Project 52

52 Wednesdays :: Night

October 24, 2012

I’m Marla
Sprinkled throughout this journey are the little joys, moments of inspiration, and snippets of life that add color to our human experience. Join me as we embrace the beauty of imperfect perfection, the magic of a beautiful moment, and the endless possibilities of creativity.

I’m going to preface this post and say that I am too hard on myself.  Anyone else have this problem?  In my head, I justify my self- critical nature by telling myself it helps me become better (which I believe is partially true).  I’ve decided that I need to become less critical however, because often it hinders my authentic enjoyment of something for what it is, experiences included.  And not to say that I am always too critical because I can definitely feel good about a job well done, but then again, my idea of this might differ from someone else.  One might wonder what this has to do with my 52 Wednesdays post this week, but it relates to my recent shooting experience.

On Monday evening, I set out at 12:00am with my Omni-heat jacket, fingerless gloves, camera, and a borrowed tripod to experience the city purely as a documentarian.  To my surprise, Portland is not a very happening place at around 12am on a Monday evening and it seemed much more like 2 or 3am instead.  I had a list of places in my head where I wanted to try a few things out, but the more I moved around the less safe I felt.  Really, I’ve never had a safety problem in Portland and even late, late at night when I lived downtown and frequently walked about.  But when a normally very busy part of town seems so dead and the sporadic passers-by were rough vagrant types, all 115 lbs. of me felt uneasy with $3500 hanging around my neck.  Downtown Portland was eerily quiet.  Only a few cars parked on the streets here and there, just me, the sound of my steps, and the clicks from my camera.  What would normally be a relished moment for how peaceful, surreal and dreamy it was, seemed squashed by my anxious nerves.  So I left and went to a different part of town which I thought would be busier.  And it was a little, but not much.  What bothered me at the time was that I felt the strongest desire to capture images that mattered.  I wanted to take photos of Portland at night in a way only the dodgy, night crowd experiences it.  Sleeping homeless under a church entrance, the dancing lights of the marquee to a strip club, portraits of the street youth with no place to go–these are the things I had envisioned.  But I was too scared.  Part of me thinks that it was smart to play it safe, but then there is another side that echos in my head, “Failed.”  Someday I would still like to attempt my vision, but next time I’ll bring a strong handsome bodyguard with me. =)

So this is what I created instead.  A small sample of a the hipster neighborhood, Hawthorne… at night.  And though they are not what I was after, I do like them quite a bit.

Next in the circle is a woman who amazes me with her night photography and I can’t wait to see what she’s created this week.  Pamela Joye from Salem, MA

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  1. Pamela Joye says:

    i appreciate your honesty marla and all that you touched on….the fear, self critique, expectation & hopefulness and the certain kind of disdain for our work when things turn out differently. but from my view you did what you set out to do – you went out at midnight, on a monday no less. that’s courageous. and i think healthy fear of being safe was not copping out (trust your instinct!) as for the pictures – you documented what you found – quietness. a city with a different kind of life at midnight on a monday. i like the strong lines in the urban scenes; there’s a definite sense of quiet sleep in them. they have an ambivalence about them that i can’t quite put my finger on & the light lines through them interest me in many ways. make me wonder about things (like what they are or what i’m seeing). but all that is irrelevant – for you did what is key to do: you went out and photographed. & ps – you’re in find company on the being too hard on self part 🙂

  2. Carrie says:

    Marla, these really give me a sense of the city at night. I love the feeling these images create and the city lights sparkling in the quiet streets.

  3. Laurie Schultz says:

    These are gorgeous Marla! I admire your work so much that it’s hard for me to believe that you are hard on yourself! Everything you produce is gorgeous, but I am the same way. I am super hard on myself especially when I have a vision and wasn’t able to follow through with it the way I would have liked. I think I felt that way about my images this week. Anyways, I am loving the starbursts and long exposures…that’s something I need to play around with! Beautiful!

  4. This is definitely not a “Fail,” Marla. I echo everyone else’s sentiments that a) Everything you produce is stunning, b) You were in fact brave in this assignment, c)I struggle as well with being my harshest critic, and d) Glad you listened to your gut in being safe. A bodyguard (particularly a strong and handsome one!) will be great to get grittier layers of your vision when you attempt this again 🙂 But I love what you captured here – the quietness, the bursts and lines of light, the sleepiness of city, the funkiness of wigs in shop. Nicely done.

  5. amy grace says:

    marla, i love your writing more and more, and the layers it gives the pictures you share. i think the vulnerability in what you are saying coupled with these gorgeous, if tame, pictures, makes me love what you do even more. only continue to be critical if you must, but try to push through it. you are so perfectly you. you owe yourself the joy and freedom of having no idea what you may find, what kind of pictures you will make. in real life too. and i think you were quite brave, doing what you did. i honestly cannot remember the last time i was alone, in body, in a new place. i think it was a wonderful win.

  6. Heather says:

    I understand what you mean about being too critical. I think we are our own worst critics. I am so impressed with these images. I love the long exposures on the city streets. I think you nailed it this week.

  7. Karen Porter says:

    Marla, I can wholeheartedly relate to your sentiments this week. Especially the part where my critical thoughts squash the enjoyment of the journey. You are fabulous in many, many ways and I’ve only seen them from afar through a blog circle. 😉 Your thoughts each week are inspiring, your parenting is uplifting and your photography is amazing. Love these Marla. xo

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