A Game of Baseball

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Red Sox montage by Stephen Sheffield

It’s a full count––three balls, two strikes. You try to remember everything your father told you: “Keep your eyes on the ball. Check your stance. Set your feet. Bend your knees. Get the bat off of your shoulder.” This stuff wasn’t too hard to remember since my dad regularly umpired my Little League games.

The bat was now cocked and ready to connect. It’s a fastball. You swing with all your might. At the crack of the bat, a deep fly ball goes to left field and over the fence. Home run!

That’s how it always happened in my dreams anyway. I never got to hit a home run in real life. If life were like a game of baseball, you would hope for a home run scenario every time. But in reality, there are some curveballs, knuckleballs, change-ups and quite possibly some spitballs thrown into the mix to make things more challenging. But challenges are part of the game, regardless of whether you’re playing t-ball, Little League, or the Majors. Challenges can also take you off-course, but don’t let them. They’re usually building blocks for something greater––something too fast to see when they’re coming at you at ninety miles an hour.

A Game of Baseball, from the book,
Instant Connections: Essays and Interviews on Photography by Jason Landry.

Instant Connections featured in Portsmouth Herald

Seacoast native makes ‘Instant Connections’

jason landry, instant connections, collector, book signing, nhaa, portsmouth herald

By Robert Levey
January 21, 2014 2:00 AM

PORTSMOUTH — Jason Landry, a 1991 Portsmouth High School graduate, will sign copies of his recently published book, “Instant Connections: Essays and Interviews on Photography,” on Feb. 7 at the New Hampshire Art Association Gallery.

Weaving essays, interviews, quotes and autobiographical stories around a central theme of photography, the book includes a wide range of secondary themes that include how to make connections and build one’s own personal network. It also features interviews with renowned artists such as Vik Muniz, Leonard Nimoy and Harold Feinstein, and quotes from various artists and collectors. Perhaps just as interesting as the book itself, however, is why Landry wrote it.

“When I was in college, there were a lot of critical theory books on photography that I was forced to read,” he said. “I decided to write a book that was anti-critical theory —— a book that shares real stories of a photographer, photography collector and gallery owner.”

Noting that it goes against every book on the subject he has ever read, he said he also wanted to write something that addresses the business end of art.

“Many art colleges don’t teach artists how to market and sell what they create,” he said. “They don’t teach them about building and creating an art network of peers to help them connect to the world, or how to go about creating their personal brand. You could be the greatest artist, but without some of these business skills, you will struggle to go anywhere in the art world.”

As for how Landry has made it in the art world — he is the owner and director of Panopticon Gallery in Boston — he said he was fortunate enough to work in business before earning his art degrees. He said he also received some help along the way.

“Once I left that career behind to walk the path of an artist, I had mentors who guided me down the right paths in order to avoid pitfalls,” said Landry, who noted all of these mentors appear in his book. “Without them, I don’t know if I would have stuck with it.”

In reflecting on what led him to initially develop an interest in photography, he cited his first photography class at Portsmouth High School. From that point on, he said, he was in “hook, line and sinker.”

“I always gravitated toward the arts, but when I was able to develop and print my own images in the darkroom, it was the first time that I felt in control of an art medium,” he said. “I never really felt in control or comfortable with what I drew to what I painted.”

Drawing inspiration from that class, he said his earliest photographs were of Portsmouth and Greenland, as he captured images related to the landscape, apple orchards and friends. He said his most memorable work from his high school days, though, was a black and white photograph he took of “a perfectly planted row of pine trees” in his back yard.

“It was the second image on the first roll of black and white film that I ever developed,” he said. “I have that photograph framed and hanging in my living room amongst my collection.”

In electing to donate 50 percent of all book sales to the NHAA during the reception and book-signing event next month, Landry said it is important he maintain roots in a town that still means a great deal to him.

“My wife and I like to give back, especially to art organizations that we feel are doing great things for their community,” he said. “I know firsthand how hard it is to manage, especially in a economy that hasn’t been so friendly to us over the past couple of years. … It’s great to have an organization like this in Portsmouth and a gallery space that has been around for a while.”

The book-signing event is from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, at NHAA’s Robert Lincoln Levy Gallery, 136 State St. For information about NHAA, call 431-4230 or e-mail nhartassociation@gmail.com. To learn more about Landry or Panopticon Gallery, call (617) 267-8929 or e-mail at jason@panopticongallery.com.

From the Interview with Vik Muniz

“The great challenge is how to make smart, intelligent art that can speak to everybody.” ~Vik Muniz

This quotes comes from the interview that I did with Vik Muniz when he visited Boston a few years back.  It appears in my book Instant Connections. He is one of my favorite contemporary artists. The image below is an original Polaroid 20×24 of Freud’s profile in Ham by Vik Muniz. It is in our personal collection.

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The Boston Globe and Instant Connections

“Jason Landry…an irreverent and irrepressible presence.”

I’m grateful to Jan Gardner and The Boston Globe for featuring my book Instant Connections in their Sunday edition. Someone told me that they almost never review books that are ‘indie’ or ‘self-published’.  Well, for those authors out there that were worried about that……..things are looking up!

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Read More. Pretty Please.

I hope you read more in 2014. I read a statistic somewhere that said that Americans are reading less and less, and we are also buying fewer and fewer books.


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Image via www.webneel.com

I don’t like these statistic for a few reasons:

1.) I just wrote a book and I want people to buy books.
2.) You can learn a lot from reading.
3.) Without books, life would be boring.
4.) Reading a book is a great way to decompress after a long, busy day.
5.) Bookstores need readers.
6.) Having a bookstore in your neighborhood is good for the community.
7.) You will learn more from reading a book, than you will from watching those crappy reality television shows (I had to put this one it in there!)

Think back to the last book that you read. How did it make you feel? Did you learn something new? Did you get inspired?
I hope you consider buying another book soon. Maybe it’s a paperback, maybe it’s an eBook, or maybe it’s even my book, and then I’d be excited and honored.

Whatever book you choose, enjoy it thoroughly.

30 Days After Your First Book Gets Published: A Reflection

It’s been a little more than a month since my book Instant Connections: Essays and Interviews on Photography was released. I have been pleasantly surprised by the comments that I have received––both emails from people that I know, and some that I do not know at all. When I read things like, “the things that you talk about in your book I am experiencing right now in my own life”––these words strengthen my belief that I was meant to write this book.

Although I would like the book to be for everyone, I know that it won’t be. I’ve heard that some people like the interviews better than the essays, while others said they didn’t care about my personal stories, and at least one person was bothered by my potty mouth. I didn’t think using the F-word 34 times in a book with 85,000 words was a big deal. I do hope however, that those who have read the book (cover to cover) found the importance of the word “connections”. The other thing that I hope you took away was that I tried to make the reading effortless and down to earth, as if we were having a conversation in a bar or in a coffee shop. Although I am a collector, gallery owner, writer/author and educator, I tried to speak to you from the same level––never above you.

Instant Connections may not have landed on the New York Times Bestseller List nor the Wall Street Journal List, but for a brief period it was #2 on Amazon’s list for Critical Theory > Photography books––I’ll take that, even through it IS NOT critical theory.

Usually books are cataloged in book stores under a certain type like non-fiction, or fiction, or essays, or interviews. These “types” are usually printed on the back cover of the book. One person suggested the other day that it should have been categorized under “cool shit”. I’ll take that as a compliment.

If you haven’t picked it up yet, I hope that you do.

Happy Holidays, from Me to You.

instant connections, jason landry, book, essays, interviews, writer, writing, author, photography

How do you define self-publishing?

jason landry, instant connections, book signing, author, book, writingHow do you define self-publishing? I’m not sure the term “self-published book” is accurate. I struggle with this term because there is so much to do in order to get a book published. I learned this first hand when I began to query agents and publishers about my first book. In order to “self-publish” a book, you would have to be a jack-of-all-trades and cover everything from A to Z. And when I mean “cover everything’, I mean:

a.) Be able to write a book
b.) Then edit the book with a critical eye
c.) Know when to tell yourself that the story you just wrote sucked and you need to go back to the drawing board.
d.) Know how to create track changes in Microsoft Word, then decide which ones to fix and which ones to debate against yourself to leave in the book.
e.) Know how to layout a book in Adobe InDesign
f.) Know which fonts are best for readability and then find out that some aren’t good for eBooks.
g.) Know how to design the cover art
h.) Know why you should have a color cover
i.) Know when to say that your cover art was a bad choice, and select something different.
j.) Know how to create and edit eBooks
k.) Know that there is a difference between the files that you have to make for the Kindle, Nook and iTunes.
l.) Know how to purchase an ISBN number or numbers, since you need more than one if you plan to have a hard cover, paperback and various eBook editions.
m.) Know how to hire a company to print your book
n.) Know how to hire a company to distribute your book
o.) Know how to get your book listed with the Library of Congress
p.) Know how to get the press to notice your book
q.) Know how to market yourself so people will know about your book and buy your book
r.) Know how to build a website for your book or for you the author
s.) Know how to contact bookstores to set up book signings
t.) Know how much to discount your book so that book stores will carry your book
u.) Know how to prepare yourself to give an artist talk.
v.) Know how to design an advertisement for your book
w.) Know how to use social media sites in order to promote your book
x.) Know how to convince book stores to short order your book
y.) Know what to say when bookstores won’t carry your book because it’s “self-published’ or “print-on-demand’
z.) Know how to stay calm and carry on, even when someone gives you a bad review on Amazon.com.

Do you see what I mean? Everything from A to Z. There are probably more things to add to this list. These just happen to be things I had to learn about or research when I started writing. This is why I worked with a TEAM of professionals on my book Instant Connections: Essays and Interviews on Photography. You need to have many sets of eyes on everything that you do when taking on the challenge of writing a book and actually seeing it through to the end. I am grateful to my amazing editor, to my proof readers, and for the design team who worked on the layout and cover for the paperback, Kindle. Nook and iTunes eBook versions. And I shouldn’t forget the friend who took the photo for the cover. I couldn’t have done this without my team. I think when you have a good team, you come away with a great end product. Whether you’re working with a large publisher or an indie publisher, there is always a team of people working with you every step of the way. And when you have a great end product, less people will care who the publisher is. Am I bummed out that one of those big named publishers didn’t pick up my book––of course––who wouldn’t want their large marketing budgets. Am I happy with how my book came out in the end––absolutely.

If you know anyone that has every single one of the qualifications that are listed above, kudos to them. In the meantime, please support all authors, whether they are published by a large publisher or an indie publisher. The publishing industry has changed dramatically over the past few years. You can no longer dismiss the little guys. And by the way, all big publishers had to start somewhere, right? And this holds true for bookstores too. Support those indie stores as much as the big box stores and Amazon.

Keep writing. Keep reading.