Featured Artist Taylor Castle on the Appeal and Approach to Photography

Click on the thumbnails to see larger versions of Taylor Castle’s photos.

Taylor Castle, our latest featured artist, is a photographer in Chicago, IL. He provided some very in-depth answers to our questions and let us peek into the creative, and sometimes strenuous, world of a working photographer.

Osmosis Online: What drew you to photography?

Taylor Castle: I was about 14 in high school when I saw the work of Jerry Uelsmann in photography class. I fell in love with the conceptual side of his work and with the possibilities photography gave me to explore my own imagination. I always had so many weird and crazy ideas as a little kid, but never had any artistic talents in any other mediums. I couldn’t draw, paint, or sculpt and felt that I wasn’t going to be able to ever express myself artistically.

Then came photography class.

The thing I loved most was the science involved. I felt that it didn’t taken a god given talent to learn photography, that I could train myself and if I immersed myself enough I would be able to learn the craft. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized my true potential and really focused on creating a unique vision and style for my ideas. When I realized that I could also make a decent living, I really stepped it up and pushed myself even harder. I still try to think like that today.

OO: Who are your influences?

TC: Oh god! I have a million. Jerry Uelsmann was who got me started. Early on, I loved Ansel Adams, Michael Kenna, Wynn Bullock, Imogene Cunningham, Edward Weston, Minor White, and W. Eugene Smith — to name a few. As I started to understand the commercial side of the art, I found my influences were coming from those kind of shooters. I fell in love with Erwin Olaf, Nadav Kander, Annie Leibowitz, Jim Fiscus, David LaChapelle, Anthony Mandler. I find myself going back to some of the classics too. Diane Arbus, William Eggelston, Yosef Karsh, Avedon, Cecil Beaton, Melvin Sokolsky, Maurice Saudek, Parke Harrisons to name some more.

In the last few years, I have been greatly influenced by artists outside of photography. I love love love Norman Rockwell. But I also spend a lot of time on design, illustration and architectural websites looking for ideas. I find that these mediums give me a different perspective to approaching my work. I find that I am able to think differently and try things that are outside of my own box. I think it’s really important to always challenge yourself to do it differently. It also keeps me fresh and takes the staleness out of some of the commercial aspects of my job.

OO: What do you want to communicate through your work?

TC:It constantly changes and is always different. As I grow as an artist, so does my creative mantra. It really comes down to what I’m shooting. If it’s personal imaginative work, I want to communicate my concept. Which, oddly enough, takes many new directions as I create the image. I usually find that my ideas are very open ended and create a narrative that the viewer can take in their own direction. I love when I hear other people’s take on these types of images because it’s not necessarily what I was originally planning on communicating, but usually always has great relevance to the image.

If it’s portraiture, I try to stay true to my subject’s personality. I think there is something to be said of a portrait that truly depicts the person in the photograph. Where, as the viewer, you feel like you know that person just by looking at one frame from a photo shoot. I’m trying to find a balance with my subject and my photography. I want my personality, my style, my perspective to ring true in the final image, but I must also accurately depict my subject or I feel it’s a failure as a portrait. Yosef Karsh is the master. What many people probably don’t realize is how difficult it is to make someone comfortable in front of the camera. I relate it to a job interview. Most people are uncomfortable and awkward when it first starts, but if they get the sense that it’s going well, they start to get confidence and really show their true colors. Some people are just naturally good at it, and are a breeze right from the start. They love being in front of the camera and show no vulnerability. And some people never open up, and well, figuratively speaking, don’t get the job. But neither do I.

Learn more about Taylor Castle at his Web site, www.taylorcastle.com

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