You have a very specific sense of aesthetics. What influences have shaped you?
That’s an interesting question because I feel like every time I answer it I don’t know what to say. Sometimes I feel like I do have an aesthetic and then sometimes I feel like it all fades away. When I started learning photography I would spend lots of weekends sitting on the photography rows at books stores looking through Sante D’Orazio, Ellen von Unwerth and Herb Ritts books; all the while getting glared at by the adults walking around me seeing this punker teenager looking at naked ladies. I love the drama of the women they shot. They didn’t simply take a photo, it felt like a frozen melodramatic moment and I love that. I think that shaped my aesthetic the most even if I try to avoid it. Its shaped things like my love of contrast, slightly wide angles, and strong lighting; but all while not feeling like a studio.
How did you begin photographing?
I started getting into photography when I was about 15 years old, mainly cause I was somewhat drawn to art but couldn’t really paint or draw and I was drawn to the mix of mechanics, science and art that is photography. It also was the only way I could take naked pictures of my girlfriend at the time. Then I took about 10 years off when I went to college and grad school for filmmaking. I decided it was too hard to try to push photography and filmmaking forward. I felt like shooting moving pictures was a different skill set than shooting static ones, so I packed up all my cameras for about 10 years. I got back into photography the way most people do these days, though my iPhone. I was shooting that everyday and started wanting to shoot more and more. Having a kind of mind numbing job in the film industry, photography presented itself as an artistic alternative to my day job and coincidentally a buddy of mine was starting an art magazine and asked me to shoot for them; so I got out the cameras.
Are the models friends of yours or do you cast them? How easy or difficult is it finding the right person?
Its more models than friends, but Ive definitely shot friends of mine. Generally speaking I love working with people that inspire me in some way; and are comfortable in front of a camera. They don’t have to be a model to do that, they simply may have a look that I find interesting. For all my shoots I collaborate with my girlfriend who is a stylist (Julie Sharpe) and so lots of times she’ll see someone, or I will, and then we start to talk about her and what we like, and what we see her in and it grows from there. For me I don’t really worry about it being the “right person” because we develop our ideas around the person that we saw something interesting in. Often times we become good friends with the models and then end up shooting them multiple times when we visit them as friends. Thats probably the best part of photography, meeting new creative people to befriend and collaborate with.
Is there something you would hate to photograph?
I think there is a LOT of things I would hate to photograph. When I got back into photography I made the rule I would only shoot what interested me and I do it how I wanted to, which mainly meant on film and polaroid. Though the more I look at photography that I thought I would hate, like wedding photography, there are some really amazing wedding photographers that make me think I was wrong. But, to answer your question I don’t think I could EVER be a paparazzi. Im too polite. I could never impose on people like that. I have a REALLY hard time taking pictures of products, not because I don’t like it, but because its REALLY HARD! I wouldn’t even hate doing that, I just think it would be a big challenge. Theres a really interesting art to great product photography that I think a lot of people miss.
What’s coming next? What are you doing at the moment?
For 2014 I decided I wanted to try a few new projects. To expand my work I started a 365 Days of Leica project which is kind of a casual look into the things I see everyday in my life captured. Its more of a look at my world through my eyes, or my Leica, than my “photography” per say. Its kind of a return to how I started with photography and its been a fun challenge. I also have been shooting a couple new projects with the shoots I have planned this year so Ill be excited to reveal those at some upcoming art shows. Beyond that, whats next is whatever comes my way!
Interview by Emma E. K. Jones