This is the first in a series of posts dedicated to the editorial and portrait photography I did for PLACE in the Making magazine, a maker’s journal based in New England. In the magazine, we created business profiles of our artisans – and I had a blast getting to know everyone, going on-location to photograph their process, their people, and of course, the amazing things they make. Enjoy!
I walk along the woodland path, and the cedars close in around my footsteps. I feel a gentle breeze, hear the bushy treetops whisper in return, and see the bright blue green of the lake just on the other side of their rusty red trunks. The path turns out of sight ahead, but I know where it is going. I don’t have to think. I can just move, and find my destination effortlessly. This trail is home.
Ah, I can head there at any moment in my mind. I bet that you also have a place that you know so well that you can close your eyes (right now!) and see every detail as clearly as if you were there. Maybe it’s your hometown, or your school campus, or the way to a cherished vacation spot. Some places leave a permanent map in your heart so that you can always return to them. It’s a wonderful, powerful part of a life story – our sense of place.
Jennifer Carland definitely believes in the power of place. Her business, Carland Cartography, takes the places our hearts know well and celebrates them visually by creating a map. More than just a charting of location, her artwork bubbles over with emotion and energy, a sense of spiritual place as much as physical place. In her pieces of art, a map changes from a tool to a story. In her words, “We aren’t just selling art prints – we are providing personalized biographies to each one of our customers. We are invoking nostalgia, giving individuals a sense of belonging and an expression of self-identity. We are creating an illustrated reminder of the location each person calls “home”, the place where they fell in love, the area where they went to college, where they spent their summer holiday.” A fine artist with a background in urban planning, Jennifer brings a specialized understanding of place to her work. Her work was absolutely perfect for PLACE…In the Making magazine.
I got to visit Jennifer at her space in the Western Avenue Studios in Lowell, MA to photograph her portrait and take some candid working pictures for her feature in PLACE…In the Making. We sat in her cozy studio and talked a bit about how she brings her pieces to life.
Jennifer’s creative technique is unusual and multi-layered. She will render her map of an area in a number of different 2-D techniques featuring various types of media. Eventually those individual renderings will be layered, creating a unique blend of colors, lines and textures. (Her color choices often reflect the area she is representing – cherry blossoms of pink for Washington DC, or the Charles River in all its Fall glory.) This time consuming technique can take a while from start to finish – sometimes even up to 10 weeks! – but the result is always worth it. The final prints are stunning, and grace homes, offices and building lobbies all over the country.
Carland believes that “There is a psychological connection between personal identity and location. People love to talk about where they grew up, where they have lived, where they have visited and where they want to go to next.” Having a visual reminder of one’s journey so beautifully created by Carland is a treasure for the soul.