photography

Womxn Empowerment photo series by Rachel Tine

I have spent nearly all of my life caring deeply about social justice and the suffering of living beings. I spent three years trying to perfect a method for using photography to empower survivors and encourage positive social change, and two years ago I tested my method in my series “Invisible Fractures: The Enduring Trauma of Emotional Abuse,” sharing stories and images of people who had been severely emotional abused (http://www.racheltinephotography.com/invisiblefractures ). Now I find myself on the next leg of my journey, sharing the realities of womxn living in misogynistic cultures.

For my current series, I am photographing womxn in ways that express their own sexual/social empowerment or that express what it feels like to be subjected to misogynistic rules and expectations; the first two photos of the series are shared below. If you are a womxn able to travel to the Boston area, please don't hesitate to send me a message so that we can get to work on your photo; there is immense strength in numbers and in visual imagery, and with the extreme misogyny currently at play in the U.S. and globally, there is no time left for silence or inaction. I look forward to hopefully shooting with you soon. <3

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Hiring the Right (Digital) Photographer by Rachel Tine

Before-and-after, with hours of retouching in between

Before-and-after, with hours of retouching in between

As a follow up to my "Lighting Liberation" blog post, I want to provide a little more background into what goes into creating gorgeous photographs. With the proliferation of high quality consumer cameras and even cell phones, many people are questioning why they should bother to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for a photographer. But the photographer's job begins well before we start shooting and lasts for many hours (usually days) afterward. When you hire a photographer, you are not only making use of their expensive cameras, lenses, lights, etc., but you are also utilizing their (hopefully) exceptional understanding of composition, lighting, retouching, etc. You are also hiring their unique style and personality, so be sure that you have seen a wide variety of a photographer's work, dig their style, and read lots of glowing reviews before you book your shoot! Also, if you love a photographer's style but don't think they shoot your subject matter, ask! I primarily have art portraits on my site, but bring my same unique style to product, wedding, family, event, etc. photography. :) Just don't forget to ask for multiple examples!

When I'm on a shoot, I'm relaxed, personable, fun, empathetic and professional. I always work within the comfort level of my client(s) and believe strongly in helping the client to be as comfortable as possible (does anyone look their best when they're stiff and feeling awkward?). To this end, there's typically a lot of dancing and laughing at my shoots. :) In addition to setting the right mood, though, you want a photographer who's intuitive enough to capture the best shots and to direct you effectively (if necessary) to maximize the potential for awesome images where you look your absolute best. Again, read online reviews, and don't be afraid to ask for references. Also, if you're interested in hiring a professional hair/makeup artist for the shoot, don't hesitate to ask your photographer for recommendations; the right team can really make a shoot!

As you can see in the above before-and-after, even when you begin with a beautiful model and great hair and makeup artists, retouching is an invaluable part of the process. Before hiring a photographer, verify that you will be receiving retouched photos, and clarify what the selection process will be for deciding which images will be retouched. If a photographer is offering to send you all of the images from your shoot, it's a good indication that you will simply be receiving the images "straight out of camera", like the "before" image above. It's also important to determine how you will receive your images; will you receive image files and if so, will you have the right to print the photos and post them to social media (only high resolution files are appropriate for printing), and does the photographer offer printing services if need be? Will the image files be watermarked with the photographer's logo, will the photographer retain all files and require that you purchase all prints through them, etc.? I tend to show my clients the unretouched photos from our shoot and let them choose the images they would like for me to retouch, and then I deliver the non-watermarked, high resolution, retouched image files with the right to print and post the images for personal use, and I also offer to print the images professionally (at an additional cost). Feel free, too, to ask when you should expect to receive the images; receiving holiday portraits in January won't be very useful!

Regardless of your photographic needs, choosing the right professional photographer will be worth far more than whatever the upfront cost may be. Whether you need professional headshots that stand out from the crowd, enticing and eye-catching product shots, or simply want stunning images to treasure forever, hiring the right photographer for you is always the right move. :) 

My First SOLO Gallery Show by Rachel Tine

Ever since I was little, I've always wanted to help people. When I was younger, this desire took the form of carrying a medicine bag with me everywhere to help anyone in pain, being listed as the class or bunk "psychiatrist" in multiple yearbooks, etc. By the age of 9, I was determined to be a child psychologist, and although I went on to earn a degree in psychology, I realized soon afterward that I wanted to help enact social change on a larger scale than my degree would readily facilitate. I had recently gotten back into photography after nearly a decade away, and although I was thrilled as one of my biggest passions soon became my career, I felt that something was missing. I spent the better part of three years trying to figure out the best way to use my photography as a tool for positive social change.

Although I had many powerful ideas for photo series addressing various social justice issues, I have always had trouble with art that capitalizes on an issue without helping to ameliorate said issue in a meaningful way. I was thrilled when I finally came up with a framework for photographic series that give back: photographing people impacted by an issue, using their input to help shape how they and the issue are portrayed, and utilizing partnerships with related organizations in conjunction with gallery openings, media features, etc., to raise money and awareness to help combat the issue.

For my first photo series utilizing this framework, I decided to address a topic that I am all too familiar with: Emotionally abusive romantic relationships. For nearly all of my life, I have been in emotionally abusive relationships with family members, romantic partners, and even occasionally friends. Of course I never thought that I was entering into yet another toxic relationship; one of the hallmarks of emotional abusers is that they are almost always extremely loving and promise you the world when they're trying to win your love, and then start putting you down and threatening to rescind their love once they see that they've gained your trust, adoration, and have managed to control you in some way, which is all part of a power play that temporarily shores up their low self-confidence. The cycle continues, with extreme highs and lows of overwhelming love and cruelty, until you feel your grip on reality slipping, and you start believing the bad things that are being said to/about you, you fear your abuser and also fear losing the person who convinces you that you would be lost without them, and you believe your abuser when they say that the way they treat you and any failings in your relationship are entirely your fault. Although emotional abuse doesn't leave physical scars, its deep, transformational, and lasting emotional scars silently impact an immeasurable number of people every day; this series is for them.

The goals of this series are to give closure and a voice to victims of emotional abuse, to offer hope and help to people currently in emotionally abusive relationships, to raise awareness about emotional abuse, and to raise money for organization(s) dedicated to assisting victims of emotional abuse. Although there has been a huge outpouring of support and excitement as people have heard about the series, I spent months writing to hundreds of galleries, many of which didn't even respond to my emails. I started to think that there wasn't currently a place in the art world for this kind of exhibit, but because I feel indebted to the series' participants and dedicated to helping as many people as possible with this series (and because I can be quite stubborn when I'm passionate about something), I decided to write to a few more galleries (after which I was planning on applying for grants and just building a temporary space myself).

When the Piano Craft Gallery expressed interest and arranged a meeting to discuss a potential exhibition, I was so used to hearing "no" or nothing at all that I wasn't expecting much. However, within a few minutes of walking through the door, Pares Mallis (the gallery manager at Piano Craft) said that she'd be thrilled to host my exhibition, and we spent the next two hours discussing exciting possibilities for the show. (As a side note, it is very fitting for the Piano Craft Gallery to be the home of my first official solo gallery show, as the adjacent Piano Craft Guild was the home of my first photo gig of note, back when I was 16 years old and photographing the Dresden Dolls).

Since my goal for this project is for it to reach as many people as possible, hopefully ending up in multiple cities (and possibly countries),  I am aiming to pack the 2/3/17 opening (which might stretch into a second night) with lots of good people. Thankfully Lord Hobo Brewing Company and Emma's Pizza (which has been my home to my favorite pizzas in the world since I was 16) have agreed to sponsor the event with their delicious wares, which I'm sure won't hurt attendance. :)

I received yet more amazing sponsorship news yesterday: Casa Myrna, Boston’s largest provider of shelter and supportive services to survivors of domestic violence (including emotional abuse) has enthusiastically agreed to sponsor this exhibition! Casa Myrna will be celebrating their 40th anniversary next year, and as their organization was founded by an artist/abuse victim, this partnership couldn't be more fitting. There will be multiple opportunities at the gallery opening to donate to Casa Myrna in order to provide real assistance to victims of emotional abuse (and other kinds of domestic violence). I am super stoked about this partnership and all of the awesome ideas that we already have in store for the opening!

Now that I'm officially partnered with an anti-domestic violence organization and food and drink are covered, it's time to focus on filling the massive, beautiful walls of the Piano Craft Gallery by February! I already have many images and audio recordings of emotional abuse survivors for this series, but I'm aiming to create many, many more, and I'd especially like to include men, trans people, and middle-aged and elderly individuals (if you don't fit into one of these categories but have been in an emotionally abusive relationship, please still contact me!!). If you're interested in being a part of this empowering project, please be sure to shoot me a message at racheltine@gmail.com, and know that identifying features and voices can be masked and names will never be used unless adamantly requested by you.

I hope that you'll join me on 2/3/17 at the Piano Craft Gallery for an emotional, charitable, and tasty evening; don't forget to mark your calendar!

Much Love,

Rachel

My First Photo Series (and first blog post!) by Rachel Tine

I love photography. I am fortunate to be passionate about and good at what I do. However, I have felt for a while now that something was missing, that I was craving more purpose for my art than simply hanging on a wall or passing through a social media feed.

After shooting down many of my own ideas for how I could potentially help others through photography, I began to turn inward for inspiration. Having spent most of my life in abusive relationships of one variety or another, I decided to give a voice to victims of one of the least discussed and most insidious forms of abuse that I have experienced: emotional abuse.

In emotionally abusive relationships, the perpetrator of abuse maintains their power in the relationship through various means, such as isolation, possessiveness, controlling money and resources, intense criticism, threats, invalidating feelings, etc. In the absence of any physical proof of abuse, and with frequent insistence by the abuser that the victim is inferior and/or is to blame, emotional abuse creates a vicious cycle of eroding the victim's self-worth and causing the victim to question if they aren't somehow imagining or causing the abuse, which frequently results in staying in an abusive relationship out of a flawed belief of not being worthy of better treatment and frequently causes the victim to end up in future relationships with people who will further take advantage of low self-esteem and a heavily skewed power dynamic. Abusers, who frequently feel powerless or inferior internally and thus subconsciously seek to control their romantic partners in some way, also frequently couple their abusive words and actions with bouts of intense love and affection, leading their victims to feel committed to their abusers and to doubt their own assessments of the situation (“he really does love me”, “he needs me”, "maybe it really is all my fault"). 

Many victims of various forms of relationship abuse, myself included, feel that emotional abuse is the most destructive form of abuse that they have experienced, with the resulting mental scars running very deep and lasting for a very long time. However, just as victims of emotional abuse tend to discount their own experiences, society is largely unaware of the significant damage done by emotionally abusive relationships, and even shelters for victims of domestic abuse frequently won’t accept anyone who hasn’t suffered some form of physical abuse. It is frequently much easier for a victim of emotional abuse to try to see the good in their partner and to question the validity of their own experiences rather than to receive the outside support that could validate the victim’s experiences and help them to escape an extremely toxic situation.

The goals of this series are threefold:

·         To provide catharsis and an outlet to people who have experienced severely emotionally abusive romantic relationships.

·         To generate awareness and dialogue, and ideally problem solving, in regards to the prevalence and intensely destructive force of emotionally abusive relationships.

·         To help people who are currently in emotionally abusive relationships by validating their experiences, providing them with hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and by donating any proceeds from the series to organizations dedicated to helping victims of abuse.

The response to this series has been profound. I have photographed and heard the disturbing and powerful stories of many victims, and I look forward to collaborating with many more individuals on this project. I have some really exciting ideas for how to create an especially powerful and beneficial exhibition of this series, and look forward to sharing the images and final concept with you once I decide on the best venue. I hope to eventually take this exhibition on the road, so if you know of any gallery spaces that would be interested in participating or any people with a history of emotional abuse who would be interested in being photographed, please have them shoot me an email at racheltine@gmail.com. And as always, thanks for accompanying me on my photographic journey; it’s been one heck of a ride so far!

Much love,

Rachel