Coming from a four-year conceptual art school, sharing personal feelings through art and artist statements was highly encouraged, even obligatory. You can learn a lot from making your deepest pains known. It starts out liberating, but can quickly become taxing and empty. When every image and every stroke has to tell the story of your life, it all starts to feel very contrite. When every artwork has a deep hidden meaning, everything is meaningless.
Grief is accepted and even embraced when it can be understood. But that can quickly turn to confusion and distance when the pain can not be understood. This can lead one to mold their shared feelings to something a viewer can relate to, further confounding the arbitrariness.
Photography provided me a release from this vicious cycle. I don’t think of my photographs as pictures of anything, they are moments in time which never actually existed. Cameras don’t record the world as it is, but present it as the photographer desires. You might be able to locate one of my subjects, but you’ll never be able to find it because it’s gone. Just like any past interaction is warped by our own personal vision, these scenes are distorted by my goals at the moment.
I don’t often share my artistic motivations anymore. Their private meaning is deeper and more important to me than the understanding of others. In the end the images are more a portrait of myself more than anything else. Which leads to every artist’s greatest desire or fear: everyone can see through the veil and know their true feelings.
Caitlin Crowley is a Mid-Western photographer, designer, and technical writer. Her film and commercial photography have been published in F-Stop magazine, Feature Shoot, and over fifty regional and international publications. Recently published “Photography for Students and Artists,” a technical and creative guidebook available through Blurb. Caitlin teaches college photography in Fort Wayne, IN.
Included photographs shot on self processed Kodak Tri-X and T-Max 400iso 120 format film, with a Mamiya 645AF-Dii and scanned with Epson V-600. Fort Wayne, IN (12/11/2016 & 12/19/2016).