December's Kalamazoo Art Hop is a little larger than usual, with a total of 63 stops. Two of those stops feature works by photographers Brian Powers and Fran Dwight. Powers and Dwight work as independent artists, but also work together as part of Kalamazoo Photo Works.
They met at a local coffee shop last week with a young couple who are planning their wedding and reception. The couple had seen photos that Dwight and Powers took at a friends’ wedding and hoped Kalamazoo Photo Works could cover their special event. Photographer Fran Dwight says she and partner Brian Powers always photograph weddings together, so as not to miss anything.
“He can be in one place, I can be in another.” Dwight says. “We can shoot the same thing from different angles. We can be in two different places at the same time, he can be with the girls, I can be with the guys.”
Dwight says wedding photography is different from art photography. You have to be ready for anything on wedding day.
“Art sort of sits still for you. You can pose it, you can wait for it to happen. And, weddings, there’s no waiting for it to happen," she says. "You have to have your eyes glued to every possible opportunity that might happen and be ready to snap. And, if you’re lucky it becomes art.”
Dwight defines taking pictures for art as shooting whatever makes her happy. But, that idea definitely transfers to her other photographic work. She says making a good portrait makes her happy.
“If I succeed in that I’m very pleased that I’ve mastered making a portrait that makes the subject feel good.” And, Powers agrees, “It’s my favorite part of it, making people look pretty. Making them feel better.”
But, as anyone who’s tried to take pictures of people knows, what you see with your eyes and through the camera lens, is not always what you get in the finished picture. Powers says there’s a trick to that. First, he tries to make the subject feel relaxed.
“If I have a bad shot of someone I’m not gonna show it to them," says Powers. "I don’t like having my photograph taken, so I know what that feels like. I try everything I can to make someone look great.”
Each photographer has a separate Art Hop show this evening. Dwight’s work will be at Blue Salon at 302 West Michigan. “There is a theme to my art hop show, it’s Altered States. Because I’ve taken some of my old works and some new work and altered it in different ways that are less than purely photographic,” she says.
Powers’ work will be at Tempo Vino Winery at 260 East Michigan.
“It’s mostly about Italy,” he says, “because it’s at the Vino Tempo. So it’s gonna be a lot of Italy images. I just spent a month in Italy, and I also took a lot of I-phone which I love. Yeah, my last Art Hop was all I-phone images. It takes great pictures, so I love that.”
Whether Powers and Dwight are working together under the banner Kalamazoo Photo Works, or individually as artists, Dwight says their work has similarities.
“You’re using the same skills because it’s all about light. It’s all about understanding your equipment, number one, and then the light, number two. And, just being ready for what happens,” says Dwight.