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  • Bailey Quinlan: ‘A Day at The Lake’

    Bailey Quinlan is a 27 year-old fine art & commercial photographer from New England, currently based in Boston, USA. After accomplishing artistic studies at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) & Tufts University, she eventually focused on photography. Several years later, she attempted to pursue wedding photography in order to make a living doing something creative, and to be her own boss. For her project A Day at The Lake Bailey followed her grandmother in her hometown, and photographed her through the themes of time, loss, and memory.

    How did you got into photography?
    I grew up with an affinity for observational drawing & painting. I also had a keen interest in science, but I decided I was better at art and pursued that for higher education. In art school I tried out a bunch of different media- print-making, small metals, paper making, performance art, oil painting, and eventually photography- where I met my now husband in a photography class. His work was so inspiring to me, and a light switch turned on. I realized I was much more interested in photographing my subjects, rather than painstakingly translating them onto paper or canvas. I started seeing the world differently- thinking and seeing critically, perceiving light in a whole new way, finding beauty in everyday things. I discovered how magical it is that because photographs are directly tied to the world we live in, EVERYONE can relate to a photograph. While at the same time, we all approach an image from different backgrounds and personal experiences, so a single image has a different meaning to every single viewer. I am constantly amazed by the many applications and functions of photography, and I will never stop learning and being inspired. My husband and I go to photography exhibits as much as possible, and have an ever-growing photography book collection that is now turning into a library.

    Introduce us to your series A Day at The Lake
    My current project entitled A Day at the Lake is a continuation of an ongoing personal exploration regarding the concept of time, loss, and memory. With my grandmother as the main subject of this project, we had the opportunity to travel to her hometown in Ashland, Wisconsin. The project is comprised of a combination of portraits, landscapes, and other details from her childhood that I shot on medium format film, as well as transcriptions of stories and memories she’s shared with me.

    My grandmother moved away from Ashland when she was 20 years old, but whenever she recounts her childhood there her face lights up as if it were some magical place. Her distant memories of her life there however, are disjointed from the Ashland that we visited together. Not only has repeated recollection of the same stories likely altered her memories, but most of her friends and family members who lived there have since past, and most places have changed considerably with time. Some of this imagery includes her childhood home, the old dirt road that happened to be paved for the first time while we were visiting, and her elementary school which has been converted into an apartment building. Together they tell a story of loss and how time skews one’s memory and perception of place.

    For how long have you worked on this body of work? what did you learned about yourself?
    Some prior research, and 2 weeks of shooting on site. I learned how creative I could be with illustrating certain stories my grandmother had told me. I was also amazed by how much work I was able to make. Also how quickly I was able to compose, frame, and light my subject (all things that were heightened by my commercial photography experience).

    “I hope viewers get a sense of timelessness and humbleness of home. I hope it resonates with their sense of nostalgia, and what ‘home’ means to them.”

    My persistence to follow my gut and “get the photo while I can” because the opportunity may never show itself again. Also how regimented and organized I could be within a short span of time, limited amount of film, and lack of transportation (I had to rely on my uncle to drive me around in the rental car.) It was all-around very challenging, and I am very proud of this work.

    How do you hope viewers react to the series?
    I hope viewers get a sense of timelessness and humbleness of home. I hope it resonates with their sense of nostalgia, and what “home” means to them. I hope they get a sense that time & place are relative. I hope they understand the importance of their personal & family histories, and how it has built their identity. I hope they are able to see the fragility & vulnerability of knowledge & history. My grandmother is the last person alive who can identity specific places and people in family albums. All that history will be gone with her, and I want to document it (and her) the best way I know how. I hope they go hug their grandparents and ask them to tell stories.

    What did your grand-mother say about your series?
    She was happy to tell the stories, and hoped I would photoshop out her wrinkles. Whenever I show her the photos she looks back at them fondly, remembering anecdotes about the particular places from her past.

    Enjoy whole project on her website.