A few months ago, I attended a talk that Dan Winters gave at the Smithsonian and one of the things that struck me straight away was the language he used to describe his relationship to his work. I've been a fan for years and own a few of his books, but I never had the opportunity to hear him speak before. There's such emotion and romance in how he relates to his work, especially in the making or the doing as he calls it. Words like "reverence" and "gratitude" are used often and as you'll hear in this conversation, these aren't simply buzzwords. They apply equally whether he's shooting a campaign for a client or walking by himself through the streets of New York with a 50mm lens and a few rolls of Tri-X. There's an incredible authenticity to Dan that seems to pervade his entire life, from the work that he does to the people and things he surrounds himself with. I asked Dan where his love of making began and how he stays connected to it 30 years in.
In 1976, William Eggleston opened his first color show at MoMA, the reviews were fairly polarized. To some of the art establishment, color photography was for snapshots and not to be taken seriously and black and white was the only true photographic art form. But while one critic called the show perfectly banal, another called it a milestone and said that after it black and white would seem slightly quaint and precious. In the 40 years since, it's almost impossible, at least for me, to imagine a photographic world without color. Don't get me wrong, I love black and white and spent years shooting only black and white but there's something to be said for the work of photographers like Fred Herzog, Steve McCurry and Saul Leiter. We see in color and when it's done right, photography can help us see our world differently through color, which is one of the things I love about the work of Ben Thomas. In Ben's series Chroma, color becomes almost a character, a necessary element to help communicate the narrative behind the work. When I first saw it, I knew I wanted to talk to him. What I found is that each series that he's done over the past several years is an exploration of composition, texture and color and it all began with a project called Cityshrinker.
I can't tell you what the first photograph that I ever saw by Gregory Crewdson was, but I do remember very clearly how it made me feel — how I connected to this world. Unlike any other photographer I can think of off the top of my head, this was instantly familiar to me. This world was familiar; the plights and the struggles that these characters seemed to be going through were very much my own. Feelings of disconnect, feelings of isolation — and feelings of hope and possibility that those feelings would pass — that they were stepping stones or bridges to something better. This work resonated with me, and still does, on a very deep level. In this conversation, Gregory and I discuss his brilliant new body of work, Cathedral of the Pines, as well as the very personal journey he had to undertake to bring it to life.
GREGORY CREWDSON The Haircut, 2014 Digital Pigment Print Image size 37 1/2 x 50 inches (95.3 x 127 cm) Framed size 45 1/16 x 57 9/16 inches (114.5 x 146.2 cm) Edition of 3, plus 2 APs ©Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.
GREGORY CREWDSON Woman at Sink, 2014 Digital Pigment Print Image size 37 1/2 x 50 inches (95.3 x 127 cm) Framed size 45 1/16 x 57 9/16 inches (114.5 x 146.2 cm) Edition of 3, plus 2 APs ©Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.
In this episode, I'm sitting down with Sam Faulkner, a photographer from the UK who for the last five years has been making portraits of reenactors for a project called Unseen Waterloo. I saw a couple images from the project at Paris Photo LA and was just blown away, so I reached out to Sam and asked if we could have a conversation about how the project came about and what inspired him to make the transition from conflict photojournalist to fine art photographer.
- NOTE: There are a couple spots in the conversation where you may notice some mic noise on Sam's end — it sounds like the shuffling of papers. There's such great conversation around it that I've attempted to minimize it as much as possible in lieu of simply removing it. I hope it's not too much of a distraction.
"I became more and more interested in...the idea of photography. Not the technique of photography, but the idea of what photography is about and the role photography plays in our visual understanding of situations or issue or an event."
All images © Sam Faulkner. Used with permission.
In 2009 when photographer David duChemin released his first book Within The Frame, the former comedian had no idea what adding author to his resume would do to his career trajectory, saying "I think sometimes other people can peg that about us before we're willing to say so about ourselves." He followed up Within the Frame with TEN, an ebook that not only inspired photographers to improve their craft without buying gear, it also helped him launch his publishing company Craft & Vision. Now, more than twenty ebooks later, David has released his eighth print book, called A Beautiful Anarchy, which eschews the genre-specific pursuit of photographic vision and instead looks to unpack the deeper levels of the creativity that drives it. In this conversation, David and I discuss how leading a creative life is about more than just making art. We also talk about motivation, intent and how we can learn to repurpose some of the fears and failures that hold each of us back into fuel to help us move forward. It’s a fascinating conversation that I’m sure you’ll love.
After his business imploded, Dalton Campbell decided he needed a change. He sold everything he owned, packed a single backpack of clothes and essentials, grabbed his camera and left for Europe without any sort of agenda, other than to take photographs until the money ran out. His three-month trip took him to Portugal, Spain, Belgium and the French Riviera and when he returned, the resulting photo series, called Travelers, helped to launch a new career as a portrait photographer. In this conversation we talk about letting go of fear, not getting dragged down by failure and the importance of being present in the moment.
A unique photographic style is one of the benchmarks of a great photographer. In 2007, Tom Hoops, was working as a web designer in Thailand, unfamiliar with names like Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, or Paolo Roversi. But, after borrowing a friend’s camera one afternoon, a new creative passion emerged and, for the past six years, Tom has been refining a style and building a body of work that is both instantly recognizable and uniquely his own. His dramatic black & white portraiture and brilliant editorial work have earned him an ardent following and are increasingly in demand, particularly in the world of fashion. I got the chance to sit down with Tom to talk about how his work has evolved, the importance of shooting what you love and why he wants his photography to be like a black polo neck.
On developing a unique style: “You should shoot what you want to put on your wall… I want dramatic, dark, powerful photos. That’s what I’d like on my wall, so that’s what I want to shoot. That’s what I should be shooting.”
On staying true to yourself: “If you don’t do what is essentially you, in terms of what is your creative vision, then what you’re going to produce is going to be a bit weak.”
When asked whether photography has made him a better person: “I don’t know if it’s made me better. It has made me more observant and I think it’s made me very keenly observant about people.”