August 29, 2011

first of all, let me begin by saying that I hope everyone who reads this blog survived this last week with as little damage and stress as possible – crazy and surreal it definitely was. I had a couple who was to be married on saturday and as it approached it looked less and less likely that it would happen given their venue is right on the banks of the chesapeake. once mandatory evacuations of the area were made, it was a done deal. kristin and bryan, I am SO sorry that it didn’t happen 2 days ago but am so glad that you were able to reschedule, that everyone is safe and that we’re still able to work together! during the weekend, I was able to get a lot of work done (could not believe we didn’t lose power!) and to spend time with a dear friend who was evacuated from rehoboth beach and came to stay with us during the duration. I was also able to dig through some of the tear sheets that I constantly collect. way before pinterest – although I am slowly and very surely becoming a huge fan – I have always had corkboards and folders overflowing with magazine clippings, photos, postcards, etc. that are sentimental, inspirational or just because I like them. when I was a teenager, I had a whole wall of my bedroom that was nothing but one big “mood board” about my future and my dreams. since then I still collect, tack up, rearrange and replace as the mood strikes me. I have supplies to put up a huge one at the studio so that collectively, kris, mel, liv and I can continue to build and enhance our creative vision as a team at GPA. inspiration was a huge word in MICA“what inspired this photo” “use this as your inspiration for your next assignment” and so on.. and looking back I am so grateful for the path that led me to this career. probably most importantly, at least for me, I am beyond happy that I learned with film. I feel sad for current photographers that have never experienced the magic of darkroom developing. you are missing out – big time. all of those required art history that I complained about at the time shaped the way I look at the world and approach my assignments. I had to take a required commercial photography class and to be honest, I dreaded the in-studio monotony of it. for example, there was this guy named dave that could light anything so when we got the assignment “pencils” he had constructed this elaborate tabletop set up where every pencil was perfectly and symmetrically highlighted with consistent shadows – it was flawless! I on the other hand, had a friend with crazy curly long hair pin up her hair with 30 colored pencils at random angles. the instructor hated it, going so far to say I had disappointed him -  but my other teacher jack, who later became my mentor loved it. it was the first time I was told I had an unique “eye” and that I had talent and a specific point of view. dave is probably making millions lighting and shooting luxury cars and I hope he is because that was his love, his passion – but not mine. jack’s words gave me confidence and every assignment after that was 100% me. later, I studied my heroes like annie leibovitz, sally mann and mary ellen mark and spent hours reading about them and absorbing their work – and while I was no doubt influenced by them, I never imitated them – how could I? they were these amazing women, firmly planted in their field and I was a little art school darkroom rat. but what I learned from them was a passion for my craft and the determination to listen to my voice. in the age of the internet, I sometimes fear about the lack of passion for the art of photography. yes the job of it is fun – the facebooking and the blogging and the marketing – trust me, I know how important it all is and I enjoy every minute of it. but everyday I see dozens of new photography facebook “business” pages and I wonder if they have seen a photograph that made them cry, made them swoon, made them know in their heart that photography was a path that was custom made for them to show the world how they felt by the simple snap of a shutter. or did they get a nice camera for christmas and so-and-so says that they take cool pictures, so hey! why not start a career? let’s just say I can make a pretty delicious cake, but that doesn’t mean I could or should open up a bakery anytime soon. I don’t know… I know it sounds cynical but sometimes I fear for where my industry is headed. what I do know is that quite a few years have passed since my art school days but my folders and corkboards keep filling up with new things that just light a spark for me. I hold tight to those lessons I learned and the questions that challenged me during endless classroom critiques as my inspiration was displayed on an 8×10 piece of ilford paper for the world to see and for that I am forever grateful.