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Gretjen Helene's artist statement

            I hold many details in balance when visually searching to catch the essence of a scene. Just before I press the shutter my position could be slightly out of place. My exposure could be dim or bursting with light. My subject's expression could be a momentary mess and I could be focusing on an evading target. So as I simultaneously frame and adjust and sharpen and hold my breath for everything to come into a precise 'co-incidence', I find myself shifting the fulcrum and encouraging the potential of every scene to give off its richest aroma, its deepest sensation and its own unique flavor. All in the heart of one two-dimensional rectangle.


            Every choice I make gives you more to believe you were there, watching. I understand my perspective is the place you will stand later, when you get to see what I have seen. And so I search for little details that would keep you entertained. They keep me fascinated. A dress too tight encourages a little girl's fingers up under her armpit to soften the scratch. A hot day pulls a dog to stretch his leash into the edge of the nearest shade. A deep friendship presses one man's hand to his own heart as his best friend streams down the aisle with his bride. And I bring all these to you because I love what I do.


            Many subjects will ask, "Do I look at you?" Warmly I reply, "Only when you see me." Because although I do pride myself in being stealthy and quick, it seems to me that pretending (I'm not there when I am) is a culprit guilty of eliminating reality. I want to find what is truly happening. So if you look up, then maybe I can snag a glimpse of your curiosity. If you show me something, then I can explore its threads and your own generosity. If you give me a place in the circle then perhaps I can collect the perspective of one who is participating. This is essentially my 'Cooperative Candid' style– one that allows me to photograph from the point of view you would want when all you have remaining from the moment is a photograph.


            I am refreshed by learning, travel and hands-on craft, so documentary travel photography and alternative process photography sculpture come naturally when I'm not on the work horse. I have composed bodies of independent photographic work on Cuban culture, on Burkina Faso culture and the Burning Man Festival as well as my 10-week motorcycle journey from Boston to Alaska to San Francisco, among others. I have incorporated poetry and written word, interviews and presentations to enrich these pieces. I have also continued revisiting my alternative process photography sculpture for years, reinventing themes and repurposing materials to come up with further explorations. In recent years I have extended this work into collaborations with New Media artists to harness new techniques and create modern platforms for enduring themes. The cooperative collaborations, the positive response and the deep reflections generated by these projects is what fuels me to continue creating.