For the next few weeks, the Project 52 group at Who We Become are going to be examining the role of the audience in our photography. After all, what is art without someone to experience it? That said, can worrying too much about what others will think of our work change the work and in what ways. Does it alter how we approach our photography? How we set up our shots? How we edit? What we share? Are we driven by a desire to improve, to more clearly communicate our vision, or are we simply seeking approval?
This week we are each choosing one photo and explaining how audience was a consideration in taking, editing and sharing that picture. I took this photo of the sunrise through a wet ferry window on a foggy morning. There was no doubt in my mind that I would share it to my Instagram audience, a small band of friends, relatives and fellow photographers. The small screen size and strictly photos format of Instagram makes me willing to share more creative or unusual pictures than I would in other venues.
This week is an introduction to the Artists of Who We Become. Yes, we said it, Artists. We even put a capital ‘A’ on it! Introducing ourselves as artists is pretty terrifying for most of us. It makes us vulnerable to put ourselves “out there” so boldly when we have so many questions and doubts inside. But this is the journey that we are ready to embark on and first steps can be tough.
We have spent the last few weeks exploring our fears and creating personal goals. This week each Artist has prepared a short bio including our goals and dreams for this year’s project and perhaps beyond. We will revisit this exercise a few times over the year to see where we are and how our goals have evolved. A periodic gut check to keep us always moving forward, even if we are unclear of the ultimate destination.
My choice of words to introduce myself to the group audience:
I am a full-time professional in a field far removed from photography, as well as mom to two school-aged girls. Life is a constant juggling act. I started learning about photography to better document my family, and the technical and compositional challenges captured the quantitative side of my brain. But now that I have a good handle on the foundational techniques, and have no professional aspirations in photography, what’s next?
I don’t have strongly defined personal goals for this project yet. The very title Artistry is intimidating for me, since I have never thought of myself as artistic. I expect it to be a year of exploration, which may range broadly. I hope to devote more attention to capturing breathtaking or intriguing images of natural or urban surroundings; half the battle will be to get myself to beautiful or interesting places with time to concentrate on taking photos. I hope to improve my ability to photograph people in both posed and candid settings. Most of all, I hope to work past my discomfort with sharing images publicly and committing my photos to large prints.
Below are some pictures from the pursuit of my first “hope”. They were taken on a very chilly evening over the Christmas holidays, when I took an hour to go to Sandy Hook at sunset and take pictures back toward the New Jersey Highlands and Twin Lights.
I am thrilled to be embarking on Year 3 of a collaborative project with a group of incredibly talented photographers. Our first year, A Play on Light, was dedicated to the study of light and year two, Framed, focused on composition. This year, as we move beyond the technical, we will be continuing our self-education and growth as a collective by focusing on the idea of art and artistry. As photographic artists, how do we continue to develop our craft and make work that motivates us and inspires us to keep going? What, to us, makes better art? Follow our journey at Who We Become.
While we will be linked by common topics and posting as a group, this journey is partially an individual one, subject to different interpretations and personal goals. However, we remain joined by a common desire to find direction and meaning in our work, and to shoot with intention. We will be trying out new things and giving ourselves permission to fail – and to fail publicly. Even if we don’t find any concrete answers, we believe the exploration itself will be worthwhile.
Our Artistry project will run for 52 weeks, and will be divided up into several sub-topics. For our initial post, we each reflected on our body of work and have selected images that represent our photographic comfort zone, those that we feel most comfortable shooting right now. These images may be favorites or may be on the cutting room floor, but are images that each photographer feels she can capture easily. When we are in our “zone,” all the elements come together in a seamless and intuitive way and the shot happens almost in spite of ourselves.
In preparing this week’s post I reviewed the photos I’ve taken since Framed wrapped up in September. While admittedly I haven’t been picking up my camera nearly as often as I should, when I looked at the pictures from the last 4 months that I considered worthy of sharing, nearly all were close-ups of my girls. I have plenty of work from the past two years that has subjects besides my kids. But when I’m just shooting once in a while, these close-ups seem to be my fall back comfort zone. Next week, I’ll share some photos from a shoot that got me a bit outside my comfort zone, as well as my goals for the coming year.