My family recently relocated from Utah to Pennsylvania. In the months leading up to this very big move, I found it very difficult to actively participate in anything creative. I stopped taking client work, stopped shooting personal work and instead found myself consumed with packing and preparing to sell our home…preparing for our lives to change. My cameras gathered dust as I found very little time for photography. This was a very hard time for me because my whole world was changing. I thrive on creative expression and for almost 5 months, for many reasons, I was unable to do much of anything creative. While leaving everything familiar and comfortable has been a bit scary and lonely, I have found renewed inspiration by the prospect of a fresh start. A clean slate to intentionally refocus my life on whatever I wish it to be. A renewal. Big changes are basically giant leaps of faith and I feel like I am suspended in potential right now.
In an attempt to gain greater creative reserve, purpose, and expression, I have taken the first step toward something new and fresh. I have decided to start a personal project! This project has been on my mind for many months. It has required gathering the proper tools, moving past the hurdle of relocating, and waiting until now. The time has finally come for me to step into this new space and own this idea that has been tugging at me for so long. I hope that by setting specific parameters around this creative endeavor, that I will be able to grow as a photographer and become more aware and satisfied as an individual and as an artist. The idea is as follows:
BE PRESENT! This is KEY! The best part about being taken out of your comfort zone is the shake up that jolts you out of unconsciousness. I am no longer living in the mindless familiarity I was 6 weeks ago. Everything is new. Everything is fresh. Life has new flavor and I intend to stay present in it as best I can. This is more easily said than done but I hope that my awareness and desire to live in the now will help me achieve it. I also hope that by being more present in my work (and life), that I will be a happier person. I long to harness the ability to connect to the untapped creative source. I want to swim in it.
EXPLORE! I will get out into this beautiful world and see things I haven’t seen before. I will take my children (and husband) with me so that I can expose them to the diversity and culture that this part of the country is so rich in. We have one more week of school left but once summer officially starts, we will be traveling, roaming, exploring. There is so much to see and do out here. I will not sit idly by. In addition, the idea of exploration is more than just physically visiting our new surroundings. I also intend it to include intangible things like exploring light, stepping out of my comfort zone, seeking out personality, emotion, feeling, heightening my own awareness as the one behind the camera. I hope that I have only skimmed the surface of this step and that the depth of it will reveal itself as I move deeper into the project.
DOCUMENT! For so long I have been focused on photographing the lives of others. I have hard drives full of other peoples lives. While this has been a great thing and I have loved photographing my clients, I am ready to put my business aspirations aside for a while and focus on my family. This move has been a reminder as to what is most important to me. My kids are growing up right before my eyes. It’s time for me to turn my cameras on them and record them as we explore and grow in this new environment. The time is now and I intend to seize it.
As we all know, any good project must have a set of parameters to follow. Here are mine…
I intend to document my personal life (family, kids, home, pennsylvania, travels, self etc) in a very simple and straight forward way. I will shoot only cameras and film that will allow me to be 90% self sufficient. I say 90% because I do intend to shoot some color 35mm and will need to send that to a lab for development since I don’t have the equipment or expertise to do that at home. What this means to me, is that I will only be shooting 35mm and instant. I do not plan on shooting any medium format (for this particular project) because the cost of developing and scanning is too high and I really want to keep this project as inexpensive as possible. Sometimes I let the monetary cost of shooting film get in the way of my willingness to shoot at all. In the back of my mind I know that I am paying somewhere around $20-30 per roll to actually see the fruits of my labor and that makes me feel unable to shoot as often as I would like. It costs about $5 to develop a roll of 35mm color film and since I will be scanning the film at home for free, I feel that that is a price point that I can manage and not get hung up on. Especially during this time when I am not in business, its important that I keep my costs down. I will develop my own black and white film in my makeshift darkroom, (read: my changing bag and my laundry room sink) and then scan it at home on my Pakon scanner. The Leica M6 with a 35 2.0 Summicron is going to be my go to camera and lens. Majority of this project will be shot using this set up. I also reserve the right to use my Canon 1V and my Olympus Stylus Epic if I want, but sparingly. My instant cameras will include the Polaroid 180, Sx-70, and Spectra. I intend to lean heavily toward the rangefinders. All the black and white film will be shot using Kodak Tri-X 400 and FP-3000b. My color will include a wide variety of whatever I have on hand but predominantly consumer grade stocks like the Kodak Gold 200 and 400 because I happen to have a lot of it. Fuji FP-100c and Impossible Project films (most of which I have had in storage for a long time and are expired) will round out my instant films. A couple other small things I want to add…I intend to shoot mostly horizontally and will not be doing any cropping outside of camera in post. In the past I have shot a lot of portrait oriented photos. This is more of a documentary style project and horizontal lends itself much better to this style of photography. I want this project to be an exercise into becoming a better photographer. For me, this means narrowing down the variables, stepping outside of my box, and being completely present at the time the shutter is pressed so that everything in the frame is deliberate. I expect to fail plenty, but I also expect to become sharper and more tuned into my images and that is what I am striving for. So there you have it. The plan. The rest, will unfold as I go along.
I hope that you will join me as the summer progresses. I will be posting my photos here and while I cant guarantee that I will do much more writing that what I have already done, I will try to include blurbs that will give insight and information as needed. My instagram feed is also going to change for a while. I do not intend to use my iphone for the camera so I will only be posting my images from this project on my ig feed. Limiting myself in this way will hopefully encourage me to shoot more often and to develop the film regularly. Daily if needed. Thus ensuring that my instafeed is still fairly…insta. I plan to pour my heart into this. I hope you will feel that.