Photographer Spotlight: Lori Pond
|Lori Pond, Self-portrait|
WPN is extremely excited to announce that this week’s interview will be exposing the creative sources and forces behind the works of the talented photographer Lori Pond.
WPN: At what age or stage of your life were you drawn to photography?
LP: As a young girl I was interested in anything and everything that held my father’s attention. Whether it was making clocks, mowing the lawn, or even constructing a shuffleboard court, I was captivated. So, when he began learning how to make his own black and white photographs, I began doing that also. We would go out to the desert in the early spring and photograph the tiny, ephemeral flowers that sprung up from the sand after a rain. Then, we would go home and develop the film. We would load the negatives into the enlarger and create a photograph with light. I thought that to be so amazing!
WPN: Can your style be classified by any genre?
LP: Paradoxically, I wish to be classified in some genre, and yet I do not wish to be classified. I think Groucho Marx said it best: “I refuse to join any club that would have me for a member.” I like my photography to be all about the viewer and allow him or her make up his or her own mind with regard to my images. I think my genre could be summarized like this: “There’s an interesting image to be made every twenty feet.”
|Maleficent, by Lori Pond|
LP: I use many tool palettes when making photographs. When I’m working in the digital world of “ones and zeroes” I like to use what Jerry Uelsmann elegantly refers to as a “post-visualization” technique. I make an image with my camera and bring it into Photoshop where it transforms before my eyes into something I had no idea I could create. With some “groovy” plug-ins, a digitizing tablet and my stylus, I paint in light, texture, noise and parts of other images at will. For my tintype images I use the wet plate collodion process. This wet process was invented in the 1850s as an easier alternative to making a daguerreotype. It involves coating an aluminum plate with collodion and next bathing the plate in silver nitrate before the plate is exposed to light in the camera. The plate is then developed and fixed with (ideally) potassium cyanide. I enjoy making portraits with this method, as the subjects take on an otherworldly presence before the camera. This process is never boring, and each image is truly one of a kind. Serendipity has become my muse with this technique.
|Teacup, by Lori Pond|
LP: I will use any equipment that will allow me to capture light. I use a Nikon D800 for my digital work. It has such deep sub-menus I have to leave breadcrumbs to find my way out of them. I take many images with my iPhone as the often repeated maxim, “The best camera is the one with you,” is actually true. For my tintype work I use a Calumet 8x10 camera and a 4x5 Speed Graphic camera with a Graphex lens.
WPN: Your portfolio entitled "Divorce" is extremely personal. Did your use of photography help as therapy to move you past this painful period in your life?
LP: My series “Divorce” began before I was even aware of what I was making. I started to take self-portraits in 2010, and at that time I was experimenting with a composite technique. I would ask myself, “What would it look like if I merge my torso with stone, a tree or asphalt?” I photographed myself sitting in a round sculpture in my backyard. I blended myself into my home in another image, photographed myself with a mother figure and as an abstract form. It wasn’t until my husband moved out of our house did I realize I had spent the prior two years preparing for the dissolution of my marriage by making these self-portraits. After he left, (with a lot of the furniture) I wandered the now-empty rooms stunned and with no purpose. This was the physical manifestation of the hole I had in my heart. To fill that hole and the empty spaces I decided to use my body as the new “furniture.” I needed to inhabit these rooms with my own newfound lonely soul. I made myself into a tea cart with “Teacup.” I stretched myself along a wall where the armoire used to be, and I huddled in my former husband’s closet. I stumbled from one room to the next in my attempts to find myself.
|Bear, by Lori Pond|
LP: I discovered the power of the portrait while making tintypes. The wet plate collodion process is lugubrious, old and toxic. It does, though, impart a sense of history, tradition and respect for our photographic forefathers. The photographer and the models are transported to another era where, among other things, it mattered to have hand-eye coordination. There’s a seriousness and even a freedom that is felt by all persons involved. When creating tintypes there are no guarantees that anything will come out as you might expect. With my series, "Strange Paradise," I am attempting to create a moment in time that exists inside an imaginary, parallel universe. I’m mixing metaphors and playing with stereotypes while having a lot of fun inventing an alternate “present” that both I and my models are creating together. So, if decadence seems to be felt while looking at these images, then I’m sure that’s also in there subconsciously, subcutaneously, and subverted somewhere in the serendipitous nature of the whole project.
WPN: What works have you recently launched or will be pursuing?
LP: I recently launched a body of work I have titled “Menace.” I photograph taxidermied animals and cover them in darkness. Only patches of their fur and the whites of their eyes and teeth are revealed. I am appealing to the viewer’s “fight or flight” mechanism as they look at something unknown. What does the brain’s amygdala tell us about these images? There are so many questions to ask. Is it alive or dead? Is it going to kill me? What is it? I think it’s important to experience the edges of our comfort zones. I am also working on a body of work called “The Wiccans,” which explores crone energy, its people and its rituals. My next tintype series will be based on Aesop’s Fables and Greek mythology.
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