An inside look in Seat's photo series
Middle School Visual Arts Teacher Amber Seat recently was awarded the 18th Julia Margaret Cameron Award for Professional Section: Children. The competition was centered around women photographers internationally, and the jurors of the competition selected four winners.
Read more below in a personal interview about Seat's journey in creating her piece We're Unable to Answer the Door.
What was the inspiration for your photoset?
Amber Seat: These photos are from the series I created for my thesis project for my MFA. Below is my artist statement:
It starts with the first time a parent leaves a child home alone. Do not cook in case you burn down the house. Do not wear socks on the stairs; you will slip. Do not run with scissors. And whatever you do, DON’T ANSWER THE DOOR!
Drawing from personal experiences and observations, We’re Unable to
Answer the Door is an exploration into the resilient nature of children and a parent’s complex balance of protecting their children and giving them responsibility. My sisters and I recount stories from our childhood and often ask ourselves, "Where were our parents while we were doing this?" While my own mom spent countless hours too depressed to dress or leave her room and my dad spent as much time away from home on business trips as possible, my sisters and I found life a thrilling adventure -too young to really understand what was going on around us and too naive to know that maybe a five-year-old shouldn't be cooking unsupervised. We focused on the good and escaped mostly unharmed.
This series chronicles the lives of children who are given the responsibility to run their own world. A world where there is the potential for disaster yet a praiseworthy sense of accomplishment. Through the playful, lighthearted surface, a deeper question remains: How much responsibility is too much?
How long does it take you to set up the scene for the perfect shot?
Seat: Most shots took several days to plan--shopping for props and costumes. I often hit up many thrift stores and sometimes even sewed dresses. I would get everything set up and then bring my kids in last. Most of the photos are of my kids over a period of six years. Because I planned so well ahead, I would usually only have to take 2-3 pictures of the final setup.
What brought on the love for photography? And how long have you been taking pictures?
Seat: My interest in photography developed from two very different trips to Paris. When I was in second grade, my dad had a business trip to Paris and decided it would be a good idea to bring the whole family. None of us spoke French at all, and on one of the days that we got lost in the city, we stumbled upon a fashion photo shoot in one of the squares. I fell in love with the idea of creating scenes like those made in the ancient square. There were big lights, props, a full crew of photographers, assistants, make-up artists, and models. Many young girls may have been attracted to the models in a situation like this, but I couldn't keep my eyes off the cameras.
Fifteen years later, at 23, I returned to Paris with my very first camera that was not just automatic. Paris provides it's own distinct visual and in front of the backdrop of the city, I created my first photographic "art."
Lastly, how does it feel to win such an award to showcase all your beautiful work and effort?
Seat: I have had success with photos from this series when I have entered them in various photography contests and calls for entry in the past. They have been displayed in galleries in San Francisco and New York, but this is the first time I've entered them as a series, and I am so honored that the message transcends language and culture. It has been chosen as the first-place award winner in an international competition. Several photographers that I admire and that inspire me will also be displaying their work at the same gallery in October, when these will be displayed. I'm excited to go to Barcelona this fall to see my work hanging on the walls of a gallery and to meet and work with some of the biggest names in contemporary photography.