Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Negatives, Negatives, Negatives

Over the weekend, I made contact prints for a big stack of negatives (exposed as far back as November!). Most of them were new triptychs for A Place so as to Stay, so my stack of around 150 negatives turned into about 12 finished images. Last night, I cut them all up and arranged them together. Figuring out which panels go together the best is one of my favorite parts.

In this new series, I am focusing on people and the ways in which they relate to their environment. More specifically, I'm seeking out people with interesting spaces unique to them and their lives. Thus far, the people in my images are largely people I have known, even in some very small capacity, but I am beginning to wonder at what point I'll need to seek out new people specifically for the project. Oddly enough, when I started looking around me, I realized that a great number of people in my life fit the description of what I'm interested in. Granted, I use the term "in my life" loosely- some of the subjects I had only heard about through a friend. One of the subjects is the spouse of a former professor. Another is the guy that owns the cigar shop where my dad buys his cigars. Another is the guy who washes dishes at the restaurant where my buddy works. Some are people I've met through work, and others are good friends or family. The range is really quite broad, but everyone of them has some meaning to me.

When I was looking around my darkroom as the prints were drying, I suddenly realized how personal this work is. Most of my previous work has become personal as I get to know the subjects, but generally, the subjects aren't people who I am close to or who are a part of my life. But with this work, I am trying to capture the essence of the people who mean the most to me. As obvious as it seems, this realization snuck up on me, at least on a conscious level. I have no doubt that some other part of my brain had this figured out all along, but putting it into words was a new discovery for me. I have surprised myself because some of my favorite images were the ones I staged the least, or the ones I thought would be the least unique. One that comes to mind is a new image of my dad smoking a cigar on his back porch at night. To me, this is just my dad, a sight I see every time I'm with him, so I didn't think a lot of taking a photo of it. But as an image, it's fascinating. If I can view it with different eyes, I see all of the environmental signifiers and quirky objects that make it uniquely my dad. It is a normal space to me, but it is a unique and interesting space nonetheless, one that says more about who my dad is as a person than I intended it to. While I am focusing on planning out the framing of the image before I take it (which I find necessary since I'm shooting triptychs), I am also inspired to take images that surprise me.

I am so excited to continue making these pictures- I feel a giddyness and sense of unlimited possibility. After focusing on projects with specific parameters (i.e. trans people, or the staff of the Fogg), I am overjoyed and overwhelmed to be working on a project that can include ANYBODY, so long as they have something, someone, or somewhere that is important to them.

Sorry I don't have any images to show yet- I'll put the new work up on my website shortly.

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