No Place like Dome

Back in 2011, I had my very first public exhibit of my photography.  I set up a single table at the Blue Dome Arts Festival and sat under my brand-new tent, eager to share the stories behind the photos I’d selected.  I had a pair of canvas prints made and a selection of photos from Tulsa and my trip around the world.

2011-05-22 11.08.14
Blue Dome 2011

I have since referred to that weekend as a disaster.  My tent nearly blew away the first day (I packed up early once I realized how woefully unprepared I was), I had no real way for people to SEE my work unless they manually flipped through a box of prints, and very few people stopped to chat.  I sold four prints the entire weekend, all to friends or family.

Since that weekend of hard learning, I’ve come a long way.  I discovered Route 66, explored much more of my home state, and continued to develop my photographer’s eye.  Most importantly, I met Samantha; her support and encouragement have helped me grow more than anything else.  Back in 2011, I was a broken person.  When I unpacked my tent to set up for my second Blue Dome festival last weekend, I was whole…not to mention a whole lot better prepared!


Much like my inaugural event, storms wreaked havoc early on.  80 mph winds caused quite a bit of damage the night of initial setup and intermittent storms lead to Friday as a complete wash.  Samantha, who had her Bohemian Romance booth set up right next to me, agreed that after about an hour-and-a-half we should call it a day.  We had high hopes that the rest of the weekend would be a lot smoother.


Our hopes turned to reality; Saturday and Sunday’s weather was PERFECT!  It was then I was able to fully assemble my booth and appreciate how far I’d come in the last six years.  My work was easier to see and I had a greater variety of items to showcase it.  It was also a lot more targeted: the majority of what I had on display featured Tulsa and Oklahoma Route 66 photography.



This much-improved setup lead to many wonderful conversations with people, which has always been the highlight of what I do.  A woman came up and tearfully told me how much the Desert Hills photo moved her, as the motel was her home for a time when she originally came to town, broke and homeless.  A man picked up a coaster that featured the decorated main street of Tonkawa, a small town in Kay County he grew up in, and remarked in amazement to his friend.  Many passers-by commented on the photo of the old Riverside pedestrian bridge, which is due for demolition soon.  I even encountered a group of lovely Australian tourists traveling Route 66 that just happened to be in Tulsa during the festival!  I loved hearing every story and had the opportunity to tell a few of my own in exchange.


By the time we tore down on Sunday evening, I was utterly exhausted.  Days later, I’m still a bit achy…but it’s a good ache.  I’ve come a long way since that disappointing weekend six years ago.  Where will I be six years from now?  I hope I feel that I have made just as much progress as I do now.


Also, it was not lost on me that my booth was located right on the original alignment of Route 66.  Although it didn’t mean anything to me in 2011, it meant a heck of a lot this year.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s