PERSONAL WORK PORTFOLIO

Finding Our Place

I first came out 25 years ago. Sometimes I struggled to find my place, struggled to fit in. Even if you find yourself at home in a community or relationship, that sense of belonging can shift and dissipate. Change is the only constant.

In 2016, I revisited a small group of gay and lesbian folks I had made portraits of some 16 years earlier. Originally all photographed in Detroit and its suburbs, my subjects are now scattered around Michigan and across the country. I rephotographed them and made video interviews as well. Our conversations covered aging, love and loss, parenthood, and other issues still facing the queer community. This is not an exhaustive study of queer people, nor does it just represent a tight circle of friends. Instead, this project explores a group of people I originally photographed with the goal of creating relatable portraits of people like me. I was a student when I made the first pictures and I
was trying to create positive change, as small and incremental as it might have been. In 2000, coming out was considered an act of
courage, especially depending on where one lived. I sought to make portraits that didn’t overly sexualize or sensationalize my subjects,
but that gave a small glimpse into the ordinariness of their homes and lives.

In some places, coming out is still an act of courage today. I circled back around to these portraits after same sex marriage became legal
in the United States, a victory that I wasn’t sure I’d see in my lifetime. This project is a reflection on how far acceptance of LGBT people has come in the last 16 years. It also represents my own effort to understand the complex, varied, and vibrant community that I belong to. This search for a place is not unique to the LGBT community, it’s part of the human experience. In these photographs, I see people becoming more comfortable in their own skin and more confident in the world.

A selection of the video interviews are available for viewing at https://vimeo.com/krissanford

 Nathan 1999/2016, 20x40” framed, from Finding Our Place

Nathan 1999/2016, 20x40” framed, from Finding Our Place

 Susan 1999/2016, 20x40” framed, from Finding Our Place

Susan 1999/2016, 20x40” framed, from Finding Our Place

 Armando 2000/2016, 20x40” framed, from Finding Our Place

Armando 2000/2016, 20x40” framed, from Finding Our Place

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 Virlena 2000/2016, 20x40” framed, from Finding Our Place

Virlena 2000/2016, 20x40” framed, from Finding Our Place

 George 2000/2016, 20x40” framed, from Finding Our Place

George 2000/2016, 20x40” framed, from Finding Our Place

 John 1999/2016, 20x40” framed, from Finding Our Place

John 1999/2016, 20x40” framed, from Finding Our Place

 Molly 1999/2016, 20x40” framed, from Finding Our Place

Molly 1999/2016, 20x40” framed, from Finding Our Place

 Dennis 2000/2016, 20x40” framed, from Finding Our Place

Dennis 2000/2016, 20x40” framed, from Finding Our Place

 Laura 1999/2016, 20x40” framed, from Finding Our Place

Laura 1999/2016, 20x40” framed, from Finding Our Place

Through the Lens of Desire

Relationships, real or imagined, are at the center of this work. Growing up queer, I searched for a history that spoke to me—included me.
In my family history, there were no couples that mirrored my own intimate relationships. That didn’t keep me from imagining such couples.
Through the Lens of Desire creates implied narratives using snapshots from the 1920s- 1950s. Vernacular photographs from that era were created as private keepsakes and the unselfconscious intimacy they depict feels authentic and relatable. As modern viewers, we witness personal moments that were never intended to be public. By purposefully selecting images that picture men together and women together I am creating an imaginary queer past. I am drawn to the subtle points of contact and the spaces between the figures pictured. Each gesture or distracted glance holds a story, and it is these stories that reflect my own desire and experiences. This project brings a contemporary rereading to old photographs to address sexuality and relationships in a subtle way. My images are works
of fiction, where I project my own dreams onto moments from the past.

 Installation of Through the Lens of Desire at GETXOPHOTO in Getxo, Spain, September 2016.

Installation of Through the Lens of Desire at GETXOPHOTO in Getxo, Spain, September 2016.

 Installation of Center Forward exhibition at Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, CO, September 2016.

Installation of Center Forward exhibition at Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, CO, September 2016.

 Box Camera (from Through the Lens of Desire), 2016, variable size.

Box Camera (from Through the Lens of Desire), 2016, variable size.

 Folding Chairs (from Through the Lens of Desire), 2015, variable size.

Folding Chairs (from Through the Lens of Desire), 2015, variable size.

 Navy (from Through the Lens of Desire), 2016, variable size.

Navy (from Through the Lens of Desire), 2016, variable size.

 Necklace (from Through the Lens of Desire), 2015, variable size.

Necklace (from Through the Lens of Desire), 2015, variable size.

 Polka Dots (from Through the Lens of Desire), 2015, variable size.

Polka Dots (from Through the Lens of Desire), 2015, variable size.

 The Mentor (from Through the Lens of Desire), 2015, variable size.

The Mentor (from Through the Lens of Desire), 2015, variable size.

 Morning Dress (from Through the Lens of Desire), 2016, variable size.

Morning Dress (from Through the Lens of Desire), 2016, variable size.

 Like Spoons (from Through the Lens of Desire), 2015, variable size.

Like Spoons (from Through the Lens of Desire), 2015, variable size.