Photo Lounge Meeting 2: Big Places, Little People.

© Rana Young, from her photo book “The Rug’s Topography.” This week’s featured artist.


“I want you to think about the art, performances, music, books, and films that have made you want to be alive.  Think of how those artists, like you, probably felt overwhelmed by their lives– and the times they were living in– but made the thing anyway. Your future audiences need your work, so you need to make it.”

-Beth Pickens, “Your Art Will Save Your Life”


Our first meeting naturally presented the theme of “Big Places, Little People”, and while our images are a visual representation of just how small we actually are, our conversations are filled with the intense self-awareness of “the photographer” and the challenges the title brings when sharing work.
We looked at a photographer who has an unabashed way of sharing her work in progress. As image makers, we tend to fall into the (false) belief that everything we present to others should be perfect.  We are hyper-aware of how others might see us. Rana Young is open with her imagery, proudly announcing, “I have no idea what I’m doing” as she shares her new work in progress on social media. Her projects are astounding, but her humanity is humbling and unequivocally inspiring to fellow photographers.


As the role of imagery shifts in our culture, so does the orientation in which we choose to photograph.  The technologies we use on a regular basis inevitably have influence on the orientations we choose to present the world- videographers tend to veer towards landscape because of their comfort in that format. Paradoxically our cell-phone-centric society has a need portrait-oriented music videos. Though photography is such a young medium, it has seen incredible challenges alongside the advancements of technology. We would be naive to think that will stop any time soon.


This week we looked at the project titled “The Rugs Topography” by Rana Young.  I would like to graciously thank her for allowing us to share her work.

The Rug’s Topography began with me photographing my intimate partner of six years. Simultaneously, we were facing an internal conflict: how we identified as individuals differed from the roles we occupied in our partnership. As we began to grow apart romantically, our anxieties rose in response to the distance widening between us. Our individual identities within a romantic context stemmed from the commonality of both having witnessed predominantly cisgender roles during our formative years. Our performance of those expectations was perpetuated by inexperience and an impulse to adhere to, or in my case “correct,” our potential family structure. Recognizing a shared inherent foundation opened our dialogue and together we began unpacking our preconceived notions regarding societal norms. Collaborating visually to express our reflections served as a catalyst for the reconciling of our emotional intimacy in the midst of separation. It is through the juxtaposition of gaze and gesture we create blended self-portraits, expressing our emotions in relation to who we were and who we’ll become.”

Read the Lenscratch interview and see more of his work and purchase her book here. (Really, purchase her book. It’s 30$ and amazing and you need it.)


Kylie Harrigan

Dan Kendricken

Emma Kurman-Faber

Dan McCarthy

Daniel Nova

Steve Sheridan

Jessica Voas


Lastly, here is a list of resources elaborating what we’ve mentioned during this meeting. If you missed or did not understand any references from our last meeting, please contact me. I’ll gladly add them.

Rana Young – Author of “The Rug’s Topography.

“Your Art Will Save Your Life” by Beth Pickens. – “As a teenager visiting the Andy Warhol Museum, Beth Pickens realized the importance of making art. As an adult, she has dedicated her life to empowering working artists. Intimate yet practical, Your Art Will Save Your Life helps artists build a sustainable practice while navigating the world of MFAs, residencies, and institutional funding.”

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