My first job was a little unconventional. I was 15. I was a dietary aide at a nursing home. To clarify, ‘dietary aide’ is an administrative title for someone who makes sure residents arrive at the dining room on time, receive the appropriate meal as per their dietary restrictions, then cleans and prepares the dining area for the next meal.
As with any job, there are a few things requisite to the position that you wish someone had mentioned earlier. You never discover this until you’re in the big middle of it. For instance, no one told me I would spend a considerable amount of time tracking down misplaced personal items.
“Mr. Stevens, where are your teeth?”
“Mr. Stevens, whose teeth are in your mouth?”
“Sir, I don’t think those are your teeth. Do you know where you put your teeth?”
“No, honey, I sure don’t.”
Sometimes I spent an inordinate amount of energy retrieving flatware.
“Mrs. Gaines, can I have the spoon?”
“Mrs. Gaines, we need to clean the spoon now that you’re finished eating. Mrs. Gaines. Mrs. Gaines, please don’t put the spoon…in…there.”
And, like clockwork,
“Mr. Hernandez, STOP! Mr. Her…nan…dez, ahhh…I just finished cleaning the floor.”
The little things they don’t tell you during the interview.
Similarly, there are a few necessities about making art that I wish someone had told me about earlier. Like that whole taking photos of my work thing! It’s not always addressed in the classroom setting – you’re busy creating. All too often during school the taking of photos ends up being a hasty group project in an effort to get that show application in the mail before the deadline passes. So much confusion in that situation!
When I graduated with my BFA, a friend and I took slides (yeah, I go way back) of my solo show. The images were flat, the space inappropriate, the exposure and temperature way off. What did I know?
When I applied for graduate school I knew I didn’t want to repeat the disaster I’d created from my BFA show. So, I bit the bullet to hire someone to take the slides for me. One of the best investments I’ve ever made.
During graduate school I learned to take my own slides. However, the learning curve magnified my frustration with the process exponentially. So much so that I still took every opportunity to avoid taking slides. In order to document my MFA exhibition as required by the university, I paid a photo grad, who’d won a travel grant, in film to take my slides. They were beautiful!
All these years later, I still put off taking photos. The fact that digital images are far more forgiving than slides does provide some level of comfort…or perhaps it’s financial security. I have surely spent the equivilent of the boys’ college funds on horrible slides.
Though I have a working knowledge of the image taking process, I will admit that I don’t/haven’t taken photos of my functional work. Until this week. I’ve skirted that necessity for far too long. They aren’t perfect. I see much room for improvement. Its a start.