Perhaps, I was feeling a few feelings. And those feelings lead me to edit these the way that I did. In this case, life was feeling kind of bleak, but I could still see a hint of hope. In a cliched way, colors appeared less vibrant, and I wanted to find light in the darkness I seemed to be trudging through. I wanted to focus on the idea that life is not permanent, and to take note that while we are here it is beneficial to find or invite the things that bring light, warmth, and joy to our days.
It’s been a long, dark, and damp (if not, drenched) winter in the Pacific Northwest. Many friends have expressed everything from annoyance to pure hatred toward our recent weather behavior. They’ve questioned their decision to move to this far corner of America, asked for advice about the best “happy light”, expressed wanting to fry under said happy light, and explained how this winter has brought out a level of S.A.D. we just didn’t think would exist. It’s so bad people are almost self-diagnosing themselves as depressed. So far, the people I know are okay and are managing as best as they can.
Though I consider myself a native, I have never really fully appreciated the grey season (which is about 6-9 months of the year, depending on science). I have expressed a spectrum of emotions about how it feels like I’m in a rain cloud prison. With what little energy I can muster I’ve found that reaching out to friends is good. Getting together with them is better. Sun lamps can kind of help. Taking a vacation to the desert is better. But this is all a roundabout way to say that creativity can take a back seat to pure sadness and lethargy (bears get to call it hibernation). This is all to say that my editing process has be skewing more dark and delicate than usual.
These tulip petals say a lot about how I’ve been feeling both physically and mentally: drained, dropped, and working in a shallow-depth-of-field. March 13, 2017
About the above image: The influence of painter Edward Hopper guided me to snap this as quickly as I could (This volunteer moved right after I took it). It reminded me of many of Hopper’s paintings and how they illustrate lonely and quiet postures, and long dramatic shadows. The portrait on the wall is Johnny Jones by Marti Corn.
The Outwin 2016: American Portraiture Today from the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery is on display at the Tacoma Art Museum. If you are in the Puget Sound area of Washington State, go and spend a couple of hours and treat yourself to a fine exhibit.
Candidly speaking, portraiture is not my strength when it comes to photography, but it doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it. And perhaps I’ve only been asked to do portraiture in the sense that someone needs a headshot or holiday cards made, as opposed to a photo where I collaborate with a subject to tell a greater story, which is what this exhibit does so very well. With each portrait, I found myself asking “Who is this person?” before the next question, “What choices did this artist make when considering how to present their subject, and why?”.
In the car ride home I unraveled my thoughts on the collection, about what I felt made it successful. In the end, the portraits that were chosen transcended the usual technical excellence and mainstream/popular visual aesthetic. With each, I met a person through their gaze, through their hair, or through how they held their hands. With each person, I became curious, my empathy and wonder feelers turned on high. Unlike viewing portraits that were commissioned hundreds of years ago to flatter a person in a high position, these were not just pretty portraits; these were lives. They are lives that are examples of many others like them that exist in this time, now, experiencing things I could experience or can relate to, or at least try to understand. They are not about status, but human existence.
To pique your curiosity, I decided to crop these phone pics of some of the work I saw on purpose. Seeing them in person is just more powerful, and they are totally worthy of your personal visit.
For me, watching waves ebb and flow is probably the most meditative experience. My mind immediately calms. I breathe more deeply. I start thinking about what I’m grateful for. I smile. Looking at these photos I think about how life is just as much about looking out as it is looking in. To see and journey toward a horizon while paying attention to what’s close and stirring inside.
I’m experiencing infant over load. It’s not a bad thing. They’re cute. Two close friends of mine have infants. One was born this past week. They’re so tiny at first. Then they work on their caloric intake and start chubbing up. Their neck muscles start to kick in, and you aren’t so afraid their heads will lop off that instant where you lose a little grip when holding them.
Babies cry. They are taking in all this information with their big eyes. One moment it’s darkness, it’s warm, their ears hear sounds in muffled tones (I’m imagining this. I have no idea what it’s like to be completely aware in a womb). Then it’s bright, loud, cold, and who are all these people? What is going on?!
Life is tough. Even when we’re babies we’re fighting reality. We’re flexing every muscle to be heard and screaming our heads off to be understood. Somebody hold me! Somebody comfort me! Somebody feed me! Somebody tell me it’s going to be alright!
Then the hushing starts. The swaddling. The bouncing. The dancing. Sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t. But when it does the cooing starts. The eyelids weigh heavy, and there is some time before that baby stress attack happens again. I really don’t see it as any different when you’re an adult. You just manage it a little better; and the moments between cries is further apart.