What Is Reality, Really?

Leaving Reality Behind

When we finish a vacation or come back to what we call home after a trip or a long weekend. One of the first things we often say is “Back to reality!” What is reality though? The world we have created with all of its things and stuff is truly not reality. Well it is in a sense reality, but it is a fake reality. It is what we have settled for. We surround ourselves with stuff that other people think we need. Things that typically only satisfy temporarily. We smother ourselves with these things we are convinced we need which in turn often forces us to become slaves to someone else and someone else’s agenda by working for them. How is that reality?

Looking At The New

Looking At The New

Get Off The Grid

I recently got home from a two week wonderful trip in which I visited several national parks. Zion, Bryce Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite. I spent an average of two days “roughing it” at each park, took the off the beaten track routes, stopped at several state parks, and drove down roads that I had no idea where they would take me other than into the sunset. It was a beautiful trip that filled me with amazement and awe.

The world we live in is truly a beautiful incredible place. The negative in the world is brought on by people. Fortunately no matter what we go through as a person, the negative makes up a small portion. If you think about your life only, (not everything going on in the world at one time) then you do begin to realize that there is more positive than negative. Negative stands out significantly because of this. If all was negative, then negative would be normal and would go unnoticed. 2017 has been exceedingly unkind to me, yet through it all, I still see mostly positive.

There Is More Positive Than Negative

One way to see the true positive is to frequently immerse yourself in nature. Nature is pure and wholesome. We can learn from that. The important part of being in nature is, letting nature be. Protect it, observe it, let it be. I see so many people go into nature and act crazy. Throwing rocks, breaking branches, shouting and being obnoxious. Some find that it is okay to vandalize and paint graffiti. There is a place for street art and graffiti, it’s not in nature, keep nature sacred. Go into nature to find calm and peace or please don’t go

.

Are We Doing All We Can?

How do we treat the planet when no one is looking? Every action is accumulative, every wrapper, every piece of gum, every cigarette butt is additive. It is careless, lazy and self centered to think otherwise. There are people who go into nature that have no regard for nature what-so-ever; litter, graffiti, destruction, reckless driving, disrespect, etc. I find people like this to be seriously disturbing. Where is their place in this world if even in nature they are violent and hateful. I thought maybe if people who are not happy, depressed, hurtful or hateful would go into nature, into the wild, and find solitude, peace, themselves maybe they could become a different person. However after seeing some of what I saw maybe this is not possible?

Garden Of Light

Garden Of Light

For me, being in nature is a humbling experience, knowing I am part of it, and in a broader sense part of the universe and being connected to all of it. Which means I have to do my part in protecting it, cherishing it and keeping it safe for generations to come.

Nature is true-pure reality. It is what remains of what it all used to be like, before roads, high rises and pollution. The planet free of debris, clutter, man made crap and crud is what I consider real genuine reality. Those places are becoming fewer and fewer and smaller and smaller. Even in the national parks there are so many visual reminders of modern human interface. In my opinion there should be and could be so much less.

Too Much Clutter

Railings, boardwalks, signs, fences, buildings, power lines, etc. etc. seem to be almost everywhere. As a photographer I really notice things like that because I desire clean shots. My selfish desire for a clean shot has presented an awareness of the clutter we have created in our natural preserves. In some locations where there was an epic panorama there would be a building planted right in the middle of it all. I’m like “Why? Why there? Power lines cutting through beautiful epic scenery. I understand we do need some of these things. We just need to make much better decisions on how we implement them. We have preserved these natural locations for a reason, lets preserve better.

My experience in the wild left me with something I will get to keep with me forever. I have been to Yellowstone three times now and the other parks I mentioned for the first time. Though I had been there twice before I wanted to see Yellowstone again in October because of the cooler weather. I wanted to see it in that setting where the steam truly interacted with the crisp cold Rocky Mountain air. I was not disappointed, it was surreal. In many cases it felt fake. Bryce Canyon seemed fake. It is impossible for it to be real. It is real though and that is true reality. Experiencing true reality means getting out there and exploring. Exploring, discovering, admiring and being educated by nature.

Spacious Skies

Spacious Skies

More Please

Fake reality has brought me back to San Diego, to my studio. Life has placed me in a circumstance where my photography alone is not paying the bills. Therefore I am now seeking other means in addition to my photography to fulfill my obligations to others. I put a lot into this road trip because I was very aware that when I got back that I would need to get very busy. So this trip meant a lot to me. It meant really truly doing some soul searching, it meant really truly doing my part in this life to promote being in nature and to promote preserving it and to promote respecting it. I am left with an emptiness in my heart because of what I saw, its flawlessness and its innocence. I want much more of that in my life.

Dear Universe

Dear Universe,

I have been talking to you for quite awhile now. I have verbalized my thoughts, desires, needs and wants to you. I have been patient, waiting, doing what I can to stay positive. However lately I haveThe Universe had my doubts that you are listening. I know we are one, one and the same. I am in you and you are in me. My thoughts are your thoughts. Your energy is my energy. However it is not translating. What I need is not manifesting.

I am at a place where I am truly scared. I have worked very hard to get where I am at and I feel I am going to lose it all if something doesn’t happen today. It needed to happen yesterday. I need help! I need your help! I need things to fall into place. I need your energy!

Universe you are my only hope. You gave me this talent, you gave me a wonderful studio to work in. Why? If I am going to lose it all, then Why? I cannot accept that! Where is the give? I give and give and give. Where and when is it supposed to come back to me?

Universe you know it isn’t just about me. You know I do not have much. You know I do not ask for much. I just want to be able to take care of my daughters. I don’t want them to have to endure this struggle. I want them to be what they are intended to be. To be able to use their talents freely, without inhibitions. I need to be able to use my talents without inhibitions. I am not free! I have so much more to offer! What is the point of being talented if I have no means to exploit it? How can I help others if I have no means to do so? Milky Way GalaxyWhere is the confusion? What am I missing?

You have done so much for me. When I think positively it comes to me. It has so many times. Why is it so different when it comes to selling my art? I have worked so hard to this point. I have dished out thousands of dollars and lined other peoples pockets to get to this point. Where is my return? Why does this need to concern me? I shouldn’t need to worry about this at this point! Do I really need to go work at McDonald’s? Do I really need to give my energy to someone else, to those who do not care? To those who only want to further their agendas and fill their deep pockets? Who won’t give back? Do I really need to go work for someone else and be imprisoned to their ways and means for a few bucks? To deal with that just to scrape by? Is that what you have intended for me universe? Then why bother giving me talents and skills and the mind I have? I can’t do that. That doesn’t help me and it doesn’t help anybody else.

Universe hear me. Please listen. Please come to me and hear my voice. I cannot do this alone. I need your energy. I need your positivity. Let your Starry Nightpositive energy flow through me. I am at a difficult place universe. The tables have turned on me. I don’t want to lose it all. Please show me the way. I need things to fall into place now. I need things to happen now. I have been extremely patient. I have worked hard. I have been diligent. I have been humble. What more must I do? What am I doing wrong? What am I not seeing? What am I not understanding? Show me! Show me please!!!

Universe I accept your help. I know you hear me. I know you want me to succeed. You know I want to help others succeed. I feel your peace. I feel your energy flowing into me.

Thank you,

Paul W. Koester

Free Art

Yay you came here for free art. I’m glad that caught your attention.

The internet is a valuable tool for artists. It provides a means to get our work in front of many eyes. Whether it is a personal website or social media. It is good practice to post to social media on a regular basis. Not posting means that we no longer exist. As an artist you can get forgotten about very quickly.

The unfortunate side of the internet is thievery. Many feel that if they find an image on the internet it is automatically free. Free to use anyhow they please. Download it, right click on it, save it to their hard drive. It is very easy to do. For this reason many artists put gaudy watermarks on their images to help “protect” themselves. I do not watermark. I find them to be highly intrusive. I shouldn’t have to work hard creating an  aesthetically pleasing image just to plaster it with what people should already know. It’s my image, I created it, I own the rights to it forever. So instead of watermarking let’s educate. Taking an image from the internet without some form of consent is stealing.

Let me step back a little. I have had many of my images used commercially without my knowledge and/or I found them by searching or by just pure coincidence. When I confront the entities they immediately get defensive. They even go as far as ridiculing me and the image. It makes me laugh. If the image sucked, then why are you wanting to make yourself look bad? The truth is they used the image because they liked it. It spoke for them. It represented them. They tried to get something for free. My work, my time, my equipment. Nobody wants to work for free. Most people working for a corporation would not need to write a blog on this subject. Why? Because most people get compensated in a timely manner for their performance.

Another common response is, “You put it on the internet, it’s public, the whole world sees it.” Yep, it is very public. So are the city streets. This logic says that if I park my nice car on a public street it is free for the taking. It could be taken, but there are consequences. There are consequences to stealing images. There are laws against it that stand up in court just as heavily as stealing a car monetarily. Therefore regardless of justification, the law says you cannot do it. All images are protected whether there is a watermark, copyright symbol, fine print, etc. or not.

Most people wouldn’t walk into a grocery store and steal a banana. A banana seems harmless, what damage would come to the store for stealing one banana? Most people don’t think about it and wouldn’t steal period. That same logic needs to be applied to art and artists.

Artists need your support. Which means don’t take an image without consent. Don’t ask an artist for free work, yes, this applies to family and friends. Free art means someone is working hard and not getting paid. Don’t ask an artist for a discount. The art is already cheap. Not really a proud bragging right. ” I got this at a killer discount.” Insert sad face. You are investing in that artist. Every time you buy a piece of real art from an artist the value of that art and artist goes up. You can’t get that value from Ikea, Bed Bath and Beyond, or Target. There is zero value in purchasing “wall coverings” from these types of places. When you buy real art, original art, you are buying value and something that is one of a kind. Be original, buy original. Be proud you paid asking price, brag on that. Say no to free art.

Buy local. San Diego is a great art city. Start going to the many shows and open receptions. You will be amazed and pleased. If you don’t know much about art, you don’t need to. Go to a show, just look. What catches your eye? Why does it catch your eye? How does it speak to you? Art speaks, it doesn’t need to match your sofa, it needs to match you. A great place to start looking for shows is at ArtGuideSD.

I did not post any photos to this blog for fear they would be stolen.

Paul W. Koester is a San Diego based artist specializing in urban and landscape photography.

Check’s In The Mail

Like all artists I enjoy selling art. Of course I like getting paid for what I do. It’s the world we live in. Everything costs money. So when I sell a piece I am happy for two reasons. I am getting paid for what I love to do and I am making someone happy. This means that I spoke to someone through my art, it doesn’t get any better than that!

Recently I received an email from a lady in Ohio. She discovered her husband looking at my website. There are worse things you can discover your husband looking at online. So again I took that as a compliment. She wanted to know what inspired me and asked questions about a particular image that I created. I kindly and thoughtfully took the time to respond to all of her questions. We had a bit of back and forth dialogue over the last couple weeks.

Bad Check

Show Me The Money

A couple days ago I received this nice check FedEx’d to my studio. Sweet!! Right? Ummm not so fast. Let’s backup this a little bit. By the second email I knew immediately that this was a scam. I have had people try to run check scams on me in the past so I knew what was happening. I play along because I want these people busted. I loathe these people!! So in a nutshell what they do is butter you up. Try to gain your trust, ask about you, act all interested. Then comes the crazy story. I want this for my husband for our 10 year anniversary, I want it to be a surprise. He takes care of all the finances so I am having my assistant write a cashier’s check. I am moving to the Philippines, so I am having a shipping company handle all my affairs. It goes on and on. Sounds really legit actually. So here’s the part where they screw you over. The fine art print I was selling had the price tag of  $500. So that means the check is written over for the amount of $800. When I go to cash the check, the “extra money” minus my costs goes to the shipping company. When the check bounces, I am out the $800. The con artist then pockets the $800. I knew from the second email that this was the game that was being played. I contacted the credit union and verified that this was a scam. The check is counterfeit.

Most of these scams originate over seas. They are getting better at it now. Using addresses within the US. Their English is better, i.e. writing and spelling. They are using common names. So as a warning be careful. If you sense something is wrong, then something is wrong. If it is too good to be true, be careful.

As an artist I work very hard to put a quality product out there that will sell. I do this full time. This is my sole source of income. So it pisses me off being a target to a scam. It pisses me off that artists as a whole are targeted. We are targeted not just by scams but also to offer up our services for free. This happens all the time. Not just from family and friends, large companies as well.

The film industry and agencies make up all sorts of excuses and promises, “We have no budget, but we would like to place your art in several scenes.” Ummm, no budget? How is that possible. Does that mean you have no money, or so much money that you decided not to budget it? I don’t know. I just saw this today in an art community. Don’t fall for it!!! Exposure, possible future work! It never comes, it is a scam!

The point is artists need to be paid. If you like it, or love it, then pay for it! We work very very hard for very very little. Our prices are already dirt cheap. Nothing I create was free for me to create. My supplies, my rent, utilities, etc., and my time all cost me a lot of money. So how can I simply give anyone my work for free? No artist can.

Believe Tree and Believe Tree Enchanted

Believe Tree - Black's Beach Sunset

“Believe Tree” with motivational/inspirational words on Black’s Beach Sunset background

In December 2014 I came up with the idea of a tree with motivational and  inspirational words written on the branches. The original design was this powerful oak tree with a lake in the background and the words on the branches. The message was delivered by this amazing tree but the background was too busy, I wanted the tree to really stand out. To do this right I knew it was not going to be an easy task. I spent over 10 hours isolating the tree, its branches, and its leaves, creating a clean layer. The resulting image was well worth the tedious task.

The first believe tree I created was on the teal background. I loved how the silvery effect of the tree stood out in contrast against the metallic blue background. Initially I was concerned that the words would be too much. I wanted them to blend in and be part of the tree. Present but still subtle, yet strong enough to read. I wanted them to be part of the tree and flow with the branches.

From there it evolved. From the suggestions I received I made a few changes here and there. A friend suggested that I also make the tree available as a designer piece. I was way ahead of him and had already created those images, which I titled Believe Tree Enchanted. Believe Tree Enchanted is the tree alone with no words. I chose the word enchanted because the tree literally lured me in. It was captivating and beautiful and stood out from all of the other trees around me. Rick further suggested an idea that lead to my unique Paper Series. There are currently two choices in the Paper Series, brown and teal. At this point the brown paper is my favorite. I like the grungy earth tone textures I created for the background.

Another friend suggested sunsets, “Can I get one with a sunset background?” she asked. Hmmm yeah sunsets, why not? So I created the Sunset Series which are derived from San Diego sunset images I captured over the past couple years in. There are currently seven different sunset backgrounds to choose from in the Sunset Series.

There are nine original Believe Tree and Believe Tree Enchanted choices on various colors and black & white. These all look amazing when printed on metal with the silver gloss process. A metal print is the only way to go when displaying these trees.

This is one of those ideas that truly came out of no where. I was helping a friend and I realized there was a correlation. I saw a universal commonality in the ordeals that many of us are confronted with daily. The struggles we face. Many of which are derived from simply our own thoughts. The saying “I am my own worst enemy.” comes to mind. Many of the thoughts, concerns, and questions that we conjure up never cross the minds of other people when they view us or our work. As I wrote down the words that I felt were useful and helpful it began to take on the form of a tree. I then envisioned the words written across the branches of this tree. From there the idea of the Believe Tree was born.

The whole idea of confidence, success, not quitting, and improving stems directly from “believing in yourself”. Against all odds, believing in yourself. No matter what, believing in yourself. Though it may sound too simple. It really isn’t. Especially if you face challenges daily that seem to fight against you getting to that finish line.

Believe Tree Enchanted - Brown Paper

“Believe Tree Enchanted” as a designer piece on brown paper background

Life is intimidating. Taking on a new project is intimidating. Learning something new is intimidating. When I face intimidation I remind myself that I have been here before. Each time that  I faced intimidation in the past I forged ahead. I learned what I needed to learn and practiced what I needed to practice. Eventually without even realizing it, I had become good at what I was doing. So I take that with me to the next challenge. “I have been here before, everything previous to this was an intimidation at some point-in-time, but now it is not. Therefore this situation will be no different.” Again the root of this is believing in yourself. Knowing what you are capable of based on previous experiences. Even if those previous experiences were not incredibly challenging you still mastered them.

Another mindset that I keep in my arsenal is; if other people can do it, then so can I. Seeing other people accomplish something is evidence that it can be done. Or the knowledge that many people preceding you made it through. Running a marathon should be impossible, but obviously it is not. The same concept can be applied, if they can do it, then so can I. The key to this is to not overwhelm yourself with the big picture. The big picture is a goal. Accept the challenge one step at a time. What can I do right now? What can be accomplished today? Anything outside of that is out of your hands for the time being. Occupy your mind and thoughts with accomplishing the doable. Taking care of what can be done now will move you faster than you think. Soon you will see the big picture is not so big after all.

Believe Tree - Teal

“Believe Tree” with motivational/inspirational words on teal background

I have my days when I wonder if it is all worth it. Am I doing the right thing? Will I be successful? Who am I kidding? Am I a joke? I could go on and on. I am very hard on myself, many of us are. There are days I tell myself, “You should quit, you are wasting your time!!”, but what if I quit one minute before something awesome happens? We never know what awesomeness is lying just around the corner. Ready and waiting for us. There really is no such thing as an overnight success. It may seem as if someone becomes something amazing over night, but it is probably very unlikely. It almost appears that way sometimes but in reality it typically takes years. Trust me, I wish there was an easier way, a faster route. There is a lot of sacrifice, there are a lot of doors slammed, there are a lot a people laughing in your face, there are a lot of doubters, haters, and those who want you to fail. If you truly believe in yourself none of that will matter. Truly believing in yourself gives you the knowledge that all of that is nothing but lies. The truth is inside of you! If someone says “You can’t do that!” you don’t need to say anything. You instead show them that it can be done. Do it for yourself though, not for them. Don’t do it to prove them wrong. Only do it because it is your passion!  Prepare yourself mentally that the road ahead is going to be full of challenges. I have been fueled countless times by people telling me it cannot be done. Guess what? it can be done! It all begins with believing in yourself and pressing on and overcoming. When you do this those people around you will have no choice but to believe in you too whether they want to or not.

Believe Tree and Believe Tree Enchanted are available for viewing and purchasing on my website at Paul W. Koester Photography and at my Etsy shop Paul Koester Photo. Prints purchased from my website are printed at Bay Photo Labs and are high quality however I have no direct input in the production and they are shipped directly to you from the lab. Prints purchased from my Etsy shop are printed by the printers that I have specifically chosen and I have direct control over the production of these images. If you are located in the San Diego area I can deliver and sign the image if you purchase the image through my Etsy shop or by contacting me directly. If you have any questions feel free to contact me.

 

Confidence

What is confidence? How do you obtain it? Better yet, how do you teach it? Good questions. All with varying or even elusive answers. We all struggle with it at times. Some more than others and seemingly there are those who have obtained all the confidence in the world.

As an artist I often struggle with confidence. Not so much in my abilities, more in my confidence in surviving in the vast wprld of artists. I am but a speck in a huge sea of talent and creativity. How do I shine? How do I stand out? How do I get noticed? Yet at the same time I do what I can to not dwell on that much. It is a waste of time for my thoughts and energy to waste away on that which really is not realistic. If we all thought, “Well, there are an awful lot of artists out there, I don’t see myself succeeding. So I am not going to be an artist.” That then is an admission of defeat from the beginning.

Opportunity

“Opportunity” By Natasha Myrick

I believe in persistence. I have been persistent for several years. Putting my work out there. Growing, bettering myself, posting, blogging, etc. I could have easily given up based on feedback or the lack thereof on my Facebook posts, Google + posts, etc. If I were to compare myself to others, then I should quit. I should throw in the towel based on the numbers.

Don’t look at the numbers, don’t look at the stats! They mean nothing! What matters? If you are posting something, your art, a photograph, your passions, then that means you believe in that. You enjoy, love, what you do and you post it. What matters is that you feel it is important. It mattered when you shared it with the world and it still matters! What matters to you is truly all that matters, do not forget that!

Had I given up, I would not have my work hanging at the amazing Incredible Artist Gallery  in Cathedral City, CA. Had I given up, I would not have met many amazing artists who today I call friends! Had I given up, I would not be writing this blog and you wouldn’t be reading it.

Had I given up, I would not have had the opportunity to mentor 14 year old Natasha Myrick. Due to my ties with the Incredible Artist Gallery, I was given an awesome experience to meet the Myrick family at the beautiful Colony 29 in Palm Springs, California. The Myricks were brought out here to California to give their 5 year old son Liam the experience of a lifetime. Liam was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma when he was only 3 years old. Needless to say the lives of the Myricks has been hectic, many ups and downs. Their time here in California was meant to create an up that would be part of their memories forever. For me it was a wonderful experience getting to meet all of them! Playing with Liam and his 8 year old sister Natalie. Watching them paint, play, swim, and simply enjoy life without worrying about anything for a few short days.

Look What I Did!

“A Proud Moment” Natasha proudly stands before her works at the Gallery 446 in Palm Springs, California. Image created by Paul W. Koester

A good portion of Liam, Natalie, and Natasha’s stay in Palm Springs was spent preparing for their very own art show at Gallery 446 in Palm Springs, California. Natalie and Liam created paintings to sell at the gallery to raise money for Liam’s medical expenses.

Natasha is the oldest of the Myrick siblings. She has not had it easy. With Liam’s numerous hospital visits, being the oldest means having the most responsibilities. She doesn’t live the typical life of a teenager, yet she doesn’t complain. She understands and loves her little brother. Yet through all of that there is a creative side to Natasha that strives to be revealed, it has been suppressed. I discovered that talent as I mentored Natasha and helped guide her in creating some pretty amazing photos.

The Light

“The Light” image created by Natasha Myrick

Grandma's Promise

“Grandma’s Promise” Image created by Natasha Myrick

Natasha's Reflection

“Natasha’s Reflection” Taken while on a photo walk in Palm Springs, California. Image created by Paul W. Koester

Here is where this whole thing comes full circle. How do you teach confidence? The moment Natasha and I picked up our cameras, Natasha began saying to me, “I can’t do this.” “I am not good enough.” Lots of negativity was sensed. It was strong enough that I thought to myself, “I am not going to be able to teach her.” How do you teach something to someone who is this critical of themselves? I knew some of her intimidation was derived from me. So instead of addressing her insecurities I had her shoot away. I lead by example and just started taking pictures of the surrounding area.  She asked questions and I answered. My words were simple to her, “just have fun”. In my opinion that is lesson number one with photography have fun, then learn, always have fun. Setting her mind at ease was important to me. Being overly critical of our inadequacies does very little to help improve ourselves. Recognizing them, yes, that is important, but then move on and work on improving. How do you improve? Well that is simple too. Look back at those things that intimidated you. Are they as intimidating now as they were back when you were first introduced to them? Did you improve? Chances are good you did. Due to that knowledge, now know that you can do that again, and again, and again.

Soon I saw a change in Natasha. I saw her relax. She began to enjoy being behind the camera. I watched her get lost in the moment. That’s the golden moment, getting lost, that is when you truly create. As you can see she created some amazing images that she has every right to be proud of. Together we edited the images and Natasha gave them titles that she felt from her heart. While Natasha was out getting ready for the gallery showing I went and had them printed and framed. The next time she saw her images, they were prominently hanging on the walls of Gallery 446. What a proud moment! I was proud of her as was everyone else, simply amazing!

Natasha's Creations

“Natasha’s Creations” Beautiful images created by Natasha Myrick hanging on the walls of the Gallery 446 in Palm Springs, California. Image created by Paul W. Koester

Paul and Natasha

Paul and Natasha at the Gallery 446 in Palm Springs, California. Image created by Rick Pantele

Believe Tree

“Believe Tree” an amazing and beautiful tree with words of encouragement, inspiration, and motivation written on it’s branches. Image and design created by Paul W. Koester

Believing in yourself is the key to confidence. It starts with us. If we don’t believe then how can others? Never underestimate yourself or doubt yourself! We all go through it and we all need to be reminded of our self worth. Chances are good others will not remind us of our self worth, we have to do it for ourselves. When others are down on themselves I do what I can to encourage them and remind them of how talented they are and how important they are. As an artist I know what it is like to be down and have those dark moments when things just seem like they are not coming together the way I would like. The doubts creep in, we all need reminders that we are better than that! We all need from time to time reminders that we need to BELIEVE IN OURSELVES!! The Believe Tree is a beautiful and amazing tree with words of encouragement, inspiration, and motivation written on its branches. It serves as a visual reminder that we can get through and overcome any challenge. Quite often that biggest challenge is convincing ourselves that we are good enough.

Beautiful Blue-Green Dragonfly

 

Imagine Dragons

A beautiful blue-green dragonfly sits perched sunning itself on a reed.

Every now and again it seems like when I post something  I begin to notice similar images showing up all over the place. It’s sort of like when you buy that new car, you think it is unique. Then when you drive it off the lot you begin to see it everywhere!! When I posted an image of some dragonflies I captured recently and posted it up on social media, I have since noticed that dragonfly season is in full effect 🙂 

Little Grad Picnic

The UCSD NICU Little Grad Picnic in San Diego, California.



I recently had the honor and privilege  to take part in the annual charity event for the UCSD Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Little Grad Picnic. Where they celebrate the life of those who overcame the odds and obstacles of premature birth. Also honored were the nurses, doctors, and of course the parents. A signed 30″ x 20″ version of my image Imagine Dragons on metal was raffled off along with other donated items from various individuals or organizations. Hopefully the winner is very happy with their prize!!! 

Raffle_Image_SMThere were several people who I got to talk to that were very excited about this image. In particular one wonderful lady by the name of Angela Amoroso who wrote a book about her prematurely-born baby girl Isabella and their loss of her due to SIDS. She told me there are two symbols that are deeply important to her. One is the giraffe which represents Isabella. The other is the dragonfly, in particular this blue-green dragonfly seen in the image, which represents her dad. 

In her book Surrounded By Angels she dedicated an emotionally moving chapter to her dad titled Dragonfly Send Me Your Love. When her dad was determined to be terminal, she and her dad visited a church. The story in the sermon was about water-bugs and the metamorphosis that takes place. These particular water-bugs became a “beautiful blue green dragonfly“. After her father passed, part of her mourning and healing process was to visit an ashram in upstate New York where she describes a certain walk she went on.

Twins

Adorable “little grad” twins at the UCSD NICU Little Grad Picnic in San Diego, California.

 

Before long we were on a trail that brought us into a lush East Coast forest. The canopy was so green. Suddenly, I heard the sound of running water. I began to run, expecting to find a bubbling brook. I found the brook and a small walking bridge that crossed it. The bridge was brand new, made completely of raw wood. There was no finish on it at all. It felt as though a carpenter had just completed it in time for us to cross it and might be watching us from behind a tree to see if we liked it. I ran to the center of the bridge and to my surprise, I looked down and there were hundreds of beautiful delicate blue-green dragonflies hovering frantically over the water. Just like in the story, the water bug, now turned blue-green dragonfly, wanted so much to go back and tell his friends and family what had happened to him. The story jumped off the page and came to life for me, and so did my dad.” 

 

March Of Dimes

A girl wears a tee shirt supporting the March Of Dimes at the Little Grad Picnic.

I feel it is important we make connections in our life. Not just with people, but also ideas, emotions, and purpose. It took a lot of patience on my part to create this image. I created it to be unique, special, and meaningful for the event. To not only touch the child(ren) of the home that it eventually went to but to also be aesthetically pleasing to the adults. It never dawned on me that it would or could touch someone so deeply and have such incredible meaning. The title that I chose for this image was originally focused in on the mind of a child. How a child can imagine anything and it is truth to that child without a shadow of a doubt. Today the meaning of the image goes further and deeper. Now it means to me that in addition to what I imagine there is also this whole other level.  When other people see it, now they are adding their imagination to it as well. Had Angela not made her personal connection that the beautiful blue-green dragonfly was a representation of  her dad. In turn I would not have made the connection that there is an outside influence, an aura sort-of-speak of imagination outside my own. I wanted to make a great image to help a great charity. In doing that it became a story, a connection, and a life long lesson.

I also want to send out a BIG thanks to those who helped me chose this image for the raffle. From the beginning I felt this was the one and the votes from my family and friends helped confirm that. Thank you!!! 

A Novel Idea – Part II

Werewolf

An Animated and automated werewolf sculpture I designed and fabricated.

(Continued from Part I) I started out in A Novel Idea Part I telling part of my story about where I came from. Now I will share with you where I am going.

My novel idea is unique. It should be scary. Few would do it, let alone consider it. For many, their next move is finding that next company to to work for. To me that is equally scary! I on the other hand have had it in my mind for several years to start my own business.  Actually I have been a part time small business owner for a couple years. I have been laid off before and I have run my own business in the past. I know what it like to be my own boss. It is very hard work, but it is also extremely rewarding. I know what I am capable of and I know my limitations.  So over the last several years I have been working hard to brand myself.  I think it has paid off. If you Google me, there I am, right on top of the searches. I have primarily branded myself as a photographer. However I am also a painter, illustrator, and sculptor, and etc. I do wear a lot of hats. I like being versatile. Though the world seems to have a hard time grasping a person with so many hats. Therefore for the moment I am Paul W. Koester the photographer. I do love photography. I always have since I was a young boy and I would expect that I always will. No matter what, it ties in with everything I do.  For me photography is ever evolving. It has taken me to new levels and has helped me conquer many of my fears. Through photography I have met some amazing people and have been part of some amazing events!

Koester Productions is my official business name, it encompasses all the various aspects of what I am capable of offering. Not just Paul W. Koester Photography, but also Paul W. Koester the engineer.  I have also tied Artist Perspective to my name and website. Some feel that I get buried in that name. I totally see their view and at times I feel that I should have done that differently. I guess I wanted something that spoke to me about me being an artist and my perspective on the world.

Caged

The setting sun under the Ocean Beach Pier.

Ultimately my end goal is to create for Hollywood or private entities. To provide them with one of a kind sculptures or props. Due to my background in sculpture, metal work, carpentry, welding, electronics, instrumentation, and programming. I get to combine all of those skill sets with my creations to make them not only one-of-a-kind but also animated and automated. To create and challenge my mind this way is the ultimate fun!!  I would do these things for free, this is my passion. However we live in a world where we must make money to survive and very little is free. My supplies are not free, it can be very expensive being a creative person, but I don’t dwell on that very much.

I feel pretty fortunate to be where I am right now. I know that might come across as sounding a little weird coming from a guy who was recently laid off. What I mean by that though is a lot of really good things have come my way in the last year or so. One very significant event occurred early in 2013. I was discovered by Rick Pantele via my facebook page who ran the Incredible Artist art gallery in Cathedral City, California. He was very interested in a few of my images. We ended up creating a huge 9′ x 4′ diptych of  All The Right Reasons (see photo on right) which is hanging predominantly in Pasadena, California at the Kaiser Permanente corporate office inside their main lunch/conference room. After that job was complete, we created a few more images for the gallery. I sold several pieces through the gallery and via online sales. Rick knows my situation well and as I write this we are working together on several very exciting business opportunities.

Kaiser

All The Right Reasons hanging in the Kaiser Permanente office in Pasadena, California.

Earlier this year I met Matthew Shuey on Google+ and was introduced to the new business he and Theresa Puerto were starting involving stock photography. I had been very interested in doing stock photography and was looking for an entry point. I enjoy dealing with start-up companies. I like being on the ground floor of a company and growing as the company grows.  Matthew and Theresa started Gen StockPhoto as a result of seeing a need in their web design business. They discovered that there is a huge deficit for quality stock images. Then they also took notice to the fact that many stock image agencies do not respect their contributors, primarily the photographers who work very hard and often spend a lot of money in order to create the image. Gen StockPhoto pays out a whopping unheard of 70% of the license fee, additionally they give 100% of the fee for commissioned assignments to the photographer. I am pleased and excited to be a part of this business, which I believe is going to be a very fun adventure! It is already growing quickly and is already home to many talented photographers.

There are many things that I am working on at this time. All of which will evolve and develop and become something very fun and cool. Many of you are looking out for me and sharing ideas and send me links or contacts. Keep them coming!! I am very grateful for all that you do and appreciate the fact you care and want me to succeed!!

As you create your very own personal novel idea. It starts with believing in yourself. You must believe when no one else will. Then just do, don’t look back, continue pushing forward, just create, express yourself, and do not be afraid!

2014 Comic-Con International

Red

One of the many witches representing the Lifetime television series the Witches of East End.

For the past two year’s I have gone to downtown San Diego, California to the Gaslamp Quarter and convention center area to photograph the events happening outside the convention center. Though the inside is packedfull of fun and excitement. It is the outside, the people, the fans, the cosplay that make it all truly exciting!!! Without the fans there is no Comic-Con. The fans go all out, limited budgets, pure talent and creativity with no bigmoney backing them up. Don’t get me wrong I love the hype, the celebrities, the fame, and the insanity that Hollywood brings to the table!! However as an artist I know what it takes to bring something to fruition on myown. It’s part of the joy of it all. Being able to say I did this, and then showing it off. Then when the nods of approval come along, the blood, sweat, and the frazzled nerves make it all worth while. Most can probably relate to this. The hours, the tears, the frustration, the doubt all seem to be non-existent when the product rolls out and there are the applauds. Maybe not literal audible applauds but you know what I mean. It makes it all worth it!!

Burnt

A man’s face is burnt to a crisp at Comic-Con in San Diego, California.

The camera allows me to do things I otherwise would not be able to do. I love it!! When I ask if I can take someone’s picture, instantaneously almost 99% of the time the person is more than willing. They love being photographed. Typically I don’t even need to ask, I just raise my camera and here come the smiles and the poses. The fans, the cosplayers make that part easy.

It is still a lot of work, walking around, looking, waiting for that right thing to come along. Then there is the editing portion. The editing portion is the most tedious, but at the same time the most rewarding part of the process. Though I shoot digital and I have the luxury of looking at every shot the moment I take it. I don’t. I wait until post-processing. It’s that part of film processing that I have hung onto. Waiting to open that envelope, hoping the images turned out!! Many hours are spent processing. Some images are quick others can take an hour or more. I took 650 images at Comic-Con and out of those I have shared 150 publicly. An average of 4 minutes was spent on each image. That is about 10 hours!! It gets tedious sometimes. However the end result is always worth it.

Darth

Darth Vader takes time out of his busy day to visit San Diego.

To watch a video containing the images from the event click here 2014 Comic-Con International video.  To view the images in an album format click here 2o14 Comic-Con International photo album

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A Novel Idea – Part I

Life is a novel that is written as we go. We add to the pages each and everyday. Over time, eventually, gradually, it becomes the story of us, who we are, what we’ve done, and what we are yet to do.  We are a piece of history, each of us contribute to the legacy. In a sense a new novel is redundant to say, being that the word novel actually means new. For me as of right now it is applicable being that I am now writing a new novel. I am entering into something that is quite new, a new beginning, a new start. Unlike adding a new chapter to an old book. I am starting a new book with a new title, a novel idea.

PLC Panel

An Instrumentation Panel that I designed and fabricated. In a sense, my art.

My last day at a company I worked at for over 10.5 years came on June 30, 2014. I walked in, was escorted by security, signed a paper, said a couple goodbyes, and that was about it. For me saying goodbye wasn’t the part that mattered to me. The events that occurred from the day I was hired up to my last day are what truly mattered. The people I met and the things I learned along the way are what are valuable to me. Many will be my friends for life, we were a family. We worked together, we set goals together, we struggled, we conquered, and we lost together. We shared our lives with each other. In the end, the company we worked hard to build was sold. All the things we did together to create a business that had meaning and purpose was taken from us and given to someone else who knew nothing about what we did to make it what it was. Sure they read the newspaper articles and had all the documentation, but they did not feel what we felt. At the end of the day, that is what matters. What do you feel? Is it purposeful, does it have meaning? Are you making a difference? Are you happy? The last couple of years the answer to each of those questions was a resounding no!

The Passage

The passageways of my former life.

In the last quarter of 2008 we went through a very large reduction in force. My good friend and boss Dan Cooper was also let go during this lay off. It was a very disappointing and difficult day for many of us. We were reminded how vulnerable we were and how quickly life can change. This became a pivotal moment in time.  After Dan left I had to work for people at the company who really did not know me, they did not know where I came from, they did not watch me grow the way Dan did. Dan and I started our relationship in 1990. We met during Navy Electronics school in Orlando, Florida. So we have a pretty solid history of working together that is very unique and personal. My new bosses did not even know me, at all. They did not know my capabilities. Likewise with my fellow co-workers, who found themselves in a similar situation. The people that hired us were gone. The slate was wiped clean. Our new bosses did not know us, they were forced to take us on, and to no real fault of their own did not have the same appreciation for us as those who hired us. Sure they asked us questions and walked around and looked at what we did, but they knew nothing about us. Our value diminished day-by-day. Within a couple years we learned quickly that we were being prepped for a take-over by a much larger international corporation. Morale was at a all time low and our day-to-day activities were few due to the many changes. Very few projects were taken on. My work in particular revolved around projects, expansion, and growth. As an Instrumentation & Controls Engineer for the company I got to do some really cool stuff! Much of what I did, few understood or cared to understand, they just knew I did it. They let me do what I needed to do as I saw fit as it applied to the needs of the company. Again it was largely in part due to my original boss knowing me and knowing my capabilities. He trusted me and that trust built confidence.  I took on responsibilities that were typically sent to outside vendors and contracted out. I saw a need and I saw that it could be done better. Whenever and wherever possible I applied my creativity to my job, in that environment it was my art. It kept my mind and my hands busy. When all of that began to change, it became very difficult to get up in the morning and go into work. It was torture being there.

Fortunately over the last year or so I was given certain liberties to work on my next career move. Being that my next career move was much different than other’s this meant spending considerable time on social media, networking and branding myself. So what exactly is my next career move? Here is where one book ends and my novel idea begins. (to be continued in Part II)

 

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