Cathedral of Saint Paul: Reflections on the First Year, Part 2

“Light” – Saint Paul, MN

I spoke yesterday about my reasons for starting the project on the Cathedral of Saint Paul. I also spoke about how I have come to realize that I have a certain way of shooting–a certain style. Not only with how I shoot, but what I shoot as well. In looking at my own images from the past 1-2 years–when my photography has really begun to take shape–there is a distinct theme. I see things in a way that others don’t.

My cathedral project is unique in the fact that it shows a different side of the place, much like the rest of my photography shows a different side of life–the side that I am drawn to increasingly. I think that as things progress with me, artistically and photographically, this is something to look out for. There is a fine line between a visual aesthetic or style, and making the same images over and over because they were successful once. Many people who do commercial work, or shoot weddings and portraits, fall into this rut quickly. They lose all creativity and stick with “what works”. While it is certainly understandable, nothing makes your work more stale, and you (the photographer) more bored and disinterested.

“Storage” – Saint Paul, MN

Like I was saying, the things that I see, and the things that stand out to me are a lot different than they are for other people. Most of what I have seen of others’ work from the Cathedral of Saint Paul is of the “postcard” variety (long night exposures, building at sunset, etc) or the technicolor, poorly-done HDR, Photoshop panorama-stitching, uber-saturated, over-processed variety (you know who you are, and this type of shot NEVER looks good). The less said about that last kind of photography, the better. Just thinking of it makes my eyes hurt; it’s like looking at a cartoon, while dumping battery acid in my eyes.

Seriously though (mini-rant over) I haven’t ever see pictures of the cathedral that focus on the smaller things. The mundane things. The places where the holy and the secular intersect; the meeting of supernatural and mundane is something that I began to see everywhere and that is what the project ultimately focused on. Some of the shots from yesterday’s post touched on it, and today’s do so even more. Some are out-takes, others are shots that I used in the book I made. I hope you get the sense of the everyday, the average.

“Mundane” – Saint Paul, MN

This is where my project stands out, I think.

Having a project is good. Having a place to put that project is even better. I don’t necessarily mean in the physical sense–although prints and books are important too–but more in the sense of having a place to put your artwork in the larger world of art. As a graduate student in history, it’s the same idea. One must place one’s own work into the larger narrative of historical writing; like a brick wall, your work must fit into the holes left through the years and hasn’t been covered yet. Then you put your brick into the wall, and go about finding the next place someone left a brick out. Over time, the wall fills up. The same goes in art, to an extent.

“Representation” – Saint Paul, MN

I think that this project, once it is done, is one that I would like to have exhibited in a gallery. Or perhaps even have a book published professionally (not on my own via Blurb or the like) but there is much left to do with the project and work to be done with finding someone to take on my project, and my vision, and help provide funds and the arena to show my work to a wider audience.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the photographs that I posted here. I think that I will continue to go back to the cathedral to flesh out this project, and go back through the shots I’ve taken to make sure I have a consistent thematic and visual thread with which to tie the whole thing up. I’d love to hear some thought of others on the nature of putting projects together, and projects that you have completed or are working on now.

Any useful tips to share with other readers of the blog? Put them in the comments below!

“Engrossed” – Saint Paul, MN

You can always see more at my website, and keep checking back on my blog for more work. Don’t forget, you can click “follow” down below and get updates straight into your email inbox! And use the social network links to share my work on twitter, flickr, or the like.






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