“My images are constructed, or made, rather than taken from the continuum of life. Form, color and object quality are all really important to me as well.”
Eric Weeks (born in 1965) is a photographer based between New York and Pennsylvania. He studied photography at Yale School of Art (MFA) and School of Visual Arts (BFA). Eric Weeks is currently an Assistant Professor at the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design in Lancaster, PA.
“My photographs from the series World Was in the Face of the Beloved are about a character who is becoming one within the given landscape. She is someone who is okay with where they are in the world, while at the same time, she questions her place in the universe. She is my protagonist. There is certainly the suggestion of spiritual tranquility in the photographs. I want my photographs to offer a respite from all the courser conundrums of humanity.
“There are aspects of portraiture in the work, as well as self-portraiture and fictional narrative.”
I want these photographs to speak about ideas of beauty: the beauty of this woman; the beauty of the specific style of clothing which speaks so much of Stacy’s character; the beauty of the landscape and the figure relating to that space; the beauty of color relationships; and also about the beauty of analog photography. There are aspects of portraiture in the work, as well as self-portraiture and fictional narrative. I want to blur the line between these different strategies, creating a hybrid of the three.
There are also numerous art historical and cultural references embedded in this series of photographs, which offer further complexities.
My previous work has involved contemplation and exploration into the nature of human relationships while making narrative photographs. I have examined the connection to family, looked at the bond between couples, addressed ideas of masculinity in a portrait series of men, and more recently combined photographs of seemingly disparate subjects to suggest metaphysical and sexual interactions. The images of my wife continue this investigation.”
Interview with Eric Weeks
Eric, what was your first camera and photographic experience?
The first camera I owned was a Kodak Instamatic 126 camera when I was 7 or 8 years old. The first subject I remember photographing was some fallen trees in the road after a winter storm. I remember how I felt a sense of my history being elevated and recorded for all time. The photograph that I got back reflected this past moment, and I recognized it had meaning and was important.
Why did you become a photographer?
I took my first photography class when I was a junior in high school. My first assignment was to build a pinhole camera and make photographs with it. I fell in love with the process of setting up a scene in order to make one exposure. I was also amazed when other students came up to me to tell me they really liked my photograph, and it made them think of this or that. I realized very quickly that photographs have an amazing ability to communicate.
What does photography mean to you?
It is how I spend my life, from making photographs, exhibiting them and also teaching students about the medium. I think that photographers are observers of life and that when photographing or not, we really examine what it means to be alive and human.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
There are so many photographers that have inspired me. William Eggleston for his use of color, and August Sander for how he used form to create meaning. If I have to name one photographer that has inspired me the most, it has to be William Henry Fox Talbot. He was one of the inventors of the medium, and made photographs in many ways. He made still lives, landscapes, portraits, and he even staged images. I have been very fortunate to have handled many of his original prints. The object quality, the beauty of his actual physical photographs, is truly astounding and moving.
“Therefore, let me in honesty speak the truth about our epoch and people.”
Your favorite photography quote?
My favorite quote is by Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote:
“The production of a work of art sheds light upon the mystery of humanity.”
How would you describe your photographic style and creative process?
My creative process starts in a variety of ways, but there is always a conceptual period when I contemplate possible meanings and how I can build that into my photographs. My images are constructed, or made, rather than taken from the continuum of life. Form, color and object quality are all really important to me as well.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic style and how did you achieve it?
Make a lot of photographs!
What qualities does a good photographer need?
I think photographers need to be sensitive, observant and persistent.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?
A great photograph opens up and offers surprisingly complex meanings the more time you spend with it. Of course, the photo has to be enticingly beautiful on a visual level to hold my attention, before I will spend enough time with it to unfold.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
I draw inspiration from many sources: literature, film, music dreams and other photographs are a few.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
I make most of my photographs with a Wista 4×5 inch Technical Field Camera. I also use a Mamiya RZ medium format camera.
What’s your favorite website on photography?
I like Alan Griffiths’ “Luminous Lint” and Andy Adams’ Flak Photo.
What photography book would you recommend?
I recommend the classic John Szarkowski book “Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art”.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?
Work hard, believe in yourself, network, continually attempt to get your work seen, and try to develop a thick skin because even the most successful artists are rejected more times than not.