Monday, January 4, 2016

Goodbye 2015: A Year in Review

 I wanted to take a pause this New Year to think about 2015. It’s easy to let a year go by and not want to reflect on the goings on of that year—immediately putting resolutions on the wall and wishing for the next year to constantly be better that the previous. 

Aline Smithson made a post on Lenscratch of her and her team’s Favorite Things of 2015. So, I wanted to make a contribution to this by making my own list! See blow.

Favorite Light Leaked Post of 2015

Tall Tales was an online and physical exhibition on Light Leaked and at Canopy Collective in Cleveland, OH. It was an amazing experience to put together with Caitie Moore and Erika Dee. All the work! All the conversations over Skype! I loved that it involved creating a selection of images from the photography community and that it provided an opportunity to curate a focused selection of a lot of photographers at once. I was really proud of how the exhibition that came together.

Honorable Mention:

This year Light Leaked started creating tutorial posts for processes that I felt this community would find valuable. For this post, the power couple, Ashley Whitt and Ross Faircloth, shared the process of how they created an inexpensive (and huge!) UV exposure unit for alternative processes in their at-home studio. And it was glorious.

Favorite Featured Light Leaked Artist of 2015

I met Abbey earlier this year and I immediately connected with her and her work on nuclear energy. Rooted in science, research, and inquiry, Abbey’s work brings the viewer into a world in which we assume a lot, but actually know very little. And we’re all better for it. In November the curator and independent writer, Laura Addison, conducted an insightful interview with Abbey about her work. If you missed it, make sure to check it out!

Favorite Photography Book of 2015

Many amazing photography books were published this year. Here’s a few I LOVED:

You guys. This book. What words can I even use to describe the genius of Aline and the Magenta Foundation? First, let’s talk design. I got the special edition of this book and I think it is the way to go if you haven’t bought your copy yet. The print and color choices are so, Aline: off-beat, seductive, smart, fun. Something about it feels like an f-you to the simple traditional style of monographs, and I love it. The layout of the images and pages are playful and experimental—very in line with Aline’s work. This also creates a rhythmic flow through the pages, and before you know it, you’re at the end and need to start again. It also really tells the story of Aline’s growth as an artist over the years: her movement from one idea to the next and really, the playful nature that entails. It’s the journey of a powerful and intimate artist telling stories, and we are all lucky enough to have a front row seat.

Honorable Mention:

Oh my goodness, Maude Schuyler Clay is a Southern goddess. Mississippi History is absolutely one of the most beautiful photography books I have seen in person. The printing is divine, the design, scale and sequencing is heaven. Every detail is so considered that it makes this lifetime of work sing out from the page, begging re-viewing. The content is expansive, spanning thirty years of color work that comes together to describe a personal, photographic, Mississippi history.

I can foresee Mississippi History being talked about with the likes of Stephen Shore and Robert Frank in the future. I am not even worrying about overselling it, because this is the truth.

Honorable Mention 2:

To start, the cover is a smooth, velvety white hardcover with a tipped in photograph and letter pressed text. The images are expertly printed on thick weight paper and are amazing replications of the hand-toned photographs I’ve seen in person. Overall, the book is simple yet elegant. The work causes the viewer to reflect on family, love, relationships, memory, life… It’s a stunning visual poem.

Daylight published some beautiful books this year, and I am really looking forward to their future as a publishing house.

Honorable Mention 3:

I can’t make a list about photo books without talking about the gorgeous new monograph Casa de fruta y pan by Meg Griffiths and Aint-Bad Editions. Firstly, following this work and the progress of A-B over the last few years makes me incredibly proud to see this fruitful collaboration. Anyone who has seen a printed A-B Magazine can attest to the top-notch printing and materials used, and this book is not an exception. A crisp paper back perfect bound book, with a teal and silver foiling cover feels good in the viewer’s hands. The selection, layout, and sequencing of the photographs are tightly woven to create a full picture of this long form project discussing the people and politics of Cuba.

Favorite Non-Photographic Book of 2015

"You do not need anybody’s permission to live a creative life."

I know some people may be skeptical of a book written by Elizabeth Gilbert--if Eat, Pray, Love wasn't your thing. But any fan of Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland will love this book. It's a deep investigation into the mysteries of the creative process and living a creative life.

This book was like getting advice from a trusted friend, and caused me to reflect on my artist practice, expectations of myself, and how to manifest ideas into art. In short, it was the most inspirational book I read this year.

Honorable Mention:

Note: there are graphic descriptions of rape in this book

Missoula chronicles the rape allegations from several college-aged women at the University of Missoula from 2008-2012, as well as the overall state of sexual assault in America. First, Krakauer is a nuanced nonfiction writer and investigative journalist. Second, this book raises powerful and essential questions surrounding how our society handles rape cases. I would describe this as the most insightful and heart-wrenching book I read this year.

Honorable Mention 2:

Okay. So this book came out in 2011. But I read it for the first time (and the 2nd time and the 3rd time) this year. The Night Circus is a finely drawn dark narrative that intertwines the lives of 3 protagonists as they navigate the creation and possible destruction of a traveling circus, Le Cirque des Rêves, that only opens at night. This was simply the most fun read/listen* of the year for me.

*A quick shout out to Audible (not sponsored), which I got this year, and was definitely the BEST money I spent. I work a lot, and used to only read books before I went to bed. Now, I can listen to amazing productions of books on my phone when I'm working, driving, cleaning, and yes, about to go to bed. Because of this, I have read (listened?) to more books this year than the last several years combined. Check it out, especially if you are an auditory learner, like me.

Inspirational Photographer of 2015

A source of inspiration for me this year came from the magic that is Micah Cash. He is an articulate, smart, well-rounded artist that works in photography and painting. Not to mention a caring and inspiring friend. His work, Dangerous Waters, takes any viewers understanding of the TVA to new levels.

Here’s a couple things Mr. Cash taught me this year:
  1. The power of the conceptual landscape 
  2. The power of intricately researched work 
  3. The power of confidence 
  4. The power of public speaking 

Favorite Photography Event of 2015

Light Leaked Meet-up at SPE

This was definitely one of the most fun events of the year, for me. It was so great to see a lot of Light Leaked artists and readers come together in one place, interchange ideas, and meet one another. I wish we could have events like this more often because this was seriously inspiring. Look out for an invite to the next meet-up at SPE in Las Vegas!

Favorite Album of 2015

Blue Neighborhood by Troye Sivan

Blue Neighborhood is a pop/synth affair that is the first studio album by this Australian singer/songwriter. I describe him as a male Lorde to anyone who asks. Although this album is not perfect, it is beautifully emotional. It’s sexy! It’s fun! It’s been on repeat.

Note: amazing noodle dancing in above video

First listen to: Youth

Honorable Mention:

Cicada Rhythm is an Athens, GA based folk duo that are as haunting as they are beautiful. The album is very Townes van Zandt meets Regina Spektor. Drive with the windows down to “Dirty Hound.”

First listen to: Do Not Destroy

Favorite Professional Moment of 2015

Photo by: Tamara Reynolds 

Slow Exposures is a rising star in the world of photography festivals. Based in rural Georgia, and organized by Chris Curry. These “Four Slow Days” are full of photography exhibitions, pop up shows, artist/juror talks, and drinking wine on porches. Last year also marked the beginning of an artist in residency program, which is currently open for submissions.

Questions of Origin was selected by Aline Smithson and Alexa Dilworth as the solo show award winning at the juried exhibition the previous year. It was a great solo exhibition and panel discussion with Karen Lacey and Celeste Headlee that was broadcast on GPB Radio at Slow Exposures.

Seeing the work together and talking about it detail with a panel and an audience, brought a sense of perspective and resolution to that work that I didn’t have before.

Favorite Personal Moment of 2015

This year I got engaged! My now fiancé, Ethan Fogus, brought me on a kayaking trip in the Tennessee mountains and proposed with his grandmother’s ring from the 1920s. It was beautiful, sweet, and fun. For those who don’t know Ethan, he is a Bruce-Springsteen-loving-hilarious-songwriter-musician-poet-educator-allaroundgreatperson. I’m really looking forward to our life together!

All that being said, here’s some resolutions I have for 2016:

  1. Create more artist run contributions (articles, tutorials, exhibitions, interviews) on Light Leaked. Have one in mind? Email to:
  2. Have more conversations in person (I will accept Skype in this resolution) 
  3. Take time to sit quietly 
  4. Spend more time outside, away from my computer 
  5. Don’t check my email first thing in the morning 
  6. Always have a running 6 month plan
  7. Make more work
  8. Share my work with others 
  9. Practice generosity, kindness, and empowerment with everyone 
  10. Practice confidence and empowerment with myself 

Thank you to the community of Light Leaked and the photo community at large for making this a great 2015! Your passion, inspiration and encouragement are everything.

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