Lately I’ve been trying to look at what I usually photograph in a different way. Photographing swimming in the Judson Pool tends to get frustrating because of the poor lighting situation, the terrible backgrounds, and the odd setup of the pool. I decided to challenge myself and create imagery that was still about the sport and showed the action of the athletes but also studied the power and finesse of the movements. Divers, dancers, cheerleaders, and gymnasts all have this immense control over their bodies in ways that I could never achieve. These images are a study of that power and control existing together.
This past weekend, I found myself sitting in a church basement in Fairfax, VA, listening to Carol Guzy talk about Iraq, dealing with grief, and what it means to be a photojournalist.
To be honest, the experience was a bit odd at first. The discussion was being held at the Truro church because they had sent missionaries to Iraq, and later Carol joined them to document the missionary effort and occurrences on the ground. There was praying, there was sad slideshows, and pamphlets about spreading the word of god, but I think the strange space allowed for more open conversation and contemplation.
I was interested to see what Carol was able to produce in these semi-contrived circumstances, and what her thoughts were on the subject matter. Yet again, I was struck by her compassion and how deeply she feels for her subjects. I asked her how she is able to put those strong emotions aside when she is shooting and compartmentalize; she answered that it was just something you have to do. I am always moved by her compassionate nature and her kindness, and I’m so happy I was able to make the trip to D.C. for this!
Today, my portfolio class was lucky enough to Skype with Ross Taylor of The Image Deconstructed. Ross was adamant about honing one’s own special skills, stressing the importance in knowing what makes you different than your peers and what your strengths are. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and how it applies to my own work and skill set. Between underwater, drone, and video I feel like I have three methods of storytelling that are close to my heart, and I want to expand all the same.
But I’ve also been struggling with the idea of something Ross touched upon as well, “destination papers”, those publications that everyone sees as the end goal, and everything else as a stepping stone. I’ve truly struggled with this idea lately because it seems to diminish the work done at smaller or less well known publications; as if your work doesn’t matter if it’s not being published for National Geographic or New York Times. While, of course, I would love to be published in those and numerous other well-known publications, but I also think about NGOs, small publications, and other means of communicating visually that also tell important stories that all have validity.
These thoughts are my attempt to tell myself that I am able to be successful, even if I am never on the cover of the Post or a staffer at the AP. I am part of this industry, not to be rich or famous, but to tell stories. In the end, I’ve come to realize all I need is stories to tell, mountains to climb, and tea to drink.
Today I am submitting my application to the Reinke Grant. This grant is for students to spend and immersive 12 weeks in Boyd, Kentucky. If chosen, I would have the ability to commit those 12 weeks solely to storytelling and mentorship by those at Boyd’s Station. See the work I submitted for the grant below!