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Meet Carol Schiraldi of Carol’s Little World

Today we’d like to introduce you to Carol Schiraldi.

Hi Carol, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
Growing up in Scarsdale, a small town on the outskirts of New York City, my father was an executive and my mother was a stay at home mom who once performed as a ballroom dancer on roller skates. My Dad was raised bilingual but wound up speaking many languages, while my Mom had been a jazz music fan and an avid reader. My early years were the near embodiment of a Steely Dan song—infused by everything from the street art of Keith Haring to the sullen blue notes of jazz great John Coltrane, with hints of impressionist painters, a little Andy Warhol, and a host of delta blues washed down with some Hemingway whiskey for good measure. Given the rich culture of my upbringing, it’s no surprise that I became a consummate dabbler, trying my hand at everything from writing to music to pottery. Oddly enough, I never picked up a camera until I moved to Austin but once I found myself behind the lens, everything just seemed to click (excuse the pun.) I really felt that’s where I was supposed to be. I had just moved to Austin in the summer on 1992 and used a camera as an excuse to explore my new surroundings. Once behind the camera, things moved very quickly for me, as I secured my first show within a couple of months. I really felt like I had found my calling as an artist. It was a natural fit.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
For me, I took some odd turns before finding the camera and establishing myself as a photographer. Once behind the lens, I felt that’s where I was supposed to be, but then I struggled to figure out how to make that work. I was not a professional photographer, income-wise even though I was getting into a lot of shows and my work was being accepted by the photography community. I had a day job, working in the tech industry, and struggled with the divide between the practical and my calling as an artist. Artistically, my struggle came in refining my vision. As a photographer, I never limited myself to one particular subject. Some photographers only shoot portraits, for example, others do wildlife or architecture-barns like Walker Evans, that sort of a thing. I’ve always shot whatever interested me at the time. While artistically rewarding, that can make for a marketing nightmare because you have to get known for something. I’ve always had a visual style, in terms of shooting things a certain way, in fact, I have a strong style, a fingerprint as an artist if you will, but I never limited myself to one subject or another. Instead, I went from one fascination to the next while at the same time trying to figure out how to balance all of that with the demands of a day job. I still am a very experimental artist but it can be difficult to present that in a way that sells or draws an audience sometimes.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Carol’s Little World?
I started Carol’s Little World as a blog in 2002. It’s hard to believe now but, in the earliest days of blogging, we didn’t even have photoblogs yet! Carol’s Little World started out as a journal for me. It was a way for me to express myself in written form. I never really cared about traffic, hit counts, or the like, it was always about stories, notes, and anecdotes from my day. As it grew, I gradually added pictures, combining my writing with my photographic work. As the years went by and the site grew more popular, I decided to add an online gallery, where I could showcase images from my now popular photoblog. I setup which is an online state of the art gallery with some great features. It has a virtual reality tool where you can see what the art looks like on your walls and it’s hooked up on the back end to a print on demand service, so items are printed and shipped straight to your door. Carol’s Little World also carries merchandise, including t-shirts, wall calendars, and coasters, all printed on demand from my images. I am especially fond of the coasters since I love creating little bright colorful square compositions! Of course, my photoblog is still going strong, having recently been named one of the top photoblogs on the internet.

Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
For me, I have been very lucky in this regard. The photography community is very tight and it’s easy to follow the career of others, to get advice, or even to learn from mistakes. I think the biggest factor in the success of mentoring a lot of times is how willing you are to work with a mentor, how open you are to the process. If you are willing to learn, there is always somebody out there willing to lend you a hand, but you have to be open to it and sometimes that means having to ask for or admit you need a helping hand.

From my earliest days, I would always find a photographer more successful than I was and sort of “virtually” follow them. I would check out their C.V. (artist resume) to see which galleries they were showing their work and then try to get into those galleries. I would look at people showing in those galleries and see where else they were showing work, what other galleries were taking work, and hit them up with a proposal for some of my own work. I wound up doing something like 200 exhibitions that way (so many, I’ve lost count!) It doesn’t always work, you have to keep trying, keep going, but it’s easy to get inspired and to see a path you want to follow.

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Carol Schiraldi

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