Ft. and Interview in the Identity Issue of Subvrt Magazine.
1. You have been self-described as an 'abstract fashion photographer', and your work explores a range of alternative themes. How do you come up with your ideas & what inspires you in your creative process?
When I say abstract I mean I’m pulling concepts from the traditional noosphere of fashion and photography but presenting them from a different angle. I usually don’t start developing concepts and sets until I have the fashion and styling lined up. I like creating an environment that offers a polarity to the designs I shoot so the contrast between environment and fashion is visible.
2. Los Angeles is a melting pot of unique personalities and identities, yet you have managed to tap into a very niche group of people, some who have a strong social media presence. How do you find your subjects to shoot?
I’ve been living and working in Los Angeles for about 3 years now and I’ve made most of my connections through my work. Usually when I shoot a runway show or fashion presentation I always make an effort to introduce myself to the designers and models after each show and develop a relationship from there. A lot of the models I work with now I initially met through taking a runway or lookbook photo of them. I’m very selective with who I work with in general. I try to focus on featuring and working with members from the local queer community, as well as, people who aren’t considered conventional models, makeup artists and designers. My main focus has always been working with inspiring designers, they always have such a well developed image and concept for their brands and I enjoy helping them realize that in photo editorials. Who I choose to collaborate with really is half the work of producing meaningful content.
3. The increased visibility and popularity of social media has made it so much easier to connect with creatives worldwide. How has this had an impact on yourself as an artist, and your digital identity?
Before I lived in Los Angeles I lived in Salt Lake City, Utah and I really didn’t have a lot of people around me or in the local art community that thought my work was worthwhile. Everyone was super critical and the only place I would get praise was on social media. Usually from designers and models living in places like New York, Los Angeles and Berlin. So in that sense social media has had a pretty big impact on my work and life, pushing me to aim higher, relocate and connect with people and brands who see my photography as something of value.
4. How apparent is 'urban identity' (dwelling in a city defining a person's identity) for you living in LA, and do you think this has had any impact on your work?
I think in general where you live affects your art a lot more than you might think. My photography practice started in an area that was more wild with idyllic natural scenery, the only downside was that Utah is a lot more culturally repressed. Living in Los Angeles I feel free to be my authentic self without judgements and that freedom has elevated my work. In general there is more diversity, developed brands and clients to work with here.
5. A range of your work features melancholy undertones that are almost gothic and eerie in nature. Is this in any way a reflection of a dystopian view on the bleak state of humanity?
If bleak and dystopian is the way some people interpret my work, I’m glad it's resonating with them, and it reflects something interesting about this moment in time in our culture. I definitely focus on tones of melancholy and eeriness in my images, especially when I shoot editorials outdoors. I pull a lot of my inspiration from this idea in my head of a peaceful post-apocalyptic world that’s very cultish and dark at the same time. I think my style stems from a sort of response and critique of the imagery and artwork I was bombarded with in my childhood, growing up in Utah as a Mormon; It was all very sterile and dysphoric and always creeped me out. But my work comes from an instinctual place; it isn’t meant to teach or preach anything.
6. Digital manipulation constitutes a large part of your image aesthetic. What is your intention in distorting, overlaying & transforming already unique personalities?
I really like stripping my subjects down and removing the facades they have created for themselves on the internet. With distortion and effects I am able to make the subject almost unrecognizable from their internet identities and to their followers. I just think it's interesting to paint someone in a completely different light than the way they usually paint themselves.
7. Are there any artists or photographers that you would consider your role models?
I look up to designers the most out of any art form, as well as some musicians and a few photographers. Designers I’ve been obsessing with lately are Gypsy Sport, Weslah, Phlemuns, Hood By Air, Demobaza and Iris Van Herpen. Lately I can’t stop listening to Sevdaliza, Nguzunguzu, NxxxxxS, Lorn, Fatima Al Qadiri, Blank Banshee, Abra and Tommy Genesis. As for photography, I’ve always been Inspired by Juergen Teller and I really love the work of Ren Hang and Synchrodogs; they all have such unique points of view.
8. What are some upcoming projects you are working on?
I’m working on a large scale portrait series called ‘Color Study’. It's a very up close and personal portrait series with minimal styling, usually just fabric, paint and colors gels with the incorporation of distortion and double exposure photography techniques. I’m going to have an art show in Los Angeles within the next year with an accompanying zine featuring all of the images from the series I have collected over the past year.