Photography project concentrates on the similarities
Vail, CO, Colorado
RIFLE ” Photographer Jennifer Sanborn of Rifle was sitting in a little cafe drinking Turkish coffee in Jerusalem when she noticed a group of men gathered around a table having coffee and a conversation.
That’s when an idea popped into her head.
“It overwhelmed me how much these guys were the same old guys sitting around a table at the Base Camp Cafe in Rifle, only with different clothes and hats,” said Sanborn, who owns Sanborn Studio in the Mercantile Building on East Third Street. “I knew they were talking about the same things ” kids, homes, jobs, finances. When you strip away the political and religious boundaries, you’re left with people who have the same hopes, joys, disappointments, struggles and sorrows. It brings home the idea that what we have in common are some of the most important things in life.”
And so was born the idea for “Similar Differences ” A Portrait Project” which features a series of stark black and white portraits of local people as they appear in their day-to-day routines. The photos will then be placed side by side with a similarly taken portrait of their counterpart from another country. Sanborn started the project in Rifle this month.
One of her first pairings was a black and white photo of Mayor Keith Lambert next to a photo of the mayor of Sdi Hemed, a small village in Israel.
“Both mayors were willing subjects and seeing the images side-by-side really told me that I’m on the right track,” Sanborn said. “The impact is immediate.”
Lambert’s photo captures his personality in a casual light, and he was impressed with the results when he saw them.
“It’s an interesting premise and worthwhile artistic endeavor to identify similarities even though we’re from different parts of the world,” Lambert said. “We’re people serving in various capacities and our language and customs may be different, but we’re still human beings fulfilling a role.”
Sanborn plans to have a variety of subjects, including parents, siblings, friends, politicians, a merchant and even a motorcycle rider.
Earlier this month, she assembled six of the seven Rifle City Council members in a makeshift studio that is actually an empty storefront on East Third Street. With the backdrop and the large windows, it offered the perfect natural lighting.
Everyone was told to come exactly as they were in everyday life.
“No dressing up,” she instructed. “I want real portraits of real people.”
Featured in the photo along with the mayor were councilors Beth Bascom, Jonathan Rice, Jeff Johnson, Alan Lambert and Sanborn, who also serves on the council.
Councilor Sandy Vaccaro could not attend.
With the camera on a tripod, Sanborn set it on a timed release and quickly jumped back into the photo.
“It came out great,” she said afterwards. “I’m real happy with it.”
After she finishes photographing her subjects in Rifle, she plans to begin “Phase 2” of her project later this fall, when she will photograph similar subjects in another country under the same lighting and conditions.
Sanborn, 40, was born in Massachusetts and raised in southern California. She became interested in photography while taking her first black and white photography class in high school.
“The art of black and white photography was a natural for me,” she said.
She opened Sanborn Studio in Rifle in 1998 and although she does color and commercial work, her specialty is black and white portraiture and fine art.
Sanborn hopes “Similar Differences” will eventually become a traveling exhibit through various countries, and a published book. She is also seeking grant money to help fund the project.
“The goal of the project is to bring to light the similarities we have within ourselves and other cultures and look a little deeper at the everyday worries and joys we all have in common,” she said.
For more information or to make a donation toward the project, call Sanborn at 970-618-5009.