Though her art show was entirely self-portraits, photographer Ellen Kuntz took pictures from behind her camera on Friday night at her State of Reverie show at Wild Joe’s Coffee. Guests were invited to sit on a stool in front of the whole coffee house and as Kuntz said, “Okay, daydream.”
As I sat in front of Kuntz’ camera, in front of the spotlights, I stared into space and tried to look as daydream-y as I could. Kuntz’ camera clicked away. It wasn’t hard to daydream with the eerie, live music of Kimberly Pierson in the background.
Still, it was a bit nerve-racking sitting before everyone in the coffee shop. Kuntz’ idea behind the event was not only daydreaming, but an improvement of self-image. She said, “2013 was the year of the selfie for a reason. People criticize girls for posting too many selfies on social networks. I think it helps girls view themselves differently. If it makes them feel beautiful, we should encourage that.”
In a preview for her event, Kuntz said, “Growing up I remember a teacher telling me daydreaming was bad … and only ditzy people daydream. I want people to view daydreaming differently.” She explained, “I love daydreaming, and I actually schedule time to do it. Some people workout. I daydream.”
When asked about her own process, Kuntz said, “To develop these ideas, I daydream. I put myself in the places I photograph and it helps me reflect on myself.” On the subject of her own self-image she said, “For a while I avoided putting myself in my daydreams, but when I started respecting myself and viewing myself differently, I stepped in front of the camera.”
One guest, Brittany Hackwell said, “It’s really cool that she’s actively working toward an improvement of self-image. I admire that idea and I admire her work.”
When asked if she has a favorite photo series Kuntz said, “It changes every day. I like the photograph “Crying Game” because it turned out exactly how I wanted it to. I had the picture in my head and I was finally able to express myself accurately.”
Then she laughed and said, “I scared myself half to death shooting “You Are the Blood.” It’s pretty scary shooting photos on the altar of an abandoned church.”
Ending the interview, I asked Kuntz what she hopes will happen with State of Reverie. “I hope good things will come from this.” she said.
Kuntz’ State of Reverie self-portrait series and the Reverie installation will be at Wild Joe’s for at least a month. While it’s up, guests are encouraged to take selfies in front of the installation and share them on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #stateofreverie. Images can also be sent to Kuntz at email@example.com.
The photos Kuntz took of guests on Friday night can be found on her Facebook page. She invites people to download the photos as long as they don’t sell them or edit them drastically. Her State of Reverie photos as well as her other projects can be found on her website at ellenkuntzphotography.com.