100 Faces: My First Photo Exhibition. Info and Thoughts
I’m super excited to announce my very 1st photo exhibition, 100 Faces: Street Portraits by Jamiya Wilson. Happening January 31, 2019, the event will be held at Rogue Space Chelsea in New York City’s Gallery District. The show is open to the public, but you will need a ticket to attend. You can get your tickets through Eventbrite or by visiting the Exhibition Info page and clicking the “Get Tickets” button. Definitely check out the info page as it will help familiarize you with the project and my intent behind it. And feel free to bring a friend or two along. The more the merrier!
Now that you’re all caught up, I’d like to share some thoughts on the work and the whole process of planning an exhibition.
First off, planning an exhibition is time consuming. Whew! The sheer amount of details you have to consider can be quite daunting akin to planning a huge photo shoot with a lot of moving parts. This is even more challenging in many ways, since an exhibition, for an artist, is essentially just another form of marketing. Usually when we market ourselves we want to put our best foot forward and come up with something elaborate and eye-catching. When approaching an exhibition in this manner the costs can add up FAST! There’s prints to be made, a space to rent, marketing/promo materials, even staff to hire if necessary. Once could easily go broke from the whole ordeal if they aren’t careful. *knocks on wood*
100 Faces is an independent exhibition, meaning I’m funding it entirely myself. Sure, I probably could have submitted my work to galleries to see if anyone would be interested, but I don’t want to wait around for someone else to give me the green light ya know? I decided to do it myself and this way I gain the experience of putting together such an event. As I do more in the future, this experience will be invaluable as I should have learned from any previous mistakes. Hopefully.
It’s been a long time coming for me to do a show and while the idea has crossed my mind over the years, I never had a project I felt strongly about to turn into a full-fledged show. There were some ideas thrown around, but nothing that got me out my seat excited about the prospect. 100 Faces was different.
I remember the first day I went out to take photos. It was September 11, 2017. I was feeling quite uninspired, sitting in my apartment bored out of my wits. Shooting beauty, which I’m more known for, requires many moving parts. And it can be challenging getting people onboard for a shoot. The makeup artist is busy, the agency doesn’t have any appropriate models available, or I just can’t think of an interesting concept to save my life. And quite frankly, I’ve grown tired of shooting beauty for my portfolio. For clients, I’m all for it. But shooting beauty projects all the time gets boring.
So there I was, sitting in my apartment. I thought about one of my early mentors, photographer Mark Robert Halper, and how he always preached how you can’t sit around waiting for inspiration. You have to keep shooting and it will come. With that in mind, I grabbed my camera and went out the door. I didn’t know what I wanted to photograph, but I knew it would be people on the streets of New York. Would it be candid street photography or something more personal? I love meeting people and having conversations, however brief. I decided to just approach whatever interesting person I saw and ask to take their picture. I have no issue approaching strangers so this was right up my alley.
The first few people said no, but I kept at it. Then I came across a construction worker wiping his brow after a hard bout of work. He was standing in the scorching September sun, waiting on a go ahead from one of his co-workers who was moving some equipment. I approached him and asked if I could take his picture. He smiled and said, “Sure bro. What do I need to do?” I said, “Just stand there. Right where you are is perfect.”
He looked into the camera and the resulting image is what was created. There was compelling about this simple image. A man hard at work. His face full of hair, his eyes low and squinted from the blinding sun, the dirt and grime on his work vest. Who was this guy? I asked his name and he replied, “Gabriel.” “Where you from Gabriel?” “Queens.” he said in that proud New Yorker manner. We shook hands and I was on my way. I thought about Gabriel as I walked. Who was he? What motivated him to become a construction worker? Does he enjoy it? Is he married? Kids? Family?
The simple act of meeting him and knowing his name made me acknowledge his existence.
Here in New York, it’s often that we pass by people on the street and they’re simply strangers to us. Just another face in the crowd. Had I not stopped and spoke to Gabriel, he’d likely just being another face in my mind. Quickly discarded in favor of more relevant thoughts. What’s for lunch or who’s posted what on Instagram. But once I met him and took his picture he became real and important to a degree. In my mind, I wished him well. Good fortune and good health with him working in such a tough profession and all. Perhaps that’s sentimental or too romantic, but it’s how I feel in regards to most people I meet.
And that’s how 100 Faces was born. I decided then and there I wanted to photograph these interesting people I saw. People I probably would never know or be indifferent about otherwise. Maybe other people would see them as I saw them. Not just another face in the crowd, but a person full of life. With hopes and dreams just like them. Hopefully, the images are successful in making that connection.
I hope you enjoyed this little write up and will come out to the exhibition. I’ll be posting once a week from now until the show sharing my thoughts and any other interesting info regarding the project.
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