"Behind the Redwood
Women Photographers of Humboldt County, California 1850-2000"
Using Humboldt County
as a focus region, the Women in Photography International Archive has
undertaken a comprehensive study of all women who have ever worked in
the field of photography in Humboldt County, from 1850 (the date of
the first settlement) through the year 2000. Why limit this study to
women photographers? Women have been almost universally ignored in the
existing literature of the history of photography. While the aims of
this three-fold project (exhibition, book & community outreach)
will do little to rectify the glaring oversight in our photographic
heritage, it does provide a unique opportunity to highlight the contributions
of one group of female photographers in a notably male-dominated portion
of the world. Another important goal is to champion the creative productions
of women in general. At the same time, by studying the photographic
history of both men and women over the past 150 years, we can demonstrate
that this male-to-female imbalance is itself now in the process of mirroring
national trends. Local university photography programs, long the province
of men, have shifted so rapidly in recent years that the majority of
new students today are female. Finally, "Behind the Redwood Curtain"
provides a unique opportunity for comparing this region's women photographers
with other geographic areas. While a comparison may be drawn between
Humboldt County and any rural county in America, it might just as easily
be applied to a densely populated urban center such as New York City.
Long regarded as a wilderness
until white settlement began in 1850, the Humboldt region lies some 275
miles north of San Francisco and contains a land mass of 3,573 square
miles. Reputed to be the home of the elusive "Big Foot", Humboldt County
is mountainous, laced with numerous rivers, and bounded by vast forestlands.
In modern times, the population has hovered around 100,000, with the majority
of the county's citizens clustered around Humboldt Bay which incorporates
the principle cities of Eureka (Humboldt County's largest urban center)
and Arcata (Home of Humboldt State University). Logging, ranching and
maritime industries have constituted the principle economic base, while
rains and dense fogs shroud the land. Groves of giant redwood trees dominate
the landscape; often so thick and forbidding that even the local Native
American inhabitants avoided their dark domain.
Not surprisingly, Humboldt
County has frequently been stereotyped as a "man's domain", where women
are considered scarce. Pejorative slogans like: "Humboldt Honey" and "Where
Men are Men, and so are the women" imply that only an independent-minded,
burly woman with unshaven legs and armpits, ever found her way to this
remote and inhospitable land. While much has changed over the past 150
years, both geographically and regarding the female population of Humboldt
County, many of these negative attitudes linger still.
The makers of the 100
photographs selected for the exhibition "Behind the Redwood Curtain" represents
roughly 10% of the 700 plus women who have been linked to photography
in Humboldt County over the past 150 yrs. Although there are a number
of motion picture and videographers in the area, we have elected to limit
the exhibition to still photographers only. The image selection represents
a wide spectrum of interests and backgrounds. Some have used a camera
for a lifetime, while others still count themselves as beginners, including
several young women who are still in high school.
You are invited to celebrate
the photographs in this exhibition as it travels and, where possible,
to congratulate the women who made them. We also trust that, at least
for the women photographers of Humboldt County, California, the "redwood
curtain" has been lifted, letting the sunshine of diversity and creativity
shine through brightly.
Exhibition Dates and
Other venues are pending.
- Reese-Bullen Gallery,
Humboldt State University
4 November - 18 December 1999
- International Photography
Hall of Fame, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
15 February - 31 March 2000
Curators for "Behind
the Redwood Curtain" are:
- Peter E. Palmquist,
an independent historian of photography, specializing in pioneer photography,
the American West, California photography to 1950, and women in photography
globally. He is founding curator of the Women in Photography International
Archive and author of more than forty books in the field.
- Gia Musso,
an historian of California and the West, and Associate Curator of the
Women in Photography International Archive. She has most recently co-authored
the book: Women Photographers - a Selection of Images from the Women
in Photography International Archive, 1852 - 1997. Gia is the project
manager for this exhibition.
Women in Photography International Archive,
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Get Going with Greeting
by Maria Piscopo
and Promotion Rights Only in Exchange for Piscopo Web site link http://e-folio.com/piscopo
As we enter the
end of a very turbulent decade for the photography business, new clients
and markets for your images are topics close to the heart of every photographer.
You have experienced upheavals in new technology, in the clients and in
the budgets for your photo services. In addition, you are probably looking
for a market for many “personal” images not marketable to traditional
How about greeting cards?
Whatever happens with the technology or commercial clients, the consumer
greeting card market is growing and here to stay. The end of this century
has seen tremendous growth of photo image use by the alternative greeting
card publishers. With gross sales projections in the six and one half
billion-dollar range the major publishers buy shelf space in major consumer
outlets for their cards to dominate this market. You’ll find competition
to get into their talent pool is quite fierce. Since nearly fifteen percent
of the above sales are generated from alternative greeting card publishers,
they may be your best bet for entry into this market. This figure is expected
to increase to eighteen percent by the end of this year, an almost two
billion dollar slice of the “pie”. Retail distribution is the key to greeting
card sales success. Your first decision is whether to find a publisher
to print and distribute your cards and reach the end consumer or to self-publish.
How To Submit To Publishers
The submission process begins with researching The Photographer’s Market
Book 2000; (Writer’s Digest Books in Cincinnati, OH). Though not a “phonebook”
of all greeting card publishers, it lists extensive information provided
by those publishers looking for photo images. So if a publisher is not
listed for any given year, that’s their way of saying “We’re full up!”
The bonus is you get to talk to publishers that want your submissions.
Follow the submission guidelines! Though it is always good procedure to
call if you have any questions about submission directions, it is always
better to send ten great shots than 100 mediocre images. Edit your work
ruthlessly and follow the recommendations for submission formats very
carefully. Always send a self-addressed stamped envelope for the return
of your work. You should also design produce and print a promo piece for
the publisher to keep on file. Since the shelf life of a photo greeting
card is only thirty to forty five days, greeting card publishers are constantly
in need of new, strong selling images!
Many publishers choose to pay a royalty of 2% to 10% on the wholesale
price based on sales of your cards and have set payment schedules (quarterly
or annually). Be sure to determine whether royalty is based on cards printed
or cards sold. Whenever possible, ask for a guaranteed advance. As with
any photography pricing, everything is negotiable! Some pay a flat fee
royalty based on each printing of your images. For example, the first
printing of 5,000 of each card design pays the photographer from $75.00
to $100.00 for a postcard use and $150.00 to $175.00 for greeting card.
In addition, each photographer gets one hundred cards free, making great
promo pieces for other clients and markets. Contracts must be discussed
and the issue of exclusivity and photo credits negotiated. For example,
some publishers get five-year exclusive use of your image for greeting
card market but always give photographer’s credits. Always record the
usage you are selling. Though your image can then be sold in other markets,
any original or subsequent clients should know it is on the greeting card
How To Self-Publish Your
Since the greeting card industry has about a 30% turnover in new start-up
publishers each year self-publishing is a good option to consider. The
key to self-publishing your own line of cards is to find a theme. With
a “theme” that is well defined, the retail distribution outlets can be
easily identified. To define your theme and market, start your research
with a focus group. For example, for every group of images you want to
produce, prepare a presentation binder of prints. Select the prime target
audience, a group of women, age’s twenty-five years to fifty-five years,
to review the presentation. As questions like, “What cards would you buy?”
instead of the less useful question, “What cards do you like?” This information
will help you distinguish your favorite images from a best-selling greeting
card! Knowing that women purchase 90% of greeting cards will have an influence
on your theme and image selection. Since the major publishers have the
grocery chains and department stores “locked up”; self-published and alternative
greeting card published cards are more successful in their own unique
outlets. These include stationary stores, retail gift shops, craft shops,
bookstores, airport and hotel gift shops, car washes, even hardware stores.
The key is to concentrate on a theme and find the best retail outlet for
it. Also, when you self publish, remember that retailers need to charge
twice the wholesale price when you calculate your design and production
Marketing Tips for Self-Published
Start with a line of cards, six to twelve designs would be a minimum.
Look at what’s currently selling and then figure out your own designs.
Put your sample book together then find the retail locations that best
fit the cards. Plan your card production steps carefully. First, cut card
stock to size. Second, score and fold card stock. Third, stamp my logo
on back of card. Fourth, Paste color photographic print on front of card,
add title and signature. Fifth, Package card using plastic sleeve with
envelope and promotional copy. Plan for start-up time and production costs.
These include research, card stock, envelopes, and packaging, creating
the images, photo costs, lots of phone calls and your business cards and
letters. Producing a catalog of your card designs is extra work but today’s
desktop publishing software should make this easier. Look at other markets
for your images after they have been greeting cards. Check on stock houses,
poster and calendar publishers, and art fairs and fine art prints.
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of Myra Albert Wiggins, 1869-1956, by Carole Glauber, with a forward by
University Press, Pullman (1-800-354-7360)
Myra Albert Wiggins,
photographer, painter, writer, and musician, lived and worked in the Pacific
Northwest. Witch of Kodakery: The Photography of Myra Albert Wiggins,1869-1956
is the first comprehensive look at Wiggins' life and work. Her powerful
and enduring photographs encompass Dutch genre, landscapes, portraits,
family life, and scenes from her travels in the Northwest and abroad.
Despite living in faraway Salem, Oregon, Wiggins' pictorial photographs
appeared in national and international journals and hung in salons in
the United States and Europe. Wiggins' artistic success led to her admittance
into the Photo-Secession in 1903.
of Wiggins' work within the context of social, cultural and technological
changes are considerable. Her life intersected the Arts and Crafts movement,
the invention of half-tone printing, and the development of the dry plate
and roll film - all highly influential to her style of photography. Few
women in the 1890's struggled to balance the demands of marriage and motherhood
with a career as Wiggins did.
While Wiggins' story
weaves a description of turn-of-the-century amateur photography, it also
portrays the intertwining of personal ambition with collegial friendships,
the filtering of national photographic politics westward to Salem, and
how Photo-Secession membership both helped and hindered Wiggins' photographic
pursuits. Her astuteness for self-promotion dovetailed with the same media
and corporate hierarchy that happily endorsed her work. The title of the
book derives from an Eastman Kodak promotional campaign employing witch
and witchery imagery as a metaphor for the magic, charm, and fascination
Later in life, while
a grandmother, Wiggins built a second career as a painter and mentor to
artists. Although her paintings did not explore new ideology and technique
as did her photographs, she continued to garner awards and recognition
for her work. Culminating her career, the Seattle Art Museum in 1953 and
the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco in 1954, honored her with retrospective
exhibitions of her photographs and paintings. Her vivacity and devotion
to her work remained intact until her death at age 86. Extensive research
using diaries, letters, newspapers, photographic journals, Wiggins' photographs,
exhibition catalogs, and interviews with family members and friends create
a revealing and thought provoking narrative about an artist and her times.
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From my personal collection:
16 x 20 prints, three black & white, one color.
All prints are numbered
and dated, but not signed.
B&W prints are $800
each Color print is $1, 000
4x6 internegative of
1987 Sunprint - $500.
Will provide scanned
photocopies to serious buyers.
Contact: Nancy email:
Looking for distributor and/or exhibits for VHS 30 minute Photo Documentary
about Los Angeles Homeless, titled "Through Our Own Eyes, Self Portraits
By People Without Homes".
For articles, images and exhibits please go to www.JeanFerro.com
or write to PhotoDoc@JeanFerro.com
to work with talented writers for upcoming books and articles on 25 year
history of life and work. Areas include Self-Portraiture, Portraits and
Photo Based Mixed Media.
Please send resume and writing sample to Books@JeanFerro.com
and/or visit www.JeanFerro.com
web site to view exhibits and biographical information.
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