Collaborations VIII: PICK YOUR BATTLES
By Scott Dalton and Juliana Forero
For the months of October through April, HCP welcomed sixteen high school students from eight different schools that were to become part of the eighth Collaborations program. They came to HCP every two weeks to meet with artists, photographers, and HCP staff. They were able to share their work-in-progress and learn tips of the photography trade from different perspectives. Students prepared original work that related to a theme selected by the group, and the program culminated with an exhibition. The group decided to work around the concept of 'battles', inciting multiple interpretations on the subject matter that involved teenager insecurities, ambitions, relationships, stereotypes, and perception of self. The resulting exhibition looked at the internal process of aging and the continuous adaptation to new circumstances.
Scott Dalton was one of the photographers invited to the program, who shared tips on documentary photography and the stories behind his body of work. Together with Scott, we revisited the photographic work in the exhibition, selected five participants and asked them to share their artistic interests. Emilee Cooney, Emily Spence, David Garret Marsh, Erica Reed, and Alice Wang shared with us their experience in Collaborations and the role of photography in their lives.
JULIANA FORERO is HCP's Assistant Director for Education
SCOTT DALTON is the 2010 Carol Crow Memorial Fellowship recipient.
THIS YEAR'S COLLABORATIONS VIII PARTICIPANTS INCLUDED:
Justin Calvert (The Kinkaid School)
Marshall Cargle (Cy-Fair High School)
Lissette Carranza (KIPP High School)
Emilee Cooney (Cy-Fair High School)
Marissa Garcia (The Chinquapin School)
Bryna Hoang (Lamar High School)
Josselin Joya (KIPP High School)
Bianca Kaushal (The Kinkaid School)
Alex Liso (Episcopal High School)
Elyse Lopez (St. John's School)
David Copeland Loredo (The Chinquapin School)
Junny Ma (Bellaire High School)
David Garrett Marsh (Episcopal High School)
Erica Reed (St. John's School)
Emily Spence (High School for the Performing and Visual Arts)
Alice Wang (Bellaire High School)
WHAT ARE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHIC INTERESTS? WHAT THEMES DO YOU LIKE TO PHOTOGRAPH?
Emilee Cooney: I like to photograph usually sad and mysterious themes.
Erica Reed: As a photographer, I am interested in capturing connections between people and the world around them.
Emily Spence: When I am taking photographs, I like to capture movement and action. I also enjoy photographing simple objects at unusual angles to make the everyday seem more beautiful. I try to make a common image or object more interesting.
Alice Wang: I tend to photograph a lot of landscape, situations that are ironic or tell some type of story, and portraits.
WHO HAS BEEN YOUR INSPIRATION? WHAT PHOTOGRAPHERS DO YOU LEARN FROM AND/OR ADMIRE?
EC: Originally, my stepfather was my inspiration to begin photography; he even gave me his camera to use. Some photographers I strongly admire are Sally Mann and Keith Carter. ES: Some of my favorite photographers are Edweard Muybrigde and David Hockney.
AW: Definitely Elliot Erwitt. I've looked at tons of different photographers, but his photos have stuck with me.
WHAT IS PHOTOGRAPHY FOR YOU?
ES: Photography helps me show other people how I view the world.
AW: To me, photography is a way of showing others the world I see. I try to capture moments that are unique to life that not everybody gets to witness.
WHEN DID YOU START TAKING PHOTOS AND WHY?
EC: I started taking photography in the ninth grade, at age 14.
AW: I began taking photos the summer before 10th grade.
HOW DID YOUR EXPERIENCE IN COLLABORATIONS HELP YOUR PHOTOGRAPHIC VISION?
EC: My photographic vision, through the experience of Collaborations, changed to be much more personal in ways that it relates to me. I learned to express myself, and learned that it is ok to photograph touchy concepts.
ER: Collaborations has been a great experience by introducing me to other photography students in the Houston area and helping me learn how to share my ideas as a photographer. Having had my work shown at HCP has also been such a great opportunity; I now see myself as photographer and not just as a student. I am energized to push myself further as a photographer.
ES: The artist talks helped me realize what it would be like to be a full-time photographer. It was fun to be around other photographers who had the same passion for photography as me. It was also good to learn how to put together my portfolio and write about my photographs.
AW: It forced me to be more open-minded in the way I view photos and to consider all the factors behind a photo.
DID YOUR PARTICIPATION IN COLLABORATIONS HELP YOU STRENGTHEN YOUR PHOTOGRAPHIC VISION?
AW: I believe it did. Exposure to different types of photos gives me new ideas of photos I would like to take, as well as different techniques I could use.
EC: Collaborations helped my vision; it gave me more strength to experiment, more confidence in myself and work, and taught me to take pride in what I do.
ABOUT YOUR PHOTOGRAPH IN THE EXHIBITION, WHAT WAS THE CONCEPT BEHIND IT AND WHAT TECHNIQUE DID YOU USE?
EC: The concept behind my piece was an abusive relationship. The picture was taken on color film with a 4x5 camera.
ES: My photograph in the exhibition is about how, as a teen, your emotions are fragile, and it is easy to make bad choices and mistakes. In your mind there is a battle between the good and the bad thoughts, and these thoughts can make you feel physically depressed, weak, and shattered. The ice in the series represents a young adult's emotions, and the weight of the boots is the thoughts and decisions that are heavy on her heart and mind. As the girl steps away from the broken ice, the pieces remain, but they have made the girl better able to cope with the difficulties in life.
Garrett Marsh: I am fascinated with the idea of time. Passing. This is a message to the onlookers: "Slow Down and smell the roses." Make friends with strangers, and let loose lost friends. Life is short; enjoy it.
AW: The concept behind my photo was to let the viewers interpret it in their own way. I wanted my photo to make the audience ponder about what it's like to be a teenager and to begin thinking about their own battles when they were teenagers.
WHAT IS NEXT? HOW ARE YOU INCORPORATING PHOTOGRAPHY IN YOUR FUTURE?
EC: My photographic career is never going to end, it is just beginning. I plan to continue photography my whole life by experimenting with new processes and new techniques, finding new ways to express myself.
AW: I will definitely be continuing my photographic career. I always have my camera with me waiting to take the perfect photo. And I am constantly searching for new contests to enter my photos into.
ES: I am continuing photography at my school next year, and instead of focusing on digital photography, I am taking basic black and white photography classes this summer. I plan on studying photography in college, and I hope to later start a career as a photographer.