Group projects create a wonderful space for artists to come together. Today, we have a beautiful project called “Wish you were Here.” Get ready to be inspired.
In January 2014 I came up with an idea for a personal photography project that would enable me to document the international life my family is living. I had just completed Deb Schwedhelm’s incredible, emotional and inspiring Continuing the Journey Workshop. At the end of the class, she challenged us all to come up with a personal project and I dreamed up the idea of ‘Wish You Were Here’. I actually remember lying in bed, gazing out the window when the light bulb moment that pulled all my thoughts together went off! I decided I would take, and post on my blog, one photograph a week, which would show some aspect of our family life. It would include portraits of my four children, documentary images of our day to day and scenes from our frequent travels. A record of our expat life, that is at one and the same time, ordinary and extraordinary.
At that time my British/American family of six was based in Paris, but I knew we would relocate to Hong Kong before the end of the year. I had only been shooting seriously for a year, but in a moment of bravery I posted an open invitation to the group of far more experienced and well-known photographers who were then part of the Continuing the Journey Facebook alumni group. It was the first week of the New Year, I outlined my idea, shared my first photograph for the project and asked if anyone would like to join me. Maybe if there was enough interest we could start a blog? Within a day, I had 24 photographers signed up and the most amazing collaboration was born.
The contributors to Wish You Were Here are from all over the world. Hailing from Alaska to Maine, across the oceans to Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. One person’s back yard is another’s dream travel destination. We started the project with just one creative rule; interpret the project title any way you want through photography. My experience as an expat, raising my family outside my birth country, is that sometimes the sentiment, “wish you were here” can be one of wanting to share the excitement of discovering a new place or adventure, but often it is a wistful “wish you were here”. Wishing grandparents could be present for a birthday or missing a friend that we have had to leave behind. This open-ended approach has proven to be incredibly freeing for us all and our submissions range from being beautiful scenes of our particular locations to intimate expressions of how we feel.
From the very first week an amazing connection has emerged between our individual works, even though we never know what anyone else is going to submit. We each make images with our own personal narrative in mind, but when they are curated together for the blog post they combine to create a fascinating and very personal representation of our world. Documenting the ebb and flow of the seasons, showing how different the world can be, but more often how similar the small moments in life are, wherever you live.
We decided to go with the theme of Love – the love we have for this project, the places we live and the people we know. Once we had decided on the theme, we didn’t discuss amongst ourselves further, but as always I think our images come together beautifully. One of my favorite things about this project is how so often it shows how we do such similar things in such different parts of the world and this ‘conversation’ really reflects that. Bedtime cuddles in Wisconsin and Iran and a whole lot of beach love from around the world. Every week, there seems to be one of us who has visited the beach and this time there are five beach images! These images are all previously unshared, but typify a typical Wish You Were Here post with a mix of grand landscapes and intimate scenes. It is exactly why we love this project and never tire of shooting for it. (Group Founder: Nicola Berry)
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