The Expanding Color System 2012

Photo Blow-up

In the spring of 2009, I spent a month photographing in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.  At first, my focus was broad; I was attempting to see and learn as much as I could about the entire area.  As I moved from island to island, primarily within the New Georgia Group, I found each community I visited so welcoming that I wished to do something for them in return, to reciprocate their kindness.  With that in mind, I started to take portrait photographs of the people I met.  With the help of an Epson printer, I made 8.5 x 11 inch prints for each of my subjects.  At the time, I figured that other tourists had visited these islands, snapping pictures of the people they encountered.  Yet, few, if any, of those photographers would have had the capability of returning with prints.  I believe that many of the people who received my prints had never before owned a picture of themselves.  Portrait photography turned into the way I made art that month even though I had not worked in that art form prior to this trip.  I estimate that I was able to distribute more than 100 portraits to locals whom I photographed.

In Honiara on Guadalcanal, I would go to the village market and ask people I met if I could take their picture.  The next day I would return with the printed images and try to track down the people I had photographed in an effort to give them prints.  Every time I returned with prints, a frenzy of excitement would break out in the market, and, instantly, I would be surrounded by eager new subjects hoping to have their own photographs taken.  While in the market, I overhead my photographs being called ‘photo blow-up.’

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