Much about being a creative is really understanding your voice and your vision, which isomething I have struggled with in the past while trying to find myself as an artist. With the passage of time and constant study, you start to see who you are, what you love and then… how the world truly looks to you. I will never be able to escape my tendency toward romance, beauty, simplicity, emotion and the classics.
So, I embrace it.
I can never ignore the soul fulfilling satisfaction of taking a photograph from concept, to composition, and then captured at just the right moment on film. That one shot, the quarter of a second pulled from time and eternalized into a physical object of study. This was the birth of photography for me, this was how you would take a picture and then agonize through your fear of mistakes in the waiting of development; a torturous process that I’m insanely in love with. In 2012 I decided that our studio holiday cards would be created in this fashion every year as a way for me to count the passage of time, to make something of an artifact for the people in my life, and to slow down from our crazy digitized lives back to where it all began for me as a photographer. I get to give the best I’ve got in this old school process; my vision, my thoughts, my mind, my passions, my skill and most of all, my time.
For this year’s studio holiday card I thought about the recurring visuals from 2014 and let my mind’s eye wash away in the strong currents of pictorial memories. What stood out to me? What did I learn about myself? What did I realize I loved? We traveled around and around the world to Bali, Brazil, Australia, Ghana, Dominican Republic, Provence, Germany, England, the American South, and Peru (more on that next week!) and you’ve been with me each step of the way these 12 months.
As I reflected on the year the place I loved most was Paris. It keeps coming back to me, as if a part of my soul is there waiting. I love the classic nature of her perfectly white architecture. The endless amounts of art and inspiration. And of course, the light. I love the way the french look at beauty and the physical form. As an adult now in charge of my own body, destiny and confidence, I’ve found that I am now enamored with the beauty of the body, it’s evolution and ever changing shapes, the softness of skin and functionality that make us human. I thought about the beautiful sculptures of Paris that dot my endless walks, the thing I love to do most there. I thought about that day I spent in the Louvre with my father and all those breathtaking halls of beauty celebrating the female form. Then that was it. I wanted to bring all of those things into my world, in front of my lens, on an early winter evening at Ann Street Studio…
Using a dark changing bag I loaded Ilford Delta 400 black and white film into my 4×5 sheet film holders. Below our intern Sarah Rocco captured behind the scenes shots photographing model Mitzi who I previously worked with at our studio and who I knew had the type of body I was going for.
I then take the exposed film to my favorite lab in New York City to be processed by hand. Once we reviewed the contact sheets and chose the one out of 25 plates I shot it was off to Boston, spending two days inLePete photo lab and darkroom printing.
7 Second exposure on warm toned fiber base paper @ 2.5 contrast filter and f/8, 2 mins in developer, 30 secs in stop bath (stops development), 5 mins in fixer (makes it not light sensitive), 30 mins in wash baths. It took two full days of printing to produce the 200 prints.
It’s then on to spot checking each print after they passed through three separate drying systems and cooled under weighted glass. This year we finished the cards in Texas, eliciting our family’s help in stuffing each envelope. As we set out on the country roads of Texas to the post office I felt such a sense of pride…. that is until we found the post office was closed which meant, as we have done all the years before, they were ultimately mailed from Savannah, which is, for me, the best way to end another exceptional year.
“Nude #15”, 2014
See 2013 here.
See 2012 here.