orison: (n) a prayer; a meditative prayer
alternative forms: oreison, oroison, oraison, oresoun
from Latin oratio (oration, speech)
“No matter what role we are in–photographer, beholder, critic–inducing silence for seeing in ourselves, we are given to see from a sacred place. From that place a sacredness of everything may be seen.”
–Minor White, Rites & Passages
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ALL images on this site are copyright Juliette M Ludeker.
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The broad category for my photographic work is macro/nature/abstract, which means my images fall along the range within these concepts. Some of my subjects are partially or fully recognizable, while others are squarely abstract or non-objective. Some are macro, some are not. All have an element that is organic or somehow naturally-occurring–or gives the impression of such.
I’m drawn to natural elements for two reasons. First, nature is abundant with curious wonders that exist whether or not any human ever pays attention to them; I want to find and capture some of those wonders so I can retain and expand a sense of awe when interacting with the natural world. Second, organic/natural objects are unique and temporary objects. No two leaves will change color or dry out in the same way. No two formations of ice will look identical. None of them will stay “as is” for long (or continue to exist at all). No two pieces of metal will weather and erode in identical patterns. Every subject is inherently different from the next. Discovery feels endless. If I don’t mark their presence here, who will?
Borrowing from contemplative photographic practices, I describe my approach to image-making as “finding the overlooked”. While I certainly seek subjects that fit the traditional criteria for pretty or beautiful (a butterfly’s wing, a rose), I more often find interest in subjects that would normally be considered ugly or throw-away (a moldering leaf, a rusted Dumpster panel). Curious wonders lurk there, too.
What will I miss because I do not think to look?
While not all of my images are macro, the macro lens helps me discover things I wouldn’t be able to known more fully without the aid of the lens. It sees details my human eye cannot. Even when I’m not using a macro lens my compositions regularly rely on a tight picture plane and shallow depth-of-field.
When possible I want to reduce references to specific locations or times of day. Commonly, I choose to shoot in light that either saturates the color and/or flattens perspective. These choices (can) contribute to abstraction, but more important they allow me to create images that ask the viewer to come closer: to study, to learn, to be amazed, to be delighted, to be moved, to be left questioning. Just as I am.
Generally, I divide my images into two categories: “found” and “made”. Subjects I consider to be “found” are ones that I’ve come across simply by looking for something to photograph. These things would exist whether I’ve photographed them or not—perhaps a weed growing alongside a pond—but photographing them makes them visible, known. “Made” subjects are ones I’ve had a hand in creating or manipulating but still contain naturally-occurring elements—perhaps a single flower petal I’ve laid on a sheet of paper.
I have named this site oreison (with a lowercase ‘o’) because each image I choose to post here is like a meditative prayer. For that reason I limit my use of text in the postings themselves. What words I do include are thought-out. Sometimes I choose titles that name the subject of the image, but frequently I choose titles that don’t readily reveal the object and/or that create another layer of meaning beyond the “documentation” of the subject. Not infrequently I leave a composition untitled until a time that the “right” one reveals itself.
Along with prayer, I’m also pulled to identifying my image-making as communion (with a lowercase c)–a reference not only the well-worn phrase “communing with nature,” but also a conjuring of ideas inherent in communion: intimacy, closeness, knowing, connection, prayer, meditation, transformation, remembrance, the divine. I try to capture what conveys any or many of those concepts.
Above all, I want my images to be ABOUT something, not necessarily OF something. Among my influences are the paintings of Marc Rothko and Georgia O’Keefe and the photography of Imogen Cunningham, Aaron Siskind, and Minor White. These artists all created works that ask the viewer to consider subjects beyond the expected. By following their lead, I hope to do the same.
–Juliette M Ludeker, 2018