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Phlogger aka Andrew Walmsley

A website dedicated to photography showcasing articles, interviews, reviews and Photography Insights podcast.

Jeanine Michna-Bales – the importance of projects

Welcome to today’s podcast and boy do I have a special artist for you.  I came across Jeanine Michna-Bales through her work with the Yellow Rose project and was recommended by Frances and Meg.  Jeanine calls herself a fine artist who uses the medium of photography to explore relationships to society, land and us.  I think spending a few hours with her you can totally see this.  Have I ever met a person who has put so much in to her projects, quite simply no.  The reason I state this is Jeanine normally works on long term projects, including spending 14 years on through  darkness to light.

Jeanine has a great soul, she’s all about humanity, looking back at history and ensuring other generations know what happened.  Although we focus most of the discussion on her “darkness to light” project we do find time for others too.  However, the reason I wanted to talk to Jeanine was all about slavery and learning more about it.  The story she portrays is all about the people and their attempt at freedom along these routes across America to “free” states and Canada.

I’m leaving some pictures on my website to give you an idea, but please check out Jeanine’s website.  There you will find out so much more and see the effort she goes to.  Obviously do check out her books which you can still buy too.

So in this one we discuss:

  • importance of history through documents,adverts, maps
  • colonialism
  • Perspectives & telling a story
  • white privilege
  • education
  • shooting at night
  • safety precautions
  • light painting
  • long exposure,
  • choosing cameras
  • large imagery
  • Yellow Rose project
  • suffrage movement

Random questions

Of course Jeanine went through the random one’s too, so find out about the new fashion laws.



BBC video –

Website –

Through darkness project –

Through darkness book –

Standing together project –

Standing together book –

Travelling exhibition Southbound –

Travelling exhibition Two minutes to midnight –


Extra content

Jeanine has kindly supplied some examples from her projects.

Cover from Standing Together book

This one is William Beard’s House and how I ran into his ancestor at a show and he was able to give me the address. Also, how I found through the Henry County (Indiana) Female Anti-Slavery Society minutes book that they were collection money to buy free labour cotton to sew into clothing for the “fugitives” as they passed through his house.

Abolitionist William Beard’s house, Union County, Indiana, 2014

this image was discussed during the podcast too – we discussed about the “noise” generated from the sensor and low level lighting mixed with long-exposures and how I had to “stack” the images. And click out each individual pixel of noise if unable to re-shoot. This is the barn that they put vinyl siding on so I couldn’t rephotograph the image.Image Title: Look for the Gray Barn Out Back.

Joshua Eliason Jr. barnyards and farmhouse, with a tunnel leading underneath the road to another station, Centerville, Indiana, 2013

This is the barn out back of Levi and Catherine Coffin’s home where they kept a false-bottom wagon to transport “fugitives” to other UGRR (underground railroad) stations. Levi was also one of the Quakers that had a Free Labor Goods store that sold cotton, sugarcane and other goods not produced from slave labor. (See also ad for his store as well below)

Advertisement for Levi Coffin’s store promising “free labor dry goods and groceries” in the Free Labor Advocate, and Anti-Slavery Chronicle, July 1, 1847. Friends Collection, Lilly Library, Earlham College

Documented route


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