Uprooted to be presented in Washington DC

Tanna, Kyle and family, from Uprooted   © Kristine Heykants 2017

Tanna, Kyle and family, from Uprooted   © Kristine Heykants 2017

Photography, like the written word, does not exist inside the box of one discipline. An example is the extraordinary work of documentary and humanitarian photographer Eugene Richards. He has amassed a pile of awards from the heavy-hitters of awarding institutions: The Guggenheim Foundation, ICP Infinity Awards, World Press Photo to name a few. His pictures are represented by art galleries and the most prestigious museums. He has been know to accept corporate and advertising commissions. 

There is pressure for lesser-known artists to create a "brand" in order to stand out in a media-saturated world. This leads to my point: I'm going to Washington DC in November to present Uprooted alongside a group of academic researchers and artists in a panel on innovative visual research methods at the American Association of Anthropology's annual conference.

From this day forward: Brand be damned!

Meeting Lila

Lila, from Uprooted   © 2017 Kristine Heykants

Lila, from Uprooted   © 2017 Kristine Heykants

I spent time walking around Belmond earlier this month. People there tend to get around by car or truck so I felt pretty self-conscious, especially with my large camera slung across my shoulder. And yet I met some of the kindest people that day. After a friendly hello, Lila and I chatted about the weather and she offered me a drink of water. She told me about her family– her sisters in California, her husband, her children now grown with one still at home and working at the gasket factory down the street. She and her husband moved to Belmond over 20 years ago for work and to raise their family. Now that she's retired she doesn't want to leave. "I just got used to it," she said. 

The Heart of the Matter

Danilo, livestock worker, from Uprooted    © Kristine Heykants 2017

Danilo, livestock worker, from Uprooted    © Kristine Heykants 2017

My challenge when making a portrait is to provide a point of resonance between the viewer and the person in the picture. I hope the audience will recognize a likeness on an emotional level, allowing for a connection to take place. 

Historically photography has been used to highlight that which is different, new or novel. I aim however, to create a bridge with my pictures by showing ways we are the same. Danilo, the subject of this picture, was riding his bike toward me on the sidewalk. His trendy clothing, hairstyle and bicycle stood in contrast to the traditional house and well-manicured lawn in the background (a set from "Leave it to Beaver" comes to mind). He seemed both curious and guarded (as people often are when a stranger asks for a photograph) and yet there is an openness, perhaps a wanting to belong. I think everyone can relate to that.

Life of an Adrenaline Junkie

The addictive side of my personality came into play in the early days of my career when I photographed documentary-style weddings. It wasn't the love of seeing the beautiful bridal parties or the emotion-filled ceremonies that kept me coming back for more (not that those weren't great), it was the thrill of performing under pressure. After all, weddings are a one shot deal. You either get the picture or you don't.

These days my projects tend to be less event oriented, but whenever photographs of humans are concerned, there is the challenge of rising to the occasion. Every shoot presents different problems to be solved, whether it is lighting conditions, making the subject comfortable or getting the right picture within a small window of time. All  contribute to my love of photography.

Colleen LaSota uses Moxa in her acupuncture practice at Four Gates Energetic Culture,  © 2017 Kristine Heykants

Colleen LaSota uses Moxa in her acupuncture practice at Four Gates Energetic Culture,  © 2017 Kristine Heykants

In Search of Magic

On July 1st I will be leading a workshop in at the Belmond Art Center about creating visual meaning with portraits.  When I make a portrait, I hope to reflect something of my subject's experience in the world, although it is always interpreted through my ideas. Part of our workshop discussion will center on ways we create connection with our subjects, whether they are loved ones or people we are meeting for the first time. The process of making a picture plays an important role in the resulting image. I find the best pictures happen when I let go of attachments to the outcome. It's like the magic shows up when I release my notions of how something should look.

Uprooted will be on view July 1 - July 31 at the Belmond Art Center, 1179 Taylor Ave, Belmond, Iowa, 50421. Email me for workshop details.