Deb Schwedhelm, Brandon Thibodeaux and Sandi Haber Fifield were selected from among sixty-five photographers who attended the 2012 PhotoNOLA Portfolio Review.
For one weekend photographers had one-on-one meetings with influential editors, curators and gallerists assembled from throughout the U.S. and abroad. After the portfolio reviews concluded, each reviewer was asked to select three outstanding projects. Deb Schwedhelm received the most votes, earning her the PhotoNOLA Review Prize, which includes a solo exhibition at the New Orleans Photo Alliance Gallery during the eighth annual PhotoNOLA, a cash award of $1000, and a marketing consultation with Mary Virginia Swanson. 2nd Place winner, Brandon Thibodeaux, and 3rd Place winner, Sandi Haber Fifield, are recognized with image galleries on the PhotoNOLA website.
Deb Schwedhelm is a fine art photographer based in Tampa, Florida. Her project, From the Sea, traverses the watery realms where play intersects with mystery.
“Deb’s underwater photos have a beautiful feel that can be dark, but not depressing, with children, but not sexualized. She composes well and the journey through her work is one from darkness to light. It has a beautiful feel when seen on paper.” – Kath Blanco, FotoFest Board of Directors
Brandon Thibodeaux is a Dallas, Texas based editorial photographer. His projects, When Morning Comes and Coon Hunting, explore the Southern mythos with an eloquent balance of the gritty and the sublime.
“The Quixotic journey of Brandon Thibodeaux throughout the Delta of the Mississippi is marked by milestones of imagery that reflects the elegant economy of life in this heartland: songs still to be sung, poems still to be written, challenges still to be endured, promises still to be kept, and opportunities still to be realized. Within this crucible of hope he always reminds us how the human spirit perseveres and, just possibly, may yet triumph.” – Roy Flukinger, Harry Ransom Center
Sandi Haber Fifield
Sandi Haber Fifield, is a fine art photographer based in Connecticut. Her project, After The Threshold, is composites of four and three photographs culled from the artist’s archive that when brought together and sequenced render dreamlike narratives for the viewer to interpret. Haber Fifield’s work explores the relationship between disparate images, and what happens to them when they cohere and take on new meanings.
“The implied visual narratives of Sandi Haber Fifield’s grouped images are elegant and beautifully lyrical.”
-Deborah Klochko, Museum of Photographic Arts
More About Debora Schwedhelm
From the Sea
My love for underwater photography began in my backyard pool, capturing the everyday riot of my children – swimming, playing with friends, relaxing in the sun, splashing, laughter, combat. But as I continued to photograph in the water, unexpected images began to surface. Shimmering fragments. Dark profiles. Murky truths. Whispering poetry. From the pool to rivers, lakes, springs, bay inlets and the expansive sea, this poetry speaks again and again. I am endlessly taken by surprise and I listen.
The images in this series aren’t forced or posed; instead, each is it’s own revelation – a milepost on an unexpected voyage to an unknowable destination. While the making of these photographs in the water is often chaotic, I am simultaneously offered a sense of home, comfort and peace.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Debora Schwedhelm was originally trained as Registered Nurse and subsequently spent 10 years employed as an Air Force Nurse. Although she has been passionate about photography since her early 20s, it wasn’t until Deb left the military that she was finally able to pursue the medium as a full time career.
Deb’s photographs have been exhibited widely and featured in numerous publications throughout the world. She has received awards from MPLS Photo Center, Minneapolis, MN; The Perfect Exposures Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; A. Smith Gallery, Johnson City, TX; Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, Santa Fe, NM; and The Art of Photography Show, San Diego, CA. Her photographs have also been selected for the permanent collection of The Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, CO.
Deb is married to a Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Officer based in Tampa, FL. She is the mother to three children, who are often the subjects of her photographs.
More About Brandon Thibodeaux
When Morning Comes
There’s a little white church down behind Alligator, Mississippi. A few wooden signs nailed to trees along the gravel farm road guide the way. It’s a Traveler’s Rest Baptist Church led by Pastor Freddi Green. There were no more than a dozen in attendance on that hot summer morning, and three of those made up the choir. They sang songs like By and By, This Little Light of Mine, and Take My Hand Precious Lord, songs that speak about faith and perseverance.
“Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home”
I’d traveled to the Mississippi Delta in the summer of 2009 because I needed to breathe after my own troubled times. I was in search of something stronger than myself and three years later I still look for the symbols of strength and pride that I first witnessed. A simple beauty resides amidst the people and places that I have come to know in this journey. My ongoing project, When Morning Comes, seeks to recognize the struggle while celebrating the obstacles overcome.
“By and by, when the morning comes,
When the saints of God are gathering home.
We will tell the story how we’ve overcome,
We will understand it better by and by.”
Brandon Thibodeaux was raised in Beaumont, Texas. His photo career began at a small daily newspaper down in southeast Texas while studying photography at Lamar University. He now resides in Dallas, where he freelances for clients like Forbes, MSNBC.com, Newsweek, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, among others. When he’s not doing that he’s likely found running the back roads of the South with a twin lens over his shoulder. He is a member of the photography collective MJR, based in New York City. In 2009 he became a member of the Getty Reportage Emerging Talent. In 2012 his work in the Mississippi Delta received CENTER’s Review Santa Fe Award, and was selected for the Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward 2012. The Oxford American listed him in the 100 Under 100, New Superstars of Southern Art 2012.
More About Sandi Haber Fifield
After The Threshold
My work is born of collisions and alignments. I gather images from experiences exceptional and mundane, intentional and spontaneous. A visit to the Louvre might find its place alongside a glance through my kitchen window. I work from an inventory of images created and collected over time and am always looking for the small parts that make the whole. Through the process of combining disparate moments of vision, formal connections reveal themselves and suggest the reassuring possibility of meaning and order in the apparent randomness of experience.
I think about principles of Gestalt psychology and the implication that we perceive the whole before we see the parts – the aspect of vision that dictates personal experience. My studio is the place where visual associations begin, vibrate, rattle and resolve, and where the unnoticed is examined, the familiar is seen, and the margins are mined for the meanings that collect there. Frequently, there is a change in focus or a veiled visual description that adds to the fragmentation. I embrace the ambiguous narrative and the multiple scenes, which together create the poem. I ponder the passage of time. The following quote from Barnett Newman rings true to me: “Only time can be felt in private. Space is a common property. Only time is personal, a private experience. Each person must feel it for himself…I insist on my experiences of sensations in time – not the sense of time but the physical sensation of time.”
Sandi Haber Fifield was born in Youngstown, Ohio. She has an MFA in photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology and is the recipient of a New York State Creative Artists Program Grant. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and notable museums throughout the United States including The Art Institute of Chicago, The DeCordova Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, The National Museum of American Art, and The St. Louis Art Museum. Haber Fifield’s photographs are held in numerous private and public collections; The High Museum of Art, The Library of Congress, The Los Angeles County Museum, and The Museum of Modern Art among others. After the Threshold is Haber Fifield’s third monograph. In 2009 her book of grids and multiple image installations, Walking through the World, was published (Charta), and in 2011 Between Planting and Picking was released (Charta). Additionally, Haber Fifield’s work has appeared in Fabrications by Anne Hoy, Picturing California by Therese Heyman, Defining Eye: Women Photographers of the 20th Century and The Photography of Invention by Merry Foresta. She resides in Connecticut with her family. Sandi Haber Fifield is represented by Rick Wester Fine Art in New York.