Artist’s Statement

Photo of Shannon Marlow du Plessis
My images, whether they be of pollinators, people, or places, share a theme of awareness. I’m drawn to images that shine a light on issues I care about, scare me or enchant me (or both at the same time), or situations that piss me off.

I love the precision and the challenge of macro photography. Becoming immersed in nature at that level means I say, “oh, wow” a lot.

To explain my creative process would require preternatural self-awareness. I began photography to avoid a midlife crisis when I turned 50. Creating an image induces in me a hyper-focused (sorry) state—time slows, and the noise inside my head quiets. I’m most comfortable behind the lens.

I don’t apply quick presets. I review my photos in DxO PhotoLab. When the adrenalin kicks in, I know the image is a keeper, and I post-process like I shoot, full on manual mode. While most of my photography is representational, I’ve taken up abstract expressionism for the challenge. Do I want to be famous? Oh hell no, not in today’s society that enjoys eating its own on social media. Do I want my art to make a difference? That would be lovely.

Fun Fact:  I never use auto focus.

Project Statements

2016-present (ongoing)

The Pollinators Project

The Pollinators Project brought my photography to the intersection of art and advocacy.

Living in the Texas Hill Country offers wide open spaces and lots of nature. Wanting to know more about my photographic subjects, I became a Certified Texas Master Naturalist in 2013. What I enjoy photographing informed landscaping at home—our 4.5 acres is a Certified Wildlife Habitat and a Pollinator Habitat with a Monarch WayStation.

I discovered the Xerces Society and took their message of engaging in invertebrate pollinator conservation in my own backyard, and beyond, to heart. Believing climate change is real, I learned more about the importance of pollinators. I vowed to help them through my art by donating a portion of sales proceeds to local organizations that protect pollinators.

Rather than focus on extreme macro photography, I include each subject’s natural environment in the image. I never disturb the natural worlds I visit. I observe. I admire. I celebrate.

2018-2019

Beauty and Truth in Imperfection

Our 2017 trip to Costa Rica took an interesting turn when cows on the landing strip delayed our flight. It didn’t go as planned. It wasn’t perfect. But it made for a more interesting story. At that moment, it struck me that perfection is boring. Society’s obsession with youth, plastic surgery, and never admitting wrong is simply sad. Is our culture morphing into one of humdrum homogeneity? This project will celebrate the beauty, truth, and perhaps the spirituality, of imperfection.

Abstract Expressionism

In early 2017, I began looking at things man made through my macro lens and was fascinated by what I saw;  images that evoked Joan Mitchell, Jackson Pollock, Hans Hoffman, Lee Krasner, Willem de Kooning, Janet Sobel, Norman Lewis, and even Wassily Kandinsky. Meeting Annie Leibovitz and Art Wolfe late in the year turned this curiosity into a full-blown project for me. I plan a series of photos on canvas from these images, which I am still creating.

 

“Some photographers take reality…and impose the domination of their own thought and spirit. Others come before reality more tenderly and a photograph to them is an instrument of love and revelation.” ~ Ansel Adams

Photography at the intersection of art and advocacyphotography at the intersection of art and advocacy