The Philips Mill Photography exhibit is open as of today. I entered this exhibit because I love Emmet Gowin and he was the judge. I was excited to think that he would even look at some of my images, so I entered. I was thrilled to be one of the award winners, it feels like one of the highest honors to know that one of the great living photographers has seen my work and liked it enough to grant my image an award. The images selected are so strong and beautiful, if you have time, please take a look!
The exhibit has been moved entirely online due to the pandemic. The Phillips Mill Gallery is located in New Hope PA. Meadow and I were planning on going to the opening. We were really looking forward to this trip for two reasons, we would see my friend Jennifer (who was the one to tell me about this exhibit, since she knows I love Emmett Gowin) and Meadow was looking forward to going on a tour of Bryn Mawr College. We are sad to miss the opening, not get to visit a friend and disappointed in the vertical tour as opposed to the actual tour of Bryn Mawr College. This has been just one more disappointment to overcome in these days of uncertainty and darkness.
The image chosen is such an interesting choice in conjunction with the stagnant feeling of being trapped at home during the pandemic. I took this image at a very low point in my creative journey with photography. It was taken at the tail end of September 2014 in the wee morning hours in Swan Lake Maine. It was absolutely freezing cold, and I am eternally grateful for Meadow’s bravery in entering the lake just before sunrise that cold morning. There had been a full moon the night before, and all I could see was lightness shining out through the dark.
At the time I was feeling very discouraged with photography. I had recently resurrected my professional photography career. I quit photography for a few years when things went digital. I just couldn’t make the switch from analog to digital. I was initially pulled back into photography through the use of the Hipstamatic app on my phone. People kept commenting on my photos, asking me how I did it and why they were “so good”, and I found myself saying, “well, actually I am a professional photographer.” At the time I was not working as a photographer, so most people were taken aback. I decided to walk my talk, if I was going to say it, then I should actually be a professional photographer!
There was a huge difference though, between putting up some Hipstamatic images of my kids and trying to pull in clients. I was also not really a part of the online photography community at all, and I wasn’t getting the “likes” or “followers” of other photographers I was looking at. I was feeling somewhat discouraged with trying to make images that didn’t feel like me, or my work, just to get likes.
The day before I took this image, I let all of that go. I decided to take images for me, images I wanted to see, not images to “get clients” or to “get likes and build a following”. I really love working with clients too, I get a lot of joy capturing images for people! I am honored each and every time I am hired to capture a special time in a client’s life, be it a headshot, newborn or family session or a large gathering like a wedding or Mitzvah. But at the heart of it all, and what I think sets me apart, is that first and foremost, I am a fine art photographer. I let it all go and took this image with my grandfather’s Nikon F2.
I went back to my roots of photographing in the water on film. I have images of people in water taken on film from way back in the early 1990s, possibly even the ’80s! I asked Meadow to walk out into the lake at sunrise, the morning after a full moon. The light coming back in after darkness. this is a pivotal image for me, and it seems to speak to people in a way that really resonates. This image has been chosen to be in many shows, in, publications and it has been given multiple awards. For me though, it is the exact day that I stepped back into feeling like an artist working with photography.
We are again in a time of darkness. Our whole world seems to be in darkness. We are all struggling in our own way during this time. We can only hold onto the hope that, like in this image, there will be light again.
You can see the award winners here, and the whole exhibit here. I know that we are all disappointed in not seeing this show live, but I am glad it is online for us to see! This exhibit is full of amazing images, I am honored to see one of mine among them!