Nancy Voith at Lake Minnesuing 10.5.22
It is like learning to drive a stick shift on a hill. You are stuck there in the middle (in my case it was on cobblestones) trying to find the sweet spot. Letting out the clutch just enough. Giving it gas. Rocking back and forth between the two, trying not to stall out. When I take photographs, it is the same thing. Some subjects need a lot of gas, a lot of direction, some good distraction from what most people admit is awkward - having your portrait taken. Some people have it figured out and just need me to take it all in and elevate it on my end.
Photographs have always been the product of my work, but photography doesn't describe what I do. In 2022, everyone creates pictures all day, everyday. Look at my coffee. Look at my dog. Look at that sunrise or sunset. We all take pictures and videos and share them. That is not what my work is about. My work is about you. Your story. Your way of seeing the world. Finding and sharing what makes you amazing.
To do this, I have to remain the consummate outsider. From that vantage point, I see what you miss. I want to explore the stuff that generally gets curated out. I want to gently shift the center of gravity to allow hidden conversations to emerge. My photographs are about the stories I get to witness, more than the composition or the light. You are going to look good in my photos. I can do that. What I want is for you to look at my photographs and think, “Wow! I never knew how to share that part of me in a photograph,” or “That’s exactly who I am.”
Like any good relationship, the subject has to trust me, and my piece of it is to be trustworthy. I am searching everyday for how we are all connected. When you meet someone for the first time it is like looking at earth from space. There are no divisions. There are no boundaries. It is just all of us. My mission everyday is to explore what we share as humans. The photographs are artifacts of my experiences with you.
Yingchen Zhang for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra - 10.12.22