Iowa Project Update 4

I’m beginning the last semester of undergrad and have decided to focus on my rural Iowa project for these next few months of school before graduation.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to open myself up to new techniques, cameras, and film stocks because I want to use whatever tools suit my project best (even if they don’t happen to be film).

During my first semester working on the project, I stuck to the Hasselblad exclusively because I didn’t want to mix square format images with other ratios. After spending a few days looking through artists’ photobooks, though, I found that many were able to mix ratios to great success.

I ended up trying a Canon 5D Mark III, which I mostly enjoyed, and a  Mamiya 645 digital camera (blog comparing this to my Mamiya 645 1000s film camera to come) to put any biases I had against digital to the test. I definitely like using the Mark III, especially for portraits and indoor work, but when I’m shooting digital, I work too quickly. I think it’s because I have so many opportunities to just click, click, click, click that I don’t take time to compose. I’ll definitely have to try the Mark III again in the future though and keep pace in mind next time.

Gear aside, scroll down to see my most recent results.

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Hasselblad 503CW, Fujifilm Pro 400H

 

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Hasselblad 503CW, Kodak Portra 160VC (exp. 2009)

 

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Canon 5D Mark III

 

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Hasselblad 503CW, Kodak Portra 160VC (exp. 2009)

 

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Hasselblad 503CW, Kodak Portra 160VC (exp. 2009)

To view my past updates of this project, click the links below:
Update 1 
Update 2
Update 3

January: 52-Week Photo Challenge

I’ve completed the first four weeks of my 52-week photo challenge where I am making Instax photos based on my partner Ethan Zierke‘s original haiku. Check out my first post for a full project description.

Jan. 1-7: Poets toss rotting
books from knotted shelves to fro-
-thing populations

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Jan. 8-14: A new snow dusting
Above old fixtures rusting
Long live frozen towns

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Jan. 15-21: the quiet surrounds:
swallowing sounds, each louder
than my heart expounds

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Jan. 22-28: impossible, yes,
the silence cannot listen:
what is there to say?

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Photographer Research 31-Day Challenge

At the beginning of January, a prompt in my Steal Like an Artist Journal encouraged me to begin a 31-day challenge. I love photography but don’t look at others’ work as often as I would like, so I decided to do some brief research on one photographer each day and ended up with my own little personally curated gallery of artists that inspire me.

NONE of these images are my own. Please click on the images to see them and other images in the series on the photographer’s websites.

January 1: Irving Penn
Irving Penn is a photographer best known for his fashion photography but also has several interesting side projects that are worth a look.

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January 2: Jon Horvath
His Pathetic Clouds series killed me.

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January 3: Andrew Borowiec
I see so much of what I’ve been trying to accomplish in my Iowa series in this Ohio photographer’s work.

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January 4: Kate Medley
Her work in the South is gorgeous. Unfortunately, her website doesn’t seem to be working right now, so I’ve linked to Oxford American.

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January 5: Francesca Woodman
Her black and white self portraits and long exposures continue to amaze years after her death by suicide.

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January 6: Chris McCaw
Long exposure sun images burn holes through the paper. In the image below, he used new paper every 30 minutes. Click the image to check out his site where you can see a wide range of techniques he used in his Sunburn project.

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January 7: Matthew Brandt
This L.A. photographer is known for making C-41 prints of lakes, then soaking them in the body of water depicted in the image.

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January 8: Rebecca Drolen
Rebecca Drolen’s work is uniquely surreal and witty.

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January 9: Stacey Baker
This photo editor started an Instagram account where she captures women’s legs on the streets of New York.

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January 10: Lucy Hilmer has taken a self portrait every year on her birthday since 1947 when she was 29 for her project “Birthday Suits.”

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January 11: Maia Flore
Check out Maia Flore’s website for fun, surreal images that will make you think.

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January 12: Gioia de Bruijn
This photographer finds traditional documentary photographer voyeuristic and instead believes in being involved in the situations she photographs.

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January 13: Lisa Elmaleh
Lisa Elmaleh shoots 8×10 wet plates of the Florida Everglades and develops them in a darkroom in the back of her truck.

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January 14: Susan Derges
This camera-less photographer makes photograms of the movement of water.

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January 15: Jens Knigge
German photographer Jens Knigge makes plantinum prints

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January 16: Keith Carter
For his book Uncertain to Blue, Keith Carter photographed small towns with odd names in Texas. This image is called Bebe.

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January 17:Michael Weitzman
I follow this alternative process photographer’s Instagram. He uses a wide range of techniques. The image below was produced with a toy camera.

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January 18: Kat Shannon
Today my photography professor showed us this “Girls in Uniform” series one of his former students, Kat Shannon, made and I instantly fell in love.

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January 19: Mauro D’Agati
I checked out Italian photographer Mauro D’Agati’s book Less Vegas. He visited Las Vegas for 10 days, following permanent residents around.

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January 20: Harry Callahan
Harry Callahan was a street photographer who was inspired by the look, though not so much the subject matter, of Ansel Adams. The image below is part of a series made in Chicago.

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January 21: Joel Sternfeld
Check out his American Prospects series for more of his witty sense of humor.

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January 22: William Christenberry
William Christenberry is known for his years-long projects taking pictures of Alabama buildings as they decay, but he also made work that exposed the evils of the KKK. He said that while some people told him that it wasn’t an appropriate subject for art, he said, “…I hold the position that there are times when an artist must examine and reveal such strange and secret brutality.”

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January 23: Gulnara Samoilova
Gulnara Samoilova used handcoloring to express the hidden elements of life in the USSR.

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January 24: Claude Cahun
Claude Cahun was a French transgender photographer who created Surrealist self-portraits illustrating various personas.

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January 25: Rose Marasco
I checked out Rose Marasco’s book New York City Pinhole Photographs and was amazed by the sense of motion in this fish market image.

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January 26: Justin Quinnell
Justin Quinnell made a pinhole camera that fit inside his mouth and photographed humorous situations for his series/book Mouthpiece.

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January 27:  Sandi Haber Fifield
If you’re interested in photomontage, take a look at this photographer’s beautiful, deliberate composites.

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January 28: Andrew Moore
This Omaha-based photographer takes stunning aerial photos of the Great Plains for his project Dirt Meridian. 

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January 29: Chris Verne
This rural Illinois photographer photographed his family and community since high school.

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January 30: Eirik Johnson
Eirik Johnson focused his series Sawdust Mountain on Northwestern identity and use of natural resources such as forests and salmon.

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January 31: Lois Bielefeld
Lois Bielefeld’s body of work The Bedroom is composed of 103 portraits of bedrooms and their owners.

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Iowa Project Update 3

This winter I was able to use the university’s Hasselblad camera to continue my rural Iowa photography project over break. My goal was to shoot about 10 rolls of film in the five weeks but I ended up shooting only about two and a half, one still being unfinished inside the camera.

My motivation was definitely effected by the fact that I knew I wouldn’t be able to see my images for a month after shooting them because I lacked access to the school’s scanner. My sudden loss of interest made me doubt my long-term commitment to this project and also how sustainable it would be after I gradate in May, losing many of the tools I use.

Regardless, I sat down and scanned my two finished rolls of film on the first day of school and the good images reenergized me. Though I’m open to new ideas, I think I’ll continue this project until the end of the semester.

At the same time, I would like to expand on this project and push it forward. This semester, my goal is to keep working with the same rural Iowa themes and motifs but adding more portraits. I’m not sure yet whether I would like to capture them street photography style (which sounds funny considering they’re rural) or planned/staged yet. I’m not even certain I want to keep working completely on the Hasselblad. I’m considering switching to one of the school’s 4×5 large format cameras or (gasp) a DSLR.

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Hasselblad 501CM, Kodak Ektar 100

 

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Hasselblad 501CM, Kodak Portra 400

 

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Hasselblad 501CM, Kodak Portra 400

 

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Hasselblad 501CM, Kodak Ektar 100

Year in Review

I’m currently making photography resolutions including learning how to sell my photos and beginning a 52-week photo challenge. But I recently realized that looking back at accomplishments over the last year can be just as important as setting goals for the next. I also want to look at my year in review.

I learned a lot in 2016. I took a class on large format photography. I gained the courage to ask strangers if I may take their portraits. I participated in my first three photography shows, two group shows with my class and one online.

More than  anything, though, the best decision I made for my photography was starting a blog. In the past, I was reluctant to share my work. I didn’t want any of it out in the world for others to see until I felt completely ready.

Instead of allowing me to improve privately without judgement, hiding my work set me back. I was convinced I should keep my images private until I considered myself a fully fledged photographer.

But that’s just not how it works. I rarely shot anything except when it was required for class and I hated the results when I did. Working alone in secret gave me little motivation to make anything at all.

The piece of advice that changed my mindset came from Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. I read the book several times in years past but his words finally sunk in in 2016: “You can’t wait until you know who you are to get started.”

If I’d waited to know who I was or what I was about before I started “being creative,” well, I’d still be sitting around trying to figure myself out instead of making things. In my experience, it’s in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are.

—Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist

I knew he was right. I couldn’t wait until I perfected my work to start interacting with others. I had to hone it by sharing. And so I launched this blog in September 2016.

Composing a blog post every week was a challenge, but now I’ve written over 20 posts and am glad I took time to make every one of them. I went through at least double the film I was before starting my blog, probably more. Plus, knowing the images would be public forced me to try even harder to produce my best work every time I went shooting.

Secondly, starting a blog allowed me to find a community of photographers online. Between this site and my Twitter account, I’ve learned acquired all kinds of useful advice. Any time I have a question, I now have a small army of film photographers I can call on for help.

Lastly, my blog offered me a space to share work in progress from where I am right now at this moment in photography, not where I will ultimately end up. Looking at my blog as a sketchbook rather than a perfectly curated gallery allows me to focus on what’s most important: to keep creating work. One day I might look back at the work I am making now and dislike it. But the fact remains that continuing to shoot is the only way to get where I am going.

Here are some of my favorite images I made in 2016:

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My 52-Week Photo Challenge

I’ll be graduating college in May and want to be sure I create photographs even when I no longer have photography classes. I decided a good way to make sure I keep shooting is to start a 52-week photo challenge.

Each week I will take a haiku written by my partner, Ethan Zierke and attempt to illustrate it in a photo. I plan to use instant photos taken on my Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 90 Neo Classic because I rarely get my film shot, developed, and scanned on a weekly basis.

I will be illustrating the following four in January:

Jan. 1-7: Poets toss rotting
books from knotted shelves to fro-
-thing populations

Jan. 8-14: A new snow dusting
Above old fixtures rusting
Long live frozen towns

Jan. 15-21: the quiet surrounds:
swallowing sounds, each louder
than my heart expounds

Jan. 22-28: impossible, yes,
the silence cannot listen:
what is there to say?

Jan. 29-Feb. 4: everything is there
and nothing at all; let the
taboo fruit tree fall

Feb. 5-11: the beads of sweat roll
like pearls across mirrored plates:
severed heads of fear

Feb. 12-18: the fruitless dreamscape
buries the rediscovered
paths, past and future

Feb. 19-25: I am not mindless:
I left my mind at home
for you to sustain.

Feb. 26-March 4: Love and passion are
concealed by confused hunger:
a futile attempt

March 5-11: love teeters on the
edge of your bathroom sink where
mirrors hold my heart

 

Check my Instagram for weekly updates. I will be posting monthly updates here on my blog.

Video Review: Cinestill 800T

For my third and last (maybe?) 35mm film stock review, I tried CineStill 800T. The results were stunning and I would choose this film over Kodak Portra for portrait work any day. Below are some of the images I show during the video.

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Minolta X-700, CineStill 800T
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Minolta X-700, CineStill 800T
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Minolta X-700, CineStill 800T
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Minolta X-700, CineStill 800T
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Minolta X-700, CineStill 800T
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Minolta X-700, CineStill 800T
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Minolta X-700, CineStill 800T

Hanging Prints with Magnets

One year ago, I tried to Google how to hang gallery images with magnets and my search turned up almost nothing, so I wanted to share the method I’ve used to hang group gallery shows.

Using magnets is great because it’s much cheaper than framing work and it still looks professional. All you need are nails or screws from the hardware store (not copper or aluminum) and small disc magnets, which you can buy for about $0.25 each.

You can find the magnets I used online here. The discs are about the same circumference as a normal nail head and are strong enough to hold my 16×16″ prints.

The first step of this hanging method, and probably the most difficult one, is taking measurements. I used a ruler to measure out where each of my prints would go in pencil leaving several inches between each.

Next, I put nails on each corner about half an inch inward from my measurements. This way, the magnets will sit on the boarders of your image instead of insecurely on the very corners of your prints.

You can hammer the nails all the way into the wall so your prints will lie right against it, but I prefer to hammer the nails in just enough that they are secure. This way, my prints sit about one inch from the wall, which provides some dimension.

Magnet Mounting Diagram

Gallery display nail setup
I measured out 16×16″ squares in a grid pattern then hammered in four nails on each corner.

Once your nails are in place, hanging work is easy. Simply center the print on top of its four nails and place a magnet on each corner.

You can learn more complex methods that use magnets here.

 

Here are other supplies I used to hang my show:

  • Clamp lights, available at hardware stores
  • Outdoor spot floodlights
  • Hammer or screwdriver
  • Extension cord, preferably with several outlets
    • OR an extension cord and a surge protector
  • Printed/mounted artist statement

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Click here to view the images I displayed in this show.