“I’ll remember the year 2016 as The Year of Exposure. Not the type of exposure discussed by photographers referring to a squint-worthy back-lit image or the shot on your cousin’s holiday card of the magical house with 5,000 Christmas lights that show like pinpricks of color mush against the darkness and is accompanied by a desperate “you had to be there” detailed description of a miniature chair lift that ran from the mailbox pole on the sidewalk to the chimney and the ski rope was actually a long clothes line between two rotating wheels, probably driven by a lawn mower motor. No, the real ‘exposure’ of my past 12 months has to with my experience of being exposed and exposing.
Last year when I moved from the horse country of Granite Bay to the loose fringe of Sacramento, I had no idea I was moving from calm earth tones to a vibrant kaleidoscope of primary, secondary, tertiary and simply outrageous colors. In my new neighborhood, complete blocks of buildings appeared to be painted with a single stroke of a broad brush; the enamel on the cars in the grocery store parking lot looked like candy from a gum ball machine which had been stationed too close to a west facing glass door; and women had purple spiked hair instead of shoulder length platinum, twisted into a sleek chignon.
As I was exposed to new sights, my photographic images were exposed to new audiences. It was at the opening night of my very first solo photography show, “Hola Baja: the texture of the place, the heartbeat of its people,” that I felt the power (and fear) of exposure. A group of my photos hung in the small gallery at Viewpoint Photographic Art Center, exposing me to praise or criticism, or even worse, to no response at all.
Once those front doors opened, there was no turning back. I was dressed for a party, but felt unexpectedly naked and exposed through the images surrounding me on the walls. More than 200 people wandered in off the street that night. They didn’t know me, but many connected with my photos. From elementary school aged kids to great grandparents, I spoke to them and was pleasantly surprised to learn that they liked the photos. They were drawn to what my eye saw and the camera captured. Some liked the brilliant colors and others felt a connection to the subject matter. Their enjoyment of the images, and their appreciation for what I exposed them to, brought me deep satisfaction which far outweighed my personal fear of being exposed.