Artist’s Statement

Photo of Shannon Marlow du PlessisMy photography lies at the intersection of art and advocacy. 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.

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

To explain my creative process would require preternatural self-awareness and analytical ability. I spent my first and second acts indoors, first putting my finance degree to good use, and second as a freelance technical writer, so I’m done analyzing.

My third act is about getting outside and not thinking so much. I began photography to avoid having a midlife crisis when I turned 50. Creating an image induces in me a hyper-focused (sorry) state—it’s a form of mediation that gets me out of my head. 

I must be the word’s slowest post-processor. I don’t apply quick presets or adopt the current over-saturation trend. 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’m having fun turning some of my photos into digital art.

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.

Project Statements

2016-2017

The Pollinators Project

Living in the Texas Hill Country offers wide open spaces and lots of nature. Macro nature photography enchanted me. Some of the insects in my insect portraits have faces as cute as any cuddly mammal.

Wanting to know more about my photographic subjects, I became a Certified Texas Master Naturalist. 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.

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

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 part of sales proceeds to local organizations that help pollinators.

This first project brought my photography to the intersection of art and advocacy, where it will remain.

2018-2019

Z-55

One way to stretch creatively is to shoot with only one lens. I’ve selected my Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA lens for the project. The “Z” is for the Zeiss stamp on the lens.

Addiction

Advice to writers is, “write what you know.” I grew up with “we don’t air our dirty laundry in public” so I’m not going to overshare here. Suffice to say that I’m qualified to address this subject. This will be my most personal project and therefore the most frightening.

The 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 just sad. Is our culture morphing into one of tedious homogeneity? This project will celebrate the beauty, truth, and perhaps the spirituality, of imperfection.

2020 and beyond

Texas

Native. Born and raised here. “I know too much and not enough,” as Henri Cartier-Bresson said. The challenge is to see something new or different in the familiar:  to capture the essence of Texas and not take the millionth shot of a longhorn. Texans are opinionated and proud—”everything’s bigger in Texas!” We can also tend toward Manichaeism, so shooting the project in black and white seems appropriate. This one will take some time because Texas really is big.

 

“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