Tuesday Jul 26th, 2016
by Katherine Bollens, 2011 YoungArts Winner in Photography
When I got the email asking if I could be the photographer for the 2017 YoungArts application campaign, there was an immediate thrill in my chest. It is the same feeling I have every time I work for YoungArts: the excitement that I will once again be surrounded by some of the best artists of my generation. Every alumnus/a I have talked to has said that YoungArts is a family. My photography work with these artists relies on my love for them. I love what they do and I love what they bring to the world, whether I have known them for years or for one hour. It is that love and passion that I try to show in my work with YoungArts.
I started working at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of Grand Canyon as soon as I graduated college. It was a dream job from the first time I hiked in the canyon, but it had prevented me from working with YoungArts for the last year. Despite the time away, YoungArts continued to inspire my artistic vision. It has pushed me outside of my comfort zone with photography and is a constant affirmation that I am an artist, whether or not I am currently pursuing it professionally. As an artist, I thrive when I am connecting with other artists, and I was excited to be back in an environment in which we could feed and grow off of one another’s creativity.
The idea for YoungArts’ application campaign was simple enough: we needed to create an image that spoke to the interdisciplinary nature of the organization and represented its various disciplines. Through my work with YoungArts, I had photographed many collaborations that brought different disciplines together. However, this time I would only be working with one artist at a time and none of them would be in the room together. I bounced around some ideas on how to address this challenge with the YoungArts team in charge of the campaign, and we decided that a composite image would be the best way to go.
On the day of the shoot, I set up my camera on a tripod in the corner of the open, all-white studio space in Los Angeles. The idea was that my frame would be the same for each artist and that I could overlay them that way. We then told the artists to throw themselves into their work, whether it was writing or voice or visual arts. We wanted to capture each artist in his or her element, and wanted the photos to look natural. Perhaps the most challenging aspect was working with the amazing natural light in the room. I have always preferred natural light to artificial, but we were working throughout the day and the light in the room looked much different in the evening than when we started. It took several weeks of editing to get to the final image you see above.
The final composite is meant to show collaboration between artists, which is one of the most special aspects of experiencing YoungArts as a winner. It is easy to imagine the visual artist sketching the dancer, the actor reading a scene from the writer, the videographer recording the singers. We have so much to learn from each other as artists, and the hope is that young artists see this image and glean something about the interdisciplinary nature of YoungArts and how the organization can help them develop and grow.
YoungArts is now accepting applications for its 2017 program. To learn more, download a poster. The YoungArts poster has all the information a young artist needs to begin a successful YoungArts application submission, plus some words from a few of our up-and-coming alumni about their YoungArts experiences.