David, can you tell us something about your path as a photographer and how/when did you find your focus point?
I began to photograph when I was in high school. I had the good fortune to go to a high school with photography as part of the art program and a really great photography teacher. I fell in love with the art then, skipping classes and lunch periods to spend time in the darkroom. I decided early on that I would pursue a career as an artist. It was the one thing I pursued that really excited me. I attended The School Of The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston where I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts. I spent most of my time early on getting better at the craft of taking and printing photographs. About halfway through my time at The Museum School I began to take the conceptual side of my practice more seriously. Before that time I hadn’t spent much time thinking about the meaning of my photographs, and thus didn’t make many interesting photographs, but this time was not wasted. By the time I decided to attend graduate school at Arizona State University I had a solid technical foundation under me and could expand my conceptual horizons.
It was in Arizona that I began two entirely new projects: photographs of my wife, Alison and son, Emmett; and the Of Heaven and Earth project, a series of photographs of altered landscapes that interact with the motion of heavenly bodies. My son had just been born a few months before we drove from Massachusetts to Arizona and I began to think differently about my place in the world during that trip. I was now a father and a long way from the place I grew up. One shift was a subtle distinction: the moment my son made is trip down the birth canal, my wife and I became parents, the other shift was of massive proportions: Massachusetts and Arizona are thousands of miles and worlds apart. I could no longer point to the horizon and say, “that’s where I am from,” I had to point below the horizon about 14 degrees. One shift was subtle but filled me with purpose and direction, the other massive, though only serving to convince me of my insignificance. The work I make come from this tension between what we know about the vastness of time and space and the importance we can’t help but imbue to the tiny acts we carry out each day. Of Heaven and Earth is almost literally an attempt to connect the two.
What about freedom and restrictions of your life as a photographer?
Photography is expensive. Creating a set of work that I am proud to call my own takes a lot of time (just the logistics of creating the photographs in Of Heaven and Earth took over a year to nail down). I am incredibly lucky in that I have a wife with a steady job who is as committed to my work as I am. After I graduated from Arizona State she was presented the opportunity to be a traveling physical therapist, which means that we move to a new part of the country every 4 or 5 weeks. We are in Livingston, Montana now. The traveling is great for the creation of new photographs, but makes things like putting shows together a little more difficult. For me the chance to travel and continue making work, even though it would mean that I could not work as a teacher as I had been, was not a hard decision. Luckily I have a wife who is adventurous and willing to take on the burden of being the sole provider. Even with the charmed life I live, it is not an easy task to be a working artist. We live simply and neither of us are sure whether all this time and money put towards my goals as an artist will pay off. I hope in some way my work acknowledges how much Alison has meant to me.
What are some satisfaction points besides the obvious?
Being able to travel the country, hike through mountains and deserts and sleep under the stars, sharing it with the two people I love the most, all while making art that I am proud of and occasionally (so far) helps sustain us is all I could ask for.
Can you share with us some of any of your objectives?
For my work to become financially self-sustaining. I think this is the secret goal of almost every artist. Most artists (even some whose names you know) make their living in some way apart from making art, be it teaching, lecturing, bartending, advertising, stealing or what have you. I can survive without this goal coming to pass, and frankly my main goal is to do whatever it takes (teach, lecture, bartend, steal) to keep making work, but there is a great satisfaction that comes from one’s passion being the thing that materially sustains them.
As far as my work goes, I want Of Heaven and Earth to get to the point where I can make it into a book worthy of the name. This may take several more years.
How can people support your art? Do you have prints of your photography available for purchase?
Yes. People who are interested in buying work can contact me directly at email@example.com. And if they care about art and don’t like the work I make, they should find some way to support an artist whose work they do like, or the arts in general. Like I said, most artists need help to support the work they make, and some are actually starving!
What are some of your upcoming events?
Alas! Though a few shows are just coming down with prints on their way back to me and I am waiting to hear back from a few shows and publications, nothing is on the immediate horizon.