Shannon Ayres, portrait photographer based in Northern Virginia
A passionate interest in the human condition drives much of my portrait photography. I am acutely aware that, in our brief time on earth, we are all struggling to assuage the past, grapple with the present, and brace for the inescapable future. Amidst all this, we strive for happiness and understanding of the world.
I approach my subjects with a respect for their individuality, mystery and human dignity. I am inspired by Paul Strand’s quote that, “I like to photograph people who have strength and dignity in their faces. Whatever life has done to them, it hasn’t destroyed.” In this way, I seek to create likenesses that are elegant, cultivated, humanistic and idiomatic. My tools are facial expression, clothing, enviornment, gesture...
My goal is to produce work that is both salable to editorial clients and reflective of my highest aspirations for portraiture.
Cake Ice Cream Me Me Me
A photography project is created three times over: The first at planning; The second at capture; and the third at editing.
For this project, I eased back on intentionality and sought to photograph based on my intuition. I wanted to let my subconscious guide me, believing that it would notice the uncanny moments of everyday life than my conscious, awake mind.
During the editing process, it was clear which images were inspired by intuition and which were inspired by conscious thought.
Bull Run - 2009
This is a series of landscapes of the Manassas National Battlefield in Northern Virginia. Here in the South, it is referred to as the Battle of Bull Run
Onset - 2008
These are portraits of my second daughter, Emma, in her first three days of life. Her features were still soft and her identity still a mystery.
The Velogrand Project
This is an ongoing experiment into photographic vision inspired by the unremitting shooting style of the late Gary Winogrand. On bike trips around town, I set up an action camera to take photographs every two seconds. Sometimes the camera is mounted on the handlebars; Sometimes it's on the seatpost.
Then I forget that the camera's there.
When I come home, I download the thousands of images and discover what the camera captured all by itself. Most of the time the photographs are junk. But every ten thousand frames or so, the camera surprises me with an unusual juxtaposition, a decisive moment, an intriguing framing or an unexpected self-portrait.
The Ground at Gettysburg - 2008
In July 1863, these boulders and fences provided desperate cover for soldiers fighting at Gettysburg. Today, they are one of the few things that actually witnessed the thick of fighting. They are slowly being eroded and covered in vegetation.