Happy New Year!

It’s the first day of 2015 and I’m already pumped for the opportunities this year will bring. 2014 was so, so good to me, and I have a feeling 2015 will be even better.

Here are some highlights from 2014:

  • I improved my knowledge of Photoshop through my fun series, Fictionisms.
  • I took my first lighting course, and loved it so much it was hard to get me out of the lighting studio.
  • Home Sweet Home, the best thing I’ve done so far, was created.
  • I studied in London and traveled to Ireland, Northern Ireland, and France.
  • On above mentioned travels I orchestrated constructed images, which involved months of pre-planning. It also involved packing model ships.
  • For the first time I shot on a medium format and large format camera.
  • I learned how to cyanoype, develop black and white film, shoot with a view camera, and how to make gum bichromate prints.
  • I submitted to ArtPrize for the first time, and had my work displayed in the Grand Rapids Art Museum.
  • Out of approximately 1200 applicants to the Grand Rapids Art Museum, I was one of 19 artists chosen. I was also the youngest artist and the only student.
  • I was interviewed on live radio about my work and was on the front page of a newspaper.
  • After three years of anticipation, I started my graduate school applications.
  • I traveled by myself to the east coast, to visit schools in NYC.
  • I became a member of SPE.
  • I was the proud and honored recipient of a scholarship to go to SPE’s National Conference in New Orleans, LA.
  • My photographs have made people happy and excited.
  • My work has grown exponentially and my voice as a photographer is becoming more refined.
  • In so many ways, the path I’ve chosen as a photographer has been validated.

That’s quite the list, and honestly I’m a bit emotional over how incredible 2014 was. It was definitely filled with struggles and heartbreak, but looking for the joy of last year makes me feel thankful and confident for the year ahead. I had a fantastic 2014, and I can’t wait to conquer 2015.

2015 is going to be my best year in photography yet. Bring it on.

Happy Shooting!

This Photo Shoot was Amazing

I had the most remarkable photo shoot, and it had nothing to do with the photographs.

The shoot was planned twice. The first time, stuff happened and too many people had to cancel at the last minute, which meant the shoot couldn’t happen. This time, the tremendous effort of others made it possible, and I am honestly overwhelmed.

My friends Ian and Kaiden drove about an hour and a half to come do the shoot. Ian works full time, so he’s tired, and Kaiden had an extremely busy (but fun!) weekend at a convention, and was also exhausted. And, Kaiden’s friend, Alec, didn’t know me, never met me, but was cool with coming along to help.

My friend Sarah works five jobs, is in the honors college, and always does her work on time and to perfection. She had work later in the day, but she took what little free time she had to come pose for me.

My friend Lisa is also in the honors college, takes her studies very seriously, has a job, and is going through the tumultuous process of applying to graduate programs. She has papers and lab reports and god-knows-what else due this week, but she woke up early in the morning to get started on those things, so she would have the time for the shoot in the afternoon.

I met another wonderful person today, Sheena, who knows Ian. She had never met me, but was willing to model for me. That’s a big move, especially considering the odd things I put people through on this shoot. And, she wore high heels in the mud. That’s hard core.

So, I had an amazing shoot, because most of these people didn’t know each other, they just knew me. I had friends from home meeting college friends, college friends meeting one another, and friends of friends meeting each other. Everyone got along so well, the shoot went awesomely, and it was fun. I’m so fortunate to have such wonderful people in my life.

But enough with the mush. Let’s look at some pics:

Shout out to my mom for painting the boxes black. Shout out to Lisa for finding the location. Shout out to everyone for wearing tulle on their heads.

I honestly love these photos, which means a lot. Yes there are things I could make better next time I go shooting, but for now, these have my heart. I think the people in them have a lot to do with it.

Alec, bless his soul, took some behind-the-scenes shots of the shoot. I love behind-the-scenes shots. I’m in my own little world while I’m shooting, so seeing what’s actually going on around me is a treat. So here are some of those:

Forever squaring up my shoulders to take a shot.

This shoot is one of eight of a dream series I am working on. I’m focusing on that theme a lot this semester, but for this particular series I’m doing something interesting in post-process. But, more on that in a later post.

Hug your friends today. They’re important.

Happy Shooting!

 

 

Nightmares and Mistakes

The series of nightmares continue. This time around, I made some mistakes when I went out to shoot. Two of my films ended up fogged, and one of the images I was really looking forward to sharing. Mais, c’est la vie. I’ll most likely re-shoot it. But the fogging worked decently on the one image, so not all was lost. Remember kids, if you screw up, pretend you meant for it to happened! One of my favorite excuses: “It was an artistic decision.”

I also forgot to load film into one of the film holders and “took” two pictures. I would say you should have seen my face when I made this discovery, but you wouldn’t be able to anyway because I was in the dark room getting ready to develop the non-existent pictures.

I’m going to pretend they were going to be the best photos the world has ever seen, and because of that they were not allowed to exist. Pity.

So, I have this sort of habit with film where I want every shot to be perfect. It’s a noble pursuit, but let’s be real, even Ansel Adams didn’t get a perfect shot every time. As an artist, odds are you will never be satisfied with a shot, or a painting, or a story, or whatever. Because if you were satisfied, you would stop creating. With some of my pictures, I feel that I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish with the tools and skills that I had at the time I took the photo. That doesn’t stop me from critiquing it and possibly exhibiting it, but it just goes to show that you can be proud of your work and at the same time be critical of it.

I’m going to share the photos now, but as a disclaimer the last image of this batch of four makes reference to sexual violence. If you are sensitive about the subject, I don’t recommend taking a look.

That’s all for now. Keep checking back for more, as the series is only half-way finished at this point.

And no, I am not worshiping that grave stone.

Happy Shooting!

 

Chicago in Selfies and Snaps

Last Friday, I went on an adventure to Chicago, IL. Now the last two times I’ve graced this metropolis with my camera, I ended up with zero pictures, because I was such a huge rookie in the analog world I didn’t know my camera wasn’t advancing film. Live and learn and cry over emulsion that had so much potential.

But anyways I went on the trip with the art department, thinking I’d spend the day alone and contemplating Magritte until my best friend, who lives in Chicago, would get out of work. So, because I’m a loser, I decided to record my day with Snapchat.

I deal with my loser-ness with humor.

The trip was the day after my interview with WOOD Radio in Grand Rapids, and I was riding the bus, friendless, next to a random girl who didn’t mind me invading her personal space because when I fall asleep sitting up I tend to lean to the left and she was on my left and I woke up a couple times practically breathing down her neck so I actually don’t know if she didn’t mind or if she was silently thinking about ways to end me. But yeah, she didn’t know she was sitting next to a celebrity, since being interviewed on live radio one time rockets you into stardom. Duh.

When we got to Chicago, I wasn’t sure what to do, so I just kinda walked in the direction of Lake Michigan because I wanted a shot of the skyline. Walking along the lakefront was wonderful, as the rainclouds were receding. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Lake Michigan in person, but it is so gorgeous and so blue. And cold- that damn thing has some icy wind. Be responsible. Bring a jacket or five.

I had an epiphany as the wind blew through my bones and I was getting sideways glances from the occasional passerby (I was really into this whole Snapchat Your Sorrows Away thing.) I didn’t need to be alone. Since I’m famous, I have friends everywhere, including my high school friend and freshman year roommate who is currently going to law school at Loyola. So, a couple texts and a tourist-spree later, we met at Starbucks and my Snapchats and I were in good company for the rest of the day.

Also- when did it become a thing for middle schoolers to go to Starbucks? No, go away, you have enough energy. Go get a Slurpee, the caffeine dependency will come later. Enjoy spending your allowance on Yu-Gi-Oh cards (or whatever kids play with these days,) instead.

So my adventures were on the Metra to Wicker Park to Gold Coast where my friend lives in a high-rise because NBD to meeting with my Chicagoan friend to take the train to the ‘burbs. And then we headed to Michigan the next morning. The end.

Also, that is a lot of selfies. I never take selfies.

I was really excited to be back in Chicago, and visiting the city has made my longing to go to grad school there even stronger. I’ll be back in early November to visit for future educational purposes, but until then I will pine away and look at the fun pictures I took with Lomochrome Purple XR film. Once they get developed. Because I’m avoiding the possibility I’m just not allowed to take photos in Chicago and another roll was ruined. Denial is a wonderful thing, my friends.

Happy Shooting!

Dream Theme

Last night I was feeling crafty but I was sitting at my desk and my chair was just so comfy and getting up was the equivalent to scaling Mt. Everest I just kinda grabbed what was within reach and this happened:

I played around with my extra prints. I highly suggest you try this sometime, because it was really fun. The top one I used nail polish- pretty cool, huh? Check out your local dollar store or Poundland or wherever you live that has the equivalent of a dollar store and invest in some cheap sparkly nail polish.

These are definitely following my dream theme (hey, that rhymes!) I’d say they are even more dreamy than before… I wonder what else I can do in the future?

I’m filling up another dream roll this weekend, so that should be fun. I’m looking forward to exploring this motif further.

Happy Shooting!

An Attempt at Dreams

These next four months are going to be dreamy. Daydreams, dreams dreams, dreamy, follow your dreams, and even nightmares. You get it.

I’m going to be working on capturing images that follow this theme. For my first assignment, the goal was to take photos that correspond with the theme we had in mind, to start working it out and try to get our ideas out there. So, I tried. I tried really, really hard. Like, obsessed over a week and couldn’t stop writing in my notebook and couldn’t eat and couldn’t fall asleep kind of obsessed. Many questions plagued me: how can I break my usual aesthetic of whimsy to get dreamy? Is there a difference? Do I want to do dreamy, or are my ideas actually surrealist? When we are awake, are we asleep in the dream world? What is our purpose? Is there really a black hole at the beginning of the universe?

I tried a few different techniques, filters, and even a lens attachment to get some of these. Seeing them all together is pretty cool, but also makes me realize I have a lot of work ahead of me this semester if I want a successful series.

Okay, that doll. I know I should address it because it is most likely freaking a lot of you out, but- nah. I’m just gonna not say anything and let you decide why such a thing is welcomed in my house.

Oh, and I’m also glad my pro-fort-making-skills haven’t tarnished at all since my fort-buildin’ days.

Here are some bonuses:

My poor friend in the pool there is not a fan of swimming, and I guess what we were technically doing was water-boarding? So, I accidentally used torture as a means to get a good photo. I’ve done it all, folks.

Here’s to more questionable photographs in the future!

Happy Shooting!

Stopping by Woods with a Rainbow Umbrella on a Snowy Afternoon

I’ve been bored lately, and kind of in a photography slump. It’s not that I’m not enjoying taking pictures, because I am, and I’m not any less passionate, it’s just… I haven’t been happy with the work I’ve been producing for my classes. I think it’s the lack of freedom I have at this point in the semester, and hopefully that will change. However, I went out and did my own shoot. Because I can.

I had this idea since the first snow storm in my area. I pictured a girl in a red coat, in the snow. Simple, but I wanted to shoot it. I got my friend Rachel to pose for me, and she happened to have a red coat.

I think the best part of this shoot was the snow. There was so much of it- we went down by the river, where no one has really been since December. Now, no snow had melted up to this point, so all the snow that had accumulated over the past two months was just chillin’ (HA! PUN!), undisturbed… Until Rachel and I decided it would be a good idea to try and freeze our legs off. The snow was above our knees in some places! There were a few pictures where Rachel looked super short because of how deep the snow was. It was super funny, until we couldn’t feel our legs anymore.

I took a couple cameras with me. Again: because why not. I was really hoping to get some good panoramas out of my Horizon Perfect, but this happened:

rainbowumbrellahorizon

I got an unwanted double exposure! I’m super bummed, but it is what it is. It looks kind of cool, at least. Kind of. Maybe… I’m a little disappointed, if you can’t tell.

I busted out my Fuji Instax as well and shot two pictures on it. The first one is alright, but I’m in love with the second one. It has the contrast of the figure vs. ground that I was hoping for in my panoramas… (I’m not bitter… Like my film that broke in the camera so the sprocket holes were ruined and the reel wouldn’t take the film up anymore… whatever… not like I care or anything…) But yeah, these are from the instax:

A bit out of focus… oops?

Yay- look at the orb on the left from the flash reflecting off of the falling snow!

Sometimes you just have to do something to keep yourself sane amidst the course work. I do believe the boring period is over, since it is officially half way through the semester. I have an awesome shoot happening in the studio this week- I’m so excited I can hardly wait! I have a list of lighting tricks I want to try in portraiture. I love photographing people- so buh-bye still-life assignments, nice knowing you (but not really…)

Watch out for more this week for when I get done with my studio adventures- I can’t wait to tell you all about the pictures and how they were taken!