Saturday, May 1, 2010

Emulation: American Family

The concept for this series changed several times throughout the process. I was struck originally by a photo in Philip diCorcia’s series, “A Storybook Life.” I decided to photograph a family using this photo as inspiration. I biked to Bryce Rapp’s home, and asked him if I could photograph his family in their natural environment. The next Sunday, I returned with my camera, with a revised idea. I had decided to document the family more in the style of Sally Mann. However, when I got there, I realized I needed to familiarize the children with my camera and me, so I just casually photographed them and played with them simultaneously in their backyard. Towards the end of the shoot, Bryce invited me into his home, where we had coffee and made plans for future partnerships. He also told me, “my house is your house,” and said I could come by whenever I needed a dose of family, or a home-cooked meal.
When I made contact sheets for my first shoot, what was most striking was how elementally American the photos were. My shots were filled with the essence of Middle America: chickens, barns, tire swings, jeeps, and corn. This clearly had to be the focus of my project. I went back to shoot again, and interacted in much the same way; playing basketball and kickball with the five children.
My project is an emulation of Sally Mann. Although many of the things people associate with Mann’s work is not in this series, it has them same task. Mann states that her photographs are "of my children living their lives here too,” and my series is of these children living their lives in rural Ohio. Like Mann’s “Immediate Family,” my series is a documentation of a family in their natural setting. The tones and vignette also echo Sally Mann’s prints.

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