Saturday, 18 June 2011

Karen Prosen

Karen Prosen
Orlando, USA

The majority of your work is composed of portraiture. What do you enjoy most about working together with models/friends/family?

Everyone I know is beautiful and I love showing people that aspect of themselves. It's like being a mirror for someone, and saying, "Did you know that this is the way I see you?" I automatically feel closer to someone after photographing them.

Parallel to photography, you are also running an art project called "Something greater than yourself". What was the initial idea behind this?

This idea came after processing a few years of spiritual transitions I went through. In college I had the opportunity to be a Spiritual Care intern at a children's hospital where I witnessed people from all different walks of life caring for others without any judgment whatsoever. That's when I realized how important spiritual tolerance is to me, and I decided to start collecting people's transcendent experiences from all over the world and find other photographers to submit their work that told the stories visually. It's my way of bringing people together while still working with my aesthetics. All the photos I curate have a dreamy quality that remind me of the transitions I went through, exploring alternate states of consciousness. If anyone wants to be a part of it, I'd love that....

Looking at your sets on flickr, I noticed that you have been working with a number of different analogue cameras. Which has been your favorite so far?

My favorite is my Yashica Mat 124g. I've found that when I have my favorite 35mm camera and also my Yashica Mat 124g with me while I'm out or traveling, I end up shooting 35mm for things that I like or something that won't last long. But when it's something that I love I always shoot with my Yashica because I can take my time and I really appreciate its delicacy. I'm ashamed to say but I'm really clumsy and I've dropped my canon Ae1 several times and I've only dropped my Yashica once.

Do you also like to experiment with different films?

I'll shoot anything I can get my hands on. Sometimes this backfires on me, like when I pick up some really expired film at a garage sale and the photos come back so distorted when I feel that they'd be so much better if the film was crisper. When I have the money I love to shoot with Elite Chrome, Astia 100f and Portra NC.

And where does that leave digital photography? Are there fields or moments you prefer this medium?

I've never had a digital camera. I've picked up a few of my friends' and the instant gratification is so surprising that sometimes I feel like it would be useful to me, but I really prefer the mystery of waiting to develop my film. The light leaks, the depth of field.... they're just not possible with digital. Maybe someday though, I've been known to change my mind easily. I have a feeling that the next time I save up enough money it will go towards a Hasselblad, not a digital camera. A girl can dream!

Back to portraiture: how do you gain confidence and trust in your models?

That's a good question because I normally only shoot my friends who are obviously already comfortable with me. The way I shoot doesn't involve a whole lot of planning or anything like that since I bring my cameras almost everywhere. I'm usually just in a moment with someone and then I'll ask them either not to move or to adjust their position to fit whatever I had caught a glimpse of. I already know I can take a moment and shoot in a way that shows how I feel, but I'd actually like to start shooting more things that involve creation from start to finish, because I think my perspective will grow a lot more, not to mention I could learn how to connect that way with my models.

And would you say that the communication between photographer and model should be a balanced dialogue or does it sometimes have to be based on the photographer's initiative(s)?

I've been on both sides of the camera and I was a model before I became a photographer so from both perspectives, communication and some type of connection is really important. But ultimately as a model you're completely subject to the photographer's initiative. I noticed a pattern of usually being disappointed at how a photographer interpreted me, the set, the styling, etc. and eventually realized it was just because I had a different voice and could do it my own way.

Finally, is there something that has been inspiring you a lot lately?

The influx of love I've been experiencing after coming home from being on contract for three months in Mexico City. I lived in an apartment with no windows and few people that understood me, not to mention doing work that was frustrating and far from my values and goals. The transition back to fresh air is doing something to me.

Enlightened portraiture, take a look at her work!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Levi Jackson

Levi Jackson

Having studied Sculpture in university, one might say that you come from a slightly different background than most artists engaging in photography. How did you get involved in photography?

I used to have hopes of being a photographer before I attended college so I learned some practical skills during that time. I really tried to learn the basics of composition and the fundamentals that I needed to posses in regard to the camera, so that I could take focus on what I was doing instead of how I was doing it.  The way I came to use it exclusively was more out of necessity than desire. I was doing these sculptures in remote locations by myself.  So the only way for me to show that my work even existed was to document it. That being said I obviously have some work that is very tied to photography because I do long exposure/time based projects that really can only exist via the camera. The second part to this question is that I do sculpture in school mostly because it acts as a "catch-all" for me. Saying, "I am a sculpture student" basically translates to “I don't really know what I do but at least I don't have to worry about it”. I used to get really bent out of shape when people would classify me as a photographer, but over the last couple years I realized that it really doesn't matter and that it is more of a compliment than anything.

A slightly provocative question: is "Documented Installation" simply and only a documentation? What lies behind this series?

You are going to hate this answer. I don't know that I have a good answer to this one, it is a tough one and it is talked about a lot in the art world. I don't want to split hair with definitions. This is the best "definition" that I personally have been able to come up with over the years for what I do: For me, I don't feel like my work is just documentation, but then again it is. The photograph is not the installation but then is it art? I don't know. For the most part it is what people see. I don't know if I worry about it too much anymore - maybe I should. Maybe I am just scared.

And if we moved beyond the pictures, what are the major thoughts behind these installations?

The major thought that transcends all of my work is relational existence. I am interested in asking questions about what it means to be in existence with other things, people, and thoughts. I find relationships to be one of the most important things as a person because so much is changed by them and through them. In general that is the thought but some of my work has specifics to it that may not all fall in that mould.

Between working outdoors and indoors, what do you prefer more?

The quick answer is outside. I really like doing gallery installations but I find that I work better outside. There are a lot more things to fight outside which helps me to be patient. Sometimes I have to wait several hours for the light to get right for a photograph. In the gallery it seems that I have more control.

You have been working in a number of artist collaborations. What do you cherish most about these?

I don't do a lot of collaborating when it comes to actually making the art. I do however talk to other artists very frequently to see what they think. Without other people and their input I don't think my art would be very successful.  Being able to share ideas and concepts with others is a valuable thing. Being challenged and told my ideas are wrong is a humbling and pretty awful experience, but it helps me to see how others view my work. Finding people/artists who will give you honest thoughts on your artwork is invaluable.

Would you say that meaning could shift a lot within conceptual art from the initial idea until the final art piece?

For the artist or for the viewer? For the viewer I think it is like any type of art. People are going to see things in the art that they want to see as well as understand it based on their own context(s). That being said, I do think that especially in conceptual art it is important to give limitations to the viewer so that you can help them get where you want them to go. Titles become really important for me in doing this, along with limiting distractions in the image(s). I also think that conceptual art demands a lot from the viewer. I don't mean "conceptual art" only, but any art with an overt concept. If there is thinking behind the piece, that means there is a more in-depth investment for the viewer.  That may be a good rule in life, not just for art.

Do you think that every artist's work is a 'product' of his or her time?

I sure hope so.

What are you working on currently?

I have a show coming up in October. The show deals with intentions and thoughts coupled with responsibility. The questions of if we are responsible for our intentions, thoughts and feelings and how/if they affect those around us.  I am doing some more 'documented installations' lately, as well. But those are still forthcoming.

Finally, any upcoming artists you have discovered recently?

Davey Hawkins is a buddy of mine that is making really good artwork in video and installation. Alexy Tiraenko isn't upcoming, but is someone I really like lately. I have been looking a lot more at photojournalists instead of fine-artists. There is something I like about photojournalism that I would like to use in my artwork. But maybe that is a contradiction. And, I just thought of another artist that is pretty up and coming who I look at: his name is Nick van Woert. He is a sculptor and a very good one at that.

Maybe the question isn't about documentation or reformulation. Take a look at his work!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Eva Mª González López

Eva Mª González López
Granada, Spain

When I looked at your flickr for the very first time, my initial thought was that it reminded me of fashion photography. Is this something that you are interested in?

Yes, the truth is that it has a touch of fashion photography, but I actually like to focus on only one style. And I also like landscapes photography, still life, and I engage in producing self-portraits. I have everything on my radar, and I think I have a lot left to learn: so although I would like to concentrate on one theme, I often tend to include many more in my work.

In your resumé you write that melancholy is an important theme in your work. What does melancholy signify to you personally?

The best pictures I've made ​​portray sad moments in my life. Maybe this sadness helps me to convey more, it enables me to create pictures with a touch of a dreamlike, unreal imagery. I get inspired to use light in different ways. For me, sadness is an ideal assistant.

You concentrate on soft colours and shapes, and therefore enjoy working with film more. Are there further reasons why you prefer analogue photography?

Mainly because it to me is much more magical to not know how it will all turn look on film: if the colours will come out right and if the focus was correct. Also because I can keep the memories on negatives and not on a chip ... for many reasons, I guess. So although I like to use digital cameras, too, it still cannot compare with the outcome of photos taken on film.

Next to the notion of melancholy, I felt that your work often also carries strong romantic imagery. Between girls, would you say that this almost a "girly" or female perspective in photography?

Yes, it’s true that my work has a strong feminine touch. That is also because my life is that way, I am very feminine and I find all that encompasses the world of women very interesting. I like to express the femininity that girls have. Maybe that's also why not many guys appear in my work. I usually have no guys not around me, and I dislike their world.

You write that for you photography is your "window to the world". What do you mean by that?

It's my way of showing the world the way that I am, my way to demonstrate my day-to-day life. For me, everything around me is a huge desert of asphalt, which I am trying to escape. I wish to preserve my innocence in a society that seems to be losing that specific quality. I have this vision of my own city, cast against this vast desert of desolate asphalt. It’s a futile resistance against the loss of innocence for me. It’s about fleeing to dreamy places, into magic. Places where loneliness is my only company, somewhere I can be myself completely.

Do you find the idea of perfection boring?

Of course. I don’t like studying images, for example, and I don´t like to play with artificial light. I think that the magic of photography lies mainly in light settings, which to me of course should consist of natural light. I feel more fulfilled when I work in open spaces and outdoors as opposed to using artificial lights in studios or shooting with flash.

Indeed you often accentuate your pictures through different light settings. How do you proceed more often: with an experimental or with a  focussed and determined approach?

It depends. Sometimes I have very clear idea about what I want to see in the picture and prepare everything in advance: the light, and the place, the type of film and the camera. But sometimes result stems out of spontaneity or chance, and I get a magical light in pictures without having prepared anything beforehand.

Finally, where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Oh, I don’t know. I would love engage in photography, but in a society where anyone can have a camera and take pictures, that is quite complicated. I am content to know people like my work even if I have to work in another profession in order to eat. I sure will not stop taking pictures ever, because it is something that I love.

Escapism and romanticism. Take a look at her work!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Julie Lánsöm

Julie Lánsöm
Paris, France

You wrote me that you got involved into photography, because you wanted to "jog your own bad memory". Now, something that has often happened to me: Does it ever happen that you can't remember where or when a picture was taken?

No, it actually never happened to me, that's why taking photos is a perfect cure. I have a visual memory, I remember everything about the photos I took, even what I felt when I did. But I remember nothing in life, apart from the lyrics of shitty songs. I don't know what's wrong with me. I think my memory is some kind of a joker and it’s having fun by embarrassing me.

Often images convey different stories than the actual situations/objects they are showing. Do you feel that this can be one of the attractive sides to visual art?

Yes, probably. It can make things prettier, stronger, sadder, etc. That's an interesting thing about it. But photography is also interesting in its capacity to show reality. Of course that's not the case when you set up things, make effects or edit the photos afterwards; but it can be amazing when it's a pure representation of a situation, a person or a moment. These are the two aspects I like about it.

And where would you generally situate photography among visual arts, in terms of its "truthfulness"?

Fuck, I think I answered a bit of this question in the previous one.

I am very much enchanted by the strong expressions you capture in your portraiture. Is this one of your motivations when shooting models and/or family and friends?

I never shoot anybody that I don't really know. I'm an amateur psychologist and I'm always looking for who people deeply are, not only in photography. That's why I only take photos of my close friends, or family. I always manage to make them feel comfortable, and they're now used to it. This is when photography becomes cool: when people stop being conscious about the fact that a camera is there, and (almost) forget it. And sometimes it works well when my friends are feeling really good and are being "too much" in front of the camera, in their poses or expressions. What we don't see on the photos is how much we're taking the piss out of each other when that happens.

The majority of your photos were taken outdoors. Is there a specific reason for this?

I only take photos indoors when I have an idea or a project that I want to realize. Otherwise, I find it quite boring and don't feel very inspired by it. I live in Paris so we all have very small flats. It would be different if we had amazing apartments, went to an old hospital, Versailles, or a castle but we never do. Also, I love the sunlight. There are so many things to do with it in photography, and it offers so much in its changings. And I turned into a fucking hippie since I moved to the big cities, I miss my countryside and thus became obsessed with nature.

You also have a blog where you display other photographers' works. What catches your eye most when browsing through art collections yourself?

I couldn't say. There are so many things. It could be a face, a landscape, a color. At the moment I have a huge weakness for portraits of old persons. Sometimes I even want to cry just by seeing it. It's stupid but it’s incredible how strong their facial expressions can be. I could stare at the photos, or at them in real life, for ages. I'm trying to find something else. I'm a bit bored by the photos we see everywhere and that are big successes on the Internet. Those often are the same ones, and they're often really cheesy and shallow (or show a butt or a nipple). Actually, my friend Amandine and I defined some examples of theses photos and we're sometimes trying to imitate them in order to see if it really works to get the same attention. And trust me, it does.

You mentioned that you are more interested in colors than shapes. Can you explain further?

I realized that colors versus shapes often make the difference between what girls and guys prefer in photography. Guys seem to be more into shapes, lines, perspectives, and all these architectural things, whereas girls rarely pay attention to such things. It probably reveals something about men and women’s natures, but that would be too long and boring to analyze here. So well, yes, this is what I noticed. When I was a kid I wanted to be a "colorist". I don't even know if this job exists but I wanted to color stuff. This is what I like, even in the way I dress (-up?).

Also, would you argue that it is it is "easier" visualizing atmospheres and/or emotions with colors?

I don't know, I think strong lines can also portray strong emotions. I'm just not so sensitive to them, so probably I am not really good at it.

Do you enjoy employing symbolism in your work?

I don't really think about it. But sometimes it happens without planning or even without being conscious about it. I'm not trying to intellectualize photography. I'm not really into all this "conceptual art". I don't get it. I'm sure it sometimes goes too far and people are seeing things in other people's work, which hadn’t even been part of the artist's intention. It can be ridiculous. I don't want to start doing that; I'm too lazy anyway. I'd rather stay focused on feelings.

Visualization of the subconscious? Take a look at her work!