Why Photography? Part IV

Japanese anemone hybred 'Queen Charlotte'

‘Queen Charlotte’ Viewing the Gardens © 2010 Bo Mackison

(Fourth in a series on why I chose photography as my creative medium and the basis of a new career.)

#4. Photography provides me with meaningful work and with a career.

For many years, I was unable to do most any kind of work due to a chronic medical condition. I am still unable to do many of the things people take for granted, and many of these things are basic requirements for employment. Employment on someone else’s payroll, that is.

But I discovered that when you own your own business, you create the business environment and you can tailor the work to your abilities. I found that by starting small, and enlisting the aid of Sherpa (my spouse of 30+ years) I was able to gradually produce artwork and start a small business selling my work. I’ve been working on my business model for a couple of years now, and I think I have a great opportunity to build my fledgling business into a viable entity. To put it mildly, this entire process has been nothing short of mind boggling for me.

In the autumn of 2009, I began making and selling note cards, and I did fairly well selling them at small shops and an art fair during the Christmas season. This year, with guidance from a creativity and business coach, I began exploring the different options I had for selling my growing body of fine art photography.

We talked about continuing online sales, sales in galleries and boutique shops, and then we discussed doing art shows. I spoke with experienced show artists, and as we spoke about doing art fairs and festivals, my curiosity was piqued. Well, it was more than piqued. For weeks, I could hardly think of anything else. I even visited several outdoor art festivals when I traveled in the Southwest this early spring. A few weeks after my return home, I made my big decision. I would set up an art booth for the summer art fairs and get some first hand experience. I borrowed a tent and began acquiring the necessary paraphernalia.

The photography and printing, and the setting up of an art booth, turned out to be the easier part. I had a stack of applications to fill out, photographs to take for the juried shows, summer schedules to shuffle, travel plans to arrange. Those were difficult for me to accomplish, but I managed. And then, suddenly, I was faced with financial tasks – I had to get a bank account, set up an account to accept credit cards, file the necessary business papers and tax forms, keep records.

Time after time, I was overwhelmed by the commitment, but even though I was repeatedly tempted to quit and go back to my simpler life, I just couldn’t. I had a taste of a many dimensional, creative life – a life that held deep meaning for me – and I desperately wanted to continue.

I still have much to learn and practice, and that is part of the thrill of my new career. I’m learning to meet new people, interact with customers at art festivals, and share my own vision of art with other interested folks. I’m learning how to travel on my own, speak up for myself, and make decisions based not only on sound business practices, but on what is best for me and what fits with my values.

Being on the art show circuit is hard work, no doubt about that, but for the most part it is fun work, too. I’ve met new friends, been inspired by the talent and creativity of other artists, and seen a bit of the country I might otherwise not have seen. And if all goes well, I’ll be taking Seeded Earth Photography to a few shows in the Phoenix/Tucson area early next spring.

It’s been a long  journey from where I started to where I am now, some of it bumpy, some of it smooth, and some of it in great leaps. But the journey is the important part, and I love the challenges.  I think that is all pretty darn exciting!


I will be at my last summer art fair of the season, the Rockford Artists’ Fair, in Beattie Park located in downtown Rockford, Illinois this coming weekend, September 18-19, 2010. It will be open both days from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you are in the area, I would love for you to stop and say hello.

Look for the bright green and white sign that proudly proclaims Seeded Earth Studio, photography by Bo Mackison.

I can hardly describe the feeling I get when I stand inside my tent, surrounded by my photographs. I feel like I am in my own combination mini-gallery and private flower garden. But please, come in — I want to share it with everyone!

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. I would love to see your booth with you surrounded with your art. I could just imagine the conversation we could have about each and every photo.

  2. Bo, it makes me feel good to read about what you are doing and how much you like what you do! As always, I wish you all the best of luck with what you’re doing!

  3. Well expressed, Bo. I bet it is so very satisfying being surrounded by your photographs in your mini gallery. Sounds wonderful. I do understand what you’ve written quite well as I had to end a career due to a chronic illness and I am unable to do what many do take for granted… just as you stated. Photography…. my life line and a deeper way of seeing and being… and I, too, have started to build from this…. and yes, I am also passionate about my photography and art. I appreciate you sharing this and the series of “Why Photography?”, Bo. It is a wonderful and fulfilling path, photography is, isn’t it? All the best.

  4. Bo Mackison says:

    Adaptation is key, yes Anna? And art and creativity play a huge part in a meaningful life, no matter what limiting factors there are. I guess we all, as humans, have one kind of limitation or another. Good luck to you also!

  5. very insightful reading.

  6. Congratulations, Bo! 🙂

    I wish I could be there. I’d love to see you all set up and ready to share (and sell!).

  7. Once again, our lives are so similar. My dream, however, is to open a small consignment gallery. I have spotted the location I want, but am unsure of how to do the “business plan” part. *sigh*

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