When the folks at Creative Mornings Louisville reached out about producing an image to be shared in collaboration with their conversation on ethics this month, they asked, "are you up for the challenge?" It was a heartfelt yes, not only because the topic of the month is one that I wrestle with internally on a regular basis, but the task at hand - working through a concept to produce a photographic image - is one that fuels my fire. It's where I began. It's where I'm from. It's what I was required to do when studying fine art photography in college.
In those early years, I didn't find that process nearly as exciting as I do today. More often than not, it was frustrating. And long. Sometimes embarrassing. Not only was I learning about the capabilities of my camera, and how to shoot with film, I was learning how to process it all, and develop black and white and color prints of quality. Then, I would stand in front of my peers to explain the meaning behind my creation, and defend myself against the critiques (did I say, embarrassing?). It was a challenge to produce photographic images of quality with meaning. But, the process forced me to grow, and it familiarized me with the need for perseverance and humility - qualities I would later learn to crave, and not fight against.
It's all a process that I miss today. While I spend most of my days photographing weddings and portraits, I often reflect on how much I miss fine art photography, and how I ought to make room for it in my life again. So much so, I committed to two personal projects for 2016 as New Year's resolution.
I must thank Creative Mornings for the opportunity and the challenge. Not only did they provide the theme, they entrusted it to me. I wouldn't be crossing this goal off my list if it weren't for them. Also, I could not have made it happen without the help of my model, Victoria Whonsetler (who is as vulnerable as she is beautiful and kind), hair and makeup artist, Carley Brooks (who was able to take the vision I had in my mind and execute it so effortlessly), Material Print Shop (who gave such care and attention to printing this image in a beautiful way, on the most perfect paper... for the first 50 attendees to take home), and of course, Richard Photo Lab (for all their constant TLC in processing and scanning my negatives). Below is the final image that I selected to share, the artist statement, and a handful of my favorite runner-ups from the shoot.
It’s an unfortunate and inevitable part of the human experience that we will all, and quite often, behave in unethical ways. When confronted with this reality, we can attempt to distract ourselves from it, justify our actions, or work to make up for the moral deficit we see in ourselves by performing a greater amount of good deeds. But when we face ourselves, those we’ve hurt, or the god who we believe may or may not be looking down on us, can any of us manage the weight of our immorality? Is this burden too heavy for even ethics to carry?