This portfolio contains two bodies of work exploring differing ways of working within black and white photography while sharing the same aesthetic approach. The representational images of children are intended to be catalysts for emotional reactions. They delve into the serious and complex world of childhood showing the the children vacillating between id-driven play and presentations of their social selves. Betraying memories and desires of the photographer, these city-dwelling children are often shown in a rural or seemingly rural environment. This body of work has been evolving over the last 15 years. As the older girls mature and younger children enter the tableau, the interactions between them within the photo become part of the dynamic. Still life photographs depicting the after effects of the children's presence becoming more frequent in this group of photos; a natural progression of the children's maturing and changing activities. Interpretations shift as fictions of childhood are destabilized by the viewer’s context. Their actions and reactions are the vehicles for exploration and expression. The images are being created by a sensibility separate from the emotions of the subjects. The viewer is a crucial participant in this exchange of feelings and ideas, his or her experiences and biases enlarge the content of the photographs.
Film is the capture method lending technical consistency to the on-going body of work. A traditional fine print is the formal goal. This underscores the timeless mood of the images and universality of the content. Formats vary. The small 35mm rectangle allows tight placements and croppings, directing the content of the image. Horizontal and vertical become meaningless when looking into the square viewfinder of the medium format camera. Compositional strategies change when confronted with this rigid symmetry. The 35mm prints are more “transparent” in the photographic sense, providing a window onto the actions and relationships depicted. Variations in presentation echo the multiplicity of meanings created by the isolation and selection of a single action.
More recent work goes back to the historic use of photograms throughout the history of photography. This work is darkroom based, made by exposing onto contact printing paper. Transparent and translucent materials are placed on the paper to create intricate compositions of light and dark shapes. The creation of photograms strips the photographic process down to light sensitive materials and chemical baths while opening the door to new possibilities of depiction.
This is in reaction to the increasing pervasiveness of images and capture devices. The captured image and replication of subject matter has saturated most aspects of daily life. Here is a method of photographic image-making that does not involve any kind of film or digital capture while striving to retain the beauty of the photographic image. There is no object or real world reference in these images, allowing the evocative nature of the visual elements to control the content. None of these images are reproducible. Each is created uniquely on the enlarger easel in opposition to the understanding of this being a mechanically reproducible medium. Other ways in which we have learned to interpret photographs also do not apply when looking at this work: there is no moment in time, no change in spacial relationships created by the lens, no documentary purpose, no framing a specific rectangle or square from the real world, nor is there any interpretation of ambient light.
This group of photograms is an exploration expressing some of the most intrinsic visual qualities of photographic images, among them: the starkness of the graphic qualities of black and white imagery, the subtly of gradation of values of gelatin-silver paper, and the complex interplay of negative and positive shapes.