“I love the act of taking pictures, at the moment I am as passionate about photography as I was when I started 20 years ago. My photography is a vehicle to express this passion and inspire people.”
Linka A. Odom
Linka A. Odom. Born in 1972, Linka A. Odom is a documentary photographer and installation artist from the USA currently based in Berlin, Germany. She is currently completing her thesis for a “Master in Photojournalism & Documentary Photography” from the University of the Arts (London), and holds a BFA in Photography from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. In June 2012, Linka A. Odom was a winner of Getty Images Creative Grants.
Thriving in off the beaten path and unique settings, Linka A. Odom now works as a freelance photographer. She travels all over the globe exhibiting commissioned photo based installations for events and festivals.
“Born with an attraction for the unknown and adventure, I passed many days while growing up, creekwalking in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas. After graduating from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, this translated into wanderlust which I satisfied by traveling, exploring, and documenting diverse cultures.
I am inspired by ancient civilizations and by people that live on the edge. I have a great need and desire to see justice in the world, my work is influenced by this intention and a wild passion to make a difference.”
“The Christian Admiral”
“This series was shot with a 4×5″ land camera on C41 film and documents an abandoned edifice built in 1905 on the New Jersey coast. The building has a long and dramatic history, initially built as a luxury hotel with over 300 rooms. In the first and second world wars it was used as a medical center for the US Navy. In 1962 it was purchased by a reverend and became a bible conference hotel until Cape May city officials closed it to the public in 1991.”
Interview with Linka A. Odom
Linka, what was your first camera and photographic experience?
Canon AE1. When I went to college I knew I wanted to be an artist, but I didn’t have an inkling as to what kind of artist I could be. I enrolled as a “Studio/Liberal Arts” major and was floundering around my first two years. Then I decided to go to NYC to study Fashion for a summer session at Parsons. On day two of class, I realized I really didn’t care about fashion, so I went to the Dean’s office and asked to transfer into another course. The only open spot was in beginning photography, I said perfect and had my Mom send up my Dad’s Canon AE1. On that first roll of Tri-X was an amazing image, a classic, and I was in love from that day forward.
Why did you become a photographer?
I fell in love with the craft immediately. I just knew it was what I was meant to do, since that first roll of film. I was good at it, and I enjoyed it.
What does photography mean to you?
Photography is expression as well as therapy. It is a way to look at and investigate the world anew continually. I have always equated photography with adventure. Alec Soth said it perfectly:
“I fell in love with the process of taking pictures, with wandering around finding things. To me it feels like a kind of performance. The picture is a document of that performance.”
Which photographer has inspired you most and why?
This is difficult to say, because seeing photographs as a child from places all over the world, influenced me to travel for the last 13 years. I would consider all of those nameless photographers to be a great influence on my life and likely my photography as well. As a student, I was very influenced by Walker Evans, Sally Mann, Emmet Gowin, Robert Frank, and William Eggleston, among others.
Your favorite photography quote?
It is a common one, but I just love it:
“A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know.”
How would you describe your photographic style and way of working?
My friend describes my style as exhibiting the soul of a compassion filled adventurer. I love that description, so I will stick with that!
How do you realize a shooting or assignment?
I like to shoot things that interest me. When I shoot, I like to see things from a perspective of wonder. I spend as much time as needed on an assignment to create images that tell a little more than what may seem obvious or can be assumed. I love the act of taking pictures, at the moment I am as passionate about photography as I was when I started 20 years ago. My photography is a vehicle to express this passion and inspire people.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic style and how did you achieve it?
In this day and age, there are a lot of photographers working and many of them are doing amazing work. Yet, each individual is a unique being. So it seems to me that as one develops their craft, a personal vision will develop naturally. The main thing is to continue taking pictures and never forget the joy in it. I have always worked with multi-media materials, creating installations to showcase my photography. I am interested in ideas, more than technique or even my images. I like experimenting with the way we look “at” or “display” images. I think my strength as an artist is in the ideas I have and my ability to make them come to life.
What qualities does a good photographer need?
Anyone that expresses themselves using a camera has the ability to be a good photographer. I think the most important qualities are passion, dedication and a sense of wonder.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?
It has to touch me in some way, technique isn’t as important as emotion, I like to feel something. I do enjoy looking at technical images, but if that is what you see, it distracts from an emotional impact. I love to want to know more, I like the story behind the image. I like to be transported.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
I saturate everything. I love to observe, I read a lot, I look at a lot of photography, I watch amazing films and series, I travel extensively, I love talking to people, I love dancing, music, participating in festivals, I suppose I get my inspiration from all of it.
How do you keep up to date with new developments in photography, to keep on learning new things?
Digital or analog?
I would have said analog a year ago, until I fell in love with my iPhone camera. They both have amazing and distinct qualities.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
I love my classic Pentax 67mm, my Canon 35mm FTB, and my original Polaroid Land Camera. I shot a lot with my Canon G11, which sadly I left or lost in the Berlin subway system. So I moved onto my iPhone. I have a Nikon D300, and currently am shopping for a new Digital.
What’s your favorite website on photography?
I like Feature Shoot, as well as Pro Photo Daily, and I’m addicted to Instagram.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?
Don’t get too bogged down in technical stuff, learn the basics first on a simple camera and then explore. Follow your passions and photograph things because you enjoy it, not for the results. And if you want to make a career as a photographer: Never give up, don’t forget why you do it, always believe in yourself and your vision and don’t ever stop trying to make things happen for yourself.
- Linka A. Odom “The Christian Admiral” www.linkaaodom.com
More information about contemporary photographer Linka A. Odom
Official homepage: www.linkaaodom.com