An Interview With The Artist (Interviewed by Eboni Fields a Fine Art Photography Major at the Savannah College of Art and Design)
1. Was photography your first career choice growing up?
I wouldn't say it was my initial goal, as I feel like everyone has various dreams/career goals at a young age that are never too serious. With that said, I was introduced to 35mm Film Photography when I was a sophomore in high school, and after a semester in the dark room I was hooked. After that I had toyed occasionally with going into Literature/Journalism, but photography was always the main goal/commitment.
2. Are all of your photographs taken in Iowa? If not, where else?
They certainly are not. The area I live at in Iowa, referred to as The Quad Cities, sits is along the Mississippi River and is made up of cities both on the Iowa and Illinois side of the river. So while I do live in Davenport (Iowa), I spend a lot of time in Illinois shooting as well. I also have created work from trips to Minnesota, Wisconsin, and California, but those images don't make up the majority of my work/current projects.
3. Can you tell me about any current projects you are working on?
Well I currently have 3 major projects that I work on and exhibit, outside of my minimalist street photography pieces, which don't tend to fall into a particular project.
A. "Revisiting Past Exposures" is my longest running project and it was developed while I was a Junior in college, eventually becoming my Senior project and my most widely exhibited work. This project involves printing out old photos I've shot, then revisiting the location and attempting to line up the original print with the current scene. This is done as a way to document the passage of time, the comparison between the past/present, showcasing the way the mind creates an image of a place/time in your mind and sometimes revisiting that allows you to see how the past and present may not align as smoothly as you once thought.
B. "In The Waiting Room (Somewhere Between Clarified Well-Being and Cognitive Dissonance)." This is my most recent project, but also the one that hits closest to home. This project revolves around the abstracts of dealing with various forms of mental health/mental illness. This is something that long influenced my expression and need to express myself in the beginning, so I wanted to use my art as a way to connect to individuals dealing with similar issues, as a result helping all involved feel a little less alone/disconnected, and hopefully helping to remove some of the stigma tied to such issues.
C. My final project, "Reconstructing The Rise of Asymmetrical Skylines" is my most abstract/non-traditional project, as I've long tried to avoid as much post-production as possible in my work. This project focuses on abandoned buildings, or various forms of architecture, either mid-destruction or mid-construction, and then through some editing/mirroring in Photoshop I create symmetrical pieces akin to a Rorschach blot test. Through this I aim to create a continuity and flow from segments of society that seems discarded/in a state of disarray.
4. I noticed on your website that you shoot in both black&white and color, do you have preference? why not just one or the other?
Without question I have a stronger preference towards B&W, and for the first few years of my photography I worked only in B&W. I was really drawn to the contrast of black and white imagery, and felt color was more of a distraction than anything else. It actually wasn't until I was required to take a color photography course in college that I began to embrace color work. That being said I still find myself more drawn to black and white pieces, though I am very drawn to blues and have a strong affinity for color work that prominently features primary color schemes.
5.What is your thought process through your projects?
I think that was outlined pretty well when explaining my projects, but it changes based on the project. I've gotten really good at pre-planning my shots for weeks or months before hand, however when I get out and shoot there's almost a subconscious second nature that takes over and I often find myself looking back over images afterwards almost unaware in the moment exactly what I captured, if that makes sense. I'm more than aware of what I'm attempting to create, but in the moment there's not always an aggressive level of focus. I find too much pressure placed in the moment makes for less organic imagery.
6. Which photographers influence you?
If I had to pick my biggest influence overall it would undoubtedly be Kenneth Josephson. Though I am also a major fan of Michael Kenna, Francesca Woodman, Andres Gursky and Robert Capa. Josephson's influence is clear, and his ties to the Chicago/Midwestern photo scene has always drawn me to his work. While Francesca Woodman has been a major influence on my more recent works revolving around Mental Health, though I've studied her work for years.
I also find a lot of inspiration from Minimalism and Street Photography, but I wouldn't pin that down to a single artist as much as the movement as a whole.
7. What technology do you use? software/cameras/etc.
I've only ever owned Canon cameras, and from my first days in film photography they are what I've always worked with. Currently when shooting digitally I primarily shoot with a Canon 60D, though I may be upgrading next year. I do work with film photography still, and when I do I tend to use a Canon AE-1. I also have a mixture of Canon lenses. As far as software I use Photoshop, and occasionally Lightroom/Bridge. I try to do as little post-production as possible when working with (most of) my projects.
8. Have you ever been "stuck" not knowing where to go or what to do next? If so, how did you get "unstuck"?
I have been stuck on several occasions, and I feel it's a very common experience in the art world. Motivation is seldom universal, and sometimes it doesn't arrive during the most opportune times. For me I have found it's beneficial to have several projects to focus on. Having multiple outlets allows me to not feel so discouraged when I come to a roadblock with one of my projects, as I know I can leave it for a bit and return to it refreshed. Though I know not all people operate as such, having a desire, if not need, to have their hands in many separate ideas simultaneously. I also find it to be helpful to just grab my camera and wander, seeing what I can find. When I started shooting 15 years ago that was what I was always doing, so it's almost a way of getting back to where it all began and that tends to reinvigorate me.
9. What keeps you motivated?
Simply put a need and desire for progress, a need/desire to connect with others, and proving to myself that I can stay persistent and go beyond any previous personally-constructed limitations/doubts. Coming from Iowa, an area about as removed from the world of Fine Art as one can be, I've always felt like I had something to prove or fight against. Showcasing the artistic beauty and expressive authenticity that can grow from seemingly vacant areas, and using my art as a way to be the voice/vision I needed in my youth also help keep me motivated and moving forward.
10. What are your top goals as a fine art photographer?
I've actually surpassed a lot of my goals I set for myself in my college years, but at this point my major goal is to be able to exhibit my work on a level where I no longer have to work a day job in addition to my fine art career. I am currently working in a photographic position, so it could be worse, but to "quit the day job" to focus only on my art I think is the big tangible goal.
My other continual goal, in a perceptually-based sense, is to showcase imagery which evokes a level of detachment subtle enough for most people to connect with and through that connection prove on a perceptual level just how related we actually are.