“I always begin by meeting, interviewing, and observing my subjects. This was a family who was referred to me by someone else. I’d never met them before. However, it quickly came out that their favorite family pastime was playing baseball in their driveway and the street, so we decided together that that would be a good concept for their photo. Because I lived in San Carlos at the time, it was easy to drive by frequently in order to figure out the best time of day, when the light would be just so. I probably made at least four trips to check out the light, metering the important elements of the photo. The day of the shoot, I asked my subjects to improvise – to do what they would normally do. I was hoping for an amazing shot and the light was perfect, but the wild card was how the ball would appear in the image. We shot a lot of photos hoping the ball would appear in the right spot. I thought it was possibly a great shot, but with film you can’t be sure until you see the proofs. When I finally got the contact sheets, I was ecstatic!”
About the artist: Beth Yarnelle Edwards has been making photographs in suburban middle-class settings in America and Europe since 1997. Her work has been exhibited and published extensively in the US and Europe, and she has been the subject of solo museum exhibitions at Château d’Eau in Toulouse, France; the Museé de la Photographie å Charleroi in Belgium; The Oakland Museum of California; and the Reykjavik Museum of Photography in Iceland. The winner of CENTER’s 1999 Photography Project Competition, Edwards’ photographs can be found in the collections of SFMOMA, LACMA, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and many other American and European institutions. Edwards’ first monograph, Suburban Dreams, was published by Kehrer Verlag (Germany) in 2011 and was selected for PDN’s Photo Annual 2012.
Name: Beth Yarnelle Edwards
Specific location this photo was taken: In the flats of San Carlos, CA.
What do you love about photography? I love that it makes me see things I might otherwise miss. It keeps me in the moment, heightening my senses and understanding of the world around me. It enables me to communicate what I think is important.
How do you see photography changing in the next 10 years? There are many more photographs in the world, and many are shaped by the platforms on which they are presented. For example, on Instagram it’s important to be simple. Complex compositions can’t easily be read or appreciated. Because there are so many photographers constantly shooting, and the automatic features on new cameras do so much to assist, just by chance there are fabulous images in the world that have very little to do with the photographer’s personal vision. That doesn’t mean there aren’t great photographers. Of course there are, but even the rankest amateur comes up with something fabulous now and then.
Can you offer a few tips to aspiring photographers? One of my professors in grad school, Brian Taylor, gave some excellent advice: “Show what you know. Make work about what’s important to you!” I also think an old fashioned darkroom class is a good way to learn how to see and decide how you want a final image to appear.
by Beth Yarnelle Edwards
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