John Dailey, Ph.D., assistant professor of multimedia and educator par excellence, has always attracted fans among his friends, family and students for his photography. Encouraged by their support, John submitted his work to the Apple Featured Artist Program. Promoted via Apple iCards, the scheme provides a platform for both established and developing artists. Users send personalized virtual greeting-cards of the chosen artist via email. As images get passed across the Web, artists can build up an almost word-of-mouth appreciation. The scheme is genuinely popular, with recipients approving of photos and paintings chosen with thought and care by loved ones.
Apple chose John’s pictures to be highlighted for around three months, praising the high quality of his photographic work and its suitability to be sent electronically. Thanks to the scheme, John now has new admirers for his predominately nature-based work. Many reflect "wrinkles in time" – nature taking back everyday often discarded objects, left abandoned to the elements. Unloved inanimate objects are brought to life. A long-abandoned Lincoln Zephyr sits by the side of the road waiting for a ghostly driver. Watching paint peel has rarely looked this attractive. Landscapes reflect nature’s vivid palette of colour, the four seasons well represented. Up-close and personal nature becomes almost abstract with its vivacious slabs of colour mixed with shards of light.
The scheme has already has produced some notable success stories. San Francisco-based artist John Kraft’s lush landscapes and vibrant interiors have won many admirers. "Being featured via Apple's iCard Program provided me with worldwide exposure to my art, and the positive impact it has had on my career is still being felt today. It was a wonderful opportunity," he said. Peter Lowe, director of marketing for Applications and Services for Apple told Macworld: "Customers love .Mac for sharing photos and movies with their friends and family – and they use iCards to send greetings and notifications to everyone. We're thrilled to offer unique artwork by emerging artists such as John for our customers to send in the form of iCards and we'll continue to add new original iCards in the future."
Your photography seems to have attracted many new fans, how has the Apple iCards 'Featured Artist' scheme helped?
John Dailey: Certainly within my own circle of friends and students, it’s now known that I can take "some pretty good pictures". I'm not sure how much it has raised the awareness of my work outside of my immediate colleagues. I have also received a half-dozen or so highly complimentary emails from .Mac members. I now have a way to order prints from my portfolio site – but so far, no takers.
Can you expand on the view that your work reflects the "wrinkles in time"?
I think that, all things being equal, what good ol' Mother Nature does to exposed artifacts is much more interesting than the new things that attract so many people. Weathering, the exposure to sun, wind, and rain, the natural fading of colors, the appearance of rust… these are beautiful things to me. They help remind me of the circle of life; of how everything fits into a larger whole; of the idea that nature reclaims everything in the end and it is always beautiful.
It’s a good combination of the traditional and contemporary using your .Mac account to showcase your work.
Yes – these are digital scans of 35 mm transparencies. The quality of the very slow film I often used (Kodachrome 25) has not yet been matched by digital technology. So this is a good compromise: a digital portfolio of higher, quality analogue work. I think that film technology had reached a point of very high quality about the time I began shooting pictures (the early 1980s), with auto-exposure cameras and much better zoom lenses. Today's digital point-&-shooters are getting quick, well-exposed, well-focused images at a price - lower-quality film prints 20 years ago. Of course, this will change in five years or so when ten-plus megapixel cameras are the norm.
Can you use your .Mac account to sell your work, or do you need a dedicated Web site or gallery exposure?
I have a dedicated Web site that’s housed on my .Mac account. It’s set up now for online purchasing, but I would like to have a gallery show every a couple of years. Remember, photography is really only a serious hobby for me – my day job is being a college professor teaching multimedia design.
Did having a .Mac account spur you on to showing your work to a wider audience?
Yes, it encouraged me to put offer my photography for sale online – something that I had never done before in any serious way.
Do you have a traditional studio? Can you tell us about your set-up?
No – my camera bag, my PowerBook (with Apple iPhoto, Adobe Photoshop and RealViz Stitcher), and my tripod is all the gear I have. I take outdoor photos only in natural light. I don't think I've ever even used a reflector.
Where do you stand on the traditional-versus-digital debate? You don’t believe 35mm is dead just yet?
I'd like to think that 35mm will never die, but we often talk about the future in my classes, so I see the writing on the wall. I just hope we aren’t letting it go to soon. Expediency for quality is never a good compromise. I look forward to the day, in the not-too-distant future, when digital-image quality will exceed that of analogue.
And you shoot mainly on 35mm?
Not since I sold my Nikon F3 to a former student in 1998. Surprised? The timing was right: I hadn’t had the chance to take any really great pictures for several years (I was busy getting a PhD). Plus, I wear glasses, and I found it frustrating taking them off and putting them on while composing a photo. I recently traded an early digital SLR for a new Olympus E-1 and one lens, so I'm starting over with this completely new digital system. I want to start doing QTVR panoramic images.
Your photography is extremely vibrant; do you use Photoshop and other image enhancers in the creative process?
No. Isn't well-exposed, fine-grained, transparency film wonderful? I don't think well-photographed reversal film needs any "enhancing" – this is one of the expectations people have become used to with digital imagery. But I plan on purchasing Optipix 3.0 for use with my new digital images.
Do you think Macs lead to creativity or do creative types tend to choose Macs?
Both – a cop-out, I know. But, the more intuitive a tool is, the more it enhances creativity – and the more creative one is, the more one seeks out intuitive tools. I bought my first Mac in 1985 and never looked back.
How do you use your Mac in your work and day to day life?
I wake up everyday to check email on my PowerBook at home. In my work life, I’m privileged to teach in a state-of-the-art G5 lab with 23-inch Apple Cinema HD Displays, while in my office I have a G4 with a 22-inch Cinema Display where I create experimental multimedia interfaces. I also spend many hours each week critiquing student's work on their own PowerBooks anywhere I find them on our wireless campus.
What advice would you give photographers just starting out?
Look at the good stuff, in person. See an Ansel Adams show. Drop by the photo galleries when visiting large cities. Get a sense of what you like. Don't be different just to be original. I always look for something in a scene that’s a little "broken"; a little imperfect. This is one of the big secrets. You can buy postcards by the millions that show "perfect" images. They’re boring; there’s no life there. Life is about change – so picture that.
You’ve taught yourself from scratch?
From scratch, after reading the "nature/close-up/colour photographic book-of-the-month" for about five years. I gave my collection of these some 60 books to a local library when I started grad school. But being self-taught is a great way to go – it gives you time to think about your photos; you choose when your assignments are due. Most students wish they were so lucky.
John Dailey: http://homepage.mac.com/jcdailey/details/TOC.html