Personal photography projects can be incredibly beneficial to your growth as a photographer. Whether it be a 365 or a series of self-portraits, it will stretch you beyond your safety zone. And what could be more fun than seeing what personal projects the CMpros are up to?! In this new series, we’ll feature a different CMpro and follow along as they show off some of their images and share about their unique project. Today we are excited to have Celeste Pavlik here to talk about her project, Through the Glass!
through the glass | celeste pavlik
What is/was your personal project and what inspired you to start it?
My personal project is Through the Glass. A couple years ago I discovered that there was this gorgeous yummy light in my master bath. It streams in through a large window covered with plantation shutters every afternoon. I became intrigued with capturing all my little ones in ways that were unscripted and unposed and because of that I found this location to be the perfect place to capture their essence in beautiful light.
All my boys have been water babies since birth. I’ll never forget a friend of mine once told me when my firstborn was a baby, and I was overwhelmed with him crying all the time, “When you have a crab, put him in water”! What great advice! That first year I can’t tell you how many baths he would get each day! Finding beauty in something that’s just an everyday ritual has been freeing and powerful in many ways.
Are there any challenges or ruts you faced during your project and how did you overcome them and keep a creative eye?
There are several challenges with shooting in such an intimate place as a bathroom. It does sound strange, yes, but the reality is, I look at it as a space like any other place in my home with beautiful light that my children choose to play and spend a part of each day in. One of the challenges I face when shooting in here is that during certain months of the year the light is not as giving. The position of the sun changes so much and really there is just the one large window and as the position of the sun changes throughout the year it changes the availability and even harshness or softness of the light. I find there are really only a few months out of the year that the sun seems to be set just right. During this last winter when the light wasn’t as ideal I started doing a bit more low light shooting and recently shot a series of just one of the boys in fairly low light to create moody black and whites that I thought worked well with all the textures of the water and his skin and hair.
What have you learned through your process with your personal project?
When I started this project I realized that I loved to focus manually. Shooting manually helps me put the focus behind the glass on my child’s face when I want it or place focus in front of the glass where I can highlight the water droplets. It also allows me to do some more creative shots of steam and out of focus subjects. In addition to those reasons, shooting manually really helps me to slow down and execute my vision more accurately. Ultimately my main goal is to shoot them as they are, without prompting, and without posing, capturing one little bit of their childhood.
Is there anything additional about your project that readers may find interesting?
When I began this project, as you can tell in the first couple photos I’m sharing (and there are many more in between those first few months I started this project and the recent black and whites) I really wanted to capture the emotions of solace and peacefulness in an ordinary daily task. I wanted the viewer to get a sense of calmness or a sense of being completely lost in thought (something that I think most of us can relate to when we look for ways to re-energize). So many of my first shots are headshots, as well as detail shots of droplets running off of a nose, or on a cheek, or a shoulder. I wanted the viewer to literally want to reach out and catch a droplet or wipe one away. Even the texture of wet hair or wrinkled little fingers is important to me as well. Over the past year the triplets have moved from taking baths to wanting to play in the shower as well. So now I feel like I’m capturing them together in this space doing what they do. It’s important to me to document them being them. As intimate of a place the shower is, when I look at these years from now, I will remember their laughter and their silliness of being together in this small space just being children and having fun.
Celeste Pavlik, Texas
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Like many first time Moms, Celeste fell in love with photography in 2006 when her husband gifted her with a new Canon Rebel DSLR to start photographing their first baby and their adventures as a new family. When asked how else her personal life has influenced her photography she responded, “In 2009, my Dad was diagnosed with leukemia which was the same day I came home from the hospital after giving birth to the triplets. At that moment I realized more than ever how important being able to share my children’s lives was going to be as my parents lived out of state and neither of us would be able to travel. I didn’t want my Dad to miss the little details of his grandchildren.” From there she began to search for ways to learn to become a better photographer not just for her but for her Dad. In April 2010 she found CM and has never turned back. She says once she switched to manual mode an entire new world of how to make art opened up which grew into her desire to learn how to capture beautiful images that were filled with emotion. Her emotive, dramatic and largely black and white imagery is achieved with a Canon 5d mark III and a few prime lenses. While she loves baking, she also enjoys her almost daily trip to the gym where she works out and takes a little time to relax. Celeste lives in southern Texas with her husband and four boys.