Tell us more about your background and how you came to photography.
I grew up in North Carolina and started taking pictures as a teenager. My mother gave me my first SLR for my 16th birthday, and I started taking some photography classes at a local community college. I was hooked as soon as I saw that first image appear in the darkroom. I moved to California to study photography at the San Francisco Art Institute, then after I graduated with my BFA, I moved to New Zealand for two and a half years. I’ve just come back to the States and am now living in Santa Fe, NM.
What inspires you, photographically speaking?
My projects really tend to connect in some way to what I’m curious about or going through personally at any given time. Since I’ve been moving around pretty often recently, that tends to influence my work quite a bit as well. There’s often a synchronicity in what I’m becoming interested in and where I end up, in ways I don’t realize until I’m living there. New Zealand afforded me the time and space to go on a bit of a spiritual journey and spend some time researching and just being curious about different religious and cultural beliefs and how they are expressed or unified through symbolism. It led to this really meditative process of spending hours constructing scenes on the beaches of New Zealand, which is now the Alchemy series.
There’s often a synchronicity in what I’m becoming interested in and where I end up, in ways I don’t realize until I’m living there.
My process tends to be very different for each project I work on. Ideas come in different ways, though a lot of times it will be something that just occurs to me one day like the proverbial light bulb switching on. I work pretty slowly, so I scribble everything down in notebooks and an idea will usually fester for a while before I start to research or work on them, unless it’s more of an experiential thing like the Chasing Rainbows series. That was sort of a therapeutic thing for me, photographing around the displacement I felt in leaving the U.S. and moving to New Zealand. I don’t think that series is finished, I will probably keep moving every once in a while or at the very least traveling. Now that I’m getting settled here in Santa Fe and finishing up all that left-brained activity of finding a place to live, a car, etc., I feel like I can start focusing on my next project and getting into the researching & brainstorming bit, then doing some initial shoots to see how the ideas start to take shape visually. I feel like I’m in the right place and I’m excited to see where my work goes next. It’s always a mystery and never what you expect, you just have to let it unfold.
Making the pictures comes more naturally for me. I can be as patient or as persistent as I need to be to get my shot. The hardest part is the more practical stuff, like retouching scans, editing, printing, finding ways to get my work out there. I’m still looking for the right venues for my images, and that is a project in itself.
You mentioned you’re moving onto some new projects, care to share any of your ideas or processes?
I want to go further into the sort of mystical ideas I touched on with Alchemy, working with people or in places that are on the edge of what most people would consider normalcy or reality. I’m interested in metaphysical subjects and the idea of our personal experiences of life being largely made up of our own perceptions and beliefs. We’ll see where that takes me!