Aaron Anderson – Phase 2

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Visual artist Aaron Anderson recently sent us this very impressive selection of photographs. Not too long ago he decided to start taking analogue photos after photographing with a digital camera for a long time. He calls his continuation in the photographic process ‘Phase 2’. We asked him some questions about his photographic works which is really interesting and inspiring to read. ☆

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What was/ were the reason/s that you have decided taking photos on film only after shooting with a digital camera for a long time?

I had been shooting digital for 6 years and the process was getting monotonous for me. I had in my opinion learned everything I could shooting digital. Even with my editing process I used film filters (VSCO) to emulate the look of film. So I had already had a strong fascination and love for the film aesthetic. I was wanting to explore something new within photography. Then, a friend (Justin Tompkins) introduced me to a channel on YouTube entitled “The Art of Photography” by Ted Forbes. I was in awe at the history/works of late photographers he was presenting. I wanted to capture that same feeling they tapped into. They shot only with film back then. Everything in life was pointing me to make that switch. I deleted all my old work and started completely fresh with 35mm film. It was a tough decision to make because I had already built a strong portfolio of digital work but the urge for change was too strong to ignore. I’m glad I didn’t.

This might be a common question but anyway it would be interesting to know with which analog camera do you take photos and what is your favourite roll of film to shoot with?

At the moment, I use one camera my Canon AE-1 PROGRAM. I don’t use the program mode(auto mode). I shoot manually (with some help from the built in light meter). I’ve used a few different brands/types of film but so far my favorites is kodak portra 400 speed. The colors, contrast, and amount of grain are in sync with the way I envision my art in my head. Which is, ironically, the same style of film I used to emulate with the VSCO filters. I’m glad I am finally using the actual film now.

Are you also thinking about to develop your rolls of film by yourself in the near future?

Maybe, it’s not something I’m opposed to learning how to do but not something I am eager to learn at the moment. I’m ok with letting my lab develop for me. They do an incredible job.

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The photos you have sent for the feature look all in all harmonically and especially artistic. Can you tell something about the main thought behind your photos?

Thank you, that’s something I strive for my art to be. This is a difficult question for me. I have a lot of thoughts when creating and even more so feelings. My photographs (at this point) are a sum of a lot of feelings, inner dialogues, and artistic expression within me. One of the main thoughts I put within my work is, if you look closely, my love for the elements of design/art. In high school, prior to me getting into photography I was into drawing and painting. I was in Advanced Placement art courses and my teacher use to drill a lot of the elements of design/art into us. (i.e. composition, colors, texture, form, balance, and shape) Back then, I didn’t really care about them but now I love them. When I’m capturing/creating an image. I love to include as much of those elements as possible because to me that’s what makes for a strong artistic photo. Basically, I don’t look at taking a photo like taking a photo but more so me painting one.

Have you already make a mistake by shooting film? – E.g.: wrong lighting setting or blurry photos?

Oh man, yes. ALOT of mistakes. Film is definitely not as forgiving as digital. The biggest mistake I made when I first started to shoot film was keeping the digital mindset. I remember I was taking photos of a listening party for a friend/music artist (Nate DAE) and another artist by the name of Spencer McMullen was there; he must have been watching me take photos because he pointed out how I was shooting way too much to be using film. I didn’t notice at the time but afterwards I realized I was shooting too much, too quickly. I was accustomed to the speedy unlimited shooting digital process. So, that was something I had to learn not to do because it was killing my pockets. Now, I’m very patient and precise with every frame I use.

On September 27th you are going to relaunch your website. Will there also be a section that shows your earlier, digital work? Or do want to showcase your new, analogue works only?

No, there will be no digital work on my new site. Which is a reason I dubbed this body of work “Phase 2”. It’s a whole new chapter. All new creative process. All new work.

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What are your favourite places to shoot and how do you decide for a specific place? – Is it more a spontaneous decision or do you choose a place before meeting with the person/s you are going to photograph?

I love to shoot outdoors. Preferably, somewhere surrounded in nature or has hints of it. Also, anywhere with interesting colors and/or architecture. The decision on where to shoot is typically very spontaneous. I like to search and make somewhat of an adventure of finding locations. It’s also a nice way to get to know who you are working with prior to actually shooting. There are rare occasions where I will already know specifically where I would like to shoot.

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How developed your interest in analogue photography? And are there any artists/ photographers that inspired and inspire you? (If yes, who they are?)

At this very moment I would have to say it is significantly developed. Yes, I have a lot of inspirers. The very first fine artist that made me look at photography and how I wanted to convey my ideas differently were Ren Hang and Cary Fagan. Back when I was studying the roots of photography via the YouTube channel Art of Photography I found a few late photographers that I gravitated towards as well. Those being Gordon Parks, Irving Penn, Diane Arbus, and Helmut Newman. Their works have influenced me the most from the way I take a photo and what I am looking to express thorough my photographs.

Regarding to your opinion what does a good picture look like?

I believe that it does not take much to capture a “good” picture. All one needs is a creative/imaginative mind, ability to pay attention to the small details, and have a strong foundation in implementing the elements of design/art within your work. These are the components that will give me chills down my spine looking at a good photograph.

Do you have a special vision of how your photos have to look like?

Yes, I am very particular about the style in which I want my works to look like. I am expressing my world experience and imagination when taking a photo. I want my works to be interesting, captivating, and thought provoking. Most importantly, I want my photographs to look like MY photographs. A recognizable style one can pick out of a pool of work instantly.

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Name a thing that you liked about shooting with a digital camera and something that you dislike by shooting film.

One thing I liked about shooting digital is the turn around time of photoshoots. I didn’t have to wait weeks or months before getting photos back like with film. Don’t get me wrong, I have come to appreciate the wait now. The anticipation builds and its always a surprise to see what you captured a while ago. It creates a sense of nostalgia. One thing I dislike about shooting film is probably having to switch out rolls of film once I have finished one. It can sometimes mess up the flow I have going. That’s pretty much the closest to anything I can say I dislike honestly. I love just about everything about shooting film.

Are the next analogue photo-shoots already planned? And it would be interesting to know how do you find the persons you are photographing. – Are they your friends or do you ask someone unknown if he/ she would be interesting in a photo-shoot?

I have a few planned. I’ll be announcing and working on a specific project once I release all my new work. When I first started taking photos I mostly worked with friends because I already knew them and they were comfortable with me photographing them for fun. As of late, I have been meeting new people for almost every shoot. These new people I have model for me eventually become friends after or they don’t. Either way,  I keep meeting such beautiful people through my photography. Typically it’s little bit of both when it comes to approaching about photoshoots. I will either message them or the other around. As I get better at my craft more and more people are interested in working with me. My work has been speaking for me lately. It’s a nice feeling. I am grateful for any and all opportunities to capture someone through my eyes.

Could you define what is art to you?

Art is the sum of any form of expression. Art is in everything and everyone if you look closely enough. Though very cliche, Art is living. Art. is. life.

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All photos are taken by Aaron Anderson ☆ IG: @a.theartist


Many thanks!

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