About

 

I am interested in human-made things: politics, language, architecture, music. Everything human-made is dialogic, even a bridge or a banjo are “signs.” I am eager to use my camera to interpret these signs, and moreover, to engage the people, groups, or institutions behind them — to use my camera to represent my side of the dialogue, or my experience as an audience. My side of the dialogue is not purely idiosyncratic, but rather informed by sympathy with the different communities of meaning-makers. Whether these communities have formed around Appalachian music or social justice, or are composed of city dwellers traversing public and private spaces in their quotidian endeavors, I see myself as part, or even an extension of the conversation. I find stories to tell all around me, and attempt to represent them with compassion and visual simplicity. In the street and documentary photography tradition, I work exclusively with available light and do little to no post-processing of my images, preferring the straight-out-of-camera approach.

Issues of representation and communication, vital to my photography, are grounded in my academic work. I earned two master’s degrees in linguistics, and conducted research on how homemade signs in a refugee camp — “The Jungle,” in Calais, France — represented both their monologic informational intentions, as well as their often desperate dialogic messages, aimed at French, English, and international audiences.

At a protest, 2017. Photo by  Scott Hayes .

At a protest, 2017. Photo by Scott Hayes.

In the series Life with H, I explore having a demon-battling man as my muse. Sometimes those demons were chipmunks to be shot from the breakfast table. At other times, the enemies were hidden within. This work speaks to a kind of hyper-vigilance and masculinity that is anathema to the feminist and pacifist in me, while still maintaining humor and visual storytelling.

In the Minimalism Project, I spent one month with a single lens and B&W presets on my camera. The challenge I set for myself was to walk the same commute, at the same times, but to find new ways of seeing the familiar, and to abstract them into their most fundamental of visual elements.

The New Eyes gallery contains the first images I made after having corrective eye surgery. I had been legally blind, relying on contacts and glasses or thick glasses since childhood. The successful surgery required months of adjustment, as my brain learned to see, for the first time. I no longer had debilitating headaches, but it took quite some time before I felt like myself, artistically.

On my December, 2017 trip to Cuba -- which was not specifically a photography expedition -- I wrangled with the thorny issues of privilege and purpose in my photography. I had only my fixed-lens Fujifilm X100F with me ("only" really isn't fair to this marvel of modern photographic technology) and I shot exclusively with the most default of settings for film simulation, grain, shadows, white balance, etc. I wanted the colors and textures of Cuba to speak for themselves.

I would be dishonest if I were to say that Cuba didn't affect me quite profoundly with its paradoxes and penury. The images I share, here, represent Cuba as I saw it: vibrant, resourceful, and foreign.

Jo and her Fuji X100F are inseparable. In La Habana, Cuba, 2017. Photo by Lucía Fraile Villacorta.

Jo and her Fuji X100F are inseparable. In La Habana, Cuba, 2017. Photo by Lucía Fraile Villacorta.

In 2019, I am continuing to grow, to chase the light, and to define my style. I bought a flash that I have yet to use, instead working with only available light. Also, this year I am even more committed to my documentary, straight-out-of-camera style, where, as I mentioned earlier, I compose and expose in the camera, doing almost no post-processing. I will admit to straightening the occasional horizon, but 95+% of the work represented on this site is directly from the camera, without any manipulation to color, composition, grain, sharpness, etc.

Of particular interest to me lately, is to use photography to tell and document stories, through deliberate and researched cohesive collections, rather than the haphazard, though thematically-related shooting that comprises the bulk of my work. There are persistent questions that drive me forward. Look for more work from me investigating and addressing these questions in the near future, rain or shine...

Chattanooga, TN. 2018. Photo by Mark L. Greenberg.

Chattanooga, TN. 2018. Photo by Mark L. Greenberg.