Where I am
Salt Lake City/Park City, UT
Tell us a little about you, what is your background & where do you come from?
Reared in Boston with a slow migration West. Stops at Umass-Amherst (undergrad) and the University of Missouri School of Journalism (grad school.) Have worked for newspapers and magazines across the country.
When did you take your first picture?
Became serious about photography back in college while working at the school newspaper. After graduation, I became much more interested and decided to pursue photography as a career. I then began to graduate studies in photojournalism and the documentary arts from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. I subsequently meandered the country working for different newspapers and began my own photography company in 2002.
What kind of camera do you use?
I use Canon professional digital cameras, but I was fortunate enough to learn photography using film and the darkroom and to study exposure and printing from some very remarkable people.
You combine photography with art, did your love of the arts or the camera come first?
Art came first, but as a voyeur…love of music, film, visual arts.
My desire to create gave birth to my interest in photography. I never considered myself an artist until I began to merge photography with more traditional fine art techniques a few years ago.
I think photography straddles the line between craft and art…but it doesn’t really matter.
Can you tell us a little about your technique?
My techniques vary from untouched, straight-forward photographs to images that have undergone a transformation from the subtle to the abstract. The more enhanced images are really a form of collage. I often mix and layer images using pictures I make in nature such as water, flowers, metals, patterns. I blend these with my equine images, basically playing and experimenting until I achieve something I am pleased with.
It may take an hour; it may take months. The process is unique in that an image may go through so many transformations, that I am unable to duplicate it myself. I use photoshop to make these collage type images, but also add texture and brushwork through paint programs such as Alien Skin FX and Nik filters.
Regardless of the method of transformation, the key is to first capture a powerful or moving image…this is always the essential element.
Who are your main influences?
My early influences were the great documentary photographers…Eugene Smith, Dorothea Lange, Robert Frank, Eugene Richards. Others include Joel Meyerowitz, Joyce Tenneson, Richard Avedon, Gordon Parks, Sally Mann, Man Ray. I am a huge fan of Keith Carter. Gordon Parks is probably the greatest renaissance man of the 20th century. I really admire photographers such as Meyerowitz who’s work goes everywhere from street photography to fine art.
Your work encompasses more than just horses, what is your favorite subject?
Tough question. I really enjoy different types of work for different reasons. Photographing horses however is truly sublime. Being outside in nature with gorgeous, powerful, muscular, fascinating, photogenic animals is really hard to beat. My other favorite subject is my five-year-old son.
Do you (or did you) have an animal that is the muse behind your work?
I did have a few pets, but I don’t really have a physical muse. I have a muse in my head. People and places and needs that inspire or force my creativity.
Where were you the most inspired, but without a camera?
Hard to pinpoint any one place or thing. I have been and continue to be inspired as a listener of music, viewer of film and art, reader of non-fiction.
What effect do you think the Internet will have on art and photography & art in general?
The digital world is mostly a blessing and a bit of a curse. Overall, it is truly amazing to be able to access so much great art and so many great artists and information with the click of a button. Computers and digital technology are great tools for creating and exploring.
Of course, these types of tools enable lots of mediocre work and clog the lines with billions of images and websites.
The pluses however, far outweigh the negatives. The Internet also allows artists the opportunity to reach an audience directly and communicate and learn in a vast number of communities.
Has it had an effect on yours?
It has had a huge effect on me and on my work. I probably would not be making equine art right now without the digital tools at my disposal. I would not have had the opportunity to explore and experiment and meet the people in the industry I have. Perhaps I would have done so in another way. But as someone who’s pure analog art skills are lousy, I don’t think so.
Which one is your personal favorite image?
I have attached a few of my favorite equine images as well as a few favorites from other genres. My favorite works are the ones that go to the heart of the matter and are able to really capture something about the character of the subject. The dance is from a project in graduate school is probably my personal favorite. It’s a simple story about a grandmother raising her granddaughter alone in a small trailer in rural Missouri…a very difficult and beautiful story.
What else are you passionate about?
In no particular order, Music, food, chess, family, film.
Working on anything new?
Yes. Starting a new portrait business: Pixiesandscamps.com. Focused on kids and families in a contemporary and elegant style. I will also be talking to more galleries in the next few months to place my equine work in some good horsey areas. If anyone has ideas, I am all ears!
More to Come
Thanks to Nick for answering the interview and sharing his work. Be sure to check out his art website periodically for updates about his latest works.
Also stay tuned for more interviews with horse artists and photographers.
Are you a horse artist or do you know an equine artist you’d like to see featured? Add your name and website in the comments below or drop me a note to get involved.