Answers to a few questions I get most frequently (but don't always answer clearly and concisely in person.)
While I did graduate from the photography program of Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design I was really focused on creating video and sound work at the time so, for a photography major, I made very few photos. What I really took away from the photography program was primarily academic. I'd never really delved too deeply into photo history and theory so teachers like Marion Penner Bancroft, Diane Evans, Henry Robideau and Jim Breukelman schooled me on the first century of photography and brought me up to date with the major players. After graduating I didn't really work with still photography until a number of years later when I picked up my first digital SLR–at which point photography, for a good stretch now, has been a central form of expression.
Why an 'artist' and not a 'photographer'?
I've never been one interested in labels and pigeonholes. I've observed that, generally, people have a hard time accepting other people changing–particularly when it comes to how they identify themselves. It's true that in recent years I've focused primarily on photography but there have been long stretches in my life when I haven't; working instead with film/video, sound or music and not picking up a still camera with any frequency. I see regular intersections with design and sound in my practice so there's no reason to believe the way I choose to communicate won't shift again and when it does I want to be ready. As much as it might be easier to describe myself as a 'Photographer' (and I would be proud to do so) I'm reserving my right to change by describing myself as an artist.
Are your photographs staged?
Hardly ever, no. I've never been completely comfortable with staging images, It's not that I haven't or won't but it just doesn't sit comfortably in my everyday practice. Most everything seen in my photographs are things that I come upon naturally.
Do you ask the permission of the people who appear in your photographs prior to photographing them?
No. I'm especially interested in the strangers that appear in much of my work remaining for the most part, anonymous strangers.
What is Common?
Common is a word that I find attractive from many angles and happened to wrap nicely around the particular body of work I created in the Winter of 2013-2014. From one angle, the word refers to a shared public space, particularly in the New England usage where they actually call these spaces a 'common.' The title also refers to many of the subjects of the photographs: everyday objects and places on paths that I retrace regularly in day-to-day life and have reframed through the act of photography. Lastly, Common refers to the method by which these particular photographs were made--using the most common, consumer pocket camera in the world--the smartphone. I like to think of the smartphone as part of the same lineage as the Kodak Brownie and the 110 cameras of the past.
What inspires your work?
This can be so many things and is in flux over time but I can say that it's often not work in the same medium. I've discovered that over time, because so much of my mind is occupied by design that design tends to inform the way I approach making photographs and I'm quite happy with that marriage. Music is also a huge influence–one that may be difficult to see a direct connection with when you look at my work but underlines everything and is with me always.
What equipment do you use?
It's always rubbed me the wrong way when equipment comes up before anything else. For this reason I'm careful about what I say about it and when. Cameras (like guitars) are just instruments and each instrument has it's own character and feel. I take pleasure teasing out goodness from cameras but in the end it's really about capturing an image and I'm happy with anything that will let me do that. I'm not firmly in the digital or film camp–I use a mixture of both and try to exploit the benefits and parameters of each–I feel blessed to live in an age where I can have both and see no reason not to take advantage of it.