Interview with Photo Center alumni, Luke Strosnider ’04 about his recent Kickstarter Campaign:
Q:You’ve just completed a successful kick-starter campaign to raise money to self publish a book. Tell me about that. What’s the project?
A: My wife and I had the opportunity to live in Amsterdam for a short time — about 5 months — and we also traveled a little bit to some other European cities. While I was there, I’d hit the streets with my camera, wandering, making pictures of whatever I came upon. The first few weeks, I felt like my photos were touristy: canals, old churches, etc. But as I got more familiar with the city, my eyes changed and I began to feel a bit more like a resident. Still, throughout the whole time, I felt somewhere between a “tourist” and “resident”, and not really either one totally. It was an amazing experience, and it inspired me to think about the things that define tourism, travel, and familiarity with a place.
The weird title (I’m often asked if its a typo) comes from a postcard I found in a shop in Amsterdam. The postcard shows a tropical beach and the text I WISH YOU WHERE HERE. I have no idea if that was a typo on the part of the postcard printer, but the inclusion of the word WHERE instead of WERE makes me think of my experience of place, time, and memory — all things that photography grapples with and attempts to record.
Q:Where have you been since you graduated from the certificate program? (Not physically so much as artistically …) What are you trying to say, what medium do you work in, etc. What’s your art?
A: After PCNW, I headed to the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY to work on an MFA. While there, my work veered towards deeply questioning what photographs are and what they do. What kinds of information do they contain (other than the image itself)? Exploring these questions led me to photograph all 521 chairs at my grad school (“Every Chair at the Visual Studies Workshop”), to scan Ansel Adams’ landscape photos and make a book of their histograms (“Ansel Adams | New Landscapes”), and to use a typewriter on unexposed but processed Polaroid 600 film (“On Measurement”). I feel like I am swinging back to “straight” photography now, but I’m very keen on creating series’ of images that are vaguely “about” a story but still very open to interpretation. I’m especially fascinated by sequencing photos in a book and building atmosphere and nonspecific narrative that way.
Q:How did the Photo Center help you get there? You currently teach right? Any advice you can give to today’s new PCNW students on directions to take?
A: PCNW was a great incubator for my thoughts on photography. My time there really helped me define what I was trying to do versus what wasn’t working. And it was just a great group of people to bounce ideas off of. PCNW also gave me a deep appreciation of (and skill set in) the technical aspects of photography.
I teach digital photography skills courses as well as a History of Photography and a Reading + Writing about Photo course at Evanston Art Center just north of Chicago. I also teach media theory, design, and cinema classes at Loyola University.
My advice to students would be to diversify. The era of the photographer as someone who just takes pictures is long gone. We’re expected to be competent at all things visual these days. So keep learning and keep looking. Inspiration is everywhere. Oh, and make good friends you can get feedback from. I still keep in touch with many folks from my PCNW days. They’re life-long friends.
Q:What’s next? What other photo projects are you working on? is there a new project you will submit to the upcoming call for entries for PCNW show?
A: Getting this new book into the world is probably going to keep my busy for the time being, but I did just buy 10 rolls of film and am headed on a brief road trip around the holidays, so I’m sure some new images will be made.