Monday, May 28, 2007

Brain Map

-- from Brain Map - (?)
I don't know how other people work, but for me, sometimes the idea comes before the understanding and I have to dissect my own thoughts to figure out what I mean. In this case, I knew I wanted to photograph my face and hair submerged within two liquids, different enough to be told apart, to signify some kind of duality. Initially, I thought of milk and red food coloring but then found oil in my cupboard and suddenly nothing else would do. With a single high-watt bulb pointing down at me and my camera on a tripod in front of me, I began the disgusting process of dipping my face and hair in a pan of milk and oil. Looking at the image now, I see a person who has a contradictory nature but is looking toward the light of a wiser place, though at the time, it was just gross. But this shoot was actually very important for me because it's when I first started to appreciate getting messy for the sake of art.

-- from Brain Map - (?)
This was a great day. A group of friends and I drove out into the middle of nowhere, off the highway and toward the mountains until we were completely secluded, surrounded by dirt and starving plants. We shot a lot that day - using both guns and cameras; my first time with the former. After watching the destruction of a computer monitor, some jugs of colorful soda, and a couple television sets, I got out the box of broken mirror pieces which I had brought with me (originally created for a separate project I still haven't finished) and began setting them up in a spontaneous design at the foot of a bush then asked my friend, the lovely Ari, to pose for me in an attempt to, pretentious as it sounds, experiment with the idea of shattered self-perception and seeing yourself reflected in unexpected places. Afterward, I left the mirror pieces there for someone else to find.

1: How long have you been involved in photography?
I never really thought much of my relationship with the camera until my high school photography teacher, Mr. Kerr, took an interest in my work. There was one photograph in particular, of a child's playground submerged in water after a strong rain, that he believed in enough to secretly enter in a minor competition within the school. After winning that, the photo went on to win a district-wide competition and a small article was written about me in a local paper. If not for that teacher's psychological influence I don't know what would've become of me in terms of photography. I like to think I would be pursuing it regardless, but sometimes it takes someone else seeing your potential before you're able to open your own eyes to it.

2: Equipment you use?
Several months ago I purchased a Nikon D80 after getting by for years on point-and-shoots and an old Olympus film camera that stopped working long ago. As far as lenses, I use a Nikon 50mm f/1.8 and a Nikon 24-120mm (the latter being my general preference). And as far as light, my collection is sorely lacking. Beyond my SB-600 Speedlight, I'll sometimes borrow an old light stand from a friend or use cheap flashlights and my good friend the sun.

3: Mac or PC?
I currently own a mind-numbingly slow PC but prefer Macs.

4: What inspires you?
I'm not sure there's any way to answer this without sounding terribly pretentious, but the truth is that, well, the muse can spring from any thing at any time but, no matter what the medium, what has noticeably inspired me the most is pain. When happy there's nothing to purge, nothing I want to get rid of, but when in pain - that's when I do most of my thinking, that's when I require an outlet, that's when I'm overflowing, that's when The Need is at its strongest. Not that I can pretend - or even want to pretend - that every image has deep meaning. Sometimes I'm just indulging my silly side, and there's value in that, sometimes pressing that button is all the release I require, but I think every art form is at its most powerful when the person who created it needed to.

"A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song."

5: Preferred subject matter?
6: Name one thing you haven't caught with the camera that you REALLY want to capture.
Real tears.

7: When in doubt about your art, who do you confide in?
There's a few close friends who I'm able to confide in, but there's one memory in particular I always remind myself of when I need to talk myself out of giving up: Prior to my birth my mother was going to school to become a fashion designer and, throughout her life, had always drawn. After becoming pregnant with me she quit college and never went back. As a child, I used to bring her pencils and paper and beg her to draw but she never would. Years later, I asked her why she stopped. She simply said, "I lost my confidence." It sounds silly but I decided, after thinking about it, that no matter how insecure I got I wouldn't let it stop me because, ultimately, it doesn't matter if I'm any good as long as I'm sincere.

"The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best."

8: Qualifications/training in anything? ie: Photoshop
Beyond that high school photography class (which really didn't benefit me at all on a technical level), I have no official training and, in all honesty, little knowledge. Fortunately, a beautiful friend of mine, also the model reflected in the second image above, is going to Brooks Institute of Photography and recently gave me my first lesson in Photoshop. In this day and age, it opens up a whole new world to understand software and I can't wait to learn more.

9: Plans for the future?
This is the most difficult question for me to answer because the absolute truth is I just don't know. Ideally, I'd love to be able to just bring all the ideas in my head to life and to somehow be able to make enough money doing so, that I can spend my time on this earth living freely. But it's the rare person who gets to live that kind of life, and it can't be expected, but I'm afraid that if photography became a job it would cease being a passion so I'm hesitant to pursue anything professional, anything beyond me expressing my own ideas. So I don't really know what to aim for yet but I'm generally optimistic that someday I'll figure it out.

10: In one word, describe your photography.

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