Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rock, Grit, Grim, Shoot! | An Interview with Angela Boatwright

Angela Boatwright has this real gritty and raw approach to her photography and has a beautiful knack for capturing debauchery in all it's glory regardless of the setting. Angela, to me, remains one of the most interesting and exciting photographers. Whether she is capturing raw moments in skateboarding, music or culture there is a distinct vibe that you are being invited into another world and are experiencing something that at that moment felt infinite.

It is her fierce and uncompromising approach that in my mind makes Angela's work stand out  more than similar photographers in the field. Each series and each photo takes you on an unrelenting adventure that you just can't stop watching.

When did you first realize you had a passion for photography?

haha probably when I was 16 or so.  I had a little Canon T50 and I loved running around taking photos of friends in Ohio.

 In your official bio it makes mention of you cutting your teeth as a teenager from shooting Kurt Cobain in a closet-sized venue..can you tell us a little more about this memory?

I've been going to see bands play since I was about 12 years old.  I started taking photo classes in 1990 and in 1991 I dragged my first camera out to see Nirvana play at a small club in Columbus, Ohio.  I ended up with about 15 or so shots of Kurt Cobain.  I was 16 years old.

Your photography work is very gritty and at times has a real underground aesthetic. How have you found the transition from your more personal work to more popular advertising work?
That's a good question.  I'm still working on that, honestly.  I've always wanted to learn how to take "proper" photographs.  I'm naturally inclined to document music in a gritty way I guess but my desire to learn how to shoot in a studio for example has helped my commercial work.  At this point I feel like I can do a lot of different things technically but I still love to follow bands around with fast, grainy film.

Do you prefer shooting the more personal stuff than the advertising stuff or is there a happy medium?
I like taking pictures in general so anything is fun really.  I love being on the road with bands and shooting in really low light, capturing a mood but I also enjoy solving problems in a more commercial setting.  I love people and can relate to musicians as well as models on a commercial set.  Some of the models I've shot for Roxy (for example) are just as insane and amazing as some of the band members.

Is there any one person or persons that you really enjoy shooting or have any specific good memories about shooting?
There are tons of great memories and piles of amazing people to photograph.  Dave Navarro is great, Janelle Monae was a blast to shoot.  Solange Knowles was a blast to shoot.  Of course the heavy metal bands but the more I get to know someone the harder they can be to photograph.  It all depends.

Your photographic work spans many genres from skateboard culture, music, portraits,  fashion etc what is your favourite genre/s to shoot?

I am obsessed with heavy metal so that's always fun for me on a million levels.  I see the skateboarders as rock n rollers, too.  They're just as debaucherous as the metal guys if not more so.

When you are not shooting photography what can we expect to find you doing?
Editing photos mostly or filming or editing footage.  Editing, planning trying to plan future shoots and trips.  I love to travel.  I'm a fan of any assignment that gets me to somewhere else.

Where do you think most of your inspiration for your work comes from?
Teen angst and frustration which is weird because the older I get the more at peace I am with life.

Do you see photography as a viable career option or is it more a supplement to your 'day job'?
I haven't had a day job since 1997.  This has been my full time job for well over a decade.

Lots of teenagers and university students want to move into Photography as a profession what would be your advice to them? The good, the bad, the ugly?

I have no idea.  The industry has changed so much since I started.  I spent half my career shooting film and Polaroids.  I'm probably the wrong person to ask for advice at this point.  I'm trying to keep up with the technology just like everyone else.

Is there anybody you would love to shoot that you haven't yet had the opportunity to?
Sure, Zakk Wylde comes to mind.

What is the best way to get your work out there for people to see?
Anything and everything. Tumblr, blogs, shows, zines.  Anything you can do to make it happen.  Having a web site is always a good start.

Who are some of your Photographic Idols and/or Inspirations? And, why?

There are a ton.  Glen E. Friedman was a big one for me.  Heavy, gritty documentarians like Bruce Davidson, James Marshall, Eugene Richards.  I love gritty contemporary photographers as well like Dave Schubert, Dennis McGrath etc.

 What can we expect to see from Angela Boatwright in the future?

So, so much.  I'm sitting on so much stuff right now trying desperately to figure out how to put it all together.