Photographer and filmmaker Paul Strand once defined photography as "a record of your living, for anyone who really sees."
His definition fittingly describes the 123 works in the Louisiana Photographic Society's exhibit, running through July 14 in the Shaw Center for the Arts.
Each photo shows how the exhibit's 33 photographers sees — really sees — the world around them.
For some, that world is all in their studio.
Jennifer Esneault's photography is an introspective process.
"I try to create a conversation with my photos," she said. "My photos are about all the things that I deal with — that we all deal with."
Esneault's style is reminiscent of Clarence John Laughlin, whose body of work earned him the title of "Father of American Surrealist Photography."
Like Laughlin, Esneault manipulates her work by using more than one image to create a single photo, each conveying a different emotion.
In "Detonation," a young woman's head appears to have exploded off her shoulders, billowing smoke in its place.
"There are times when I feel like my head is going to explode," Esneault said. "I know I'm not alone in that feeling."
"Loosed" shows a young woman kneeling with arms slightly extended as butterflies swarm around her. Though the image doesn't exactly convey elation, the butterflies somehow liberate the woman.
Esneault's third photo, "Bound by Love," shows yet another young woman, this time with barbed wire bounding her torso, creating wounds.
"The last photo isn't as manipulated as the others," Esneault said. "I used plastic barbed wire, and I added the open wounds. Having been in a bad relationship, sometimes the more you struggle to get out, the tighter your bonds become."
"Bound by Love" is a powerful statement from Esneault's life journey, just as Rick LeCompte's "National Geo" offers a raw reality.
The photo, as is all of LeCompte's work, was shot on location, this one off the coast of Papua, New Guinea.
LeCompte was boating with friends in a volcano crater when three native boys in a tiny boat paddled next to them.
"They just came out of nowhere," LeCompte said. "They were thin, and you could tell they didn't have much. One of the boys was even nude. But they weren't afraid, and this was their life."
LeCompte took a video of the trio with his phone, then played it for them.
"They had never seen a video before," he said. "And when I showed it to them, they were like any other group of boys. They started laughing and elbowing each other."
His photo shows the three boys standing with one foot on LeCompte's boat and the other on their own. One looks into the camera, and all appear comfortable in their environment.
The lesson, LeCompte said, was in their joy of each other.
"I don't take photos of what I see," he said. "I look at form and function and photograph what I feel."
And he feels something different with every photo. His "Shadows Playing" has no people, focusing on a fire escape and its echoing shadows.
LeCompte shot the scene one morning while visiting his daughter in New York. The fire escape is static, yet the shadows create a double image, stretching and exaggerating their subject.
Exhibit coordinator Amanda D'Agostino Budyach offers a lesson in perspective in her photos, which draw viewers into a three-dimensional world.
"I do something a little different," she said. "I combined my photography and passion for crafting to create photographs that literally pop off the page in a 3D-like fashion."
Budyach crafted her first three-dimensional photo 15 years ago as a gift for her grandmother. She made several copies of the same photo, then cut out parts to create layers on the original print.
She abandoned the technique for a few years, returning to it at the suggestion of her grandmother and mom.
Budyach has three photos in the show — a butterfly, Chicago skyline view from a hallway window and an image of a postcard-style "Welcome to Baton Rouge" mural.
She now turns her layered photos into greeting cards.
In addition to the Shaw Center, the Louisiana Photographic Society also is exhibiting at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport through Labor Day.
The organization has about 200 members, ranging in age from 10 to their 70s or 80s. Its mission is to advance and promote the art of photography in the River Parishes of south Louisiana through classes, seminars and field trips.
"I don't know the exact age of our oldest photographer," said LeCompte. "But I know there's no age limit in our organization. Our youngest member's dad also is a photographer, and they go out on shoots together. And at 10 years old, she is already good."
Louisiana Photographic Society Exhibit
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Through July 14.
WHERE: Jones Walker Foyer outside the Manship Theatre in the Shaw Center for the Arts, 100 Lafayette St.
ADMISSION/INFO: Free. laphotosociety.com