I don't know.

These words are related to the theme of this month’s FSC Instant Film Feature - your own typical style abstracted - in a number of ways.

I don’t know. 

I don’t know whether I was feeling a bit delirious when I suggested this theme or whether I was behaving like the purposeful troublemaker that I sometimes can be. 

I don’t know was the basis of the questions that many people asked me about the theme, and most asked the same three questions. 

First question asked… what does abstracted mean? Getting people to think about this one question alone was enough for me. I don’t intend to go into it here, now, because abstraction in art and especially in photography is a complex and ever-evolving subject. I had just hoped to get people thinking and talking about it. And it worked. 

Second question asked… what does my own typical style abstracted mean? We rarely lingered on this question, because the third was unexpected, and really, more than I could have hoped for. 

Third question asked… what is my typical style? And this was a reward. To get people, who had, sometimes surprisingly, never thought much about their typical visual language thinking about it because they now had to figure out what it was so they could then abstract it simply to submit, this was absolutely fantastic. I was so very happy because of these discussions.   

And now I get to the best part. I don’t intend to pretend to be an expert. I am in no way suggesting that the final selections do actually represent someone’s language abstracted. I do imagine that they are all, every single one, as always, outstanding photographs. And as always I wish that I could select all of them to be featured, but I cannot. In fact, I’m going to select only a small number to be featured, only those that do appear to me to fit the theme. Still though, I’d like to thank everyone who chose to submit, and especially those that decided to discuss the theme and their work with me. It was truly enjoyable for me. My most sincere thanks to all of you.

And what happens next? I don’t know. Except that at least two people have told me that they are already exploring new directions in their work because of the challenge that this theme and feature represented. And very few things could make me happier than that.


Keith Mendenhall is a photographer based in East Hampton, New York. He’s currently working on a book of pinhole photographs, an app, a store, and he’s exploring the possibility of staging a wonderfully strange sort of exhibition in an abandoned mill deep inside Wales. Selections of his work can be viewed on Instagram at www.instagram.com/1255.