“I just go with my instinct to react to the world around me, and if the pictures look or feel a certain way, well, then that’s all me, coming form within.”
Lisa Kereszi (born 1973 outside of Philadelphia) is a contemporary photographer currently based in New Haven, CT (USA).
She studied photography at “Bard College” and the Yale School of Art.
Interview with Lisa Kereszi
Lisa, at some point you decided to extend the original series “Fun n’ Games”. You then added “The Party’s Over”. Why did you decide to do that and how are the two bodies of work connected?
It was just a logical progression. Just me making my work. Times were changing, my life was changing, and the work moved more outside and became painted in fewer garish colors.
How do you prepare a project like that? Do you do a lot of research beforehand like location scouting etc.?
I do research and scout as I go, following my nose. Some of it can be done hit-and-run, but a lot of it is done on private property, so I either have to be intimately acquainted with the space, or I have to get permission.
What comes first: the idea for a series or single images that at some point fit and fall into place to form a particular body of work?
Both. It just depends, but I do follow my nose w/o too many preconceived notions. Ideas too well-thought out in the beginning get people into trouble. There needs to be discovery.
What does a single photograph or a body of work need in your opinion in order to stand out and get noticed? Especially keeping in mind the abundance of photographic imagery in today’s society where everything already has been photographed?
“I’m less concerned anymore with that getting noticed.”
It needs to be transformative and metaphorical. I know I’m not the first photographer who ever took a picture of a wall or a water fountain or a trashcan. Everything I have ever seen or felt is filtered through the moments making a photo. I’m less concerned anymore with that getting noticed – there’s a lot of bad art that gets noticed, and I would prefer to fly under the radar if that’s how things are going to be for a while.
Do you think it’s possible as a photographer to still be unique these days? Or do you rather consider it to be more important to create an own style adding your personal twist to something that has already been done before?
“Form and content are married from the conception.”
I couldn’t create a style or add a twist – that is all surface, all something that goes on top of something, icing on the cake, and the cake might be dry and overcooked, or may lack flavor, or may be too salty. I just go with my instinct to react to the world around me, and if the pictures look or feel a certain way, well, then that’s all me, coming form within. It’s not a scarf or false eyelashes I put on after the fact. Form and content are married from the conception.
What reaction do you intend to provoke in people looking at you photos?
I guess I don’t think about it that much. I want them to feel like they are in on something, that they understand something I know to be true, and that I have made them see some place or object or thing in a new way, so that they can understand it in a different way than what they thought was possible before.
One general question: What do you consider the most important developments in contemporary photography? And what have been the greatest changes recently?
I am surprisingly less up on recent developments than you might think. Like I said, I am not that interested in a lot of what I am seeing these days, with only glimmers of recognition. I think Katy Grannan’s work continues to be great and awe-inspiring, though.
Philosopher Susan Sontag once said “The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own”. How has photography changed the way you look at the world and what have you learnt about yourself?
I am not a tourist, even if I am visiting somewhere. I feel strongly that a good photographer brings his or her vision to each and every situation, and we trust that person’s eye because of what is in side his or her head that makes meaning everywhere the eye goes. That is true whether it is in my home, in my family’s business, or in Spain or in Manila. I think it’s a cheap shot to tell a great photographer that he or she can’t go somewhere for a week and make valid pictures. It’s just that most people aren’t great, or even good, photographers; those are the tourists.