When did you begin to take photography as a career seriously?
About two years ago, when I moved to Los Angeles and out of my parents place in Houston. Shit got serious very quickly because I neglected to take action when I arrived in LA, taking for granted the ease of living with parents hahaha. Two years ago was a symbolic new beginning, the move, embracing sexuality and queerness, finding independence, and realizing my own worth. I've always been a creator, an artist, two years ago is when it became time to make money.
How has your photography changed over the years?
In the beginning, it was creative exploration, naivety, and discovery - my roots. Not much of my work from those years exist anymore, thanks to my anxious uncertainty and the ease of trashing digital files. I grew up with social media, so this obviously played some influence on me, that is where a desire to impress began to grow, which led to fashion and conceptual works, but this was short lived. Reason? I craved something more, the fictitious lost its charm and my desire shifted to real life. So much reality has struck me in the past year or so, the world is a fascinating and frightening place, "stranger than fiction" you could say, and this is where my curiosity landed. I desire life, humanity, stories, reality. This has now sprouted as a project I'm working on, about the under-represented faces of sexuality, beauty, and the LGBT community.
As this develops, my mind wonders what could be next, or run parallel. My soul is pulled toward marginalized people. The tragic humanitarian crisis around the globe tear me apart, the current migrations of rohingya or the honduran/guatemalan caravan, global waste and recycling crisis, the way humans manipulate and neglect the only planet they have access too. We are only scratching the surface of the human condition and the effects of globalization. I am unsure how my own photography can do anything more than what has already been done, and so this has left me puzzled. The next step is uncertain, so I will continue my inquiry into sexuality, which is a topic vital to my identity. Maybe the future is not all photography, is there a way to effect positive change on humanity with film, design, sculpture, performance, literature or music? Am I thinking to narrowly? What about symbolism or surrealism, can I justify making something not based in reality with the intention to contribute to reality? Am I thinking to much? my mind plays these tracks on repeat.
With phones and Instagram many people consider themselves somewhat of a photographer, has this changed your attitude towards how you take photos?
This is a difficult question to answer briefly, but honestly, it is difficult to say and i've been thinking about it for a while. The accessibility that mobile phones offer is incredible, something never before seen, and this creates a world where anyone can be a photographer. There is a difference between being a photographer and making a photo or snapshot. The artist, photographs from a place of unintentional care, something like being possessed to capture something because it vibrates with the artist soul, but I can't be sure. While the tourist or commoner, who do not possess the artist soul or are not aware of it, makes a photo as if they are blind. Simply hoisting their mobile or camera, pointing it at the thing they see and clicking the shutter. Neither of these is a wrong or right way to make a photograph, it is all about intention.
That being said, my attitude has been placed into a blender and is spinning out of control. There is a conflict within me to do something really fucked up, for the sake of the digital epoch, to manipulate and destroy the image that the camera makes. This remains in my mind and i don't have a clear example. Second: my art is a personal quest for beauty, this aspect will not change. When I see something in the world, or have intentionally set up a photograph, there is contemplation behind the lens before the shutter is released. This is reflected on my website and the work I present as "art". Lastly: my Instagram now is more or less a meditation on my day to day, there is nothing particularly special about those snapshots, majority of which are made on my mobile, but there remains an essence of myself and the quest for beauty. Overall, my attitude has become more relaxed within this digital reality we live, I weep for and romanticize the past but look forward to a future where creativity is unbound. Now, we are all front row in observing how unlimited access affects our cultures and humanity. For better or worse.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
There is a drake song in which he says "don't ever take advice, that was great advice". Hahah seriously though, I cannot remember a distinct piece of advice I have ever been given. Words have such an effect on the psyche, what someone utters can change the course of life. A few good friends I talk to frequently over the phone acts as an advisory, they talk with me and this can have a revelatory effect. I will learn something new based on what they say, or what I say during the course of the conversation. Zen buddhism is cool, meditation, although I'm horrible with the consistency. Music tends to be a good source for advice and consolation.
When and where are you happiest?
When? When the sun is shining against the earth and warming my being. Where? Where the water is cool and smooth as velvet against the skin, the trees responding to the wind leaves shimmering like silver coins. My happiest moment was only recently, in Vienna at Lobau sea, nude while the setting sun blazed within the clouds. Modestly, anywhere calm, as of now happiness is listening to Popul Vuh. One is lucky if they can identify happiness in most things, I'm often not one of those people. Oh yea, and when having sex. Duh.
image courtesy of J. BILHAN
interview HANNAH GLENN
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