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Musings: Bonnie Briant

Photographer Bonnie Briant never intended to tell a long-form narrative with her photographs, but somehow one began to emerge from her work. “I don’t construct any narrative for the pictures, either physically or mentally,” she says.

“The narrative is me, my story line, which makes them simpler on one hand and much more complex on the other. The work started with my memory, the way I process and hold onto it. From there it turned into a collection of time, or rooms, or afternoons—a personal anthropology of sorts. Sometimes I wish I could move something or pretend it happened another way, but in the end I like being left with the blunt reality of the film because it is something I can trust.”

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Malcolm eating ice cream in the car, Belmar, New Jersey. April 2012.

Because Briant’s narrative is very personal and fluid, it has a way of transporting you directly into fleeting moments of time but also of sweeping you into the ongoing story of her life. Capturing moments that seem incomplete or imperfect can be the ideal way to express a mood. Briant doesn’t allow an obsession with technical perfection to prevent her from creating impressions and communicating emotions. Instead of focusing on the pictures she “should” be taking, she focuses on the moments that matter to and resonate with her.

When a photographer engages with their own internal voice and forgets about the pictures they “should” be taking, magic can happen. It may seem uncomfortable for the photographer to have such an active voice in the pictures, but in personal projects such as Briant’s, it’s imperative. As Briant says, “I want you to feel what I felt when I took the photograph and at the same time construct a record of my life.”

View more of Briant’s work on her website.

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