When I was younger I frequently found myself peering down the unlit staircase that led to the basement in my childhood home. My dad had set up his own darkroom down there, and the smell of chemicals emerging from the depths of this off-limits world always caught my attention. In the following years my dad sold or gave away most of his darkroom equipment, unfortunately, and it wasn’t until my junior year of college that my interest in photography was born.
What sparked this sudden interest, well, I still can’t say for sure. I grew up playing sports but have always had an artistic side; maybe photography was just the means by which my creative self could be revealed. I graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a double major in Environmental Policy and Economics, but since I took my first picture three years ago, photography has grown on me every single day. As I try to figure out what I want to do with my post-grad life over the next few months, I at least know that I want photography to be a part of it. This summer at the PRC I am greatly looking forward to learning more about the photography industry and get a better understanding about how things work behind the scenes.
While I enjoy shooting in digital format – and in the past few months, film as well – one of the ongoing bodies of work for which I have an affinity is more of an alternative process. I had an old Canon Rebel converted to cut visible light and capture only infrared (IR) light. I am captivated by how immensely different landscapes become in the absence of visible light. Almost all vegetation reflects IR, so during sunny days plant life is rendered a soft, dreamy white. Additionally, similar surfaces typically reflect IR light equally, causing normal variations in color to appear almost uniform.
My interest in infrared photography is just as much physiological as it is aesthetic. Despite the natural wonders that the human brain in capable of, it is only trained to be able to see things a certain way. Light enters through our eyes upside-down and a series of impulses from the brain flips the image and defines color and shape, creating what we know as “sight.” While we are not technically capable of seeing infrared light, I feel like photographing in IR gives a new meaning to the term “vision.” It allows us to see the unseen and unlock a hidden dimension that we previously perceived to be pure imagination. For me, infrared photography represents a fresh way of looking at the world, and it is something that I am continually looking to explore further.