This is a quote from two nurses who have done extensive research on caring for patients at the end of life. It is meant to describe the act of deep observation and human connection that can occur in those final precious moments. I am a nurse specializing in oncology and end of life care, but am also trained as a painter and mixed media artist. It has been a long while since I’ve participated in anything I would call “art making” but it seems I’ve always managed to be making something. When I first began nursing I hard a hard time reconciling the two practices in my mind, but recently I’ve found they are not so different at all. They both require total engagement of the senses, and to do either reasonably well requires discipline and that “true presence” which these nurses are describing. Generally I enjoy photographing repeating forms, lines, and patterns I find in my environment. Only recently I have switched from an HTC Inspire to an i5 and I have been beside myself exploring apps like Snapseed, Picfx, and particularly the exercise in chaos theory which is Decim8. I’m constantly amazed by their intuitive interfaces, and by how expressive they can be (a LOT less clinical than I remember Photoshop being).
When Jess proposed a collaboration I was thrilled. To say I had been admiring her brilliant portraits (and eloquent narratives) for several months is an understatement. How Jess is able to achieve the richness and textures she does with her magic phone continues to escape me. Even more than this, she has an unbelievable and beautiful connection with each individual she photographs. Her images do not simply describe, they are really artifacts of the the true presence which she so easily achieves with everyone she meets.
We each exchanged a series of images leaving the selection and edit up to the other. I had been working on some Decim8ed street shots (with actual people!) and was really just blown away by the image at the temple. Clearly this is a BIG image with themes and subject matter which transcends time. I really wanted to see if it would be possible to explore this image via my decim8 experiments, while maintaining the dignity and sacredness of this moment.
Favorite shots Jessica chose of Crystal’s work
My passion is simple, my passion is life and the photos I take are just that, life unfolding before my very eyes. As an American nomad living abroad in South Asia I’m exposed to different cultures, people, languages, faiths, music, architecture, surroundings and sights. I’m learning so much from my own experiences so I want to share what I learn with those in my life and I tried blogging but it just wasn’t effective for me so the best way I know how is through my photography and the narrative I include with each moment. I absolutely LOVE capturing people doing what they do, not posed, not acted, but living their daily life. Life is the old man gripping the bars of the local train as we chug south to Mysore. Life is the woman walking out of her hut to see the sun peeking out from the clouds. Life is a mother and daughter crouched in front of their house drawing the new Rangoli for the day. Life is hawks soaring between the buildings in the middle of downtown Mysore as the sun beats down on a hot afternoon. Life is a moped chillin inside the doorway of a concrete house. Life is men and women embracing the temple wall in devotion to their goddess after paying tribute to her figure. Sometimes I see life in black and white, sometimes I see it in color, sometimes I see it with a twist but to me, it’s all the same life and my goal is to share what I see while also honoring and respecting those whose lives I’ve captured.
I use my HTC One X exclusively and I am the newest member of @DroidEdit.
Favorite shots Crystal chose of Jessica’s work
Jessica Introduces the Collaboration
What I love about Crystal’s work is that there is a deep appreciation for the details, regardless of how small or large and she can make ANYTHING beautiful… seriously… ANYTHING, like baseball and fat, two things which I am very adverse!! We both shoot different subjects and tackle our images differently but that’s what I found most intriguing about working with her and why I wanted to work with her. WWCD?! ? Would she go all decim8’y with it? Will she pick out some obscure detail and twist the image in a way that I would never have even dreamed? The only thing I knew is that I trusted her 147% with my images and the vision she would have for my raw shots so I didn’t guide at all and I wanted her to have full artistic liberties over what the edits would look like. My contribution to this collaboration – I sneakily parked my butt next to this wall at the Chamundeshwari Temple on Chamundi Hill in Mysore, India and tried to snap a decent picture that I could possibly work with in the future… she did the rest
Crystal sent me 2 separate edits and this one just grabbed my heart like a grappling hook! This edit was so powerful, the colors intense and the decim8 lines drawing you from one side of the mirror to the other. In a lot of the eastern religions and philosophies there are these external gods/goddesses/deities that are worshipped but when you break it down, what you pray for, when praying for them, is the quality those gods/goddesses/deities have that you want to possess and that you want to shine bright. Like when you pray to Buddha, you’re not praying to Gautama, you’re praying to the Buddha qualities within you. When you pray to Ganesha, you’re not praying Ganesha comes and saves you from all your woes but that the wisdom and the ability to overcome obstacles rises within you and that you have the strength to face your own challenges. In yoga, it’s said that the best teacher is the teacher you have within yourself. I’m by no means an expert in these philosophies, not even close, and there are so many complexities but this is what I’ve come to understand during my time here so forgive me if I’m missing the mark a bit. The way Crystal edited my original image portrays this understanding impeccably!! Yes this man is praying to Chamundeshwari but what he’s also praying for courage, strength and power within himself that Chamundeshwari was known for. I cannot envision capturing the act of honoring one’s faith and oneself any better than she has. I love this woman’s brain and heart so much!
Crystal Breaks it Down
1. I can’t begin to describe how excited I was when I saw this. I think all of the intensity and beauty of the moment Jess saw is conveyed so clearly here. Usually I crop the images I work with first, before taking them to other apps. I tried this method first but found I was losing some of the space and compositional strength when I went to Decim8. I decided to start over and take another approach.
2. I ran the whole image through a few versions of Veth in Decim8 before finding this.
3. I then took the image to Snapseed and decided on a crop which would leave as much of the texture of the shirt in combination with the lines describing the angle of the wall and decided on a 1/4 turn.
4. Decim8 produces some high key colors, so I fine tuned a little in VSCO Cam, adjusting fade, contrast, saturation, and grain.
5. Back to Decim8 one more time for a Beamrider filter. Then a trip to Picfx for one of the PFX Film filters.
The image was originally published to the “iDroid challenge” hosted by @AMPt, @DroidEdit and @WeAreJuxt (all on Instagram).
See the first feature on Juxt from the challenge:
Moose: The Result of Joined Forces by Atle and Tom
A challenge where Android and iPhone photographers and artists collaborate across the technical platforms.