The Collectors

Legitimately a series about people’s stuff.

This idea occurred to me years ago, but at the time I didn’t have the means for execution (so, basically any shoot I come up with ever.) I don’t know why, but this summer I decided I wasn’t putting it off anymore, and I was going to do this series at last.

And I adore it to pieces.

I love seeing what people collect and why. It is so fascinating, the things people collect, and it goes beyond collecting erasers or rocks (which are great to collect, btw.) Some have big collections, some have small, some have strange collections and some have collections of things no one has ever heard of. It is fantastic.

But hey, look for yourself:

Me and my rubber duckies are so fabulous, even Ernie from Sesame Street is foaming at the mouth in a jealous rage.

I chose the set up carefully. I thought about photographing people in their homes with their collections, but I just had a gut feeling that wouldn’t yield the results I wanted. Putting people on a white background felt organic to me– the sitter would be isolated, with no distractions, with their objects. The viewer can only focus on them and their collection, which is spectacular, to draw conclusions and shatter expectations. I asked my sitters to relax their face and not smile, something I learned from working with Jochen Gertz and his project, The Gift.

Also I didn’t want these to look like senior portraits. #bye

With a neutral expression, the focus is on what I intended: the individual and their relationship with objects.

So, yeah! These are the first 9 images, and I’m not planning on stopping anytime soon. I have even more of these to edit currently, but I wanted to give you guys a little background on this project.

Do you collect anything?

Happy Shooting!

This Photo Series Is Out of This World

A kind of common thing I do is orchestrate large photo shoots with sets that take months to prepare. My last big “set” was the shoot I did with the gas masks last November. This time, my friends and I had one last hurrah before I move to Chicago and start my adventure there. We just kinda partied in outer space, or as I call it, the vacant lot near my house where people smoke joints and kids go dirt-biking. Not like that matters or anything.

I spent six months planning and gathering the things I wanted and needed for the shoot. It turned out much different than I was anticipating, but hey, when does that NOT happen? Story of my life, my friends. I was able to play with some of my lighting tricks, something I was not anticipating a few months back. Can you say SUPAH NOVA THROUGH AMBIENT AND STROBE LIGHT MIXING? Because I can.



So the idea was there were these alien enthusiasts, kind of like conspiracy theorists, who strongly believed in aliens or whatever (my eloquence is overwhelming, I know.) So one night, while hanging out at their campground for weirdos, looking out for aliens, they have a surprise encounter and everything is awesome.

I busted out the Instax Mini and some special film (Shiny Stars, I think? I got it from eBay.) I was taking pictures of the set, things lying around, and a group shot of my homies throwing up a peace sign.

Oh, and I took a picture of the pile of clothing that needed to be laundered after the shoot.

I have the Lomo Instax Mini, which gives you MX capabilities. It is seriously my favorite, and if you are thinking about getting a Mini, I HIGHLY suggest the Lomo one. Do it and be happy and live life with no regrets.

We had a blast with this shoot, it took 4 hours to set up, and we got done past midnight and went for milkshakes. I would have to say it was a great way to close my summer and days in Michigan. Shout out to everyone who was able to make it special.

Good things come to those who wait. Unfortunately for me, I can’t wait six months to do one shoot while in grad school, so, uh, wish me luck friends.

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!



Somebody, Pinch Me

My life has been ArtPrize this past week, and I’m SO okay with that. On Sunday, I had a lovely brunch with donors of the Grand Rapids Art Museum, where I met some wonderful people and was able to discuss my artwork with them.

But, really, I’m so excited it’s unreal.

On Wednesday, the opening of the competition, I went downtown and visited my work for a few minutes (I really wanted to check out how busy the museum was- it was busy.) I visited a lot of the venues in Center City and a few in Heartside, and man, there are so many talented artists! I was overwhelmed once more by how respectable this exhibition is, and how I’m surround by thousands of works by very worthy artists.

Also, I saw some cyanotypes. That is the sign of my people- they are around. Somewhere. But not lurking in the shadows, because, y’know, sunlight is needed for cyanotypes. Cyanotypes are pretty hip right now for photographers. We like to think we’re meta.

I keep expecting that I’ll get used to how crazy this whole thing is, but every time I start to feel even a tiny bit complacent, something cool happens. The other morning, I got called to set up an interview. And, a few nights ago, a friend of mine (thanks, Julie!) told me that my artwork was on the front page of the Grand Rapids Press.

My work.

On the front page.

Of an in-print newspaper.

Somebody, pinch me.

My work was also on I just keep finding out about these things second hand. It’s like I’m living in two totally different worlds right now: by day, I am a hard working student itching to graduate. By night, I am the artist who created Home Sweet Home.

There have been a couple blog posts about my work, but my favorite article was by Rachel Watson. Her post is a great read, so check it out!

I returned, once more, on Friday with a couple of friends, and I sat in front of my piece for about an hour, just watching people’s reactions. I had one guy standing right next to me, photographing my piece, and I chuckled a little because the artist was sitting right next to him, but he was oblivious. A couple people did double and triple takes, recognizing me, so even though I chopped all my hair off I guess I’m not as incognito as I thought I was. Darn.

The funny thing about this was I was actually waiting in line at my own piece, trying to snag a few of my postcards. And no one, except one highly observant lady, noticed. And, thanks to my friend (Caroline you rock!) here is photographic evidence, because I’m a photographer and I’m all about that sort of thing:

People were standing in line waiting to get at my piece. I got a bit teary eyed, because seeing all of these people really look at my work is a dream come true. And it’s all because I took a risk. And, on the bus, I talked to a lady who remembered my piece. This experience is truly rewarding.

So, yeah. If you’re around, be sure to visit the Grand Rapids Art Museum to see my piece (and vote for it!) Also, I have postcards for your enjoyment, and everyone loves postcards, so hey, incentive. I’m also on the front, and that face may be famous some day.

Go look at the art. Get cultured. Also, the food in Grand Rapids is amazing, and all the artists are fun and quirky. ArtPrize is from September 24th- October 12th. Don’t miss out!

Happy Shooting!