When we take a snapshot of a landscape, a sunset, or a friend, we are choosing carefully what to say and how we say it. This mode of representation is something that is ingrained into us. Photography has created an entire dialect of cultural language. When we choose an Instagram filter, use a 35mm camera, or take a Polaroid, we create implications and meaning about our images. Their tones, colors, and shapes all determine their authenticity or simulation of a cultural context.
Photography presents itself in countless forms: a glossy 4x6 from a drug store, a postcard on a refrigerator, or large inkjet prints in a gallery. Whether framed or in a shoebox, photographs were something you could hold. We touched them—got our fingerprints on them—and they held weight. We still hold photographs in our hands, but instead, what was once thin paper coated in silver, are now complex translations of digits. They are pixels on a screen. Our images are residents in hard drives and the internet. Photographs are now made of metal, infrastructure, and electricity.
There is a distinction between how we interact with physical and digital photographs. Although we hold digital photographs on our cell phones, they don't only exist in our hands, but on the internet where they are everywhere, potentially in anyone's hands. Physical photographic prints can only be in one place. When working with 4x6 snapshots or Polaroids, I physical collage them onto larger archival inkjet prints, creating a three-dimensional piece.
What remains in the paradigm shift of photography is a basic desire to record the our lives and experiences. The tradition of the personal narrative and the snapshot still continue. In the photograph, Badlands Landscape and the Road Before (2016), what is seen is a vast landscape of the South Dakota Badlands taken with a large format view camera. Then, on top of this image lies a superimposed iPhone snapshot depicting a moment just before, driving on the road that leads to where I would eventually make the landscape photograph.
This series explores the combining of formal and informal languages of photographs. Using amateur cameras like Polaroids, 35mm disposables, and the cell phone, I contrast the casual nature of the snapshot, and the considered nature of large format documentary photography. By superimposing and collaging images, I am able to extend the moment and the space within a photograph, as well as expand the way the viewer sees the subject, creating a diverse representation of the subject from multiple perspectives all in one work.
Making a photograph, just like speaking, involves culling words and phrases from our language that stem from a historical lineage. So to Speak is about looking at photography as a language by analyzing photographs, their etymologies, and why they look the way that they do.