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Archive 14 - April-June 2003

  Rachel Devine   

Artist Statement and Bio

When I was 14 years old, my father gave me a manual Contax 35mm camera. My dad was a physician with a photography habit and he encouraged all 5 of his kids to explore art and science. That same year, my oldest brother and his wife gave the family Kate. Kate is my 4th niece and my 1st muse by default as she was too little to complain or run away when I wanted to practice. With the bare details of exposure and the workings of a camera explained to me by my dad, I began to explore what would become my love affair with photography. The support from my family and friends has been the foundation of my career. They have all looked at a lot of photographs and been in a lot of photographs over the years They have been really patient.

I read a lot of books on photography, looked at all kinds of art, and ran up plenty of bills at the photo lab, but I never had any formal classes. At Pitzer College, I studied fine art and anthropology and created a year abroad program to study in Iceland. It was there that I put up my first photography exhibit at the New Living Arts Museum in Reykjavik. That show eventually traveled to the Da Gallery in Pomona California."When I was starting out my career in photography, I worked as a nanny for a little girl named Harper to supplement my income. She stole my heart and cemented my desire to photograph children as my life's work. For the years I was her nanny, she was my model. For her fifth birthday, I gave her parents a self published book of documentary photographs called "5, From 5 months to 5 years" featuring all of the best images I had made of their daughter. There are only two copies of the book, one for her and one for me. I consider it one of my most important collections. I still photograph Harper as she grows and she still teaches me to see things a new way."

Someone, well, a lot of people actually, said That is just the best advice, so I put together a portfolio (and looking back on that book now, I use the term lightly) of images and dropped it off at the offices of the local parenting magazine out here in Los Angeles. I placed an advertisement in the back pages offering family and baby portrait photo-sessions and people called. When I got the chance to shoot an assignment for the magazine itself, I knew that if I could, I would be leaving family portraits behind for commercial work.

I loved the freedom of composition that I had with magazines. I could create stories. I could play with color and camera angles. I could even (gasp) cut the top of the head off! The art directors appreciated the "art" that parents complained about. In 2000, the magazine won the top award for Magazine Cover photography from Parenting Publications of America with my photo. That was a nice moment.

I have been building my commercial business ever since. I don't "capture the essence" of anyone. That statement is so hokey and overused. I work hard and I take pride in my photographs. The best part of it is that I love what I do and the kids and I have fun. Hopefully it shows. So it became, one woman with her camera setting up a tiny shop of photos.


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