11/11/14 Three-person show at Mass Audubon Headquarters. Plum Island. (Nov 9-Dec 14), MA
what is essential is invisible to the eye; it is only with the heart that one sees clearly. Rumi
Working Collaboratively: Storm of Pathos
I have been saying for weeks that I was going to do my Nov. blog entry about the upcoming show "Creative Wanderings" at Mass Audubon on Nov 9th (2-4pm). This show is a chance for me to work collaboratively with Jim Fenton and Scott Snyder, two photographers with boundless intensity.
Photography can be a solitary event--In isolation we feel more openly, we connect more freely. It is usually me preaching in my blogs and during speaking about opening as a photographer. It is about stepping away from the crowd to find a style and tell a personal story. A photographer must walk alongside his/her fears to truly FEEL. She has to alter the framework of what she thinks an image is suppose to look like. This creates a new energy. Somehow, the energy becomes cyclical. The more the openness is fed, the more photography starts to reflect the individual person. I have said in presentations, "you weave your own story into your images." The body of work that gets created is a mirror for the photographer. The rush of open energy that follows is groundwork for future images.
Working in isolation leads a photographer to discover their true creative heart. However, I think it is easy to end up with a solitary pursuit; for the photographer to get pigeon-holed. If the goal of photography is to convey the feeling of a scene, then the creative energy must be shared. For the creative energy to reach out with tendrils that touch a number of viewers, it must be shared. For then it grows and grows, a conflagration of energy. The more energy that is dispersed, the more creativity is opened. Sharing creativity is storytelling at its finest. A story: a visual invocation of pathos that reaches many.
When you work with other photographers there is the opportunity to bring your style to the table. I am often fierce in my championing of individual unique style and individuality. Yet, what I noticed when working with other photographers is that your personal style gets influenced by their work. A subtle nudging happens that encourages your personal style to open even more. In Eastern spiritual thought, we say that to best love and respect something you need to let it go--you need to not cling to frameworks and paradigms. It is the same when working collaboratively in photography. To truly let your style morph and expand, you have to not cling to it.
Working with Scott Snyder and Jim Fenton has allowed me to accept the movement of my personal style and to incorporate strong elements in the images I make. Working with photographers who are also "opening" under the guise of their own style allows for a tremendous energy to happen. The energy can be intense and you start to notice the rolls and pitches. You start to see the creativeness rush and then recede. Feeling things so openly can be tumultuous at times and scary. Creative energy does not always come in like a lamb...it can and most often is a raging tempest that flattens everything in its path. The key is recognizing this and letting others reassure you that it’s just energy. It is just creative chaos making its mark. So you wait....until the tilt-o-whirl whips you around and the ride slows.
Often times I let whats happening in my thoughts get in the way of my creativity.. It is easy to spend time in your head, worrying and masking. My camera lets me get back into my heart...back into my creative space that allows me to grow and flourish. I've had Jim and Scott to remind me of that over the past several months. It's helpful when you see other photographers go through the same fits and starts, the same worry and mental emotion. We have been subtly there to nudge each other into remembering where the creative energy lies and what it does for us. Photography becomes very much a meditation processes...a "practice", if you will. Without it...energy becomes tangled in the daily framework of jobs, cars, family, interviews and bills. When creativity flows from your heart, life is much more manageable.
Along with a tremendous amount of technical knowledge, I've gained a sense of bigger creative ideas and vast energy. Jim and Scott shoot a good amount of big landscapes. Originally coming to the table with my macro experience, I sat back and sort of soaked up their images and styles. It has made me approach my photography differently. It has made me open up to larger ideas and new creative approaches. It's changed my macro photography a bit as well in the sense that I recognize elements of composition and form that I hadnt before.
I am grateful. I should mention also Lisa Pelonzi and Sue Cole Kelly-women whom I respect and treasure creative time with. I value their perspectives...on me and my work as well.
So lastly, collaboration can open photographers further simply because of the shared energy. It is an energy that creates reassurance. It is an energy that says "it's ok-keep going, I get it" The chance to photograph and work with other photographers is an opportunity to breathe new life into creativity. The "story" you weave with your images becomes more detailed because of what other photographers help you feel and discover. Perspective given by others can illuminate the pieces of creativity you haven’t felt quite yet.
I hope you will come to the show this weekend or at least get a chance to view it. As I sat among some of the images recently I felt such a deep vibration, a culminating energy. I hope you feel it too and it opens you.
See you all soon
Mass Audubon Headquarters (Joppa Flats)
1 Plum Island Turnpike, Newburyport, MA 01950