PVCC student Megan Cary placed 2nd in the League of Innovation in the Community Colleges’ national student art competition for the 2015-2016 school year. Her photograph "Don't Shoot" was also a juror's choice winner. We caught up with Megan to ask her about the photo, talk about her creative process, see more of her work and hear about her experience as an art student at PVCC.
Your photo “Don’t Shoot” depicts a man with his hands up in front of a row of armed police. Take us to the scene of the photo - where was it taken? What was the mood? Was there a confrontation? Do you know the subject?
This photo was taken in Downtown Phoenix during the First Friday Festival. I was taking photos for Overthrow Clothing that night and then a big crowd started to form right behind me and they all started walking up and down the streets shouting, “Hands up, don’t shoot”. Being there it wasn’t scary and I didn’t feel like I was in danger. It wasn’t violent at all either. The local news stations were there and one man reporting live was reporting how dangerous it was and to avoid the area but in reality it was a peaceful protest. The protestors and the police were respecting one another. And I managed to capture this man with a calm expression on his face with officers in gear with the same expression.
Your photo was a juror’s choice winner in addition to taking second place. The image depicts themes that are deeply personal to those affected by the interplay between police and civilians. What is your personal experience with these themes? Why did you decide to photograph the event that night?
Personally I can’t say how it affects me because it’s never happened to me. I decided to photograph what was going on because it was happening right in front of me. I was walking past all these reporters saying how the police were interfering or how protestors were destroying the streets but none of that was happening at all. So my photo just shows how the protestor is respecting the officers and the officers are respecting the protestor. No violence just respect.
Describe your body of work as a whole. What is your creative process? What are your typical aims - meaning, when are you satisfied with the work you create?
I’m kind of weird when it comes to my photography, I don’t have a main focal area that I work in. I just take pictures of everything when my camera is on me. I just shoot and then go through the images later and select the ones that make me take a double take. I don’t really have a special way just whatever stands out to me. I really like having a Black and Whiteeffect on my photos. But my photography ranges from concert, product, landscape photography and on the certain occasion photojournalism.
Is most of your work political? Do you intend to go into photojournalism or documentary photography?
I actually am really into politics but politics can be evil. I don’t like my work to reflect off of that because everyone has different opinions on what is right and what is wrong. I don’t think I’ll ever really get into documentary photography I think because of that.
What has your experience been as a photography student at PVCC? Were you encouraged by faculty to enter the contest?
I’m actually not taking any photography classes at PVCC, I like to do my own thing with it and teach myself. My art teacher (Adria Pecora-Drawing) actually kept bothering me to enter into the competitions and I never was really interested in competing but finally I entered and I went all the way to nationals. But she really encouraged me to be more artistic and not be afraid of failure.
How did you feel when the photo was selected for national recognition?
I was actually shocked I didn’t even think I would place so I kind of forgot about it until everyone told me! It’s a pretty good feeling though won’t forget it.
What do you hope viewers think or feel upon seeing “Don’t Shoot”?
I hope people see this and don’t automatically take sides but see how everyone is human and no one is perfect. There are good cops and bad cops. Bad people and good people. That everything the media reports is not 100% true. I want this photo to have an emotional deep impact but not a negative one.
About the Artist
Megan Cary is a second-year PVCC art student. She has been involved with the art community on campus via enrollment in art classes. Although photography began as a hobby, it has blown up into a career. She is a photographer and videographer for Fender Musical Instruments and other brands. View her portfolio here.