• Frank Atisso

Featured Artist : Mara Telling

In her latest exhibition at Art Korner, Mara Telling shows her love for coffee in a playful, fun way. Discover more about her journey, artistic influences and the way this exhibit took form.

After being away from Second Life for 6 or 7 years, Mara Telling returned in the Spring of 2019. Now, she hops from sim to sim, capturing the things she sees, trying to catch the soul of a place and mood while visiting the location. She loves the details in well-designed sims and all the stories they tell, making her creativity and imagination run wild. Her scenes are always shown in the way she perceives them.

"Finding pics" is Mara's specialty. Most times, she never plans her pictures in advance. She just stumbles upon things that make her smile, laugh or think and the ideas stem from there. Emotions, playfulness and a bit of humor are her way of forming and strengthening connections with the viewer.

We had a delightful, inspiring chat with Mara Telling about her photography, her artistic influences and of course, her latest exhibition - Coffee - at Art Korner.

Do you have any background of art/photography in real life before you started Second Life photography?

I do have a SLR camera in RL, but it broke a couple of years. From time to time I take snapshots with my cellphone. I also have some paint and canvases … somewhere *laughs*. But I haven’t painted for decades. In my former creative Second Life I was building and selling houses and also did some live concerts as a singer/guitarist.

How did you start with inworld photography and how did you develop your skills at it? Both the actual photography and post-processing.

I once met a guy who told me that he’s a photographer in SL. He asked if I’d like to model for him. We had this photoshoot and during that process he showed me screenshots of the scenery. There was quite a difference as compared to what I was seeing! After the shoot he explained the basics of using various photo tools and wind lights. That was when my ambition came in... I wanted to be able to take more than snapshots or selfies. I started trying, and watching tutorials on YouTube about SL photography and received help from other photographers. It’s a continuous process, making progress at every turn. And so I’m still learning and playing.

Who would you say are your biggest artistic influences, both in SL and RL?

Phew... not sure if I can or should tell you names. There are so many talented people out there – in both lives. Some very good photographers left SL and their Flickr stream is mostly abandoned. Maybe I’m more influenced by single pictures than by a person? When a photo triggers emotions in the viewer... these are the best.

It also depends on the genre, my mood and preferences and the “connection” I might feel - to the photo and also to the photographer? I think that the photos someone takes also tell you something about that person. Sympathy and empathy – both important.

Ok, ok … I give you some names 😉

SL: I really like the Flickr stream of Key Monk -https://www.flickr.com/photos/140105578@N02/. Everything in his photographs looks so incredibly effortless.

When it comes to what’s possible with the photo tools and preferences I’ve learned a lot (and am still learning) from William Weaver and his YouTube Tutorials: https://www.youtube.com/user/colorscompletely

RL: I certainly owe my love for maritime scenes and lighthouses to the photos of Philip Plisson - https://www.plisson.com/

I find the story of Vivian Maier very touching and inspiring http://www.vivianmaier.com/

And the pictures of Icelandic photographer Rax (Ragnar Axelsson) are phenomenal https://rax.is/

How do you get your creative juices flowing again when you come across a block? Have you had that experience?

I experienced that before... yes. But it was more like being tired of the whole Second Life thing. So I took another break. To me it was like not being able to “find pictures” again.

Maybe there’s not ONE solution to get out of such a phase. Sometimes I find it hard to take another picture after a very good one (to me) that I’ve published before - like “you have to keep this standard”. This is very destructive. Then I have to find out if I just need a break, new inspiration or some kind of challenge.

Once when I was in such a situation I stumbled upon this video: TAOISM | The Power of Not Forcing

I haven’t even had to watch it. It was the title that hit me and helped me. Not forcing. Creativity is nothing you can force.

Play … just play!

Why do you feel the urge to be creative?

There’s a saying over here in Germany “Was raus muss, muss raus!” (“What has to get out, has to get out!”). I don’t think about it – most of the time!

What does coffee mean to you and to society in general?

I love (good) coffee! It’s simple like that. A good cappuccino is a feast to me. Drinking it and even watching a barista making his art = perfection!

What it means to society? … Let me have a coffee while thinking about that!

Your images are quite playful and fun, much like your personality. Do you usually decide on a plan and stick to it while making them or does the final image come out completely different from your plan?

I usually don’t plan my pictures. Sometimes I have a vague concept but I prefer to just stumble upon scenes, stories and people. In the real world I would probably be more of a street photographer than a studio photographer.

In SL, I’m too lazy to create complex scenery for a photo. Or should I say that I really appreciate that all the fabulous creators and sim designers who already did that for me? *laughs*

SL is a huge playground and I love it!

Can you tell us a bit about the creative process for this exhibition? Both the pictures and the props you made.

I have to say, that it was really hard for me! *laughs*

After your invitation to Art Korner and after we found the topic for the exhibition, I HAD to make plans!! The first ideas for some pics came to my mind while we were talking.

Then I started brainstorming, taking notes. I found this fantastic “coffee lovers” set by THOR https://flic.kr/p/2iysP1s and started playing with it. The set was modifiable which gave me the chance to create something new out of it, like a bunch of flowers made out of spoons and cups and coffee beans.

To take ten new pics (and NOT publishing them on Flickr) was quite a challenge. When I had nine pics out of ten, I had a little creative coffee-crisis. I took a pic and I wasn’t really happy with it.

I stopped thinking about it for a couple of days with the thought: “You have ten pics. If one or two are not that good – it's ok – you HAVE ten pics!” … Two days later I had the idea for a good Photo #10!

We hope you enjoy your visit to Mara's latest exhibition - COFFEE - about a subject dear to one and all!



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