My creative process involves a lot of walking around aimlessly and looking for details that catch my eye – things that otherwise would go unnoticed. I am currently on a year-long journey with my wife, so my surroundings are often places that tourists visit en masses such as beaches, temples, etc. In my most recent work, I can see how you might think it’s related to the beach but far from it. I think there are elements of the beach like the ladies in the water, the palm trees with the old man taking a photo, and the portrait of the man on the beach. However, I think the common theme here is leisure and tourism. Miami, where my other two series on my website were taken, relies mostly on tourism for survival and therefore those elements of leisure/tourism are evident in all of my photos. Again, a product of my surroundings. So my connection and what draws me to photograph these things is the bad clothing, sun worn skin, the colors of leisure – bad prints, optic yellows, that all get amplified with the sun.
My relationship to the beach and the series on my website is part due to the fact that I lived in South Beach and part because I love the subject matter associated with the beach. The beach brings out a relaxed quality in people and some things which might otherwise be unacceptable anywhere else in society are perfectly ok on the beach. The beach is very democratic in that you can find a billionaire and a janitor all in the same place, and I love that. It’s a place where people feel comfortable being half naked and worshipping the sun. People eat there, sleep there, play games, listen to music and let their guard down.
My intention in a lot of my photos is for the subject to not be looking. I like to juxtapose the environment in the photo through clothing or any other element to create something graphically interesting. I’m not going for anything pleasing to the eye in the traditional sense instead I try to capture things that might go unnoticed and show them in a different way. For example, night photography of a lifeguard station lit up at night or a hard flash on a tired motel room in Vietnam.
I am inspired by night landscapes, odd humans, dystopia, tackiness, isolation, gloss, old people, minimalism, contrasts, suburbanism, and banality, among others. I think I am fascinated by old people because of the style of clothing, the activities they take part in, the way they hold their cameras when taking photos, the texture of their skin. It’s difficult to explain, really.
I like to think my work has a very graphic quality to it. I love lines, patterns, textures that all come together to make something interesting. Isolation and negative space play an important way in which I compose my images. I either look for a main object or a certain focus in a photo and try to isolate it as much as possible to create my own reality. Context is very important and I am always looking to photograph something and change the way the viewer sees it. Banal and mundane elements are things I really like to look for when out photographing. I’m hoping that the viewer might say “Hey, I like this image, I know exactly what it is and it shouldn’t be that interesting, but it is.”
One of the annoying aspects of the creative process for me is staying inspired and challenging self-doubt. Is this good work? Is this cohesive? Is this good enough? Questions I’m sure a lot of artists ask themselves at one point or another. Self-doubt can happen when you end up comparing yourself to all the great work out there. Although it’s nice to recognize other people’s work, it’s important to stay true to your style and vision. If I start feeling that way I remind myself that everyone is different and that is what makes art such a wonderful thing.
I enjoy going on long walks and photograph what I find interesting. Even if I come back with nothing on my camera or get the film developed and it’s complete shit, the process of being out there brings me a lot of happiness. It’s therapeutic to just walk and observe, I just get lost in my own little world.
I think a lot of my work has a sort of comedy to it. I am a huge fan of Martin Parr and to say that he hasn’t influenced my work would be a flat out lie. In addition to this comical aspect, I try to approach the elements in my work in a very graphic way. I look for patterns and environments that clash or are related and create something visually interesting that someone would never think to photograph. My list of influences and heroes of photography are endless but some of the classics aside from Martin Parr, are Stephen Shore, Andreas Gursky, Juergen Teller, Michal Chelbin, and Nan Goldin – all for obvious reasons that I won’t go into.
One of the most important things I’ve heard and that has influenced my photography comes from Erik Kessels. He said one of the things that make a great photo is raising questions. How, where, why, and in what context was this image created? “Questions and curiosity are good elements for making a great image”. I try to implement this way of thinking in a lot of my work.