Tuesday, September 11, 2007

An conversation with Mitch Epstein

I mentioned Mitch Epstein a while back and I notice that Joerg Colberg has an interview with him up on Conscientious:

Jörg Colberg: Before talking about any individual project of yours let me ask you something about photography in general. You have been working as a photographer for quite a while, and you have covered a wide range of topics, all the while both contemporary photography and the world at large have undergone fairly large changes. I would be curious to learn about how you think your role as a photographer and your interest in what you wanted to record have changed?

Mitch Epstein: I don’t think in terms of having a ‘role’ as a photographer, nor do I consider my purpose to “record.” I am compelled to interpret, not record the world around me...

...What I want to photograph changes with time. The stakes are higher for me both humanly and artistically, as I get older. I have a family now and a more acute consciousness of the world as a welcoming or non-welcoming place for my child. I have thirty years of photographing behind me, and I’m more demanding with myself than ever — I want those years of experience to support my more mature engagement with making art. I feel like I’ve been building up to or training for a kind of high wire act. I’m using decades of experience to balance me while I try out a way of working (large-format landscape) that is totally new to me. Each picture is now made in a slower, highly deliberate manner that I couldn’t have imagined using twenty years ago...

JC: Coming to your own work, there is one question which I like to ask simply because it touches something that many photographers are struggling with: How do you decide what project to work on, what subject matter to pick?

ME: I never pick my projects, my projects inevitably pick me. I don’t mean that
glibly. I’ve learned to listen to what moves and troubles me, and that leads me to where I have to go next.

I have been through many hellish periods where I don’t know what’s to follow after finishing a body of work – a kind of post partem. But I’ve learned that it is helpful to remain patient, open, and necessary to allow myself to relax and pursue other interests beyond photography during these periods..." more

There also some good stuff in there on Epstein's book and project Family Business (which I think is one of his best), as well as American Power

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