Leading up to my First Solo Photography Exhibit

Art show invitation for "Visions of Minnesota," a photography exhibit by Eric D Wheeler.
"Visions of Minnesota" takes place Jan. 27 from 4-8 p.m.

Tomorrow (Jan. 27 from 4-8 p.m.), I will present “Visions of Minnesota” at Iris Vision Care–my first solo photography exhibit. “Visions of Minnesota” will mainly feature black and white photographs from around Minnesota and will also have a few color images. I have also been experimenting with photography on my iPhone (or iPhoneography as some may call it).

For the past 45 days, I have stepped out of my apartment to snap a picture using my iPhone 4 of a road leading down to the Mississippi River here in St. Cloud, Minn. The road was recently put in along with a new park and is enclosed on both sides with tall trees. The project started after going on a photo walk one exceptionally foggy morning and has continued since. Besides the natural beauty of looking downhill on a road engulfed in ominous trees, the project has gained traction as I have pushed both my curiosity and creativity through the use of iPhone photo applications. Each photo is snapped from the same position and, although I use many different iPhone apps to create various effects in post-edit, each image ends up on Instagram and can be viewed by searching the hashtag #wheelers_road.

wheelers_road is an example of iPhoneography.
The first 16 days of my photo-a-day project utilizing multiple iPhone apps to capture a tree covered road.

The bulk of my show, however, takes a largely traditional approach to photography and includes many black and white landscapes and a few landmarks from central Minnesota, the Iron Range and Duluth. I will have a few color photographs on display including images from depicting nature and landscapes. The event is free and open to the public and all pieces are available for purchase.

I should probably fully disclose that this is technically a public relations event for Iris Vision Care. My girlfriend, Dr. Sally Jackula is the owner and I have been doing some light PR, photography and social media marketing for her for the past year or so. The main motive for holding the event at her office is to build awareness, get foot traffic and hopefully help her gain a few new clients. That being said, I am very much excited about showing off my work for the first time without any public backing or organizational support such as being part of an art crawl or photography contest.

The Androy Hotel in Hibbing, Minnesota.
This photo of the Androy Hotel in Hibbing, Minn. will be one of my larger framed photos for sale.

From a public relations perspective this has definitely been a success so far. One of my photos taken at Quarry Park last year is currently featured on the cover of Minnesota Moments magazine, which hit newsstands earlier this month. I ordered 100 postcard-size invitations to hand  out (pictured above). I secured an interview with an arts reporter who ended up writing a story, which ran in the Jan. 19 edition of Up Next. I submitted my event to several area events websites including the sctimes.com, kvsc.org and aroundthecloud.org and even got a live-read community service announcement on KVSC-FM.

Of course, I put forth the standard social media effort as well–creating a Facebook event and cross-promoting on my photography page, personal page and on the Iris Vision Care page. I spread the news using Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn as well. I even changed my cover photo on Facebook. To top it all off, Ryan Ott featured my photography exhibit in his “Five things to do in Minnesota” for this weekend on iammnnice.com. That was a bonus I didn’t even see coming. Thanks, Ryan!

With that, I hope to see you at Iris Vision Care to check out my work as a budding photographer. Please help me spread the word during these final hours leading up to the event by sharing this post. Thanks!

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My Personal Top 10 Instagram Photos of 2011

This has turned out to be my most popular photo on Instagram.

By now I am sure you have all read plenty of top 10 lists and ‘best of 2011’ countdowns. I promise you, however, I am not just sticking with the trend on this one. I could write a typical list of the year’s biggest stories in PR or social media, but I want to write about something that has truly changed me for the better.

When I joined Instagram a little over a year ago, I mostly used it to capture some of the little moments in my life–attending a concert, ogling over a sandwich I just made or posting a snapshot with friends. I mostly just snapped a quick picture and applied one the awesome filters from Instagram–without giving it much thought.

As the months carried on, I started participating in the many photo challenges and playing a more active role in the vast Instagram community (now with more than 15 million users). Soon my creativity started to blossom and I began using many extra photo apps to edit my photos. I began pushing myself to take photos from new angles and to bring about extra meaning to my images.

Throughout the past year I have grown as a photographer. While I still maintain a rather traditional approach when I have my Nikon D90 in-hand I do feel the creative power of Instagram and “iPhoneography” has brought me to a level beyond novice photographer. Shooting a wedding, doing outdoor portraits and low-lit concerts have helped refine my skills as a photographer and they have definitely helped me gain a better understanding of my equipment. However, Instagram has opened up my imagination and allow me to be more accepting of the editing process as a whole. After all, photography in its most premitive form does entail a certain amount of manipulation. Rarely (if ever) will a photograph appear exactly as it would in real life. Even if you are the perfect photographer who can almost always get that near-lifelike image; photography is an art form and should be treated as such.

The photos below represent my personal top 10 from the past year with my most popular photo at the top of this post. If you’re on Instagram, please follow me: @eric_wheeler. You can also view my full list of top photos of 2011 by searching the hashtag #wheelers_best_of_2011.

I should note all the photos above were taken and edited with only my iPhone. I had a few worthy shots from my Nikon D90, but wanted to only post photos from my iPhone. Probably my most notable non-iPhone photo I took involved using my Nikon D90 and a tripod during a July Fourth fireworks display in St. Cloud, Minn. Cheers to another year of Instagram!