[P]erhaps the most meaningful personal shoot of the year comes every December. We sit down and talk about what the year meant and how to capture that in a photograph. How to express where we were at that time. I shoot the annual Ann Street Studio holiday card photograph in the same format each year, on a 4×5 film camera with black and white Ilford film.
This year’s image crossed continents twice from start to finish. It begins in France, taken in the afternoon light of Provence with flowers I bought at my little town’s Saturday farmer’s market. After I framed the flowers just so, I used two magazines to manipulate and block the natural light of part of the background and on some of the arrangement while the shutter stayed opened for 30seconds. I shot somewhere around 15 plates with variations on lighting and exposures then packed them up and brought the sheets of film back to New York with me to be hand processed at LTI.
As always, I took the processed film and contact sheets to my favorite darkroom lab in Boston which I pilgrimage to every winter and spent two days hand printing the set of 200 on Ilford warm tone fiber base paper.
I brought the final 200 back to France with me and spent days by the window light addressing each one, some with added personal notes, to be mailed out all over the world. It is a long process but one that brings me great joy in a digital age. To give someone a physical object you made with your heart, soul and abilities is like having a small piece of me in your home. The sense of pride I feel when people send me photos of the image framed in their home makes me feel grateful that I am a photographer. However, for the most part I don’t know what people do with them. I like to imagine someone using one as a bookmark to later discover again years from now. I like to fantasize a child or grandchild will come across one decades from now in an old box and feel a connection to me or at least to who I once was. They don’t have to know me personally but I hope they know my work.
Below, in my beloved darkroom in Boston.
Below, back at home in France addressing each envelope.
The text that accompanies the print:
This is a limited edition fiber print of a simple bouquet of flowers was photographed in the afternoon light of Provence in the South of France. Shot on 4×5 black and white film, this image was hand processed, printed and pressed but the artist.
We believe if you take away the color of a photograph, what you are left with is the life it represents. In “Ranunculus #8” the delicate bouquet was captured at different stages of bloom and in an array of colors wrapped around each other as a representation of all ages and races of humanity. The past year was uneasy and sometimes heartbreaking for many around the world and this photograph represents 2016 as a reminder that we are more beautiful when we all come together. The falling petals are the tears we may have shed but are caught by another in an act of love. We hope you join us in our belief that it is the differences in us which make life an endless gift of discovery and enriching beauty to be celebrated.
We thank you for coming along on our journey and hope that you cherish this print as a way to say thank you for an amazing year. Each bring is signed, numbered and dated.
See 2015 here.
See 2014 here.
See 2013 here.
See 2012 here.