Featured Photographer: Stephanie Schmidt

What I photograph is always something that catches my eye. What usually catches my eye seems to be akin to abstract subject matter in the style of Ansel Adams, like from my kitchen window, water droplets dripping before turning into icicles. It looked like modern sculpture. Because I live out here in the woods, that’s the kind of thing I see and notice. I tend to photograph things I see in isolation. I am not happy with my literal work. I’ve been told I’m good at nature, but I’ve done it. I like to shoot abstract.
I believe how I see things is due to the way my brain works. I have bipolar disorder. How it is expressed through photography is similar though not the same. It’s all well and fine with me that I am identified as a recovering person, but it is not how I want to be presented to the world on a regular basis. I don’t want to be identified as different.
APP has encouraged my creative bone. With that I think it has increased my self-esteem. Teachers have personally touched my life, like Nate, Josh, and Jim, have been encouraging and an important part of my mental health recovery.
The connection between art and mental health is related for everyone. How you view the world really is the right side of your brain and it depends how much you use the right side of your brain. I’ve known people who have created different things and it is all related to their mental health. Do they create when they are depressed? When they are happy? What time of day do they create? Is it after work, as a release? Mine is related to when I have the energy to do it, to get outside and walk around. To stop somewhere to photograph something I’ve been seeing for the last week. To go up to someone whose face I’ve enjoyed seeing.

Featured Photographer: Travis Klein

Travis was born in South Korea in 1978, and was adopted to San Jose, California when he was three. Eventually, his family moved to Colorado, by which time Travis had two brothers and two sisters also adopted from South Korea. Travis has travelled extensively. In 1990, his father became a chairman at Ohio University, and the family settled in Athens, Ohio.
 He heard about the Athens Photographic Project through his case worker. “My pictures are very spiritual to me,” Travis says. Inspired by an APP assistant, he came to photographic collage work because he wanted a more panoramic feel to his images. “I wanted to show more than was in the actual frame.”
 Travis sees the sun as a life force that gives energy and “makes you feel warm just to look at it.”  This brought him to photographing sunsets and the dedication to pursue a series. Travis focuses on new discovery while photographing, without too much emphasis on pre-visioning images. Occasionally he will revisit locations to photograph them through fresh eyes.
 He prefers photographing alone because there are “no distractions,” but “I really enjoy sharing my work,” he says. 


Featured Photographer: Elena Caple

Elena Caple recently had two of her photographs chosen for an exhibition titled Butterflies in our Midst at the Kennedy Museum of Art and will be on display from April 27 until August 19.
Elena started participating in Athens Photographic Project in September 2010.  At the time she was not interested in photography, but she considered trying in hopes of it aiding in her mental health recovery.  During her photography classes with others who were recovering from mental illness, she says she shared the stigma that most people had about mental illness.  “I realized that the stigma did not represent my classmates, and I began to come to terms with my own mental illness.  I learned to accept mental illness by being around others like myself,” Elena says.
 In terms of photography , it has “made me come out of my shell more and it has opened doors.  Without the experience of working with people I would be less informed,  less well rounded.  It has helped keep me more grounded in the real world with a sense of community that elsewhere I would not have found; from being out taking pictures and interacting with people in the (Elise Sanford) gallery and other places in the mall.”
 Elena has always had an interest in art, but never had any positive reinforcement in her work until joining the project. “Being part of APP is being accepted, being welcomed; it gives me a sense of camaraderie and community usually not found in this area.”
 “APP has really built up a sense of confidence in my abilities to function in a way that reflects my natural talents. I can contribute  what I have learned and know to the gallery and gallery management as well as in peer interaction involving the photographic works of previous years-something that I truly enjoy. All of this has  enhanced my emotional and intellectual fulfillment.”

Featured Photographer: Beth Klaus

“I love to photograph all living things,” Beth Klaus says.  This is very evident in her work in which her pets (she refers to them as her “little ones”) make up a significant part.  Even though Beth does not often have the opportunity to photograph another interest, children, she says, “I like to photograph animals and children because they don’t have a voice in this world.  I want to show them in a good light,” and she enjoys photographing them to show the “connection of love.”
Beth is not new to photography.  When she was eight, her parents bought her a Hawkeye Brownie camera so she wouldn’t damage her dad’s camera with which she always played.  When Athens Photographic Project began Beth was one of the first photographers to participate.  She left the project for a few years and returned in 2008.  Part of Beth’s inspiration comes from the work of others, but makes a conscious effort not to copy it.  She points out that, Andy Warhol, her favorite artist, would take advice from people and was inspired by them, but he went his own way, and she does the same.
Being part of the project has had more than just an artistic effect on Beth’s life.  “It gives me an outlet for sharing how I feel and my inner vision that I need to express,” she says.  That expression is a motivator in her work.  “I don’t do it for the recognition or for an exhibit or for others, I do it for myself.  Everyone has a need for self expression.”  Beth feels that the people in the program understand, help, and support her.  They are like family to her.
Before participating in APP, Beth said she would stay inside and read.  When she did go outside, she “…would not talk to anyone and would walk with my head down.”  Being part of the project has allowed Beth to meet and interact with a lot of people through spending time outside looking for things to photograph. 

Featured Photographer: Janet Boring

Janet Boring was born in West Virginia, grew up in Carpenter, Ohio, moving to Athens, Ohio in 1988. She joined the APP in 2008 and has exhibited in four VSA exhibits and four juried APP exhibits.
 Janet describes her photography: “I’m a photographer who stays on the go… I’ve been a nature photographer since the age of 18 when I started with a Pocket 110 camera… It’s always been about nature… That’s all I’ll be.”
 In nature, Janet has had encounters that her lens has captured. While out fishing one day, a beaver startled her and circled in front of her, prompting a trip back to the house to get a camera. Squirrels and birds as well spider webs and tulips grace her photos. A friend commented about Janet that animals seem to be attracted to her because animals know those who love them.
 Enjoying every minute of photographing, Janet likes to take pictures locally at Old Man’s Cave, Meigs County, and along the Hocking River. An acquisition of a telephoto lens allows her to get photos of geese taking off or going down river. Near O’Bleness Hospital, she was looking at baby geese when a fawn came over the riverbank. Seven shots were quickly rattled off. Janet was careful to observe the fawn was alone, perhaps orphaned, perhaps looking for other deer to take up with. She admonishes local authorities to play more a role in protecting animals in need.
 Asked whether her photos might elicit the empathy of her audience, she says her photos might have some impact. Janet warns about our fast paced world: “People don’t have the time to stop and look at nature.”

Featured Photographer: Glenna Parry

Mother of five and grandmother of seven, Glenna Parry loves photography.  “If I knew photography was this fun I would have taken it in college,” she says.
Glenna lost her husband in 2007.  “After that I never got out or did anything.  I just laid on the couch.  My counselor suggested that I join APP and it changed my life dramatically.”  Without being involved in the project, Glenna feels that she would again not want to get out and do anything.  Participating in APP, Glenna feels much better about her life.  She says, “I feel like I’ve accomplished something in my life.”
Finding details in her nature photography that otherwise would not be seen is one of the most interesting aspects of taking pictures for Glenna.  An avid deer and turkey hunter, she spends a lot of time in the woods.  Before APP, Glenna tried to capture the natural world she found around her with the camera on her phone.  These pictures were always utterly disappointing, so she was very excited to see the results she got with better quality cameras the project supplies.  One example Glenna talks about is that of photographing animal designs carved in a cave of bear, deer, turkey, etc., presumed to be Native American petroglyphs.  During her 35mm film class with APP, she was able to capture the carvings very clearly with the film camera; something she was never able to do with her phone camera.
Other exciting moments for Glenna include the surprises she has gotten while she has taken double exposure pictures.  Once she took a picture of her deceased husband’s overalls and then of clouds.  The end result gave the appearance of angel wings which meant a lot for Glenna.
Like most APP photographers, social interaction increases as they are out taking pictures of different things.  One example Glenna talks about is when she was taking photos at a cemetery and she met a couple from Indianapolis, Indiana doing genealogical research.  They agreed to let her take their picture and she sent them a copy of it.  Since then, Glenna and the couple have stayed in touch and are pen pals.  They still send cards and letters back and forth.
APP continues to enhance Glenna’s life by bringing more meaning and enjoyment to the things she is already interested in, while at the same time increasing her social interactions in many positive ways.


 Featured Photographer: Paul Grimes

Family friend Elise Sanford, founder of APP, recommended the classes to Paul and he joined in 2007. He studied foreign languages in high school as well as college, and although he preferred writing,  his father’s and uncle’s interest in photography further influenced him to explore that art form.
Paul’s work is chiefly portraits, including self-portraits. He also has a fondness for nature photos.  During class critiques, at first Paul felt very sensitive about criticism but has since grown more confident in his abilities, learning not to take the critique personally and accepting the positive aspect of it.  Paul says, “Part of my life journey is trying to get out of my shell and comfort zone and not worry about what people think of me.”
Like many participants in APP , Paul says that it has provided a creative outlet and a supportive environment, both of which have a positive effect on his life. He adds that being part of the project gives him a reason to get out the door, get out of house, and to talk to people.
 The picture Paul is most proud of is one that won him second place in a VSA Ohio show. (VSA is The State Organization on Arts and Disability).  The photograph is one he took out of a partially fogged up window of a Chinese Restaurant in Athens, Ohio and can be seen in the slideshow above.


Featured Photographer: Penny Causey

Before Penny joined APP in 2009, she says that up until this point she has never shown interest in much of anything. Of working with photography and working with APP, Penny states that since being introduced to both “ helps a whole lot”, she says. Penny has been featured in two exhibits since starting with APP.
Penny used to work cleaning houses, a task she calls “very isolating”; photography has helped her to get out of the house and become more involved in the social and artistic scene around her. Adapting to life with bi-polar disorder since 1990, Penny explains that the communication skills that photography and APP have aided her in discovering are extremely beneficial to her daily life, skills have established her as a member in both the APP and larger artistic community.
In her photographic work, Penny focuses on what is important to her in life: she takes photos and portraits of family and friends— especially at get-togethers she’ll hold at her place, and there she’ll have her friends and family stand together for portraits. She especially likes taking these portraits of people, and hopes to make a career out of it by some day opening a photography studio. Also, individuals and families in their homes, within their own personally-constructed environments is where Penny finds the a great deal of inspiration.
A native of the Southeastern region of Ohio, Penny is fond of outdoor photographic venues like the natural sites of Old Man’s Cave and Strouds Run. When she shoots, she prefers digital photography and works well with colour and double-exposuresPenny’s most current goal is to stay in with APP and continue to grow as a photographer. Photography and the community of APP have taught Penny to work with challenges and to persevere in all her endeavors in life; “I wasn’t sure if I could hang in there, but I stuck with it and learned a lot.”


 Featured Photographer: Matt Griffin


A native of Connecticut, Matt moved to the Athens area in 2009. At the suggestion of his neighbor, Tom Varner, he started taking classes with the Athens Photographic Project that fall which he soon began to look forward to. He enjoyed the atmosphere and working with fellow artists. For Matt, one of the inspiring things about the APP is that everyone really wants to be there. Everyone has such a strong desire and drive to take photos and share them with fellow classmates and show what they’ve learned and discovered.
Discovery is Matt’s style. His approach to photography is much like his approach to life: exploring the present. Guided by his feet, Matt is doing just that around Athens. Walking around, he looks for the small and overlooked aspects of life. His favorite aspect of photography is finding and capturing a picture. He will gladly be the one, “…out in the freezing cold…[getting] the picture of the freezing flower.”
Matt likes the attention being part of the arts gives him. Photography allows him a positive and creative attention, letting him to share his vision with others. To him, photos are up for interpretations. The name he puts on, “…that little white square of paper…” is what he sees in the work, but he loves it when people find other meanings. “A picture speaks 1000 words and every author sees something different,” he says. He is very open to feedback and loves critiques.
The APP has given Matt a sense of accomplishment and acceptance into a community. The people at the Project are very open and creative. The APP benefits the Athens area by both creating a community of artists and an artistic environment that he can enjoy without being overburdened. He also appreciates how the Project gives back to the community by providing local photography to businesses, visitors, and everyone.

Featured Photographer: Tammie Zeig

Light bright shadow dark
Colors pop shapes define space
Images Rise up
I realize everything is impermanent. A photo gives you the illusion of being able to hang onto a moment in time; it can be a quiet moment or a funny, absurd one. I like when my pictures make people think or laugh.
I enjoy photographing people mostly. I like to capture a moment in peoples’ interaction and take portraits. I like my Alice in Wonderland in Athens Halloween 2010 photo because it shows a pierced and tattooed Alice in Wonderland. It’s that little twist of absurdity in my photographs that I’m aiming for. I like to get right up in peoples’ faces. I could not do that at first. I was too afraid of people. But, going through the APP and working with Nate, Josh, Jim, and all the volunteers, I am much more fearless. In general, I’ve just become more social. Everyone is victim of my camera. Hahaha. Now, I decide to just take a leap of faith and act confidently taking the close up shot of a person I want.
One of the perks of living with bipolar disorder is being able to participate in the APP. I came to the APP about four years ago. What I found was acceptance as a person living with bipolar disorder and a creative outlet that I desperately needed. I have made good friends in the APP and outside the APP that I met through photography. The friends I have made in APP with my classmates, my teachers, and my subjects are the element of the APP that I like the most.
Because of the APP, I am kind of working my way up. I started with a simple point and shoot camera. Now I use a manual Nikon. In addition to taking APP photo classes, I am now matting, hanging and curating shows. APP photographer Stephanie Schmidt and I curated an exhibit called Spring Awakenings to open soon at the Elise Sanford gallery in the Market on State. We have a show going up at the Dairy Barn on June 3rd and I have a great sense of accomplishment about this exhibit because two of my pictures are in the exhibit and I helped get the show up. Next fall, I hope to mentor the freshman photographers.


 Featured Photographer: Marshall Rowe

I don’t like photos of myself. The reason I got into photography years ago was so that I could stay behind the lens instead of be in front of it. One of the first things I remember taking pictures of was JFK’s funeral procession. I took it off of an old black and white console T.V. when I was six. That’s when I really got started with photography.
I had done photography all over the world, in Scotland, Belgium, England and I’ve lived in just about every state in the country because my dad was in the air force. Then came the problem, I was living with my sister and she had a house fire. I lost lenses. I lost cameras. I lost negatives. I am now starting to rebuild my photographic equipment and get back into photography. The APP helped me get back into the swing of things, into the groove. The fire was a downfall. I lost a lot of interest in photography because of the magnitude of the loss. The APP has rekindled my fiery passion for photography. Getting started with the APP back in the fall, I photographed barns and covered bridges locally and then I expanded the scope of the project and photographed in multiple states over several thousand miles. I was so into it. I just couldn’t stop. Having one really strong image of a barn from the fall really kept me going.
My love for photography is a combination of both the love of sharing what I photograph with others and the joy of taking it myself. When people visualize or see my work, I want them to feel the same way as when they want to read a line of my poetry twice. I’ve been everywhere. I like bringing everywhere to them. I mean my god! There is such a big world out there.
But, the APP has taught me in this first year to expand my horizons and photograph the everyday. My health problems due to diabetes have also forced me to find the beauty in local, everyday subjects, and find an interesting way to photograph them that’s not normally seen. I am planning to move to Montana next spring, but I would love to continue to work on projects like I’ve done in with the Photo Project out there. I’d like to have an Athens Photo Project of Montana.


Featured Photographer: Christi Hysell

I’ve always wanted to do photography, but I was not able to do it because of financial reasons. As a child, looking at the National Geographic, I dreamt and wondered if I could ever do something like that one day.
Photography has made me slow down and notice a lot. My camera is like my third appendage. Last night, I felt so naked without my camera because I did not have it. I carry my camera around all the time. When I get ready to go out and about, my camera is the next thing I grab after my backpack.
When I began with the APP and got a camera in my hands I thought “Oh man!” I did not think that by having a mental illness I would be able take part in something like the APP. And, I did not think that after four years of taking classes, I’d still be going at it pretty strong. Photography gives me an excuse to go out when I don’t feel like it. APP has been the highlight of my life. I never thought I’d ever call myself an artist.
Having someone who believes in you like Nate, it’s another dimension of wanting to go out there and get that photo that would make Nate go crazy. Seeing him react to my images is like watching a kid in a candy store.


Featured Photographer: Leah Vance

I’ve always been interested in creative endeavors, I’ve worked with ceramics and painting and poetry, but the creative process has been an ebb and flow throughout my life. All artistic endeavors get better with education and experience.
The Athens Photo Project gives me something to do that I really enjoy and it is a positive influence in my life. I’ve become more open to being more social with people. I was not really the type of person to want to be isolated, but I felt isolated before beginning with the project. APP gave me an avenue to not only learn about photography but also increase my social skills with others. Before beginning with the APP, I was sitting at home all the time feeling like a social person, but not trying to initiate anything with others. But, if you aren’t working there are not many opportunities for social interaction that are positive and constructive. With one positive activity, like APP, you can start from that point to do other social activities, like have coffee with your new girl friends from class. Without some event or class, you can think of things to do, but whom can you do them with? There has to be an opportunity to meet people or else how will you get to know them?
Sometimes it’s a challenge to decide what to photograph, but I like to use photography to show the beauty of nature and to show feeling and emotion. I like to take nature shots and photograph people and animals. “Celebrating Love” is the title of the documentary that I am currently working on. There was a time where my life was dark. Now, I just want to focus on the positive aspects of life. What better way to do that than focus on the topic of love? I want to try to show different aspects of love and let people feel different aspects of love through viewing my photos. I’d like to show an old couple together or a mother kissing a baby or an owner showing affection toward his pet to convey the many different forms of love.
Sometimes I like weird, abstract photography, like a guy in our class, Chris, he comes up with some really interesting stuff. I like looking at the type of stuff I take, like nature photos, but I’d probably go to buy something abstract if I had the choice. I like sharp, detailed photography. Everyone’s got their own idea of what they are trying to create. I think the critiques are one of the funniest parts of class because you can share your interests and your way of seeing and also get to know people by what they are photographing. Just to be able to see someone else’s view point through their photography is a good thing.


Featured Photographer: Marilyn Tucker

I grew up in Perry County. My ex-boyfriend brought me to Athens. I worked at the Dairy Barn then I got involved with APP. This is my second year. Photographing keeps me busy, gets me out of the house, meeting new people. It was kinda hard to take these pictures, but I steadied them before I took them, all of them. I take pictures of just about anything. I bring my camera everywhere I go, except for when it’s windy out.
With our problems, we are the same as everybody else. We can do what they can do.
APP helped me to keep busy and get me out of the house more and I’m being good to myself. It helps us out, it does. It’s good for the people that have that problem. It’s pretty nice to live in a community like this. I think it helps with my mental health, keeping your mind straight, not getting in trouble. With all the teachers that are here in the classes in APP, it’s a good way to help with my mental health. All the teachers with APP are good people in putting all this together.
I think I’m doing pretty good with my pictures.


Featured Photographer: Sandy White

APP has let me play with different methods of photography to express the unique way in which I see the world and allowed me to express emotions in the photos. Any of my photos that I really like make me feel something. Frequently I go out looking for things that will help me express stuff that’s going through my mind. Then there are things that Nate says just kind of “flirt” with me and I just feel compelled to take the photo. But I didn’t have that compulsion that I now have to take this photo until the Photographic Project. I took photos before but now, when I see it, I need to have the camera with me. If I don’t I’m crushed.

With photography, I see it as a way of kind of communicating to someone who can’t comprehend how my brain works, some of my perspective. I also paint and I sometimes use my camera to try to paint and I write poetry and play music. Art is really important to mental health to me. But when you look back historically at a whole lot of brilliant writers and artists and photographers, you’re going to find that a lot of them had a mental illness, so I think there’s a lot of creativity that is boxed up within a lot of people with mental illnesses and the project helps us give it an outlet.

For the last year I’ve been playing with multiple exposures, double exposures or triple exposures. I started doing it on film as a way to show complexity of the way I see things because I don’t just look at a single object and see everything as very concrete. I like to share some of what’s going on in my imagination with other people and I find that by combining images I can. I’ve been playing a lot with putting my imagination into something that other people can look at and go wow, that’s different. I see the world as so complex that I like being able to put that in my images and every once in a while I like the nice simple very peaceful picture. It’s evolving, always changing.

Pretty much any one in town knows that I’m bipolar. I have some audio hallucinations that technically could change my diagnosis to schizoaffective, but I don’t really care what the diagnosis is as long as I get help managing the symptoms. During college I very much felt that I had to hide the fact that I had a diagnosis, since it was something that was going to last my entire life. It wasn’t like I could say I’m depressed for a little while, but I just got to the point where I didn’t care who knows. The only way to fight the stereotypes people have of people with mental illness is for those of us who don’t fit the stereotype to come out and say, yes I have a mental illness, and by more of us who don’t fit the stereotype coming forward, hopefully some of those stereotypes will go away.


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