With the end of the semester approaching, some students are seeking advice, now more than ever, on how to make their way into the professional world.
On Friday, photography students had a chance to receive this advice from Joyce Tenneson, a renowned photographer known for her mixed style of portraiture and mythology.
Tenneson said she thinks UNM has one of the best photo programs in the country and she was excited to come see the work of the graduate students and share her wisdom with them.
Tenneson's work has appeared on Time, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek, Premiere, Esquire and The New York Times Magazine. Her photographs have been in over 150 exhibitions worldwide and are included in several private and museum collections.
For two hours, Joyce shared her path to success in the photography industry. She emphasized the importance of patience, persistence and discipline.
“I hope it gave them a sense of what it takes to work on a project [and] be successful with it,” she said.
During her talk, she also described the struggles she has experienced throughout her career, including severe anxiety attacks, uncooperative clients and the pressure to always be working on something.
“The reason we are artists is because we have no choice. We are drawn to it like some kind of internal magnet,” she said. “One is always asked – and this is not fair – ‘so what are you doing now?’”
Tenneson talked about the pressure she has felt when finally opening a show to the public after months or even years of hard work, only to be questioned about her next project during the event.
Some of these struggles, however, led to inspiration, she said.
“When I first moved to New York ... I was really frightened of not being able to make it. I started having really bad anxiety attacks,” she said. “I took some workshops to see if I could find a way to deal with the anxiety.”
One of the methods Tenneson learned from these workshops was to surround herself with a “clean bubble” of white light when she felt afraid, which worked for her. This technique is what inspired her to create “Light Warriors,” a series of photos which feature women who appear to emanate light from within.
Tenneson used this life example to show her listeners the importance of using their suffering to create art. In addition to this, she also talked about listening to your intuition and taking that shot that calls to you, even if it doesn’t necessarily fit the assignment.
Near the end of her lecture, Tenneson took questions from the audience and showed slideshows of pictures that had unique backstories. Photography students had the chance to ask her for tips on book-making techniques, technical tricks and advice for dealing with difficult subjects.
Jess Peri, an MFA photography graduate student, said he was excited to hear Tenneson’s lecture after she visited his studio and gave him feedback on his work.
“[I liked] getting to hear the emotional impact that she gets from her subject matter,” Peri said. “Hearing the way she gave this public speech and talked about her work was great for me because that’s something I practice, being more articulate about my art. She is very good at what she does.”
For more information on Tenneson and her upcoming work, visit www.tenneson.com.
Skylar Griego is a culture reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TDLBooks.