January 15, 2010

Darwin Tulip petals close-up

(C) Copyright 2007 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

I started out as a Nature photographer.

Like many photographers, Ansel Adams was an early inspiration.  I soon gravitated to Galen Rowell and John Shaw, whose subject matter was more in keeping with my lifestyle at the time.  

Blackwater River and Falls at river level

(C) Copyright 2004 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

So, for the first ten years of my formal photographic work, the natural world was my palette.  I photographed anything that caught my interest-as long as it was outdoors or of a non-human subject indoors (flowers in a greenhouse for example.)  No people.  Was NOT going to do the wedding or portrait thing.

I had, however, expanded my interests to include architectural photography-particularly abandoned buildings whose deteriorating elegance evidenced times gone by.  

Oregon Ridge Bachelor Boarding House in winter

(C) Copyright 2007 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

And then Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Louisiana in August 2005. 

Sociology and Psychology are academic disciplines focussed on the human condition and are the main courses I teach.  As Katrina approached the Gulf coast, a different level of social conscious awoke in me.  That Fall semester, I began using Katrina’s impact and aftermath to illustrate the issues of social structure, race, economics, politics, and mental health-a practice that continues to this day.

In January of 2008, I had the opportunity to accompany a group of fifteen students and 5 faculty to complete a week-long service learning course in New Orleans working with the volunteer organization HandsOn New Orleans.  I went along as the photographer and to also participate in the activities.  We were able to work on a variety of projects in various locations which provided us the opportunity to see the different levels of recovery throughout the city.  Walking through the 9th Ward and viewing the destruction that remained 2 1/2 years after Katrina left an indelible mark on my psyche. 

New Orleans 9th Ward bedroom post Hurricane Katrina

(C) Copyright 2008 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

And it changed my photographic focus.

I returned to New Orleans in  December, 2008 (thanks, Carr) and spent another few days in the 9th Ward talking with residents and making images-I was looking to see the changes from the previous trip.  Brad Pitt’s “Make It Right” project had completed several houses and many more were under construction.  It appeared that many of the condemned houses had been demolished and removed.  Houses that had been gutted remained and there were plenty of empty lots.  Some residents were hard at work rebuilding and there was definitely more construction from the previous January.  “This is my home and I am going to stay” was a frequent comment. 

I still, on occasion, photograph nature.  However, my main interest now lies in creating images documenting the interaction between the social and environmental forces that shape our lives.  More on this in future posts.

Take care.


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