Nikki in the Bubble

Talk about the meaning of any photograph.

As I watched my first black and white print slowly emerge from nothingness, the methodical ticking of the timer behind me, I smiled as a wave of excitement passed through me. Without thinking, I began to dance to the rhythm of the clock. From the moment I developed my first print, I have been captivated by photography: the smell of darkroom chemicals, the feel of a slippery print between my fingertips, and the way that the safelight makes everything look black and white, transporting me back in time to an old movie. After two years and hundreds of prints, I still do a little dance every time I watch a print materialize in the developer.

For me, manipulative photography is a unique and effective means of communication, a way to express my ideas and opinions about the world. I use "trick" photography techniques - including double-printing, superimposing negatives, dodging, and burning - as tools with which to transform my intangible ideas into concrete images. I approach my photography by first deciding upon a thought or feeling I want to express, or a statement that I want to make. I visualize the final picture, and work backwards to figure out how to create it.

I chose this picture of my six-year-old sister, Nikki,...

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