My first museum gig: exploring fashion in every corner of Montana. Photographing 50 subjects from ranchers to hipsters. All on film.
"Sunday Best" has topped my documentary project idea list for years. I was born and raised in eastern Montana and have spent nearly all of my adult life on the western side of the state. With a population of about 6.73 per square mile, choosing the perfect 50 subjects for this project is no small task. I will travel from one corner to another and everywhere in-between on my photographic journey.
Some of the funds will go toward travel expenses, but a majority of the money will be spent on film, processing, printing and framing for the show. I will be using a 35mm camera for the entire project, and all the funds will be going to support local Montana businesses. The Darkroom in Missoula is my go-to photography shop, and they will be handling my photographs and supplying my film stash for the entire project. A local frame shop will manage the matting and framing for about 25 pieces. The remainder of the subjects will be exclusively in the book, so getting a copy will be doubly exciting!
The MonDak Heritage Center in Sidney, Montana, is the first of what I hope to be many stops for this exhibit. It's my hometown. It's also at the heart of the oil boom in the Bakken. I plan to finish shooting by early fall, leaving myself plenty of time to put the book together and shop it around to Montana publishers. If "Sunday Best" is not picked up in time, I will self-publish a limited number of books and continue to pursue outside publication. The exhibit will be hanging for 8 weeks during June/July 2015.
An important facet of the project that will illuminate the origins of Montana style is a handwritten response provided by each subject. The subject's portrait will be paired with his/her answers to a handful of questions about their personal style influences, philosophy and more. It's an intimate thing, seeing someone's thoughts about themselves written by their own hand. It's almost like getting a glimpse into the diary of each person.
The title of the piece, "Sunday Best," is representative of each subject showing off his/her favorite or best outfit that is characteristic of his overall style. The photographs will be environmental portraits, because seeing someone in their own surroundings tells so much about who they are.
Montana has its share of characters: kooky old hippies, gruff ranchers, Missoula hipsters, blinged-out cowgirls, greasy punk rockers and trustafarians with salon dreads. The list goes on forever. But we are so much more than that. Montanans are more diverse and multi-dimensional than the outside world could ever guess. My goal with this project is to show the world just how much panache is packed into 147,046 square miles. It will be a public display of style in the raw.