A Photographer’s Open Door

Rebecca & Audrey – 29 Nov. 2016

Rebecca: How long have you been working with cameras?

Audrey: 2008; my freshmen year in highschool. That was when I first had a camera and I started shooting with it. I started shooting with cameras since I was a little girl, you know. My mom would give me a disposable camera, like a kodak with disposable cases. So, I’ve been taking photos since… forever. It never really hit home until I got my own disposable camera when I went to a camp in 7th or 8th grade. I took pictures there and I really loved taking pictures of this place on my own camera, and making my own narrative. I felt like I had so much control over everything. It was like keeping a diary but I never had to write anything down. So, I had those cameras for a while and I had them developed. I really liked this one photo. It was very Ansler-esque photo; I’d take a picture of the lake and the clouds with the sun were reflecting off the water! It was beautiful to me. It was there that I felt that I wanted to be a photographer. Then I got into highschool and took a photo journalism class. We were taught how to take a photo with the aperture, the ISO, the F-stop, etc. It just clicked for me. I felt as though I knew what I was doing after I learned all the technical aspects of a camera. It made total sense. It was like a balancing scale with light, exposure on a film, etc.

Rebecca: You work with photography a lot, so what do you like with this medium? What’re the pros and cons?

Audrey: That is the question isn’t it… There’s so much to like about photography: the immediacy of it, usually with digital photography. I just take a picture and it’s there! I can see it. There’s a direct relationship with the real world. That I can play with because perception is often skewed sometimes. I just love the feel of a good camera; it feels right.

Rebecca: “What’s the hardest part about making a work of art?”

Audrey: I have all these grand ideas in my head and that’s the whole problem in making these ideas just as grand outside of my head. Trying to get through all that junk in your brain and bring it to life. It’s difficult. It’s hard to articulate what I’m feeling and thinking into an accurate visual representation.

Rebecca: “Which of the works shown on your website was the most difficult?”

Audrey: I would say the Asphyxiation series. I had a huge problem with this one because this was during my film class idea in doing double exposures. But the film I developed didn’t come out the way I wanted to, and the deadline was very soon. I felt very panicky. So, I took a walk out in town to see what I could do. So, I started thinking about a physical manifestation for what I was feeling at the time. I thought of a plastic bag where I was being suffocated; a claustrophobic feeling. That was difficult in that the journey of getting what I wanted to do can sometimes be rough because it doesn’t always click right away. It takes a while for everything to come together.

Rebecca: “Where do your inspirations come from?” 4:44

“Do you try to convey meaning and purpose in all your works or just go with the flow?”

Audrey: I typically start out with a purpose, feeling, emotion, etc. that I’m trying to convey. However, that original idea is never really going to stay that way because that’s the whole creative process; you’re stripping down this idea to its basic form as you are trying to put it into a physical, visual context. I have this lonesome spaces ideas where I was feeling very lonely in my life at the time. I was trying to figure out the best way to say that where I had an idea of self-portraits. Yet, over time it felt more staged and positioned rather than me trying to say what I was trying to get across so I turned the camera outward. The original feeling changed into a concept on exploring lonely spaces rather than just for myself.  That’s a thing that helps me too when I’m in a rutt, Is I’ll be working on- let’s say a photo assignment or a photo project that I’m doing, and then I can’t think of anything to say, and I go out and shoot photos and nothing is nothing is working. I get really disappointed in everything I’m coming up with so I’ll go do something completely different. I’ll go look at collages, and I’ll go make work in different mediums. I’ll go draw and paint- it’s a nice break. That also refills…

Rebecca: Your ambition?

Audrey: Yes—the more broad your reach is with mediums… There’s so much you can do! Which I think is important because you should explore different mediums and not just narrow yourself down to just one medium.

Rebecca: So, you experience artistic rutt, how do you get out of it?

Audrey: Just as long as you keep moving it’ll work itself out because if you just stay in one place forever; trying to make something perfect… It’s never going to happen. It can’t! Nothing is perfect. That’s what art is about.

Rebecca: What was your longest period not making any kind of art?

Audrey: Highschool, definitely. Which is ironic because for all of my electives, I had signed up for electives which were all art classes with a three block of art class after art class. I was just really, really depressed in highschool so I couldn’t do anything so I was just sitting at a desk for three periods in a day just trying to figure out- to just do something. Then there’s like this immense pressure for me to have this assignment be perfect, the best thing I ever made! After highschool, I went to community college with my first semester not taking any art classes and I got back into art in the following semester. So it was about six months where I just wasn’t making anything- no, maybe it was a year where I didn’t make anything. Also with highschool, it was really low production and not very much was happening there  and then I got into college. From there it turned into having to turn in a work of art and it has to say something. So community college really helped me in getting technically “good.” Just honing in a little more. It’s also helpful when you are in a rut. Work on your technical skills. If you don’t know what to say, then at least polish up your technique because that’ll really help when the times comes for the inspiration to hit. You’ll be ready. You’ll know how to do it. You’ll know the best way to do it.

Rebecca: How do artists, like yourself, feel when their art is in a commercial space?

Audrey: I definitely feel like you should never be totally satisfied with your work. Never look at a work and say “Yeah! This…! This is perfect.” Because where is the improvement? You should always be striving for more. You can do what you want. Feel however you want about your art. But personally, I can’t look at my work and think ‘oh, perfection! A master piece!’ I always look at my work and wonder if something is missing. I feel the need to do it again. Start over. Do it better.  That’s my feeling when I see something “done.” I see more of what I could’ve done.

Rebecca: When you finish a series or a work, what’s your after-thought? Is it considered finished?

Audrey: Usually what makes me say that a work is finished is it’s due date. The thing is I can always revisit these works.  It’s never really done. But when you go to visit this thing from a long time ago and you start to make more work, then that thing is going to be completely different. So the bridge of time in between doing that thing and you are going back to re-visit the thing- if you do something different then that means when that is when that is over. Such as my double exposures. I was going to do that this semester, but these works are from a few semesters ago and when I revisited them. What I came up with was the current work I am pursuing which, compared to the previous works, is vastly different than from what I’m doing now with what it used to be. So once you’ve gotten out of the thicket from making this work, that’s when it’s usually considered done for me. However, I never say that it’s done because I don’t ever want to close that door because maybe I could go back to it and replicate those same circumstances I was in- which is rare.

Rebecca: At least it’s still there though!

Audrey: Exactly. And these ideas are never a closed book. You never really close that book completely. You can always go back to those ideas.

(1554) Rebecca Alvarado