Can a photograph steal your soul?

My instinctual response to this question has always been, of course not.  A photograph is capturing reflected light on the visible spectrum.  A soul is made up of the abstract qualities that define a person.  At face value, the two don't even interact.  What about photos taken of earth?  Were all the souls snatched up in one shot?  What about multiple photos?  Is it taking the soul or copying the soul?  These are the types of questions that break it down pretty quick when taken literally.

But when I stop thinking literally about the question, my answer switches to yes.  Why are portraits of people I'm involved with or friends with visually stronger than photos of strangers?  The main difference is my relationship and sense of who the person is.  I'm able to marry their being with my own style into one singular image.  I'm interpreting and casting their essence into permanence.  Breathing life into a still image.

That's not to dismiss photographs of strangers.  There's some powerful street photography out there that captures this same sense of being.  See:  Every pulitzer prize ever.  However, my own strengths are in the expression of the close interpersonal relationships I have.  But if the translation is dependent on the creator and their bias or preference then is it actually a snapshot of the creator and not the subject?  I'm going with both.

Every memory, every nuance, every good time and bad time about a relationship is coming out in the image.  Every... thing, is influencing this work.  I surround myself with ghosts, and it has a self-serving role in that way but I also strive to give something for the viewer to take from.  And I believe to move someone it has to be real.  Or based on something real.  And that means some interpretation of another person's soul that interacts with the viewer removed from the subject in the photograph. 

From that perspective, still images can be very much alive with the essence of the subject.

Thoughts on the Kansas City Oddities & Curiosities Expo

I had an amazing time at the Kansas City Oddities & Curiosities Expo last Saturday.  It was one of the largest events I've ever attended and I don't know if I'll ever be a part of something bigger save for the events in a larger metropolis.  I made some new friends, talked about my work, and saw a lot of other great work.  I'll be attending the Oddities & Curiosities Expos in Chicago (July 21st) and New Orleans (Aug 18th) later this summer.  Along with a local Oddities event on June 2nd here in Omaha.

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The event itself had an unreal turnout and any vendor there will attest to that.  The line to get in was literally over a mile long at one point with traffic backing up on to the interstate.  Very cool to see and made me feel very privileged and humbled to be included as one of the artists for the expo.  I met all types of people.  Some who said they've never seen work like this before, and others who laughed and said they can make crap like this themselves so why the hell would they pay me?

Something that happens frequently, and surely I'm not alone in this, is that I enter a feedback loop with my work.  I have the support of my friends and the ones who don't support me don't follow me.  So there's a bit of redundancy and disconnect.  Where I might feel like something is right to me and I believe in the work for my own reasons but that doesn't always translate to a total stranger.  Ultimately that's what matters to me because I love my friends but I'm not making work for them or to gain their favor.  I want connection beyond time and place and social status.

I was very happy with the feedback I received on the Divine Hunters series which are the large wax pieces of the figures in the woods.  (can be seen on instagram)  It was very rewarding to see people physically shiver, announce, "now that's creepy", and stop in their tracks to stare at these figures staring back at them.  And then move in closer.  They are meant to have that effect.  Both in ambiguity of process and subject matter.  They are essentially mirrors, hunters of hearts, neither good nor evil.  An open canvas for the viewer to project.  Sometimes you just don't know.  I get engrossed in the work, I want it to have this effect, I hope it will.  But will it?  I'm still not 100% sure on that and I don't really want to ever be.  It motivates me to keep tweaking and refining and trying new things.

The Divine Hunters will be on display(and for sale) for a solo exhibition February 1st, 2019 at the Petshop Gallery in Omaha, Nebraska.  My goal is to be done with the series by the end of the summer and begin working on some new BDSM/red room/sexually primal work late summer/early fall.  I'll be doing the rest of the Divine Hunters shooting over the next couple of months when we get those great foggy mornings from the rain mixed with heat.

- Anthony 

 

Are blogs still a thing?

Of course I'm starting a blog 10 years out of fashion.  They're still a thing right?  I'm on Instagram and Facebook.  Tumblr for a couple weeks a year.  Why blog then?  Clearly the fans are clamoring for static content requiring them to leave their preferred "app" and read a bunch of text.  In full disclosure I view it like this: I'm paying Squarespace loot to show my images that change maybe once or twice a year.  Depending on my series.  I'm really tired of having a dead end portfolio website that never changes.

So what is this blog about then?  Photography, processes, events, and thoughts on the craft.  I currently have events lined up for 2018 and early 2019.   While I'm constantly progressing into other processes and subject matter I'm still fascinated by more traditional straight up portraiture.  That's something I'd like to revert back to this summer in my spare time.  My biggest hangup is conflating that work with my portfolio work.  How do I share and showcase portraiture without infringing upon my other series?  Oh yeah, a photo blog.

I'm also writing tutorials and guides on some of the processes I do.  The past year or two has been mostly image transfers and wax encaustic work.  Most people only want to see the finished result.  But there are people who want to see the process and how it's done.  That's me.  I find it super cliche when some content creator says "I noticed there weren't any good tutorials out there so I decided to do a tutorial on Photoshop."  No, there are plenty of good tutorials.  But when it comes to some of the hands on processes I do, they often are hard to find or unique in my own way.  I'm the type of person who takes from a bunch of different sources and makes something my own.  If I can be a beacon on someone else's creative journey then why not?

So this is my post about nothing.  About something that doesn't exist yet.  I think the biggest change from my 20's to 30's is the realization that death is coming.  So I better stop talking and get to moving.