I’ve been shooting “blurry abstracts” for a couple of years now and it took me well over a year before I even showed any of the work publicly. It takes a lot of guts for a photographer to proudly post ‘out of focus’ photos on social media and be proud to stand behind them. I knew that not everybody would ‘get it’ nor would they appreciate it. My own husband would constantly say, “Paula, if you want blurry pictures why not just give me the camera.” I would respond with a big sigh. Even my own husband doesn’t appreciate the art that I personally saw in my “blurry photos.” But I didn’t let this stop me. I persisted and kept going down my abstract path.
Every once in a while I would sneak a blurry abstract into my Facebook or Instagram feeds and then later get disappointed when its response would pale in comparison to a pretty landscape, a lighthouse, or a lobster boat. There is no question what the majority of people want to see . . . pretty scenery and I live in a place where that is abundant. But, for some reason, I wanted to strive for more. I craved being different, even if it was not the popular thing to do.
Last year I joined a little bookmaking group that inspired me to put into words what my blurry abstracts were all about and that was the greatest experience for me. When I forced myself to do it, I was finally able to figure out the motivation behind what I do. Putting words to the photos was such a powerful experience for me and something that I wanted to do for a long time. I created a short book that got some great responses and that book is was motivated me to create a Pecha Kucha-style presentation.
What is a Pecha Kucha you ask? Pecha Kucha is Japanese and literally means “chit-chat.” It is a presentation style in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds, advancing automatically as you talk along to the images. The format, which keeps presentations concise and fast-paced, powers multiple-speaker events called PechaKucha Nights all over the world. Here in the midcoast of Maine, we have 2 of these events per year and ever since seeing the first one four years ago, I dreamed of doing one myself.
Well, my time came. Shortly after writing my little book (and putting the desire out to the Universe that I wanted to do one) the Center of Maine Contemporary Art contact me and asked if I would speak. I was both thrilled and terrified. Would I really have the guts to stand up in front of hundreds of people and tell the story of my bizarre photos? Would people ‘get it?’ Would they appreciate it? Or would they think I’m crazy?
I’m happy to report that, not only did the audience ‘get it’ and appreciate it, but they loved it. I got so many amazing comments afterward that I have really inspired people to look at the world differently. Normally, it’s just photographers that I try to inspire to shoot differently, but the fact that I was able to inspire non-photographers to open their eyes to the world of possibilities made me the happiest person on earth for that one night.
Please click the image below if you would like to view the entire presentation. I do hope you enjoy it and that you find it inspirational as well. (And please pardon the fact that the MC pronounced my name wrong . . . 4 letters, but seemingly so complicated!)
If you would like to download a free digital copy of my photo book “Blurring the Lines” which features many of these photos, please click here.