I have spent most of my photographic career photographing places that have been abandoned and forgotten by the rest of society, with the intention to show people the beauty of these places. Recently, however, I realized that in photographing these places, I have actually been attempting to photograph myself, but in a way that didn't require that I leave my comfort zone. Consequently, I decided to delve into the realm of self portraiture for my senior thesis project. This has gone through many stages, from setting up shoots in abandoned buildings throughout New Mexico to photographing inside my house, and now, finally, to simple portraits where I make myself confront memories of things that effected me negatively when I was a child. I wanted to produce something that is entirely from me and that makes people feel something when they look at my images.
During my thesis project I also had to do another project for a different class. Instead of doing what I usually do - photograph nudes or abandoned places - I decided to show me doing my thesis from a behind the scenes point of view. However, the project did not come out as I expected; it became more complex and less about my thesis. It became about the process of photography itself and my relationship with it. In this book, I not only show finished images, I also show everything that goes into producing one photograph - shooting, film development, printing, and matting. This process is what makes photography special to me and gives me a visceral and tactile relationship with my photographs.
In the behind the scenes photographs in this book, I often include ghost images. I do this because my photography has always been influenced by my ghosts and when I am immersed in the process, I always feel as if they surround me and influence the way I interpret the images.
This book is dedicated to my grandfather, who died before I became a photographer, but whose spirit still influences every photograph I take.
© Cheye Pagel 2012
All Images © Cheye Pagel