Artist's Statement about the REVEALED Project
What I could not have known when I conceived REVEALED was the enormous impact it would have on individuals, myself included. I am touched to learn how a simple project gave someone the gentle reminder and permission to pause from their daily grind to look within. It also amazes me how powerful this process is. The REVEALED subject’s process also became my process. I am not alone in experiencing massive personal growth by working on REVEALED.
The REVEALED process begins when a subject commits to the project. The next step begins two weeks before the photography session when the subjects are asked to look within and find objects that represent their spirituality, what they believe in and their essence. For some, this is a natural process; for others, it is difficult as this exploration can reveal new insights into one’s self and shed light on one’s shadow. The actual photography session is a 90-minute process of releasing the subject from their everyday life and putting together the collected objects to represent what they have been thinking and feeling for the past two weeks. This process is a progression that has brought many subjects to laughter and tears, myself included.
For years, I had been trying to figure out a meaningful photography project that I could immerse myself in. REVEALED was born from a powerful and inspired desire to capture a person's spirituality photographically. This ambition came to me as I was examining my sense of self and spirituality and how I express these things in who I am. The concept struck me like lightning, and I was immediately driven to manifest this project. As the months progressed, I sketched, wrote and discussed this idea just with my assistant. I only share it with them because I have learned that sometimes when I share an idea with someone else, they do not seem as excited as me and this diffuses my idea, and I may not act on it. I felt REVEALED was an idea I needed to build upon before sharing.
I finally decided to share it with a think tank group I was participating in. The group was a source of inspiration and guidance for finding direction on many different projects. That night, I left the group very frustrated after some participants felt that this vision was a “terrible idea” and nobody can “capture spirituality in a box.” It had to be “someone praying in church or running through a field of flowers.” I felt so strongly about my vision that I woke up the next day determined to channel this frustrated energy to give birth to REVEALED. What I anticipated to be a weekend project has become a significant part of who I am as a person and as a photographer. It has been over ten years since the first REVEALED weekend, and I feel honor that this project continues to grow and to inspire people.
What I have learned from REVEALED is that someone else’s work can also be my work. For example, when someone is REVEALED, their session is about their connection with their child and how much they have learned about their own life from their child’s life experience, I am reminded to reflect upon my kids and our relationship. Even Royce M’s REVEALED portrait and essay has reminded me to always think about my life and who
I am and where I want to go.
Another lesson I learned during the first weekend of the REVEALED sessions was to release the need to control the outcome... the final portrait. As a photographer, I feel the need to manage all of the different aspects... of the photo shoot. Beyond setting up the lights, setting up the camera, and working the flashlights, I needed to let go and leave the experience to the subject. They were in charge of their box, their facial expressions, and their hands. By casting loose this moment, I found that magic can happen—the ordinary is anything but and what is complex is usually simple... A bag of marbles opened me up to a new revelation about myself. The man who wanted to be revealed by a broken box because he felt empty and had little hope discovered that he could put those pieces back together. This book is full of those instances, big and small, of self-revelation that allow the reader to learn more about themselves.
The REVEALED process is simple, and anyone can have this experience. I ask you to take a few hours, a few days, or make it a two-week process, of discovering who you are and what you believe. Define your spirituality. Then take it a step further. Find items in your world that represent these emotions and beliefs that you have discovered. You might work alone, or you might want to find an accountability partner and, in two weeks, sit down and discuss your spiritual exploration. Reveal yourself. Enjoy your journey.