Issue One - October 17th 2012
What made you fall in love with photography?
I've been telling stories all my life and was encouraged to pursue writing as a kid because I had such a wild imagination and a very clear sense of direction with my ideas. when I found I could say things with images that I couldn't with words, it was like discovering a new world or learning another language - one that I was entirely in control of but also completely powerless to modify. Photography is incredible in that sense…you have control over absolutely everything and nothing at the same time.
How do you keep your passion for photography going?
I think my biggest influence is day-to-day interaction with the world around me. I record ideas everywhere: receipts, text messages to myself, and in TextEdit documents on my computer. I use TextEdit in the way that many people use a journal (though I also record things in a real Moleskine and love it dearly).
It can be hard to stay motivated and keep making new work, especially when so many obligations seem to take priority (ie: work and school), but to combat that, I try to shoot every day. in that sense I suppose it would be accurate to say that Instagram acts as another form of journaling for me, and so often I'll find myself using Instagram shots as 'sketches' for final, more developed concepts. inspiration is an elusive beast, but I think you have to always be open to the search. most of the time, the searching process takes you somewhere unexpected and that's how great work happens.
What do you want your photography to do to people?
I want my work to motivate people to seek the possibility in their own worlds and create change. How they do that and what exactly that means is hard to define, because I want it to be a giant question mark, a fill-in-the-blank question on the test with no wrong answer. I have a folder in my gmail inbox called "these make me smile" and I put emails there that come to me from people who have written to say that my work has sparked an idea for their own projects, and sometimes they link me to the project so I can see. That kind of emails keeps me going.
Help-portrait project? What made you decide to do this and what is it?
Help-Portrait is a worldwide movement celebrating the gift of photography. It happens around the world every year and is organized by photographers who choose to do an event in their area. I've been organizing Help-Portrait events since the movement began in 2009. The idea is simple: photographers donate their time and talent to make portraits of people who might not otherwise have the opportunity or the means to have professional portraits made. I like to print the portraits immediately to give to the subjects (as many as can be done in a day, anyway). It's awesome and just the most humbling experience. Check out www.help-portrait.com for more info!
Favorite series of photos you've taken and why?
Right now my favorite series of photos that I've done is a body of work titled "Flight Lessons". The shoot was put together at the very last minute in under two days, and it all came together so beautifully (vintage props, multiple locations, the model, et. al) - I don't think I'll ever get that lucky again! Aside from the logistical aspect of it, it was also just a ton of fun. I was working with my very good friend and fellow photographer, John Taylor - he always contributes this wonderful level of energy and quirky enthusiasm to every project.
How has MICA helped you to become a better photographer? How has moving from Florida to Maryland influenced you?
I never had much formal art training prior to RISD and MICA. My high school experience was very academic. But I was lucky enough to take digital art classes with an incredible teacher, Gena Harriman, who really pushed me to do more with my work. I ended up being the first graduate from my high school to attend a private art college. RISD and MICA absolutely transformed every notion I had about art and photography, as well as how I viewed my process. The geographical changes put me in a place that caused me to question everything I knew, and much of my work still deals with notions of home and travel. I think it's so, so vital for every artist, regardless of medium, to open themselves to situations of enormous change - it's the only way to really access this other side of yourself that only emerges when you can't be defined by what's familiar anymore. Take the leap.