What are your favorite subjects right now?
I shoot everything I can when the light and subject are right. At home I take still life photos of plants and found objects, portraits of my dogs, landscapes when I travel, abstract shots in my optics lab. But I’ve almost entirely focused my work on Baltimore since moving here six years ago. It’s such an incredibly diverse, culturally deep, historically rich city. I love it, and I started my “Beauty of Baltimore” project as a tribute to this.
Your vision is squarely focused on a harmonious type of beauty. What does beauty mean to you and how do you challenge this aesthetic into the pictures you create?
I see beauty in scenes that trigger an emotional response, and hope to convey this feeling to others who are looking at the resulting photograph. A beautiful photograph should have an interesting subject in the right light, be properly composed, and capture the passage of time. It’s rare to achieve all of these simultaneously. To get the right light, I usually go out either sunrise, sunset, or into the night, checking the weather to look for clouds, fog, lightning, etc. to keep the mood interesting. I chase the light, however time and weather dictate it, rarely setting out with a particular shot or location in mind. My favorite photographs are those that capture a special, fleeting moment that will never happen again. Often, these involve strangers whose stories I love to hear about.
You came to Baltimore six years ago for grad school… What was your initial impression of the city and how has this evolved or stayed consistent?
When I was interviewing for graduate school I had a gut feeling Baltimore was the right city for me. What amazed me, and frankly upset me, was how poorly people spoke of the city around the time of my move. “I’m sorry” someone in Rochester said when I told him I was going to live in Baltimore. “Isn’t it dangerous?,” countless others questioned. When I got here, school was full of people with advice on where and where not to walk, live, etc., as if certain areas of the city should be avoided. Now I’m not naïve, and I know things aren’t perfect here. But I couldn’t rationalize the dichotomy between how amazing and excited I felt walking and biking around the city, yet how quick to be fearful, dismiss, or deride Baltimore many others were.
I slowly found myself venturing into neighborhoods I was told not to, and some of my absolute favorite photos were taken precisely where I “shouldn’t” have been. I regret that I ever listened, but I’m glad I found my own path. Six years later, after tens of thousands of photos and thousands of miles on my bike with my camera, I still feel the same way about it here. I’m motivated to show others my experience through my photography.