It’s amazing how vibrant and creative your portfolio is. What is your goal with your work? You can’t simply be a conceptual photographer!
Hah thanks! I try :P I’m not just a conceptual photographer, I’m a ginger with a camera! Honestly, I’m just having fun with my photography at the moment – my main goal is to take a photo every single day without missing a day, and to try and make the most of the 365 Project. I’m also trying to have fun, share a few laughs with the friends I’ve made through my photos and of course improve my Photoshopping and my photography. And if I make a few people chuckle in the process, I’m as happy as Larry!
You mentioned some of the crazy things you have done in the name of your art (covering yourself in ice cream?). Do you mind telling me the story of your craziest piece? What did you do and what was that experience like?
Haha I have quite a few crazy stories, I don’t even know where to start. I’ve done a few that involve confetti and silly string and rose petals, and those are the WORST to clean up haha. I once got half-naked in a park, another time my girlfriend wrapped me up in tape with the word “FRAGILE” on it (again in a park). I put pegs all over my face once. Don’t do that. It hurts. I cut a Harry Potter scar into my forehead, is that crazy? I just call that dedicated.
I’m glad you mentioned the ice cream one! Here’s how it went down: So, I’m white and my girlfriend is brown/black. We affectionately call each other “chocolate” and “vanilla”, because we’re so original. So I had an idea one day to turn that into a literal photo – I’d cover myself in ice cream and cover her in chocolate. We set up a little area out on the balcony and then took it in turns throwing the dessert on each other. My poor girlfriend’s hands went numb from holding the ice cream, and we used up 4 or 5 bottles of chocolate sauce. We had to do about 100 photos in total and then I combined all the little bits of chocolate/vanilla together in Photoshop. Man, the cleanup was the WORST though – it was a really hot summer’s day which made the ice cream/chocolate melt, and our balcony was sticky for weeks.
You’d think chocolate would be more sticky than vanilla ice cream, but nope. Took me 30 minutes in the shower to get the ice cream out of my hair.
What’s your favorite piece that you’ve done? Can you tell us what went into this photo and why it’s your favorite?
Ahh man that is such a hard question to answer! I’ve still got 100 or so days left of my 365, so I tend to focus more on that and don’t really look back on the ones I’ve done in the past. That said, there is one that quickly springs to mind. So, in the 5th week of my 365 I had this really weird idea, and I have no idea where it came from. I thought about covering an entire room in newspaper, including the furniture, then covering myself in a newspaper suit, putting a lampshade on my head and sitting down to read the newspaper. The title was, “I Tried Being Normal, but it Wasn’t Really My Thing.”
Now the reason it’s my favourite is because it was around about that time I really started to think of myself as “a photographer”, and started realising this really was my passion. I definitely poured my heart and soul into the making of this photo. It’s very much “me” – it’s maybe the silliest photo I’ve ever done, which is very much what I’m all about (being a knob). I guess I was also kinda taking a dig at all the people in the world who choose to be “normal” – going to jobs they hate and slaving away, working for the man… While I’m at home covering myself in newspaper and having fun ;)
The photo also means a lot to me because of all the time that went into it – I’m talking HOURS of me sticky taping newspaper to the walls. HOURS. I think it took me like 8 hours from start to final image. The best part of all was when my girlfriend and I got to rip down all the sheets of newspaper once I was done. You know how much fun it is to unwrap presents on Christmas morning? Imagine that, only you’re unwrapping an entire room. She couldn’t reach the ceiling so I gave her a boost and she went nuts and tore it all down. Everyone should try it at least once in their lifetime.
Do you have any particular goals for the future? Is photography a hobby or a profession for you?
Photography’s a hobby (well, technically a daily habit), though I prefer the term “passion” or “my life’s calling”. So I don’t make any money from it. As for future goals, I’m super-focused on getting to the end of this 365 and then seeing where I’m at. I’m tossing up the idea of doing another 365 after this one (after a break first!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), or maybe a 52-week project. I’d also like to stop shooting myself/my girlfriend for every photo and get stuck into Model Mayhem and start shooting other people. I’m nervous about taking that next step, but pretty excited too!
Your portfolio is incredibly unique. It’s a refreshing change from a lot of the same stuff you see on Flickr every day. How do you feel about the future of the photography work and community as a whole? What needs to change or what do you think will change?
Thanks Chris, that means a lot! And that’s an interesting question! Huddle around the campfire and let me tell you a story… When I first took an interest in conceptual photography/
So I felt disillusioned at first, because I wanted so badly to just be able to take a photo of my face and it turn into a pretty picture. I was jealous as hell of all the pretty females and handsome males I was seeing on Flickr/elsewhere. But then I hit this realisation; because I’m not some gorgeous young woman, I don’t get to slack off… I can’t just take a photo of myself and be done with it. I have to actually do something interesting. (By the way, I’m not saying pretty photographers are lazy. Just more visually interesting by default).
So I tried to let my humour and my silliness and my personality shine through in my photos. I stopped being embarrassed by my imperfect body and just embraced it and tried a totally different approach; just being myself. “This is What I Get Up to Every Day” is a good example of my chubiness and silliness!
So anyway, the whole point of that story is to say the only thing I’d like to see is people embrace themselves a little more and maybe not try so hard to be clones of their favourite famous photographers. You are the only person on Earth who can be you. So why try to be somebody else?
Most people who do a 365 project aren’t creating such complicated pieces. How do you have time for all this? Do you sleep?!
Haha, I get asked that quite a lot! Honestly, this thing becomes a habit after a couple of months, something you fit into your daily life. When I first started, each photo took me like 8+ hours every day, and I was up until midnight… I really really struggled with that and I was kinda freaked out, wondering how on Earth I’d ever keep it up for a year. But when you’re doing something every single day, you quickly become more efficient because you’re practicing it so damn much. Most photos take an average of 2hrs now (more for the more courageous ones), so it’s not a huge chunk out of my day anymore. A lot of people don’t start a 365 because they wonder how on Earth they’ll ever find the time to do it every single day. Trust me, you WILL find the time – life has a way of rearranging itself nicely. Definitely give it a go if you’re contemplating starting a 365!
Finally, can you give some advice to the young artists in the Nonsense Society? What have you learned since you started that you wish you knew beforehand?
Great question! I think one thing that took me a really long time to get is that it’s totally ok to suck sometimes – and I mean this both in photography and in life. I was so petrified of uploading bad images and I guess you could apply that to my life in general; I was petrified of “putting myself out there” for fear of stuffing up. I had the worst perfectionist mindset and it dragged me down. I really let my own fears and insecurities get to me. I didn’t try things if I thought there was even a small chance I could fail.
Many days in this 365 project I’ve uploaded a crap photo because I ran out of time, or was having a terrible day. I even had food poisoning one day, and that photo really sucked. And at first, I was terrified of what people would think of those crappy photos. I felt almost sick to the stomach uploading them, I was that unsure of myself. But because I was “forced” to upload at least something every day, I’ve now uploaded quite a few crappy photos. And the more crappy photos I upload, the more I find freedom from my insecurities! It’s exposure therapy in a way, exposing myself to my greatest fears and then seeing that the world didn’t fall down, everything was ok. And it’s at the point now where I truly don’t care if a photo is crap as long as I had fun making it. And that attitude (and lack of fear) has definitely carried over into other areas of my life. I’ve started doing things I never would have done otherwise, especially in the face of fear. Taking ice-cold showers every day is one of them, though that’s probably a story for another day!
So to anyone reading this, whether photographer or not: Nobody’s going to be a harsher critic than you will be to yourself. It’s easier said than done, but try to take risks, even little ones. Don’t hold yourself back because you’re too scared to make a mistake. Feel the fear and then do it anyway.