Smile You’re on Camera (2019) wet collodion on acrylic mirror

Smile, You’re on Camera investigates the evolving practice of portrait photography and the entanglements between advertisement and photographic culture. Richard Beard, Britain's first commercially-licensed portrait photographer (1841), instructed his customers to say “prunes” during the exposure of their picture. This historical anecdote became the catalyst for this body of work. In America and England of the Victorian era, a toothy smile in public was considered vulgar and associated with groups possessing the least cultural capital: the lower-class, the mentally disabled, and children. 

Eastman Kodak Company—a behemoth of modern photography—invented the first affordable handheld camera. Consequently, the company became a leading authority in photography, effectively educating the first generation of amateur photographers in America. Portrayed in their advertisements, training manuals, and trade journals were people smiling joyously, excluding the possibility of anything but affirmation of a photographic practice that is fun, easy, and essential for any occasion. The experience of the photographed subject and practice of photography was successfully pre-constructed and packaged. Popular photography in its infancy becomes an extension of advertising culture; embedded in the practice are strategies for selling products, desirable lifestyles, and consumer happiness. 

Why do we speak the words of food products when facing a camera? Underlying humor and play resonate in the art work, as does a reflection of absurdity. Beneath the lighter veneer of the work is a slightly ominous tone, evoking the likes of a dystopian fantasy. Cameras increasingly gaze and surveil. And photographers reflexively operate as directors, perpetuating cultural codes and framing a desired behavior from their subjects. My work offers alternatives and subversions, disrupting the expectation and understanding we have of art photography, portraiture, and advertisement. Aware of my own ambivalence sometimes I too make selfies, repeat “cheese” under my breath during a group picture, and share only those images of my best life on the internet. Kodak taught me well.

 
Stock Photograph #1 Search Results: Smiling (2019) cyanotype 14”x10”

Stock Photograph #1 Search Results: Smiling (2019) cyanotype 14”x10”

Tintype Selfie with 19th Century Studio Portraits (2019) wet collodion and found tintypes

Tintype Selfie with 19th Century Studio Portraits (2019) wet collodion and found tintypes

Non-compliant Gaze #1 (2019) 34”x23”

Non-compliant Gaze #1 (2019) 34”x23”

Non-compliant Gaze #2 (2019) 34”x23”

Non-compliant Gaze #2 (2019) 34”x23”

iPhone 8 Plus and Selfie Stick / Lights, Camera, Action, Cheese (2019)

iPhone 8 Plus and Selfie Stick / Lights, Camera, Action, Cheese (2019)

Kraft Singles American (2019)

Kraft Singles American (2019)

Cheese (2019)

Cheese (2019)

Say Cheese (2019) lenticular print / wet collodion on acrylic mirror

Say Cheese (2019) lenticular print / wet collodion on acrylic mirror

Sun-Maid California Pitted Prunes Dried Plums / Pruning Shears, Kirkland (2019) 20”x30” / 20”x30”

Sun-Maid California Pitted Prunes Dried Plums / Pruning Shears, Kirkland (2019) 20”x30” / 20”x30”

Bryan Sings Polaroid Swinger Jingle (2019) wet collodion / mp3 / raspberry pi

Bryan Sings Polaroid Swinger Jingle (2019) wet collodion / mp3 / raspberry pi

George Eastman Stone (2019) ceramic and acrylic

George Eastman Stone (2019) ceramic and acrylic

George Eastman Rubbing (2019) stone rubbing on newsprint 24”x16”

George Eastman Rubbing (2019) stone rubbing on newsprint 24”x16”

The Kodak Girl (2019) 14”x10”

The Kodak Girl (2019) 14”x10”

Root Division Gallery, San Francisco (2019)

Root Division Gallery, San Francisco (2019)