A few years ago I started a personal project called home life. I was taking an advanced photo class at Coastal Carolina University and we had to pick a project for the semester. The subject had to be the same subject for the whole semester, with the narrative story in mind, one image connecting to the next. I remember resisting choosing something, I remember finding it difficult to choose a project for fear I would “mess up”.
My professor suggested that I photograph what was in front of me. Hinting at the idea of photographing my children. I hesitated, in efforts maybe to avoid the discomfort of sharing my personal life. I think I was trying to photograph landscape, old buildings or something. (You know the safe subjects) The work I was producing was mediocre. I knew if I wanted to grow I would have to start ripping of some Band-Aids and stop compartmentalizing my work life and personal life. I knew that if I just surrendered to blending them together I could get to where I wanted to go, and produce the art I was destined to produce.
So I just started, one foot in front of the other kind of thing. My first Images weren’t horrible, but they looked and felt like everyone’s candid images of their children. My work felt so literal, boring even, I knew I had to find my inner Sally Mann, but how on earth was I going to get there?
Did it just happen? No. Was there a secret sauce, formula or light bulb? No. I just took a lot of images, and let me tell you I burned threw loads of film, and digital files. Mostly film.
Each week we had to bring our images to our professor and have a one on one critique. Let me tell you there were moments he would look at my work, and I would look at him and hope to Jesus he wouldn’t rip it apart. It was when he was silent it scared me the most. I would anxiously wait, while he looked over the images up and down, the he would say: “You have something here”, or “dig deeper”. He wanted me to come up with the answer, to figure those next steps out. Not just hand them to me, which that I am thankful for.
What I learned from the critique is to keep going, to make it better, and that it doesn’t just ‘happen’ to you have to choose the direction you want to go into. That I am going to fail a lot, and that is OKAY!
So here I am 3 years later, more images, more life and this personal project took on a whole new meaning.
Enjoy friends, until next time
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SALLY MANN VISIT - https://www.artsy.net/artist/sally-mann