“I committed myself to shooting nothing but film. There is a soul, a truth, that I’ve found in film photography.”
Donny Tidmore is a contemporary photographer from the USA. He started rather late working as a visual artist and is mostly self-taught when it comes to photography. His girlfriend encouraged him to dedicate more time to image making pointing out his good eye and talent for visual composition.
For Donny Tidmore photography is a search for subtle truths that make up the reality of subjects.
Interview with Donny Tidmore
Donny, your latest work “In Memoriam #2” is about cemeteries. What made you take on this rather dark subject?
I’ve actually been asking myself that recently. Wondering why again and again I’m drawn to the cemetery. It started as just trying to make beautiful images from the angel statues that I found there. But it’s turned into something much more. I acknowledge that it’s a somewhat dark subject. But I don’t find cemeteries to be dark places. In the middle of the city I can find a place that takes a step back in time, a place that is beautiful and set apart from everything else. I can take photos of things that, to someone, are the most precious monuments in the world. Objects that are the lasting physical memorial to an entire life. There’s something in that calling me.
The images are in black and white. Was opting for monochrome a deliberate choice to reinforce the message you’d like to bring across?
No, not necessarily. In fact, I take many color photos in cemeteries. I do find it fascinating how much cemetery photos change, from color to black and white. I’d love to do a series in all color someday as well.
What reaction do you intend to provoke in people looking at your photos?
I realize that, especially with the cemetery work, it’s not for everyone. I just hope that it finds those who it will resonate with.
The series was shot with film. Why do you prefer analog photography over digital?
I made the switch from digital to film just earlier this year. Before making the switch, I primarily made digital images that were pretty heavily manipulated. Texture work in photoshop, etc. I would create images that I like visually, but left me bored, feeling no connection to them. I felt like I was creating digital art, but not taking photos. I found myself wanting to take photos that would stand on their own without manipulation, but not sure how to get there. The answer was film.
I committed myself to shooting nothing but film. To better myself as a photographer and learn from my mistakes. In the process I absolutely fell in love with it. There is a soul, a truth, that I’ve found in film photography. A connection to my photos that I never felt before. It feels as if they’ve come to life.
What does a single photograph need in your opinion in order to stand out and get noticed? Especially keeping in mind the abundance of visual imagery in today’s media?
“I think all we can do is stick to our hearts.”
I have no idea, but I wish I did! You’re not kidding when you say “abundance of visual imagery”. We are so over saturated with visual stimulation, that at some point, everything starts to look the same. Everything has been seen and done before. I think all we can do is stick to our hearts – put a piece of ourselves in our work – and what will be will be.
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?
For me it’s quite the opposite of tourist, as of now. The camera makes me at home, wherever I’m shooting. It has definitely opened my eyes, forced me to pay more attention to the world. I’m sure that the it’s probably trying to teach me plenty about myself, but I’m too distracted to pay attention.
Every photographer is going through different stages in his formation. Which “landmarks” do you recall that have marked you and brought you to the place where you are today as a photographer?
“When I first looked through a ‘real’ finder, well, that was my ‘moment of seeing’.”
The first time I looked through the viewfinder of a 35mm film camera, the world looked different. Up until that point I had been shooting mirrorless cameras with EVF’s, and when I first looked through a “real” finder, well, that was my “moment of seeing”.
Last but not least, let’s switch roles: Which question would you have liked to be asked in this interview about your work that I didn’t ask? Please feel free to add it – as well as the answer.
Q: I’d ask myself – Where is it that I want to go from here?
A: The answer – I’m still quite young as a photographer, and feel like I want to branch out, try different things. I really want to shoot people. I’ve spent a lot of time taking photos of things, and very little of people. So, to whoever is reading this, I’d love to take your photo!