Megan Draheim first fell in love with photography by shooting her hometown of Chicago while in elementary school, using her first camera, a 110 Kodak. She’s a long-term resident of Washington, D.C., having moved there to attend George Washington University where she received a BA in Fine Arts. She later went on to get a PhD in Environmental Science and Policy from George Mason University. Her work as a conservation biologist informs many of her projects, exploring people’s relationships with nature. Her photographs have been exhibited in the DC area and won awards.
Two overlapping themes are present in Megan Draheim’s (b. 1977) work: revealing the details of the world around us, and showing how people are embedded into our landscapes. Using both color and black and white photography, and everything from plastic to medium format cameras, she explores these themes by using the power of a camera lens to focus on what we might not normally focus. In doing so, she shows us that the details of the world around us total more than the sum of their parts. Megan draws from a rich tradition within the photography community, including Aaron Siskind, Harry Callahan, and Edward Weston’s work, all of who elevated small pieces of the world (peppers, shadows, windows, weathered boards) by highlighting them with their cameras. Like Harry Callahan, she creates ambiguity with intimate images that encourage viewers to peer closer. A storyteller by nature, Megan encourages viewers to ask questions about the images (what’s happening outside the frame? Where does this image fit into the world?) to which there are no right or wrong answers. She challenges you to change your perspective on what is otherwise the mundane.
Humans have had a profound impact on our world, and our shadows (literal and figurative) are present everywhere. Again drawing upon the details of the world, she expresses a reverence for nature both great and small. Her images evoke an exploratory feeling, and invite viewers to ask questions about our place in the world. By doing so she shows the vulnerability present throughout the natural world. In this reading, however, humans are not separate from nature. While reclaiming the mantle of being part of nature, by examining details and encouraging exploration and questions, she also hopes to increase our reverence for the world around us.
Megan is a firm believer in the importance of finding beauty in photography. She strives to make her images resonate with people both emotionally and aesthetically – even when the images are ambiguous and even moody. She believes that stories can best be told and questions can best be asked when her audience is looking at something beautiful.