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What’s your background?
This is kind of a tough question to answer. I have always loved art in all of it’s mediums, I used to look through art books all the time, mostly art from the Dutch masters. More than anything else it was the fact that their lighting was perfect.
When my wife and I first got married she bought me my first camera for my birthday, I remember at about that same time a little Fox one hour photo lab opened in the next town over. I would take my film there to have it processed, as I looked at the progress I was making with my photos and thought I was getting better; the color was richer and the exposure was spot on–then it occurred to me that they were learning to print!
Also at that time there was a guy in the neighborhood that did weddings and portraits on the side from his day job, so I would ask him questions. He started to hire me to do family portraits and weddings when he was double booked, and that spun off on a portrait/wedding business for me when I wasn’t doing my day job which was auto mechanics.
Does your artwork come from that background?
I would say it has to, even though I don’t do portraits or weddings any longer I believe the things I learned doing weddings and portraits, such as lighting, and composition are reflected in the landscapes I do now.
What are you trying to say with your work?
Another hard question to answer, I never really thought about making a statement–I love nature and the outdoors. I love capturing those things and sharing what I see with others. I guess what I am saying is isn’t Mother nature beautiful in all of her manifestations, from the warm relaxing days of summer to the depths of winter, from the dessert to the mountains, and fortunately for me Utah has all of that and more.
What made you choose the medium you work with?
As I mentioned earlier my wife gave me my first camera and I guess that is what I learned to use. I don’t really have the patience to paint, though I would love to be able to, to create something the way I think it should be, however the vast assortment of programs that are available to photographers now make it possible to manipulate the light and objects so much that you can create your vision with photography.
You see people who are masters of programs like PhotoShop, and Light room, the things they do are amazing, adding light, changing objects, creating eye popping images, just amazing!
Do you work in a studio?
I used to have a small studio, like many others I converted my garage into a studio for portraits and small family sittings. When I was just beginning, due to my background as an Auto Mechanic, we built many of the tools and accessories we needed for the studio. For example, we fabricated posing tables and my camera stand. The camera stand was made out of a pipe filled with sand to keep it quiet when I raised and lowered the camera, we used a huge truck tire split rim as a base. Some people would chuckle at it but that camera was rock solid!!
Now the studio is a garage again, and my wife and cars are happy. Sometimes I do miss doing portraits but I don’t miss everything else that went along with it.
What is the one thing in your studio before it became a garage again you just could not be without?
Thinking back on that studio there were so many things, camera obviously but everything was necessary to make the portrait, the lights, that camera stand, posing helpers. I would have to say above all of that, the one thing that I could not be without, then and now, is the skill I learned in that studio; that is the thing that makes it all happen.
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Who are your biggest influences?
There are so many it’s hard to pin one or two down, and like everything it’s a progression. There is always someone to replace the last, you admire work, you strive to reach that level then along comes someone else and on and on it goes. For me it all goes back to the Dutch masters, and they were masters–lighting, posing, composition, and it didn’t matter what the subject matter was, they made you want to look at it, study it, and become part of it, just perfect.
What is your favourite piece of work by yourself?
You mean today? I have so many “favorites” but I would have to say the one that withstands the test of time for me would be “Timp First Light”, that photo was not what I was looking for that morning.
There is a very large mountain that towers over this little valley called Timpanogos, the short version of the legend about that mountain says there was an Indian brave who went looking for his love who had went into the mountains for whatever reason, his name was Timp and her name was Ogos. They both died up there and that is why the mountain is called Timpanogos. In reality it is an Indian word that means River of Rock.
I had gotten up early that morning so I could be up in the mountains for sunrise. I was hoping for beautiful white clouds, I could see the sunlight streaking through the early autumn leaves highlighting the yellows and reds. Yeah, that’s not what happened, no clouds, no reds, very few yellows, but as I stood there in the cold and watched the sky turn from the gray of early dawn to blue, pink, and a light salmon color it was amazing!!
How much time (on average) does it take to complete a work?
That is hard to answer, if everything is just right when I take the photograph I just have to do minor RAW file conversion, maybe crop it some, and dust spot and it’s ready. Others, like a series I just worked on–images of a little stream high up in the Wasatch mountains of Utah, the light was flat, but the stream was perfect–I had to do a lot of editing to get what I was looking for, kind of starting with a bare canvas and then creating a finished image. Some of those took hours to get them the way I wanted.
How do you know something is ‘finished’? Is it easy to walk away?
This is a little easier, when I reach a point that anything I do to an image detracts from what I want, that is when I know I am finished. Sometimes I will let it sit for a couple of days, maybe a week, then come back to it–if it still “feels” right then I know I am done.
Yes, once I figure it’s finished it is easy to walk away from that image.
What project are you working on now?
Getting ready for the Duck hunt! 😀 I just finished the last of my recent photographs, it’s autumn here now, and with the dry summer we had the leaves are not that great. Many of the trees started dropping leaves before they turned, and now we have been getting a lot of rain…now that summer is over, which helps those trees drop their leaves, so not much to photograph right now.
What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Not necessarily as an artist but life in general: “Life’s hard, it’s harder if you’re stupid” and “The sun don’t shine on the same dog’s butt all the time”
What was the first piece of art you sold?
It was about 30 years ago, the photograph was of some red rock north of where I live. There were hoodoos, with little “hats” on them, and then yellow grass in the foreground. I used a polarizing filter to turn the sky dark blue! Sadly I was not prepared back then and I no longer have that negative, and those hoodoos are now eroded away.
My father and I invented the Mair Dutch oven lifter if you cook Dutch oven you’ll know what that is, my wife calls me McGyver because I have an uncanny ability to get us home when things don’t go as planned, and I love being in the great outdoors even though I don’t make it there as often as I’d like.
Do you find it hard to navigate the artworld?
Yes I do find it hard. Trying to fit my vision to what I think might be saleable, trying to figure out Social media (which by the way I think is impossible) and just trying to connect with the right people.
Music chosen by TL
It seems like just when you start getting things rolling it just shuts down, I have no idea how or why, so no idea of how to fix it. I know I like to share peoples work on social media, to help them out a little, but it seems like those that are willing, or that recognize what you are doing and will share my work are few and far between…that’s me venting!
What are you personally doing to advance your work career?
I have another business which involves shipping products, when I ship I put a business card for that business, one for my photography business, and a post card with examples of my photography in the box so every person who receives a package also receives information on the photography business. I also post so social media, not only new images but also images I have recently sold, thanking the buyer.
Here in Midway, Utah we have a festival called “Midway Swiss days”. I tried a booth there for about 3 years, I handed out a ton of business cards and sold a few items, but the cost was prohibitive, about a $1000.00 just for booth space That doesn’t include product to sell. At that point the financial investment was not meeting the rate of return.
How do you price your work and why do you price it that way?
I look at what others are charging, toss out the ridiculously high and low ones, then try to be somewhere in the middle. I see huge pieces of art work with very low prices on them in some of the restaurants in town, I commented to my wife that it made them feel like those velvet painting that hung on the wall for a few months then made their way to the closet, or trash. I believe it was Thomas Paine who said “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem to lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing it’s value”
I don’t want to be in the “obtain too cheap” group, but I do want to sell.
Do you use social networking in your day to day life?
I try but I’m not very good at it. It’s impossible to know where to start and where to stop. I post images with all of the information, web address, my name, a little story about the image, where it is from, things like that.
I will say about a year ago, maybe a little longer I just gave up on sharing images, no Facebook, no Pintrest, none of that, and my sales picked up. Go figure! So now I have started sharing again, but I have to admit not sure if that is going to help or hurt based on past experience.
You can find me on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/TLMairFineArtPhotography/
and Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/tlmair56/
Is there anything that really annoys you about the artworld?
Just trying to figure it out, not sure it’s the art world, or the state of mind people have with all of the modern devices to waste our time.
What advice would you give new artists?
I have a hard time giving advice because I am not sure I am qualified to give that advice, but if I had to it would something I read several years ago “The art business is like pushing a baby carriage up hill, if you don’t keep moving up it will push you back down”. You have to keep pushing, as I said before we need to have a little skin in the game or we don’t appreciate it, it was never meant to be easy–it was meant to be rewarding.
Have you got hobbies?
I do have hobbies, I crack bullwhips, and play the mandolin, but never for an audience, I freeze up in front of people.
My mother is in a care center, sometimes I take the mandolin over there, her step father made one of the mandolins that I have, and I play for her. Sometimes others will join us outside in the gazebo and listen and talk, but that’s as close as I get to performing. I wonder if I should take the whip over and crack it?
And I collect dragons, dragons are cool, I have a house full of them!!
Where are you based?
I am based in what used to be a small farming town in northern Utah called Midway.
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I live in Manchester, UK and try to promote other artists and writers when I can.I'm so pleased you found our community and I hope to chat to you soon!!Please comment on my posts if you like them 🙂