week.  It's so nice to get to spend some time with her.  My brother and his family came by,  favorite cousins, and folks I haven't seen in years... 

Some of my favorites... I've had some of my previous photography students show up which has been awesome!  I'm so tickled that they even remember me!  And I've had a number of folks introduce themselves by saying "We follow you on Facebook and its so nice to finally meet you!"  That caught me off guard but sure was a lot of fun to meet new folks who have been following my career.  Had a wonderful conversation with another talented photographer and his wife... I've been meeting so many nice new people.  I know I post things on Facebook in attempt to promote my business, but just wasn't sure how many folks out there were really paying attention.  I've had such wonderful feedback on my recent blog entries, especially the one about the little girl.  This is wonderful energy to keep me going on the long days.

The best surprise was when my buddy Kyle Flaum showed up with some of his family!  I haven't seen him in years and years!  I finally got to meet his fiance and her daughter and got to see Ashley, who has grown from a little girl to a young woman who's career I will be following.  Next year, perhaps Kyle (and Aaron's) folks will come up from PA for the Big E!?!  I've had folks that have purchased my work up in Maine at shows, Co-ops and shops recognize my work and say hi!.  It's been very rewarding.

All in all , it was a wonderful day of surprise visits that made me fee very special.  For that, I am grateful. 

One week from today, I should be pulling into my driveway at home ... assuming that is, that I can fit everything that came down in two trips with the truck and trailer into one trip home.  Wish me luck!

Day EIGHT at the Big E...

One of the vendors calculated that Saturday around 3:30pm was the halfway point of our time at the Big E.  I had already been there an additional 4 days setting up, so it feels even longer.  I'd been holding up pretty well, just tired with hurting feet from all the standing.  Saturday was predicted to be the busiest day for people attending the fair.  They were right!  I have the exact numbers at my booth, but I am chugging coffee and getting ready for another day here at my hotel room.  The estimated numbers were just over 170,000 people just for the one day!  Here is what it looked like out the 2nd floor window from the Maine State Building.

The weather was perfect and it seems as though everyone was there!  Inside the building was quite mobbed as well and I was grateful to be surrounded by my images of peaceful places rather than outside in that crowd.  Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, even those who had to wait hours for parking seemed in good spirits.

I was grateful when the day was through because it was just exhausting, having been the best day for sales so far.  I thought I was exhausted at 9pm when the building closed...and then....  it took me over half an hour to get out of the parking lot.  And then... I sat in traffic.  Fatigue was really, REALLY setting in.  For the first time I can remember, I was not letting people in front of me in the line of traffic.  I can't imagine their day was as long as mine had been, nor did they have to be back so early the following morning.   It took an hour and 45 minutes to travel the 3.5 miles to the hotel room.  Folks, I have worked through the night for shows before and then worked all that next day at the show and I've been tired.  But I don't ever recall being as tired as I was that night when I finally got to my room!  Thankfully, Sunday was a wonderful day.  I am running out of time this morning... will have to catch you up later on that!

Thanks for checking back!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My favorite customer so far...

My intent was to try and post my favorite thing about each day, or at least a most memorable moment.  It's all been a tad overwhelming at the Big E, it all gets so jumbled in my head.  What needs to be stocked, what needs to be printed, what needs to ship.. where did I leave that.  And so on, and so on....

Today was my favorite customer.  Her name was Elizabeth and I'm terrible with ages, but I'd say 9 ish if I had to guess.  She and her sister were in my booth asking questions about photography, the wildlife I saw and they just got sucked right into it all!  This young lady was so polite and soft spoken as she told me how she too, loved wildlife and recognized that she had a gift for interacting with them.  She wanted to be  photographer too, but admitted honestly that she took awful pictures.  I reassured her that I too, when I was her age took terrible photos.  We got chatting, sometimes her older sister would chime in while Mom monitored the two girls in my booth and her 6 year old son in the woodworkers' booth next door.  He was enamored with a wooden sail boat and kept walking towards his mom with it, yet politely waiting while we spoke and then he'd just step back into the wood booth again.  He approached a number of times with that same little boat in his hands, not whining, not being at all impatient, just admiring and waiting as patiently as he possibly could.  I was so  impressed with these kids who come to find out, were home schooled and lived in CT.  

Elizabeth had found an image she loved in the $25 size, my "sunlit mountain lion".  It was more expensive than she had hoped and looked through all of my smaller images and note cards hoping to find a less expensive version, with no  luck.  Her mother said it was recently her birthday and she had $25 to spend.  Although she admired the two note cards of the wolf pair and the bobcat, the sunlit mountain lion "spoke to her" and she wanted it so badly.  She gave me her $25 birthday money because that's all she wanted.  I quietly asked her mom if it would be ok if I gave her the two runner-up cards as a birthday gift and sold her the larger print for $20.  I wanted to just give it to her, but you could tell Mom had been very successful in teaching manners, value, finances, etc.  I did not want to undermine her efforts and this was a home school field trip.  There was much to be taught at the fair and I know this was part of it.  After Mom said it was ok, I offered Elizabeth the cards as a gift and told her I wouldn't accept anymore than $20 for the print.  She just stared at me in disbelief.  I said "that way you still have a bit of your birthday  money to spend on something else".  She gave me the biggest HUG!!!  I asked if she knew why I was doing this and she said "no".  I told her, she reminded me so much of myself when I was her age.

We talked about wildlife rehabilitation, how I bottle fed fawns, raccoons, squirrels and she told me how they saved some squirrel babies too.  I saw in her, what I felt some 35 to 40 years ago... I knew  I was different, but hadn't quite figured out how to express myself yet.  She was so sweet and I wish more parents raised their kids with such grace.  It makes me think of how far I have come and how grateful I am to be able to do what I love.  I had no idea back then, that I would make a career of photography. Kinda funny how things work out.

That, was the highlight of my day!

Day....ummmm... SIX?

Good Morning everyone!  I think it's Wednesday...  the organizer told us that being "Connecticut Day" along the Avenue of States, CT will be bringing FIFTY busloads of people today!  I may be getting tired.  The first attempt at making coffee today was a huge failure.  One of the measurements was seriously wrong.  I am currently trying again. 

In the beginning, I was up before the alarm by 5:30 am.  Now, the alarm startles me awake at 6:00.  The building opens at 8am to vendors and closes at 9pm.  I've been going in early and staying until close.  Kathy  has been there with be almost the entire time as well. It's nice to be able to walk out and take a break if necessary, or hide in the back and try to get some work done.  I've got two printers and shelves full of mats and supplies tucked back in a 3 ft by 20ft nook. 

Somewhere in there... are two printers.

This is my mini work station where I keep my laptop and more supplies.

Did I mention that this workspace is only 3 feet deep?  Thank you Lara Max for the idea of the curtain over my doorway to hide all this clutter!

So, sales are decent. Some vendors in the Maine Building say they are up over last year, others say they are down.  I have nothing to compare it to.  Therefore, I've been informed that my sales are up 100% over last year!  I'll go with that.

Today my friend Carol will be by to help out.  I'm finding that I've cancelled some of the extra help I had arranged.  The busy times are manageable by two for the most part and space is limited within my booth.  I may regret the change in plans if we have some really busy days.  This is all just a learning experience for me.  So far, so good.... 

I'm better get moving now...  That's the update for now.  I think I've made it 1/ 3 of the way!! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Day TWO...

Was an interesting day, but thankfully pretty easy.  Now I know how the moose feel with all the people standing around and pointing....  I have an even greater respect for their tolerance.

I've heard the word "WOW!" a lot, and its always fun to watch people's expressions as they first view one of my images. That will always be my reward for bringing images back to share.

Kathy Bridge has rescued me multiple times with her keen organizational skills, often "readjusting" or "fixing" items that I put out.  My display looks so much better, thanks to her. 

My photographer friend Sue came down from New Hampshire to help out and has been keeping me quite entertained.  It rained pretty good much of Saturday afternoon, which drew folks indoors.  Sue was way too entertained by all of the comments that I hear on a regular basis while setup at shows.  People can be quite niave when it comes to identifying wildlife (loons are ducks or "tuxedo ducks", moose and deer are apparently interchangeable and the most common inquiry after asking who took all the photos is "YOU""!?!?"  I finally asked a very friendly woman why she was so suprirised by my answer and she thought a moment and said, "oh my gosh, I have no  idea why!".  Perhaps so many folks are having others sell their works at events that they don't expect to see the artist there pedaling her own wares.  I thought that was a better explanation than saying..."You?  ... A woman?"  Or something like that.  That was an interesting twist that I hadn't expected for an answer and actually made sense to me.  I am used to doing art shows or Maine Artisan Co-ops where the creator is on premesis representing their works.  I guess that really is not the "norm" when you think about how much work is sold wholesale, in shops and by others.  I was glad I asked.

In the meantime, Sue is here for a second day.  We will try to keep track of which comments may be appropriate to list here.  We are entertained by many, but its probably not appropriate to  list them here... 

Only 15 more days to go...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Big E ... Day ONE.

Well, I am pleased and quite relieved to say that the first official day of the Big E was a pleasant one!  We were set up and ready, the booth looked great and people were so nice! Special thanks to my sister Lynn, who kept us company the first day in case we needed an additional person.

 Here's a few pictures of our progress over the past few days.  The are just some quick photos taken from my cell phone and tossed up online... not much spare time nowadays!

Starting out:

The Trailer.. trip #2 to Massachusetts.  My trailer is 6'x10', similar to the size of a horse trailer.

Back seat of the truck.  I wasn't sure the doors were going to close!

The 20 x 10 foot frame of steel bars was probably the most challenging.  Thank you LARA MAX for all your help!

Stuff, Stuff and more STUFF....

Lara helped find the fabric and my mother sewed these beautiful drapes for my walls.  They really dress up my display.  Thanks MOM!

Finished!  (You should see the storage / work space in the back 3 feet!  I will have to take pics there next  And my beautiful assistant, organizer, sales professional and friend... Kathy Bridge is tucked away in the corner organizing my price lists.  I can't thank you enough Kathy for committing to all 17 days with me!  

View from 2nd floor in the MAINE State Building along the Avenue of States, at the Big E!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Thanks for checking back!

I know... I know....  as my mom has so gently reminded me a number of times, I have not been keeping up with my BLOG entries.  It seems as though I've had a choice... either take the time to type, or get work done and pay bills.  I am grateful to be so busy and am trying hard to master the art of balance.  That is still obviously a work in progress.


I will be exhibiting at the BIG E!
... The Eastern States Exposition

If you are not familiar with the event, check out the link above.  All i have to say is SEVENTEEN DAYS and last year, they had 1.4 MILLION people go through!

I have to leave one week from today, with SEVENTEEN days worth of product, supplies, patience and energy!  This is by far the biggest commitment I've taken on with my business.  To say that I'm a tad intimidated would be an understatement, however I am so proud to be included in the MAINE State Building, representing "the best that Maine has to offer".

Here is a picture of my space (so far...).

First photo of my DOUBLE space at the Big E, in the Maine State Building

I don't know how realistic it is, but I hope to add photos as we make progress on the setup and keep you posted of my progress as the 17 days go by.  No promises.. but I will try to keep everyone updated in my "spare time".  Wish me luck!

The Big E dates are September 12 through the 28.  The Maine State Building will be open to the public 10am to 9pm.  If you come by, swing over and say HI!