When she was just eight years old, Danielle Bean got her first camera. A simple, yellow point-and-shoot that took 35mm film. Given to her by her father, this act began a chain reaction that likely won’t end until Bean is cold and dead.
Twenty-three years old now, Bean is a graduate of the prestigious Massachusetts-based Hallmark Institute of Photography and continues to hone her craft here in Corvallis as a member of the Temporary Artists’ Guild. Last spring she won the Fall Festival award at Linn-Benton Community College’s (LBCC) Juried Student Exhibit for an untitled photograph. Part of a trademark that makes sense when viewing her work, all of her photos are untitled.
Her striking, ghostlike imagery defies categorization both visually and conceptually. Clinging to what is known as toy cameras—cheap, temperamental contraptions with imperfect lenses—her favorite tool of the trade is a simple, black Holga 120S. When asked why, she said, “It’s both reliable and really unreliable at the same time. We’ve been through a lot of shit together.” And it shows.
Her approach is simply to watch light and color, shooting anything that’s interesting. There’s no pretense, no intentional theme, no drawn-out explanation trying to convince anyone that her work is brilliant or an attempt to change the world. For most people to pull this off, I’d have to accuse them of intentional dissociation—with Bean, it just makes sense. Within her own pocket of the world, she reaches out and pulls back visual moments that most people would otherwise never know existed.
“It’s less about what the content is and more about how it feels,” Bean commented. She continued, “I realized while in school that I didn’t want to do commercial work… it’s monotonous and winds up being more about set design than actually taking pictures.”
When asked what influences her, she said that she feels like she equally takes inspiration from everything—naming off a bunch of photographers would be disingenuous. If there were a single large influence, though, it would be her father. A photographer during his career with the Navy, Rodney Bean went on to work in various photography roles—locally at both the now-defunct Oregon Camera as well as at LBCC as a dark room manager. His love for film rubbed off on his daughter at an early age and it has stuck with her straight on through the digital revolution.
To view more of Bean’s unique work, visit https://www.facebook.com/TemporaryArtistsGuild or check out the Temporary Artists’ Guild booth at the upcoming Fall Festival.
By Tom Baker