Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Utah Lake

I have been working on a project photographing Utah Lake with Brandon Allen for a couple of years now. It has been off and on (unfortunately more off than on) but we have been able to accrue a descent collection of work that hopefully can become something more. I decided that since I was doing this project already I might as well get some graduate school credit for it at the same time. (note to self. don't take a project you enjoy and turn it into graduate course work. I was warned before I started that grad school was designed to suck all the love for your profession right out of you. I didn't heed that warning. I proceeded to allow the graduate committee to look at my collection as it was and ask for direction and advice from there. I never thought that the phrase "your pictures are too good" could be used as an insult. I was proven wrong again. I knew that "pretty" was not in fashion but after an hour and a half critique gone bad I realized I had my work cut out for me. I was torn for a long time trying to figure out a way to appease my committee without selling out and making pictures that I didn't like just to please others. (DON'T EVER SELL OUT TO MAKE OTHERS HAPPY) Their was one critique that I took to heart. I explained my motivation of showing the people of Utah Valley that beauty is in the lake and that you need to put aside their prejudices if you wanted to be able to see it. Someone pointed out that all they saw was a beautiful lake. A place they would want to go for a vacation. They could not see that there was a need to fix the lake or the public perception of it. I realized that I was limiting my ability to communicate with anyone but a very small audience. This was a problem.

I saw this image by Stephen Shore of a billboard showing a beautiful mountainscape out in a boring field. That gave the impetus for my next experiment. I decided to take my pictures back out to the locations that they were created and rephotograph them. (I joked that I didn't want to imitate other photographs and take their pictures so I decided to go out and photograph mine) I wanted to include more of the surrounding landscape. Show stuff that I intentionally excluded. I wanted to photograph in very average light and in color to allow the image to seem more natural and provide the greatest contrast to my already created "pretty" images.

I made every effort to allow the shoreline and other landmarks to line up between old and new pictures, within reason. I was limited by what I could physically do with a lens but I think the illusion works nicely. Size is also a limiting factor on the blog. These images will be printed large to carry their full effect and allow the viewer to see all the little details like litter strewn shores and rusted nails. Anyways, here is the result of the experiment.

My originals photos can be viewed on my website. The creation of these in no way negates my other attempt. I have decided that by using these new images alongside the older pristine ones I can further the dialog and reach more people. The two approaches side be side says more than either one by itself.


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