Friday, November 14, 2008

Springville Museum of Art & Why I Disappeared

Thank you to everyone that was able to make it to the Perspectives: Utah Lake exhibit that was held at the Cover Center for the Arts in October. I would like to inform anyone that is interested that I will have two images in the Religious & Spiritual Art Exhibit at the Springville Museum of Art. This exhibit can be viewed through December 28th. If you can make it there is another exhibit that you should definitely see, it is a retrospective of the black & white photography of John Telford (My photography professor) I have always been a great fan of his photography.

Posting has been a little slow as of late, I apologize. I am in the finishing stages of making a commemorative book through Commemorative Publications of the Beijing Olympics for the United States Olympic Committee. My schedule has been hectic to say the least. I was initially given three weeks to complete it but the direction has changed so many times that it has taken longer than that. It will end up being about 376 pages, hardbound, and the bulk of the book will focus on the photographic memories of the games. (With a focus towards Team USA). I was hired as the creative director and photo editor. I hired three design students from BYU (Reeding Roberts, Natalie Davis, & Deven Stephens) who created the design for the book and helped me assemble it. They did a marvelous job. But I'll be honest, I will be very glad for this project to be over and done so I can get back to my own photography.

Here is a quick sneak preview so you will have a sense of how the book will look when it is finished.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Maine (No, I'm not done yet!)

I know I have been home from Maine for almost two months but since I'm still not done with Jerusalem (1 year, 3+ months and counting in case your wondering) I wouldn't want you to get your expectations up that I will ever get caught up on any of my projects. Hopefully you can enjoy this little addition while you patiently wait for the improbable.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Few More Portraits

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Tiberius Arms

I have been doing some occasional commercial work for a high end paintball company called Tiberius Arms. (Yes, those are paintball guns that they are holding.) Most of the pictures end up being very boring product photography. (Sorry to all product photographers, but that is definitely not my personal photographic interest.) The advertising pictures I get to have a little more fun with. I did make the mistake early on doing a good job in the studio and now they have decided that the look has become kind of a trademark which makes it harder to try something different. Here are the two advertising images most recently finished.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Utah Lake Exhibit

I started a project a while ago photographing Utah Lake. I started it with Brandon Allen who was a student of mine at the time. We were intrigued by how many people thought the lake was disgusting, revolting, radioactive, cesspool, etc., etc. Yet we actually found the lake quite beautiful and a fun place to photograph. The dichotomy kind of piqued our interest. We have focused on creating and presenting an image that stands in direct opposition to the typical public perception of the lake. Hopefully by approaching this project with this mindset will force people to at least consider an alternative reality of Utah Lake than what they currently have.

We now have a show of these images that will be in the gallery at the Covey Center for the Arts in Provo, UT for the month of October. The show is entitled Perspectives: Utah Lake. The opening reception will be on Friday October 3rd from 6-9 pm. (light refreshments will be served) It is an open invitation so bring friends. Here are a few images that will be included in the show plus my artist statement at the bottom.

Since this is a photography project let me start with a quick photography lesson: How to control perspective? Perspective is controlled entirely by the relationship of film (or sensor) to the object that is being photographed. To be perspectively “correct” the film has to be perfectly parallel to the object being photographed. For instance, if you want to photograph a building and you have to look up to see the top of the building then you have altered the film plane relative to the building and the building will keystone, or get smaller towards the top. The perspective will not be “correct” in the photograph.

In other words perspective is controlled by how the photographer positions themselves in relationship to their subject. I think this explanation works for the cognitive definition of perspective as well, point of view. When you ask someone for his or her point of view you are basically seeking an opinion that is the sum of their life experiences. Their life has been different than yours so their interpretation will be gleaned from a completely different set of eyes. This person will be in a different position in relationship to the subject or question than you are.

I had many experiences while teaching photography at UVU that led me to start photographing the lake. When a student would produce an image of Utah Lake that was beautiful, all sorts of negative opinions would start to fly from others in the class. I began to wonder how many of the negative opinions were due to the condition of the lake and how many were due to the condition of the viewer.

I decided to begin photographing Utah Lake and see what the camera had to show me about the lake. I was instantly mystified. I found beauty everywhere I looked and whenever I looked. I had a hard time seeing what so many people had told me was ugly about the lake. Whenever I saw things gross or ugly it was not the lake I saw but the people who were responsible for the scar.

I have come to the realization that photography does not have the power to change its subject. Photography’s power lies in its ability to change perceptions about the subject. Once the perception has been changed then real change can occur. Once you see a well-executed and well-thought out photograph it is difficult to ever look at the subject again without seeing it from a new perspective informed by that image.

“Life is what we make it. Always has been, always will be.” I think the same holds true in this instance, Utah Lake is what it is now because of us and will become what we make of it. I encourage you to consider a new perspective of Utah Lake, the place no one wants to know.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Observations on Artmaking

I was discussing the book Twilight with my sister. I was asking her if she had a good reason for why she liked it. She said she liked it because even though it was overtly fictional it helped her gain insights to how she looked at life. (Possibly paraphrased, the conversation was over a week ago.) I think she has a point. In a "reality" based fiction the writer can take the artistic liberties of observing our culture from an outsiders perspective. We can see ourselves differently by looking through anothers eyes. I like comics for this very reason, a cartoonist can make a satirical observation that allows me to even laugh at myself. These are a few comic strips that I have collected because they reflected observations I have made about the mindset of some "artists" as they explain there working methods. (These are very general observations that seem to reflect trends in attitude that I disagree with, predominantly within academics.) In the satire is where the comics garner their validity for me, they can say in fiction that which I refrain from saying due to tact. I will let you make your own observations from the comics.

"Get Fuzzy" by Darby Conley
"Non Sequitur" by Wiley Miller

Monday, September 8, 2008

Hidden Falls and American Fork Canyon

This now becomes a catch up post. Back in June I went with the nature photography class at BYU on a couple of field trips. The first was a camp out to Calf Creek Falls. The second was a day trip up to Hidden Falls in Big Cottonwood Canyon, up American Fork Canyon and eventually ended at Cascade Springs. On this trip I only took my large format camera and left the digital at home. These are a few that I am happy with and will post more from Cascade Springs soon.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Fog of Maine

Here are a few more pictures from my first week in Maine. These images are indicative of my entire time in Maine. We were lucky to see the sun once in the course of a week. It rained an awful lot and with all that moisture some fog was inevitable. These were taken a couple hundred meters north of the school. I drove by here occasionally during my stay but I didn't pay it much attention until the fog rolled in. The atmosphere transformed the character of the area dramatically and my attention was peaked. The lone tree in the middle of the field definitely caught my eye.

Liberty Tool

(Another field trip from my first week in Maine.) Ok, how to describe Liberty Tool? Think of a stereotypical mothers purse. You know the example of which I speak, the purse that if emptied would fill a small room. The purse that defies all the laws of physics and space by the immensity and diversity of things that it contains. (Kind of like the Genie's lamp. "PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWERS! Itty-bitty living space!") With that image in your head imagine what it might look like if those mothers were allowed to unleash this mystical power upon a three story classic New England style house. The shear quantity and diversity of random stuff is absolutely mind boggling. My pictures are a little limited because the battery died on my camera, unbeknownst to me, and unless I was shooting at a shutter speed of at least 1 second than the shutter released at its highest speed and the negative turned out blank.

If you don't believe my description of the randomness of inventory and organization inherent at Liberty Tool I have included a simple filing cabinet to demonstrate my point. (You may need to enlarge by clicking on the picture to fully appreciate the non-exaggerated magnitude in the chaos of which I speak.)

I can't decide which label I like more: LRT (little rusty things), Fig Newtons, Nuclear Waste, or that they actually have a file labeled 'Miscellaneous'.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Olsen House

My first week in Maine was not technically a photography workshop. It was with Jeff Rosenheim who is the curator of photography for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We spent the majority of our time looking at the work of historically significant photographers and trying to understand their work better while we focus on really seeing their photos. Even though that was the purpose of the workshop we still found ample opportunity to go out and photograph. One of our little field trips was to the Olsen House. This house was made famous by the painter Andrew Wyeth who was a friend to Christina & Alvaro Olsen. Wyeth painted many canvases at this house but the most famous I have included here. The name of the painting is Christina's World and show's Christina who suffered from muscular deterioration (likely polio) out in the field looking up at her house. I was actually a little surprised when I found out the house in this famous painting was in Cushing, Maine and not in some place like Kansas. The house was surrounded by the typical forests that are abundant in Maine, not the open vista of the painting. Considering the mystical nature of the painting, it seems appropriate that the location of Christina's world can not be found in ours.

The Olsen House is often photographed by workshop participants so I wouldn't even begin to think that these images are going to be strikingly unique or significant. That is not my purpose in photographing. My purpose is not rooted in being unique from everyone else so I felt free to simply look for the beauty of this magical place and then share what I found with anyone that can appreciate my attempt.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

3rd Week in Maine

Arno had lots of fun random little assignments for us. We planned on taking a ferry over to Vinelhaven and the night before he gave us each a blank index card and we were to write down what we planned on photographing on the island and then return the card to him. This was more difficult than you would think, when you have never been to an area and have no idea what is there how can you know what you are going to photograph. I definitely tend to be more subject driven instead of relying on conceptual motivation. The only thought I had was to photograph my first reaction and then look for what contradicted that reaction. My first reaction was easy, I had arrived at some Scandinavian paradise from my memory (Even though I have never been to Scandinavia). It was so nostalgic there, a bygone era and lifestyle that had somehow eluded me. The image of the Yo-Yo ride from the previous week and the feeling it seemed to portray came to my mind and I decided to try and capture a similar emotion. The contradiction that I looked for was how normal details seemed. There was trash lining the harbor, there was a young skater going down the streets with pink hair, and people walking home from a grueling day harvesting lobster. It's interesting how nostalgia is so selective in its memory. We forget the day to day grind and the idiosyncrasies and focus on an emotion that feels so familiar and yet so unattainable because it is in our past. We would never allow our future to bear the fruits of our nostalgia because in the present all we seem to focus on is the petty and the problematic. We ignore the elements of our present that could become the nostalgia of our future. The picture that I liked the most was from a quarry that has filled with water and become the town swimming hole. I walked up to it and felt like I had just walked into a faint memory from my past. I did not have anything like this back home nor did I usually have the free time to enjoy the dog days of summer like this. Yet I felt like a wish from my childhood was being unveiled before my waking eyes. That is how I tried to capture it, to photograph the memory of the place not the place itself.
After returning to the mainland I wanted to continue this experiment but in a place I was more readily familiar and comfortable with. My focus was to try and photograph the location for how I would remember it more than how I saw it. A lot of my free time in Maine consisted of heading over to Timothy Whelan Photography and looking at photo books. Tim's is like my own personal kryptonite, I can't walk by his shop without spending money. Tim has a huge collection of photography books and original prints that you can peruse to your hearts content and I did just that, as often as possible. The third picture down is a self portrait of me doing exactly what I usually did at Tim's. I liked the key left in the open front door and how the focal plane followed along this key through the welcome mat and through my hands as they cradled the book. If I ever try to picture Tim's in my mind, these are the elements my memory holds on to.

2nd Week in Maine

During this week I was encouraged by my instructor, John Goodman, to try and create portraits differently than I had in the past. Specifically, John wanted them to have an edge, even if that required me to find characters with an inherent edge to them. I shot them all on my 4x5 camera which allowed me to play with the focal plane and restrict what could be in focus in the picture. The first guy that I photographed was named Todd Carballo. I was driving around Rockland aimlessly and stumbled upon a softball game about to begin. I figured of all the places to find characters a softball diamond could be among the best. I got out and started to talk to some of the players. I kept looking around for the player with the most personality. Todd showed up a little late and so quickly got warmed up. (By warming up I mean he started smoking a big cigar) I thought he might have potential and then he reached over to grab a Heineken beer and was struggling getting the top off the bottle so he simply smashed it against the bench and broke the top off. Todd then proceeded to drink from the broken shards of the bottle. I had found my guy.

The next day I stopped at a tattoo parlor. (A little obvious I know but I just let that one slide) There was a cool looking couple named Shawn & Holly sitting on a bench in front of the store. I explained what I wanted to do and they were very cooperative. While I was setting up the camera I watched them and they were being very tender with each other so I asked them to continue and just ignore me. I thought it turned out well.

These next few were taken at the Lobster Festival in Rockland, Maine. (Yes, there apparently is a festival for everything. Even though the Lobster Festival seems pretty mainstream compared to the festival for Mike the Headless Chicken in Colorado) The two kids are named Eliot & Liam.
..and this is Kabryn.
This one was my favorite. Even though it was not a portrait...obviously. I thought it was successful because I felt like it reflected a memory of the place more than the place itself.
This image was taken on Friday. I had experienced a little burnout from trying so hard to be different so I took a little time off and went down to Rockport Marine and allowed myself to simply photograph the way I see the world. This image was my favorite.

© 2012 Travis Lovell Photography - All Rights Reserved