Next House Concerts…

It’s such a privilege to be able to host talented musicians and beautiful neighbors for an intimate night of music in my own living room. I’m excited to share the next two house concert dates with you… Two great sets scheduled for April 25 and June 13! (more…)

February House Concert

The cold winter days are a great time to gather together with friends and neighbors to share in an evening of music… I’ll be hosting another one of my house concerts on Friday Feb 21, and you’d be most welcome.

This lineup will feature West Philly’s own Honey Watts, as well as Little Silver and Mesiko, both down from New York.

  • RSVP via Eventbrite
  • Share via Facebook invite
  • Sign up for updates on future house concerts.

And, for fun, here’s a beautiful flyer design made by a friend of Liz’s:

 

New year’s swirls… and Fun-a-Day!

I’ve long been fascinated by movement – sometimes I’ve tried to capture the energy of social movements in my images, and sometimes it’s been the movement of dancers that’s caught my eye.

Dance is of course a fantastic subject to explore movement with… I just finished sifting through hundreds of frames from ThirdBird‘s shows last week, Wednesday was a rehearsal with Group Motion (catch them this weekend at The Arts Bank), next week I’ll be photographing Gabrielle Revlock‘s Confetti at the Annenberg Center [get tickets here]. – And then there’s more from Thirdbird…

[There's always plenty of great dance happening in Philly, only a fraction of which is listed here.]

photo by Jacques-Jean Tiziou / www.jjtiziou.net

But these aren’t dance pictures.

Or at least, a very different kind of dance. One that maybe has more in common with my images of moving trees than with the majority of the images that you’ll find on this site.

photo by Jacques-Jean Tiziou / www.jjtiziou.net

What is this all about?

[quick hint: this post is a plug for my Fun-a-Day project. Come check out the exhibit at Studio 34 on Feb 7 & 8]

Earlier this summer, I did something crazy:

On August 21, 2014, after having made my living as a photographer for an entire decade, I decided to turn my phone and computer off, and spend an entire day uninterrupted in the studio, making images just for myself. The beginning of this series is what came of it.

Swirl

Spending time in the studio is a pretty ordinary (and important) practice for most visual artists… but my practice of photography has blurred edges between art and service and community activism and commerce. I’ve spent a lot of time chasing after all those beautiful photogenic people, which has left little time for just making art for art’s sake.

It was really refreshing to switch gears and venture into a more solitary practice creating more abstract images. But that was just a single day, and then I had to get back to the rest of life and business…

 

So when it came time for this year’s Fun-a-Day, I decided that I’d finally participate, pledging to put a little time into this series every day for the month of January. For me, this is part of ongoing attention to bringing more balance to my life: a bit of slow intentional time of exploration in solitude to balance out the often fast and hyper social world that I often exist in. But it’s also just a bit of visual play, for fun. Hence ‘Fun-a-Day’.

People do all sorts of crazy projects for Fun-a-Day… one of my favorites was the SEPTA haiku, and my friend Hannah’s “minor-crime-a-day” was pretty brilliant too.

I’ll have 31 images from the series (one-a-day for the whole month) exhibited at Studio 34 alongside my beautiful neighbor’s Fun-a-Day projects. The Fun-a-Day show is one of the neighborhood’s most lovely events of the year, and you’d be most welcome to join us there.

Mark your calendar:

Fri & Sat, Feb 7 & 8
7-11pm
4522 Baltimore Ave
Fun-a-Day exhibit

PS a suggestion:

Maybe put an entry in your calendar for December of next year to start planning your 2015 Fun-a-Day project. And then create a repeating event for every day of January to remind you. Or forget about the arbitrary January thing… while it’s great to see these projects in community, you can also start your own project right now. Today.

 

This post, and the rest of my community-oriented photography, are supported in part by JJ Tiziou Photography’s monthly sustainers. If you’d like to see me continue to create more non-commercial work, please consider joining us.

 

Lessons from a “failed” Kickstarter

Happy autumn!

It’s been over a month since the funding campaign for my Everyone Is Photogenic project failed to reach it’s goal.

While it  certainly could be disappointing to see over $38,000 pledged to support my work disappear, the campaign was successful in a few other ways, and was very informative. Below are a few reflections on the campaign, lessons that I learned, and what might come next.

Accomplishments:

While the project wasn’t funded, just the process of advocating for it led to some positive results:

  • Bringing this conversation into a larger sphere, with great press coverage.
  • Impacting individual lives, as evidenced by some of the powerful personal responses.
  • Finding a potential audience for my work, with over 800 people willing to support it.
  • Having a few of the backers  join as sustainers so as to keep supporting my work.
  • Learning the limits of my fundraising capacity. That’s important info.

Altruism & Gratitude:

I was surprised to find that a significant number of the project backers came from outside of Philly. That’s people who wouldn’t have a chance to be photographed essentially offering to gift portraits to people that they don’t even know. I don’t think they were in it for the material rewards that I was offering, but rather simply for the sake of advancing this positive, celebratory vision. And I think that that’s pretty awesome.

I was particularly grateful to organizations like Art Sanctuary and Team Sunshine Performance Corp. who actively promoted the project to their own mailing lists, despite the fact that it might compete with their own fundraising efforts. It’s easy to fall into a scarcity mentality when working in the underfunded nonprofit world, and it was great to see them instead promoting a vision of abundance. I was also grateful to blogs like Philebrity and Technically Philly who plugged the project despite knowing that it had a slim chance of success.

Most of all, I’m grateful to all of the backers who not only made pledges, but were so great about sharing the powerful message that everyone is photogenic, and all of the rest of you who’ve been part of bringing beauty into my life in so many ways.

Challenges & Questions:

  • Seeing all of those potential supporters disperse, with no easy way to build on the strength that they’d brought together.
  • Feeling like I’m adding to the noise in everyone’s lives with every fundraising appeal, when our inboxes are already cluttered enough.
  • Would the project have had a better chance if I hadn’t deleted my personal Facebook profile? Or if Gmail wasn’t filtering my emails into a ‘promotions’ folder?
  • The challenge of the project being perceived as “too big” or “too ambitious” – should I stick to smaller projects, or work more specifically with partner organizations instead of trying to do it all myself?
  • The amount of energy needed for this type of outreach. Is it worth it? Crowdfunding can be powerful, but is it practical?

There are a lot of things that I could do with $38,735, but not this project.

That’s specifically why I chose Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing approach for funding, because to try to do too ambitious a project without the resources would have resulted in shoddy execution and potential disappointment both to backers and subjects of the project. Better not to do it at all than to do it halfway.

That said, everyone is still photogenic. You don’t need me to photograph them in order to know that.

Just take a look around, and if you ever need to remind anyone, you can still direct them to the little ‘manifesto’ at EveryoneIsPhotogenic.com

One step closer to a dream come true…

This isn’t the first time that I’ve seen money that might have funded my work fail to materialize. There are fellowships, public art commissions and commercial gigs that I haven’t gotten. That’s to be expected.

What’s a little bit harder is seeing all of the backers disperse. There was something pretty amazing about feeling so many people willing to support me in this work. Their combined support would have been enough to support another incarnation of How Philly Moves or other similar community project.

In my last project update on Kickstarter, I went into some of the challenges that come from the fact that I try to work with photography both as a service for my livelihood, and as a gift in public art and community activism contexts. Those two ways of working aren’t really complimentary; they’re more or less diametrically opposed.

I invited the project backers to consider joining me in continuing this work by joining as sustainers with small monthly contributions via my fiscal sponsor. 17 new sustainers took up that call, and a handful of other generous folk made one time donations. It’s still just a small dent in what it would take to make my dream of a community supported model come true, but more than doubled my sustainer pool (from 11 to 28.)

Just imagine: if all 870 signed up as sustainers, that might actually be enough to cover business overhead and pay me a salary to simply make images on my community’s behalf. It would be a whole new way of working, the one that I’ve dreamed of from the beginning. How amazing would that be?  If you haven’t yet, please consider joining them. As we’ve seen through these campaigns, there’s strength in numbers, so even a small regular pledge could be powerful.

What’s next?

There may be a possibility of doing an even better version of this project, and I’m in the middle of a conversation with a potential partner about pitching it to the Kimmel Center for PIFA 2015. If you think this might be exciting, please let the folks at Kimmel know!

In the meanwhile, the philosophy that everyone is photogenic will of course continue to inform every facet of my work and life. And having this project fail to materialize right now might be a blessing in disguise, as it’s freed up some time for me to dedicate to a more personal project working with my father. Find out more about that here.

One of the things that I’m always trying to balance is how much energy to dedicate to the different roles that I play with my work: Should I focus on growing my client base for commercial photography, seeking out more corporate work, nonprofit communications, weddings, etc? Put all of my energy into community activism? Continue public art projects like How Philly Moves, and look for more large scale commissions? Delve deeper into a fine art practice and explore gallery & exhibition opportunities, residencies and the like?

Next week, I’ll be gathering a small group of advisors for a brainstorming session to explore some of those questions, as it’s helpful to have people to bounce those ideas off of as I figure out what’s next. I’d value your input as well, so if you have any comments, feedback or suggestions for the next decade of JJ Tiziou Photography, you can get in touch via the contact form, or find JJ Tiziou Photography on Facebook or @jjtiziou on Twitter.

 

Thanks for being along for the ride. Take a moment to appreciate the beautiful trees as they dance by. Stop by the studio for a holiday party on Dec 13. And if you’re not already, subscribe for updates below and make sure they’re not getting filtered out by gmail – I’ll have more for you in the new year!

peace,
-jj

My father’s collections…

Jacques Tiziou, circa 1975,  by Jean-Pierre Martin

Jacques Tiziou, circa 1975, by Jean-Pierre Martin

Long before I was a photographer, my father was one.

He specialized in the aerospace industry, and chronicled a large part of mankind’s quest to explore space.

Over the course of his career, he’s amassed an impressive archive of both historical documents and collectible memorabilia from the space program.

Now, as he transitions into retirement, we’re looking for new homes for some of these archives and mementos. Some of his collections belong in a university or museum archive, while others might be of interest to other collectors and NASA fans.

Jacques Tiziou in his archive room in Washington DC, 2013

Jacques Tiziou in his archive room in Washington DC, 2013

I’ve set up a little blog at TiziouSpaceHistory.com where you can meet my dad, learn a bit about his collections, and sign up for updates as we start to make some of the mementos available on eBay etc.

I know that there’s a historian out there somewhere who’d be fascinated by some of his archives, and other aerospace geeks who’d love to get their hands on items in his collections; please help me share this site and get it out to folks who might be interested in it.

Thank you!
-jj

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