Jeff Cooper wins The White Hot Spotlight this month, which focuses on people's creative passions. Jeff grew up around photography. In the 1970s, he did the hobbyist thing – experimented with all the new technologies that finally trickled down to the consumer level (color processing). His first major project was creating several mural-sized prints commemorating Chief Henry Red Eagle’s life that decorated the Squaw Mountain ski lodge in Greenville. He wanted to live in the Camden-Rockport area since he first discovered it back in the 1960s, so he and his family relocated here in the summer of ‘95.
Q: Your photography has a distinct high-contrast look; in some cases it feels very moody, like this one, Full Moon Ford. What kind of emotion do you like to evoke in your work?
A: Interesting you picked this image as it is a bit “out of the box" for me . This was a “shoot now, figure it out it later" image. It turned into something totally different than I envisioned.
I saw this truck in Union as part of a fall/Halloween scene and photographed it in an effort to appeal to a more diverse audience. My goal is to create a variety of images and styles that viewers find both interesting and enjoyable.
Q: Explain how the process of hand-tinting works once you've got your photo.
A: This is a secret family process handed down from generation to generation. Nahhh. It's about attitude, really. The transition to digital processing changed everything.
In the past, I was a photographer and more than a bit frustrated that I couldn’t take my visions to where I wanted them to go, i.e. graphic arts/airbrush. Now I start with photography and can take images in a variety of directions. I am a big fan of Adobe’s Camera Raw converter, which allows me to change a number of aspects (non-destructively, which means changes are reversible). Hand tinting is actually easier if you think of it backwards–remove all the color you don’t want. Not every idea turns out to be a good one. I often work the same image differently and pick the vibe I like the best. Some are really quick and easy and some require multiple processing attempts.
Q: As a photographer who started out with traditional cameras and film, what's your opinion about digital photography, and in particular, how easy it is for people to now use them?
A: Bye, Bye, Kodak. The first time I used a digital camera I was hooked, though it took a while for me to realize it. The instant feedback provides a new way for everybody to improve, reducing the basic learning curve. With film, there was a lot of trial and error, as well as the time involved to have processing completed. With digital technology, feedback is instant and you can change what you don't like in real time, which dramatically reduces the learning curve. Digital cameras make taking lots of different exposures easy and affordable, which encourages taking lots of exposures and editing later for the best ones. Recently, cell phones are replacing entry-level digital cameras, making digital technology extremely convenient and the image quality just keeps getting better. There's not a lot I miss about film.
Q: Much of your subject matter seems to be classic Maine imagery of lobster boats and scenery such as 'This Bird Has Flown.' What do you search for to ensure your material is fresh?
A: I LOVE lobster boats–their shape, how they look in and out of the water, how they dance with the tide, how they show the character of how much lobstering is part of coastal Maine, and how demanding and dangerous it really is. I see all that every time I am around them and have spent a couple of the most inspiring days tagging along on board. We lived In Rockport almost 10 years before I figured how I wanted to capture the natural beauty. Images like “This Bird has Flown” are just part of the bonus material of being around the water. “Harold” hangs around Rockport Harbor and I was lucky to get that shot. The post-processing adds an interesting visual aspect.
To find more of Jeff Cooper's work visit jcooperimageworks.com or like his Facebook page: J Cooper Image Works
Want a chance to win a shot at The White Hot Spotlight? Like The Killer Convo on Facebook (facebook.com/killerconvo) and look for the monthly photo contest: "How Well Do You Know Midcoast Maine?"
Susan Guthrie wins The White Hot Spotlight, which focuses on one's creative passions.Susan is a photographer who lives in Belfast. Her work
has been featured in a dozen juried shows in Maine, including the Center for Maine Contemporary Arts, and elsewhere in New England. A bit of her work is in private collections, including Kepware Technologies of Portland. She is represented by VoxPhotographs.com, also of Portland.
Q: Where is your favorite place to shoot and why?
A: I shoot mostly in Waldo County and never seem to run out of light, inside or outside. What drives me in my work is the love of capturing light and bringing it into a form that continues to spread that light. Especially interesting to me is how humankind’s ordinary, practical creations can become sudden scenes of great beauty when combined with a vigorous, living sky.
Q: Here are two of your photographs: "Chicken Barn and Wires" and "Roof Elephant." What kind of mood are you going for with shots like these?
A: These wild skies fill me with a delightful excitement of the Kundalini kind, although some may see them as slightly spooky or foreboding.
Q: What drives you as an artist?
A: It took half a century, through hard, even desperate, times, but I never stopped picturing myself living in an old house, filled with love, on the beautiful coast of Maine and expressing myself through art. Of course, it didn't hurt that I met the love of my life, Larason Guthrie, a world-class organic architect, and that he has loved and encouraged me for almost two decades. We share so many interests as well as a deep, glowing love.
Q: Do you live by a quote or motto?
A: My favorite quote is: "Courage is going from failure to failure without
losing enthusiasm." —Winston Churchill
Q: Expound upon that for others going through a similar journey as yours... but who are on the brink of losing enthusiasm.
A: No matter how many disasters I have seen my way through since leaving an abusive home at 14, two lost husbands and associated houses, plus a dramatic business crash, as well as career swings (going from a Who's Who executive to a cleaning lady in a year). Through it all, I never lost faith in myself nor my tenacious love of life, usually not longer than 24 hours, that is. My exuberant character does seem to require much humbling and I have embraced it at every turn.
Susan's work can be found at:
Want a chance to win a shot at The White Hot Spotlight? Like The Killer Convo on Facebook and look for the monthly photo contest: "How Well Do You Know Midcoast Maine?"
Heidi Vanorse won the "How Well Do You Know Midcoast Maine" photo contest and is our Spotlight winner this month. Born and raised in Rockland, she is a graduate of Rockland District High School and Thomas College in Waterville. She spent 15 years in banking prior to purchasing the Loyal Biscuit Company. She and her husband, Joel, live in Rockland with their four dogs, Buffy, Izzy, Fenway and Chuck.
Q: What inspired you to open a cat and dog boutique in Maine and what is the magic sauce that makes it hip?
A: We actually purchased the Loyal Biscuit Co. in January 2010, and since then have turned it into this amazing store. Actually, it is now two stores with our new location in Belfast. I think the magic sauce that makes us hip is the fun atmosphere our store provides. Since purchasing The Biscuit, we have added a more fun, community-based atmosphere, something the store was severely lacking when we took over. Between the store dogs, Chuck and Fenway, and all of our customers' dogs, you are bound to run into a dog or two when you visit. Add to that the fun personalities and awesome customer service that Mel, April and I provide, coming to the Biscuit is always a fun and friendly experience.
Q: What were your former jobs before this and is this the dream store you always imagined opening?
A: I never ever really imagined myself owning a business, let alone a pet supply boutique. I started in banking the day after I graduated from college and really thought that was what I would always be doing. One night in December 2009, my husband and I were having a totally random conversation and I said, 'I bet it would be fun to own the Loyal Biscuit.' He encouraged me to talk to the former owner and unbeknownst to us, the store was actually for sale! Talk about being in the right place at the right time. Less than a month later, we were the owners of the Loyal Biscuit and have been going dog-crazy ever since!
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your business?
A: Well, playing with puppies is always fun, but I would have to say the most rewarding part of the business is when you help improve someone's life, either for dog or owner. We have had many success stories of dogs who've had major itches, ear infections, hot spots, or are fussy eaters, etc. and by finding the right diet, their lives have greatly improved. There is nothing better than an owner coming in and thanking you for helping their dog or cat lead a better life. The other aspect I find truly rewarding are the relationships I have formed with our customers. I always get hugs from my customers when I haven't seen them in a while - where else would customers and the store owner hug? Our customers really are like family!
Q: You offer a "Self Serve Dog Wash" which is kinda funny anyway, but then you've enacted an "Important Skunk Policy" to go with it. Did you have to enforce this policy after learning the hard way?
A: Thank goodness, no! We have been skunked before at our house and it is not fun. We researched many other self-serve dog wash operations in the country before opening ours and that seemed to be something that was pretty consistent with all of them. Skunk odor is just so strong and nasty and frankly, a water bath just doesn't do anything to remove the oils that the spray contains. The hydrogen peroxide recipe that is on our website works really well, as does the Nature's Miracle Skunk Remover we sell. I always keep a bottle of that at home, because it never fails. They get sprayed at night and the last thing you want to do is have to run to the grocery store to get supplies!
Q: On top of expanding your business to Belfast, you've invented an entire treat line for dogs (all gluten free, ha!). Tell us what goes into these treats and where you locally source your ingredients.
A: April Thibodeau and I created the Loyal Biscuit Treat Company this summer. Currently we have original, which contains anise seed, and we just released Peanut Butter this week. We hope to add to the line with other holiday and seasonal flavors, like gingerbread, blueberry and pumpkin. Our treats are 100 percent organic and we try and source as many ingredients as possible from Maine, such as Non-GMO organic cold-pressed canola oil from Maine Natural Oils in Presque Isle and organic oat and brown rice flours from Fiddler's Green Farm in Belfast. Our treats are wheat, corn and soy free and come in a fantastic tin that can be reused for refills. And since our refills come in a biodegradable and compostable bag, we are excited to see so many customers coming back to refill their tins with not only a Maine made product, but one that is so environmentally friendly.
Q: To inspire others, why is Midcoast Maine a great place to open a small business in your opinion?
A: For me, I love owning a business in Midcoast Maine. The close-knit community and support our customers provide is amazing. There isn't any other place besides Maine where I would like to own a business. One of the things we love to do is support the local animal community in any way that we can and our customers have always participated in all of our events, from our nail-clipping clinics and giving tree at Christmas to our Pints for Paws event, which we are hosted again with Trackside on Oct. 24. The people of Midcoast Maine are the most caring and giving people I know!
The winner of the “How Well Do You Know Midcoast Maine” photo contest gets The White Hot Spotlight on The Killer Convo as a way to profile everyday people and their creative passions.
The winner of the "How Well Do You Know Midcoast Maine" photo contest gets the White Hot Spotlight on The Killer Convo as a way to profile artists and creatives in the area.
Dena Davis, of Thomaston, mother of two young boys and a former classroom teacher,
began selling children’ s books and music as a home based business over three years
ago. She discovered a small publisher called Barefoot Books when she was teaching in
California and fell in love with the art and magical stories. Today Dena’s Barefoot Book
Nook is well-established and growing.
What is your Barefoot Book Nook business?
I own a traveling bookstore as well as an online bookstore at BarefootBookNook.com. We carry a wide inventory of Barefoot Books, CDs, puppets, and puzzles. I set up at different fairs and festivals and run Barefoot Book Fairs and Fundraisers for schools, libraries and other nonprofits. I typically attend small, local events, but this year, I'll be setting up a booth at the Southern Maine Pride Festival in Portland, as well as setting up a booth at the Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors Show. I also provide story times and activities at different venues, which have included several local libraries, Toy Library Center, Coastal Children's Museum, and the Green Fair at Plants Unlimited. I also help others start their own Barefoot businesses.
How did you stumble into this as a part time business?
My background is in teaching at the elementary level. I also had a brief stint in marketing at an independent book distributor, PGW, in California. When I discovered Barefoot Books while on vacation in Maine, it was a match made in heaven. The gorgeous art and beautiful stories drew me in. Little did I know that I would move to Maine, have two children, and start my own Barefoot business. Running a business from home gives our family the flexibility we need while raising a son with special needs (our oldest has Cornelia deLange Syndrome, or CdLS) and a new baby (now a year old) who joined our family through MAPS’ Domestic Adoption program. I can work my schedule around therapy appointments, doctor visits, music classes, and play dates, which would be more difficult to do with a regular part-time job. Barefoot really provides me the opportunity to make money doing something I love, sharing beautiful books with children and families.
What is the Barefoot Books model? Who started it?
I love the Barefoot Books story! The most fascinating part to me is their grassroots approach. Barefoot Books was started by two mothers in 1992. Tired of the offerings in children's literature with all the commercial tie-ins and mass market appeal, CEO Nancy Traversy and editor-in-chief and co-founder, Tessa Strickland started Barefoot Books, an award-winning children’s book publishing company dedicated to taking high-quality art and story to children from all walks of life. Not impressed with the publishing industry's returnables model and the need to purchase "real estate" or positioning in larger bookstores, they made the decision in 2005 (which some told them was crazy at the time!) to pull out of big box stores like Borders and Barnes and Noble and focus on relationships and partnerships with independent bookstores. They have been committed to nurturing a love of reading in a way that encourages children to explore their creativity and discover the diversity of the world’s many cultures and traditions. They continue to sell to bookstores, gift stores, school and libraries through the traditional channels. I share the Barefoot values of fostering creativity and imagination, celebrating our diversity, and caring for our environment.
What are the kind of books you like to carry and sell?
Barefoot Books has about 400 titles in print. I carry a pretty wide selection of these, actually. I adore the fabric illustrations of Clare Beaton's books (Elusive Moose, There's a Cow in the Cabbage Patch) as well as the ethereal illustrations of Helen Cann in Forest of Stories and Barefoot Book of Dance Stories. I love the anthologies of folktales from different countries. My bestsellers are BB of Princesses and BB of Pirates, the books with singalong CDs for the toddlers and preschoolers and our books written by UK's poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy (The Gift and The Tear Thief), which are exquisitely written. I love our focus on different cultures in books for all ages. My favorites are Elephant Dance, a story about a grandfather remembering his days in India, and Mama Panya's Pancakes, a story set in Kenya that focuses on sharing and community.
What are your future ideas for this little business?
I've helped several local preschools earn free books and funds, and I'd love to offer an alternative to Scholastic in some of the public schools. I'd also like to work with Indie bookstores in the area somehow, perhaps offering story times and singing. I have many fantasies for the future that include starting a Young Writers' Camp or a Writing Center for children and adults, creating a writing and/or theater program for children with special needs, and providing homeschooling services to families. Who knows what the next chapter will include! I'm open to anything!
Lacy Simons is the new owner of hello hello, known currently to all as Rock City Books in Rockland. When it re-emerges as hello hello, it will offer used, new and bargain books, magazines, art & craft, gifts and select vintage items. For correctly identifying the photo of "Big G's" in our “How Well Do You Know Midcoast Maine?” photo contest, Lacy gets The White Hot Spotlight this month.
Q: Lacy, everyone knows you as our resident book reviewer in thescene. What are some things people don't know about you--the "known unknowns" as Donald Rumsfeld so aptly coined.
A: A few things spring to mind:
A: The official transition will happen in mid-May, and if all goes as planned, hello hello will operate adjacent to Rock City (which will become Rock City Café)—under the same roof but in an area all its own. This will allow for both the books and coffee synergy we’ve always loved about Rock City and a more focused, dedicated space for easier browsing and immersion in the world of hello hello.
My vision is to continue much of what’s worked well at Rock City Books—quality used books, trade credit system, community involvement, awesome shared events, a lively sense of humor—and expand the selection of unusual new books; offer broader rewards for trading in great used books; add some great magazines we’re missing out on locally; offer more art, craft and gift items; and develop a stronger web presence and functionality. It’s a lofty goal, but within a relatively small square footage I’ll be trying to emphasize quality rather than quantity and appeal to a broad variety of interests (for serious and not-so-serious readers alike!)
Q: You and Jared Paradee are also founders of kitchi-kitchy, which makes "tiny little oddities" such as shadow boxes & dioramas, typewritten poems and vintage items. Do you intend for hello hello to provide a physical space for the nontraditional artists as well?
A: Absolutely. We’ll function as a space to display and sell nontraditional forms of art & craft, including (but not at all limited to) kitchi-kitchy’s work. This will fluctuate, given our limited space, but I’m dedicated to mixing it up!
Q: Quick: what is your favorite urban dictionary word?
A: Squizzle? Is that even a word? If not, I’ll add it. Right after I figure out what it means.
For more information on hello hello’s trade credit system for used books, email Lacy at email@example.com
To see their latest writeup in The Portland Press Herald click here
Yvonne Smith is well known as a coffee roaster for Rock City Coffee (and in fact, was a presenter at Pecha Kucha this past month) but after having guessed the “How Well Do You Know Midcoast Maine” photo contest correctly, she decided to put The White Hot Spotlight on yet another creative hobby of hers—winemaking.
About Yvonne: I moved here 13 years ago and this is what the Midcoast has taught me: I can’t imagine living anywhere else; careful what you say because people will pee their pants or spit out their drink very easily around here. Things can get crazy fast, but a good crazy.
Q: Besides coffee roasting, you enjoy wine making. Tell us how you got into it.
A: I started after I moved to Maine and mostly make an old farm-style blueberry wine. My partner had started working for this couple that had a big blueberry farm. They gave me the recipe and the blueberries the first year. It took me a couple of years before I realized this was an older recipe—it may have even come about during Prohibition. Everything in the recipe calls for items that will boost the alcohol content. I started researching and started collecting wine-making books. I now understand where to change the recipe to enhance the flavor, but reduce the alcohol content. I love reading the old recipes—those people were inventive.
Q: What are your secrets?
There are so many different ways to make wine—fruit wine, grape wines. Some are fast and only drinkable for a couple of months—some take a year before they go into the bottle and then age for another year before you can drink them. The only grape wines I do come in kits, so for the fruit wines I usually go and pick the fruit as it’s fresh, mash it up with sugar or honey, add water and yeast, then wait for Mother Nature to work her magic. Or as the Brew Chem 101 book instructs, “let the yeast eat the sugar and poop out alcohol.” I always loved the line, and often use when explaining about brewing.
Q: Is wine making soothing after a day of coffee roasting or is it more difficult?
It is soothing. I mean, my first rule after I make sure all the ingredients are on hand, is to open a bottle of something. Relax, enjoy. I am doing it for myself, and I can spend several days out picking fruit, which can involve spending time with friends, just getting ready to make wine.
Q: Do you do wine tastings for your friends?
A: Yes, friends have tried it, but at one point I had a crappy roommate who was an alcoholic and drank all my wine—so nobody got to try it! Mostly, when I have wine, I will bring a bottle with me to any function that I am invited to. Most of the fruit wines I make are sweeter—my personal preference. So I usually open them for dessert, but they’re also good for Sunday brunches. The blueberry wine is best on hot summer days, when you don't have to go anywhere, just sipping it over a little ice. It totally changes the flavor to something that is really refreshing.
The White Hot Spotlight
The Killer Convo
This blog is a is a killer roundup of all arts, entertainment, brewery & distillery, food trucks, happy hour happenings in the Midcoast Maine. Feel free to email me anything about Midcoast arts, entertainment & the creative economy.