Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 - Year in Review

It’s December 31,2012,  even though it doesn’t seem possible.  It literally feels like I was just sitting in downtown Sonoma, California, contemplating how my year in photography had ended up and what my resolutions for 2012 would be.  I was proud of my progress over the course of that year, but I was focused on not settling for what I had accomplished to date.  As I look back at my 2012 photo resolution post, I feel like I made some lofty goals for myself.  While I might not have accomplished everything on the list, I can walk away fully satisfied with the year I’ve had and an eye for even better things to come in 2013.

To recap, here were the resolutions I set for myself in 2012:
  • Shoot more
  • Shoot more film
  • Experiment more with Polaroid (Impossible Project)
  • Begin working in the darkroom
  • Start shooting large format
  • Expand my participation in art shows
  • Expand my participation in photo clubs
  • Participate in another solo show or a joint show
  • Start shooting Super 8
  • Experiment with alternative processes

Again, as I look at this list, I can’t help but think it’s a lofty list.  Regardless, here’s how I fared in 2012.  When I set the resolution of shooting more, it didn’t mean to shoot more in regards to quantity.  It meant to shoot more in regards to quality and to go on more dedicated photo excursions.  As I look back through my work from 2012, I can honestly say that I didn’t come near the quantity that I shot in 2011, but I certainly increased the quality of my work.  I feel that I’m my own worst critic; however, I would select almost any of my “best” images from 2012 and put them up against what I considered to be my best in 2011.  I really feel like my photography has taken a huge step forward in regards to the conceptual nature of what I create.  Don’t get me wrong, I still have a long ways to go, but I feel as if I’m heading in the correct direction.  In regards to the second part of the resolution, I did set aside more time for dedicated photo shoots/excursions.  In addition to the three vacations we took (Seattle, New York City, Upstate New York), I went to an analog photography weekend event in Cleveland, Ohio and I set up numerous photo shoots around my area for a few projects that I’m working on.  I believe those dedicated sessions were very integral in helping me to create more quality work in 2012.  
The second resolution was to shoot more film and I can say with a certainty that 2012 was most definitely a year of film.  I have already shot more rolls of film than I did last year with a few outstanding rolls to be finished up before the year’s end. I rarely touched my digital gear, only picking it up for a few shoots.  I used it for work, a few small projects and a family portrait shoot.  The rest of my year was spent producing black and white negatives I shot with (mostly) my medium format cameras.  Shooting film has completely altered the way I approach the creation of an image and has given me a finer appreciation for the finished product - a print.  There’s something to be said for the process of using film.  It’s the antithesis of immediate gratification.  You’re limited in the number of frames you have to shoot with and you can’t see the result instantaneously.  There’s a bit of anxiety involved, but the feeling of pulling your film out of the developing tank and seeing the images you took for the first time is something that absolutely can’t be replicated.

The next resolution was an extension of the shoot more film resolution.  It involved my continued experimentation with instant film.  I developed a love for instant photography in 2011 and I looked to continue that in 2012.  This was a resolution that I feel I didn’t fully accomplish.  I shot a lot of instant film over the course of the year, but I didn’t feel that I explored it’s full creative potential like I hoped for.  While I experimented with new types of film released by the Impossible Project, loaded up on their older formula films and started a project that had been in the conception stage for a year with their silver shade black frame film, I didn’t spend a great deal of time doing emulsion lifts, transparencies or reclaiming my negatives.  This is something I hope to rededicate myself to in 2013, but I’ll leave that for my 2013 photo resolutions post.

My fourth resolution involved a different type of experimentation - the traditional darkroom.  For me, this was the most important resolution of 2012.  I felt as if I couldn’t take my photography to the next level until I learned to work in the darkroom.  Darkroom work didn’t start until the third and fourth quarter of 2012, but I’m glad to say that I accomplished this resolution.  I had a lab at my disposal and a willing teacher ready to teach me through my connection with Edison Community College and the Edison Photo Society; however, due to the society’s transitional position with the college, that fell through.  After that, I went on a search for a public darkroom in my area and I came across one in the city of Kettering.  It simply required an orientation session and a small fee per use.  With a facility at my disposal, all I needed was some instruction and I was ready.  Luckily, a friend I met through the Film Photography Project, Mat Marrash, offered one-on-one workshops catered to the individual needs of the student. I  contacted him and he set up a two weekend workshop that would teach me the basics of film developing and the finer aspects of optical printing.  I have now successfully developed four rolls of film and have printed numerous contact sheets and a variety of working prints, all on my own.  I’m constantly learning and I love spending a few hours in the darkroom making my photography come to life.  I look forward to expanding my skills to print quality enlargements for future exhibitions and projects.

Resolution number five was to start shooting large format.  This is one resolution that I didn’t get around to.  I’m still very intrigued by large format and I plan on shooting it sometime in the future, it just wasn’t in the cards for 2012.  However, The Impossible Project recreated 8x10 instant film and I was able to secure an old 8x10 Polaroid processor from a friend, so I very well may be heading down the path to shooting 8x10.  If that is the case, Mat Marrash is an avid 8x10 shooter, so I’m sure another workshop could be developed if that’s the direction I want to take.

The next resolution was to expand my participation in art shows and competitions.  I’m proud to say that this was a resolution that I easily accomplished.  I competed in more exhibits (juried and non-juried) than I ever have before.  I exhibited my work all over the region and I even entered a few national and international competitions.  It was a very good year for awards and recognition, but I don’t plan on stopping there.  I already have an ongoing list of exhibits that I would like to enter in 2013; if I keep to that list, I should easily surpass my participation from 2012.  I just hope that I have as much success and luck in the coming year as I did this past year. In addition to my increased participation in art shows and competitions, I resolved to expand my participation in photo clubs.  While I didn’t join any additional clubs this past year, I spent a great deal of time helping the existing members of the Edison Photo Society decide the fate and direction of our struggling club.  A unanimous decision among members led us to break our affiliation with the college and refocus our efforts on the activities and presentations that mattered most to each of us.  We’re still on shaky ground, but the club is still together  and now has a clearer vision of what the future may hold. With that being said, I did participate in a photography critique at one of the local art councils and I met a number of other regional photographers due to my increased competition presence from the past year.  Whether or not I participate in any additional clubs in the coming year, I do look to build on the relationships with the people I met in 2012 to enrich my overall photography experience. 

My eighth resolution was to participate in another solo show or a joint show.  I didn’t participate in a solo show in 2012 and this was mainly due to the fact that I didn’t feel any of the work/projects that I’ve been working on were complete.  I don’t want to exhibit my work in a solo show capacity unless I feel that it’s finished, acceptable and worthy of public viewing.  I have a few projects in the works and I’ll see how the year plays out.  If you count any of the juried shows that I made my way into, those could be seen as joint exhibits, but outside of that, I didn’t obtain this resolution.  

My last two resolutions were also resolutions that I didn’t get around to this year.  One of them was to start shooting Super 8.  While this resolution is something that I do want to achieve, other items took precedent in 2012.  I am throwing around a few ideas for a “moving picture” as part of one of my projects and I recently was given a Lomography Lomokino for Christmas.  I plan on exploring this concept and hopefully it’s something that will come to fruition in 2013.  The last resolution was to start experimenting with alternative processes.  I was unable to achieve this resolution, but that’s mainly due to timing.  I didn’t start darkroom work until the end of the year and once I have a better handle on the basics, it will be natural for me to move to alternative processes.  I have a great network of individuals familiar with these processes and it will be very easy to obtain basic knowledge regarding these techniques.

In numbers, I obtained 4 of the 10 resolutions I set out to accomplish.  Three of the remaining six resolutions were touched on in different ways and three were not achieved.  Overall, I’m happy with my progress, as I mentioned earlier.  I progressed my photography and I look to follow that up with a great 2013.  Stay tuned for my 2013 Photo Resolutions and thanks for following along in my adventures; I really appreciate it.