Can't Be Lucky Every Day #026d

As my final critique before showtime looms, I am prepared.  I think.  In the past few weeks I have been working with mentors and visiting artists to narrow down my image selection, as well as size requirements and framing options for everything pertaining to the upcoming thesis exhibition.  I had a really awesome studio visit with Brian Ulrich, Anna Shteynshleyger, Michael Goodson, Shannon Benine, and Tim Rietenbach all at the same time.  The idea was daunting at first, but having the three excellent photographic minds of Ulrich, Shteynshleyger and Benine as well as Michael and Tims outside input was incredibly helpful, and being able to have a cohesive conversation about my work that bounced between all of us answered lots of questions, and helped me practice for talking about the images.  The best part about the visit was having Anna and Brian both recognize the feeling I’ve been working to evoke within my images.  The existence of the fallow and unexceptional nature of my images was very noticeable to them… which was a welcoming result.

The lightboxes are still in play, and I am focusing on size, frame material and thickness, as well as color options to best match the other works and to fit in the gallery.

The recent development and changes that are occurring are as follows:

a. I’ve eliminated two entire series from the work that will be shown – mainly due to size constraints in the gallery location I have, I got feedback about the risks of having an overly-crowded space and I have to agree.  Also, both the series that were eliminated don’t precisely convey the same concepts as the pieces to be shown, so they may become referential in my written thesis, but won’t be shown in the gallery.

b. Relics.  As I have been shooting over the last two semesters I have been collecting small items/relics from each place I photograph.  These items are similar to the photographs in their unexceptional nature – straw, broken bricks, a broken shovel, gravel, etc. – that exist in the spaces I have photographed.  The potential plan right now is to possibly have a shelf or pedestal displaying these items, to help drive home the concept of just how overlooked the existence of these places is, and literally inferring importance by placing them on a pedestal in a gallery setting.  Still mulling this idea over.

c. video?  Anna Shteynshleyger mentioned how interesting a still video of these places could be.  A video piece that just remains stationary, as if it were one of my photographs, simply existing with subtle movements and the ambient sound found within these spaces.  I believe it might be a little too late for that idea, in terms of the exhibition, but I am going to experiment with adding a sound element to the still/lightbox images in a way to hold the attention of the viewer a bit longer.  We shall see.

I’ve been reading some new things and looking at a few new artists, the most influential so far is Michael Vahrenwald and his Universal Default series, amazing work!

Next time I critique, my work will be in the gallery, so this is it on the random musings about selection and hanging issues, here we go!


so christmas/new years break happened, and some photography happened as well.  lately i have been focused on a single statement that i think will embody the whole idea of my thesis, and that is ‘consider the landscape.’  i am trying to get the viewer to consider what they think of when they hear the word landscape.  what is pristine? what is beautiful? what is worth looking at vs. what isn’t? my goal is to show that it is ALL worth looking at, especially the banal and unexceptional spaces.  my images have taken shape in four different ways: piles, lights, pathways and spaces – and as i look through all my photographs, old and new, those four things have been focal points in everything i look at.

piles: act as a barrier, a stopping point within the frame that causes the viewer to have to stop, look around, figure out what the pile is obstructing.

lights: illuminate and create importance on one particular space within the image, almost creating a second image within the first.

pathways: lead the way, creating a place for the eye to travel, a visual escape route.

spaces: simply exist, void of any tangible or necessary thing.

i’ve been working on image selection and framing options lately, now that we have a better idea of the gallery space the final exhibition will be in.  i’ve been printing out various sizes and setting up different arrangements.  next in line is deciding a  few things: polaroids, do i use them? i am still hung up on them for some reason, so i need to work out those details if i want to include them.  also: the letters i’ve been writing to serial killers about my work, but that’s probably far more random than it sounds.

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had an eye-opening studio visit with ofer wolberger recently, and he helped confirm a lot of reservation i have been having with my project.  SO, things are changing on certain levels.  primarily, i am altering the way i choose to talk about the photographs i am taking: before, i was looking at things from way to broad of a viewpoint (’empty places’, ‘importance of the everyday’, etc.), so i’ve chosen to narrow it down.  i’ve also decided to start bringing some undertones of the problems of over population into the conversation.  last year we discussed our tentative plans about our thesis projects as we moved into the summer, one of the topics i mentioned tackling was the idea of over population; and in many ways that is what my work has been this semester: unpeopled places.

over the summer i was reading a lot about landscape, specifically a book by frank gohlke where he addressed emptiness within landscapes, referring to them as ‘unpeopled places.’  this term has come to be a major influence on my mindset when i take photographs, and i see it as a lasting impact on how i will talk about my work in the future.

i’ve also made some changes technically.  having made all my pictures this semester using a very wide-angle lens, i’ve chosen to stop using the wide view that has dominated my images thus far.  ofer pointed out that the use of the wide angle, while nice at capturing a lot of the foreground and surrounding space, limits the images and makes them look very moon-like and somehow off.  they are immediately recognizable as having been shot with the wide-angle lens, and this brings up the question of why the technique was used in the first place, and the conversation quickly moves away from the intended meaning.  i am going to play with adjusting the lens corrections in photoshop to hopefully fix some previous images that i do like, but for now it is time for a different lens, and a different view.  thankfully the overall content of what i will be shooting is not going to change too drastically, so all this gibberish about change won’t seem hugely apparent.

with my final critique of the semester right around the corner, who knows what i’ll show and discuss, but something will be there…

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so i am in the midst of a flurry of travel.  i spent last week in new york and will be leaving for a week in maine tomorrow.  these travels will be playing a major roll in my final works, though i am still not sure what the process of these travels will ultimately produce.  just been writing, shooting and collecting like a mad man.  i’ve also been reading some things and looking at a few awesome artists, mainly harold ross and the duo of taiyo onorato & nico krebs.  both of these artists look at space and environments in very radical ways.  more to come, maybe some previews at some point, who knows!

so, as always, things with my thesis are shifting.  while i started with a desire to address the meaning of ‘home’, i’ve decided to open the concept up a bit and focus more just on the idea of importance of space.  over the course of my time here at ccad, i’ve really come to learn that capturing images of spaces that i see is a truly cathartic exercise for me, so i’m pursuing that process more in depth.

the images i wind up making are representations of a desire to be alone mixed with my inevitable isolated existence.

where is this going? i have no real idea.

am i still traveling to photograph places i’ve lived in the past? yes, to try and answer why those places worked (or didn’t) as a comfortable space.

why have i left these places?

why do i have an uncontrollable urge to be on the move?

why are some spaces more important, and why are they not?


been finding/looking at some new artists, mainly adam white.

adam white takes some great images of spaces, and the titles of two of his projects, “it’s okay to be alone” and “the best place to be is somewhere else” really speak to me. some of my favorite forms of inspiration often come in simple statements, lyrics, titles, sentences, etc., so white’s work already was intriguing to me, and reinforced further by the titles he chooses.

10395560863_5c11cbc574_cfrom the best place to be is somewhere else. © adam white.

14654902799_dc1a84fdf7_zfrom i’ll do it tomorrow. © adam white.

_DSC0030 copybeen thinking about imagery to focus on while on trips.  as well as mapping some kind of a personal narrative:

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and lastly, i’ve been contemplating returning to the blended images I made a year ago, or trying something more traditional…. so i made a quick image using my most recent shoot in the ally of my house here in columbus and blending it with a very non-urban photo i took in ireland this summer.

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"Slippers." © nevin price-meader. 2014

Over the course of this semester this project has taken on multiple forms, and experienced many shifts in both how I choose to talk about it as well as how I am choosing to present it.  Do I just display polaroids in a grid on the wall?  Do I just show the ‘last words’ written by my sitters?  Do I put up the diptychs that I started making at the beginning of the semester?

Do I do something completely different?

Yes.  Yes I do.  While I loved shooting with the Polaroid camera for a majority of the semester, I have chosen to put that little guy aside in favor of a dumbed-down digital camera (I have been putting my Diana+ lenses on my DSLR) – and the results are very exciting for me.  I needed this work to go somewhere else, to tell a different story – and to share the stories I was hearing in a new sense.  Currently I have shifted completely from where I started: I am no longer focusing on the desired last words that people have shared with me, and am instead looking deeper into the real stories of loss that the people I have interviewed have experienced.  These stories are banal, utterly unexciting, but true and real in a way that the desired words were falling flat for me.  I have been finding a lot of meaning and power in the mundane and everyday world around me lately, so I suppose it was only natural for me to be drawn to the banality of a lot of these statements.

Three weeks to go.  Crunch time.  More work coming soon.

“A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know.”  – Diane Arbus

Changes, the starman says it all.  After a successful second group critique, and a great meeting with my mentor, my project has started to take on a new form.  For this critique, I displayed some more and newer images I had constructed from the collection of portraits and statements that I have amassed so far, and I also tacked up all the polaroids and paper scraps that I have collected in a secondary piece on the side.  The overall feel that I got from my classmates and mentors was that the actual objects that I have been gathering are far more interesting to see than the constructed images I had started to make.  The diptychs that I had been creating were starting to feel too cliche, lame and over time have become secondary to the actual polaroids and last words that I have been collecting.

So now I am looking at ideas of beauty found in the mundane, memento mori and the power of the snapshot when thinking about how photography captures a moment in time that is impossible to retrieve.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what Barthes had to say about photography:

“If photography is to be discussed on a serious level, it must be described in relation to death,… It’s true that a photograph is a witness, but a witness of something that is no more.”

So now that I am leaning in a new and changed direction, my project is turning into a new and before now unknown entity.  More to come, we shall see.

“I am neither subject nor object but a subject who feels he is becoming an object” – Roland Barthes