Lisa McCarthy

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lisa mccarthy, underexposed, photo technique, photo opportunities

University of Michigan, BA Philosophy


“Drawing on my training in classical music, I base my current photographic practice on a form of musical composition called the etude. Etudes are in part studies of subject, instrument, and the composer’s musical ideas. My visual etudes are studies of places and objects, the camera, and my visual and emotional responses to them, which last ask: What is here to be seen? What will the pictures present that I didn’t see? How do these collaborations of subject, camera, and self transform a commonplace thing in the real world into a realm, a domain—in short, a world–existing only in imaginative visual compositions?

Musical etudes study the short form; my visual ones study the small picture in an era of large photographic prints.  In making the multi-print composition I loosely refer to the musical etude’s three parts: exposition, exploration, and recapitulation. I want my works to surprise and delight me and the observer, but more important, I want their forms be symbolic of my feelings while photographing, especially the joy of discovery as mystery arises out of mundane appearance, and for the small print to be symbolic of the intimacy one feels in one’s own place. By all this I hope to visually transform my subjects in such a way that the viewer sees and feels them as fresh new worlds and feels me to be a trustworthy guide.”