History, Part 1

This is my history from 2005 to 2009 moving from film photography in high school to my first DSLR camera in 2008.

In 2005 I got my first digital camera, I shot everything I could that looked “cool” or “interesting.” I started shooting glamour/model photography right away. Perhaps it was an excuse to talk to pretty girls or have an excuse to hang out with them. However, that changed and I took it seriously shortly afterward. I continued shooting glamour/model photos for the next two years, only just recently have I decided to stop.

Throughout my education and study, I have realized that pretty pictures alone do nothing and solve even less. There is no investigation or puzzle. Looking back at those images (and the few there are I’ve bothered to keep) I don’t know why I wanted to take them. Looking back I feel little satisfaction with the photographs I took. Below are just a few of my more successful modeling shots. These were more of a trial & error and I really believe that a lot of these successful images from 2006 were just luck and some skill in photoshop.

Young woman holding an umbrella in the rain looking back and smiling at the camera

This is one of the first portraits I ever took.

Throughout 2006 and 2007 I took pictures of a lot of my friends. I was, however, primarily concerned with model and glamour photography with hints of sadness.

My first photograph with a deeper meaning.

I continued to take images and get more understood in photoshop. Photography for me started as an excuse to be anti-social and still social at the same time. I could be in my own world behind the camera. At this time I was going to school for graphic design and began to feel like that needed to change. Below are some examples of some early photoshop experiments.

One of my first major successes in photoshop.

Part of my End of the World series (now deleted). The first thing I did in early 2007 was to develop more and more modeling photography. I was fascinated with female beauty and wanted to contrast it with a rough background quality. It was this contrast that I found enticing, even more than the women in the photographs themselves. I started by asking friends to model for me began getting people I didn’t even know interested from modelmayhem.com, a website for models and photographers.

A young woman blonde in white top staring off into the distance
Without a Face – The Confused

My very first model shoot with someone I didn’t know. This was taken near the end of the shoot.

A group of women all standing next to one another wearing fashionable clothing

My first commissioned work, taken the same day as the picture above.

During the summer of 2008, I began expanding my services and looking for models. I juggled between this and more friends of mine during the summer with no real goal in mind but to just see what happened. There were a few exceptional photographs taken.

I quickly grew bored with model photography, I felt like I was becoming a tool or something. I felt like I was taking advantage of attractive women to make a pretty picture or two. What easier subject to photograph? No one pointed this out to me, I just got the feeling back again of inadequacy. This feeling—as you will find out—I think of as a blessing and a curse. I guess you could say that I grew tired of taking pictures of pretty faces.

During the Fall of 2008 in Painting class, I again found myself asking a new set of questions. My teacher, Tamara Brantmeier influenced me on thinking further. I was also challenged, for what seemed like the first time, on my “originality” from several students. These students were all sculpture majors.

The last model shoot I did was in October of 2008. It was the most successful in terms of portrait photography for me. The model was “Jayne Marie.” After this photoshoot I didn’t shoot for almost two months but instead kept revising my website and learning more about web design.

Teenage brunette sitting on a log posing and looking into the camera
Forever and Never

It was three days before Christmas when I took my brother and his friends and created the series “School’s Out for the Summer.” It was in this shoot that I created my first narrative regarding a serious theme of high school violence and bullying. I was inspired by the movie “Elephant” from the night before. It was the day after Christmas I snuck into the mall and photographed some of their mannequins after the mall was closed. This ongoing theme of mannequins was inspired by Andrew Liles, an experimental musician, and his album “All Closed Doors.” I felt passion again for photography.

I decided to toss out every image that had no point. I decided to categorize them based on what theme they could portray. This was one of the smartest moves I ever did because based on this move I essentially locked myself into doing series exclusively. It’s like shooting a movie, writing a song, or painting something. You have to have a plan. Ever since that day in high school with the “School’s Out for the Summer” series I have never gone shooting photography blindly with no intention. Sure I’ll shoot for fun now and again, but never without an idea lingering in the back of my mind.

In January of 2009 a fire burned down three storefronts in my hometown, Austin, MN. I had some friends inform me that night to “get the hell over here and take some pictures.” One of my friends, Marissa Ide, informed me of this as did my father. 20 minutes after Marissa’s phone call I was on the road to take these pictures, not knowing what to expect. I arrived that night and began shooting. However, I was stopped by the police and couldn’t get close enough to take any worthwhile pictures. I went back the next morning and got the pictures that are now in my “Through Hell for This” series. The combination of fire and ice created a surreal effect. This was the first set of images that I enhanced as much as I did. This was also the first set of images where I played around with HDR.

A building covered in massive amounts of ice after firefighters put out the buildings fire the night before with a dramatic sky and light post
A Complex Paradox

Taken the morning after the Austin, MN fire. The temperatures reached -30 that night and froze all of the water from the firefighter’s futile attempts to stop the fire.

In February I shot “This Charming Man,” which was not my own idea but the idea of a local filmmaker Dan Moen about murder. I changed the context of this and made my first photography “video” with music and additional text into a short and somewhat interesting study of murder. This video was unfortunately lost.

I just happened to be at the right place at the right time…

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