How did you get started in photography, and what drew you to this art form?
I started taking photographs when I was about eight years old after my grandmother gave me her old Nikon. I continued exploring photography through the courses my high school offered and just never stopped taking pictures. Oddly, I never considered myself a photographer as music was my primary endeavor. It wasn’t until my twenties when my journey with photography shifted. I needed promotional photography taken for my music career and started hiring different photographers—I never got the photos that I imagined in my head. I decided to start taking my own portraits. Through that process, my obsession with achieving my own perfect aesthetic led me to further my education and obtain my MFA in Photography.
What are you focusing on in your current practice?
I am interested in the sound current and its effect on visual aesthetics. The amalgamation is somewhat nascent in my practice, as in the past the two artforms seemed somewhat separate for me. I am fascinated by how sounds can alter meaning in a photograph. My most recent work has been mostly an exploration of religious iconography (and Christianity in general) and the psychological weight it can impose on a young queer person. But of course, as a white male artist, considering my privilege is impossible to not weave into all that I do at this point. I’m on my path making art, loving teaching art, and trying to be aware as possible of the spaces I occupy.
You’ll be teaching Photography I – what can students expect in your class? Can you show us a sample assignment?
I love the basics. One of my favorite parts of teaching the basics is that I get to relearn them all of the time. In my class, we will, of course, learn all the basics of photography—exposure, composition, lighting, post-production, and editing—but we will also begin to explore what it means to photograph something and the difference between “taking” and “making” photographs.
As far as sample assignments go, we will do all of the exercises one would expect in a Photo I class—learning how to use the camera in manual mode, and understanding how to compose an image—but perhaps my favorite assignments are introductions to portrait patterns (e.g., Rembrandt, butterfly…) and exploring light and shadow—using shadows of interesting objects to create abstract compositions.
What do you hope students take away from your class as they continue on with their photography education?
Whether my students journey into portraiture, fashion, landscape, food photography, etc., I hope the students will be inspired to think about all of the aspects of photography making—the technical, the aesthetic, the psychological, and of course, the incredible joy of clicking that shutter. I hope we can have a dialogue that will encourage motivation to improve but also the reliance on failure to find success.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in photography but not sure how to get started?
Well, my advice would be quite simple. Just start making photographs!