Artistic Statement

Mary Frances Barnett

As a documentary photographer I am actively engaged and mindfully present while remaining invisible in the narratives that are unfolding.  I use the immediacy and power of photography to capture then tell a story in a single shot or a keen series of images that will connect to a viewer in an intimate and compelling way.  It is this intimacy that documentary photography provides within the acts of capturing a subject, to the resulting final image that is distinctive in fostering the understanding and sharing of a human experience.

Once arriving on a particular scene and moving into action, my mind and eyes are immediately working in competing yet complimentary directions. I see abstractly how I might use the material even as it is occurring, while I zero in on the aesthetic and editorial components of the visual narrative that are at once obvious and quite subtle. My curiosity and self-discipline are peaked in the active process of documenting and it is within this tension that I feel completely engaged. Documentary photography allows me the opportunity to synthesize all of these elements and skillfully combine them with my role as an artist, observer, communicator and preservationist. 

Attentive to multiple systems of value, my work aims to provoke social reflection and aesthetic appreciation. The textures I see and utilize to reframe and deepen a story's context are of great interest to me. I view this aesthetic component as an important part of the documentary process, equal to its social and historical aspects: by providing a compelling vision of our shared history, documentary photography deepens conscience remembrance.

As an artist, the journey thru a story and back out again as art, as documentary, as history, is one of the most fulfilling and challenging ways I have found to view the world, share experience, and express myself. The dynamics which arise between myself and my surroundings, the subjects I am drawn to, and the art that emerges inspire me to create a meaningful dialogue with the world thru photography.

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