We are so fortunate to have Guest Muse Anna Gay with us today for Film Friday. Her work is lovely and diverse, and I hope you enjoy her visit with us as much as I did! Take it away Anna…
Last fall, I started my journey in the MFA program at the University of Georgia. My decision to attend grad school for photography was a huge leap of faith for me, as I only discovered my love of photography 4 years ago. What I wasn’t expecting was that, initially, the pressure I put myself under completely zapped my love of photography. What was once a passion had become a burden, which was a devastating experience. This phase of photographic self-loathing didn’t last too long, though. What brought me out of my rut was the realization that play is an important exercise for all artists.
Now, I know that some of you may not want to call yourselves an “artist,” but you need to move beyond that, because you are an artist. And, being an artist involves a certain amount of childlike wonder, which should be nurtured through a healthy amount of play. When I say play, I mean letting go of yourself, and not worrying about whether the images you are creating are “good” or “bad” by any standards. Letting go and creating simply for the act of creating.
I found a photographic playground last spring when I took a color darkroom class. While I had been developing color film for about a year, I was new to making darkroom prints. Being a beginner took away all of my pre-conceived notions of how my images should look, and allowed me to rediscover my love of photography. Since I was, essentially, starting from scratch, I found myself photographing things that, otherwise, I may have never noticed. I had become so set in what I thought I “should” be photographing, that I had developed tunnel vision, and was ignoring so many photographic opportunities around me.
I normally keep my contact sheets a closely guarded secret, as they are a visual, stream-of-consciousness journal for me. But, I wanted to show some of them to you in the hopes that they will inspire you to play, and to do some shooting without thinking. As you can see, some of the images are pretty strange, while others work well. That’s how it should be! Your goal here is to create without being so hard on yourself. Most likely, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you create.
Also, I would encourage to check with your printing lab to see if they can make contact sheets for you when you have your film developed. Contact sheets are a great way of evaluating yourself after you finish shooting because, like I said, they feel like a journal that tells you about how you see the world.
And, in the spirit of play, trying something new always helps! Maybe you should dust of your 35mm, or try a new type of film. The possibilities are endless, really.
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Anna Gay began her journey as a photographer when she picked up a camera in 2008, and the rest, as they say, is history. Her interests in photography are varied, but her images are most often self-portraits, or images in which she hopes to convey the rich, often haunting, history of the rural southern United States. She is the author of the Digital Photography School ebook, The Art of Self-Portraiture, and a self-proclaimed social media addict. You can see more of her work on her blog annagay.com and Facebook.
Anna, thank you for joining us here today!
~Christy | Urban Muser