Capturing Familiar Beauty: The Photography of Janet Beveridge Bean

12_©_Janet_Beveridge_Bean © Janet Beveridge Bean

“I was in my early twenties when I began to think about finding moments to capture on film. My father, throughout my high school years, took annual photographic trips to Africa and as a result had a pretty nice beginners camera set up. I think it was a Cannon AE-1 with a few decent Leica lenses. He wanted a new rig and offered me the camera. I began taking photos and immersed myself in discovery. I bought all the books I could afford on Bresson, Kertész, Weegee, Lange. Then Rick (Rizzo), in 1989, gave me the book, The Lives of Lee Miller. She was strong, handsome, a muse for Man Ray, fearless, adventurous, and a moving photographer, especially her assignments during WWII. She experienced the world by all means possible. I became obsessed with her. I had daydreams about being her.

© Janet Beveridge Bean
© Janet Beveridge Bean
© Janet Beveridge Bean

Our upstairs neighbor at the time, and now a dear friend, was and still is an accomplished photographer. She encouraged my obsession, as did Rick who bought me an enlarger for my birthday. I built a crappy, but heavenly darkroom in the basement where I spent entire nights sipping Spanish sherry, singing along to oldies radio, while developing the B&W images I had taken during the day. It remains some of the best hours I have known. A couple years later I moved, ending my darkroom days. Certain interests fell away to accommodate certain responsibilities.

© Janet Beveridge Bean
© Janet Beveridge Bean

I spent entire nights sipping Spanish sherry, singing along to oldies radio, while developing the B&W images I had taken during the day

© Janet Beveridge Bean
© Janet Beveridge Bean

Now, some 25 years later I am drawn to my immediate world; environments that are intimate to me. I want to know I have seen them, have experienced them. I want to deeply be aware of the beauty immediately around me. Everything is shot on my phone. There are distinct advantages to this, but even greater limitations. Maybe it’s the limitations that I like. And I must admit, a bit of laziness. I also use a cropping app called Nocrop. It allows me to choose gradations of color to fill out the format. I recently attempted to read Paul Klee’s work on color theory and it made my head hurt, but I do I find rolling through the gradation bar on the app, waiting to see which color will engage the focus of the image most effectively, a satisfying part of my process.

© Janet Beveridge Bean
© Janet Beveridge Bean
© Janet Beveridge Bean

I want to know I have seen them, have experienced them. I want to deeply be aware of the beauty immediately around me

© Janet Beveridge Bean
© Janet Beveridge Bean
© Janet Beveridge Bean

I am lucky enough to live in 2 architecturally compelling homes that are polar opposites of each other. One is a mid-century, Wright-inspired home upon a dune flooded with light. There is no angle you can turn without seeing, through an expanse of glass, the surrounding forest of pin oaks and pines. The other is in the city. Built in 1895, it has been turned, by my husband, who refers to himself as a recovering sculptor, into a semi-brutalist concrete and steel Ando-influenced space hovering within the original structure. Micheal’s sense of form is exquisite. I have been in the city home since 2003 and I still find details that stun. It’s the moments in these places, where I spend my days seeing a form abstracted by shadow or a slash of light bent across a room, that capture my attention. Instagram is far from the immersive siren red glow of the dark room, and I often have discussions with friends on its failings and disruptions. Does the constant, even mere notion of validation and endless exposure to the work of others result in work all looking the same? I don’t know really, but the practice and format work for me right now.”

© Janet Beveridge Bean
© Janet Beveridge Bean

For a glimpse of the Instagram feeds that inspire Janet, check out some of these:

At the age of 16, Janet Beveridge Bean joined her first band as a means to get into the over 21 punk rock clubs. 35 years and over 30 critically acclaimed full length albums later, she’s still at it. As a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and songwriter she is a founding member of the long standing post punk band Eleventh Dream Day (Thrill Jockey Records) and the genre bending gothic folk country band Freakwater, (Bloodshot Records).  More recent projects include the jazz folk ensemble The Horse’s Ha (Fluff and Gravy Records), the “devotional ambient dreamscapes” of Mind Over Mirrors (Paradise of Bachelors), and along with Sally Timms of the legendary band The Mekons, a feminist dada  reaction to disaster capitalism, !MOXIE TUNG!

Check out more of her photography at her Instagram feed.