Earlier this year I attended a two day workshop class at the Woodstock Center for Photography taught by Kelli Connell. I first was introduced to Kelli’s work during my undergrad studies, and her series “Double Life” blew me away. Below are a few of my favorite images from her series.
Kelli describes this series as,
“…an autobiographical questioning of sexuality and gender roles that shape the identity of the self in intimate relationships. Polarities of identity such as the masculine and feminine psyche, the irrational and rational self, the exterior and interior self, the motivated and resigned self are portrayed. By combining multiple photographic negatives of the same model in each image, the dualities of the self are defined by body language and clothing worn. This work is an honest representation of the duality or multiplicity of the self in regards to decisions about intimate relationships, family, belief systems and lifestyle options.”
Her work is honest, beautiful, surprising and source of an inspiration, so when I saw she was teaching a class at Woodstock I jumped at the opportunity. She was a really engaging teacher and I would absolutely suggest taking a class with her or seeing her lecture. The general format of the class revolved around meeting as group, Kelli presenting a lecture or writing exercise, discussion, photo assignments to work on that day or night, and presenting the images to the class. It was a really busy two days!
Our first assignment was to shoot with another photographer from our class. I was paired with Janice, and we spent a couple hours playing around having a blast. It was very lucky I was paired with her, we bonded very quickly and she was open to just about anything. We found this spot just off the river about a half mile from the WCP building. I think this first image is the best.
I love this image as a portrait of Janice. At the time I was checking my camera and settings, and when I looked up she was in this gorgeous gesture. Just breathtaking.
We also went up to a flea market and I decided to try and imitate Kelli’s series. Always a little awkward when you are in the middle of a market, but sometimes it can actually be helpful because you have to force yourself to concentrate on the moment.
Our assignment that night was to take a self portrait. I normally construct scenes and carefully plan everything out – but I was lucky in my luckiness! I was camping this weekend, which I love doing, but this night there was a HUGE storm and I ran the risk of having to sleep in my car at the site due to the torrential rains. Uncomfortable for me, but great for a photoshoot.
I’m actually quite happy with this image, I’m considering adding it to the series.
The next day we had a couple hours to shoot, and, rather than stage another scene, I decided to do some street shooting. I recently acquired a converter for a 30mm and 120mm Canon film lenses (I shoot with a Nikon) and I spent most of the time playing around with them and watching the way people move. One quality in Kelli’s work that I find particularly impressive is their documentary feel. The images feel real, and I wanted to do some people watching to better get in touch with body language.
There are two old hippies who live in Woodstock who, daily, come out into the square and talk to people and basically just spread love.
I ended up spending some time with a man named Kirk, and we talked about life and art. After a little while I asked him if I could take some photos of him.
I will hopefully be taking more classes at Woodstock in the coming year!