“That idea of altered perception has been apart of all of my work. I want to use recognizable figures, humans, animals, but show them in these unreal environments, having these unreal experiences, to hopefully expand the experience that can be had or imagined for that particular subject.”
Allyson Anne Lamb
Allyson Anne Lamb (born 1988) is a contemporary photographer currently residing in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania (USA). She studied photography at “The School of Visual Arts”.
Allyson Anne Lamb is an artist primarily working with photography. Her use of hard lighting reveals a curious ambiguity of flesh, suggesting a feverish and corporeal delirium. In another interview on this site Allyson Anne Lamb talks about her recent work Beefcakes.
These body parts, both human and animal, appear as both monstrosities and fantastical beings that quietly bask in a world of sexual anxiety, cultural identity, and altered senses.
Held together by engagingly bright spaces of color, the equally captivating outline of these glowing figures constructs something that is both disturbing and inexplicably pleasing to the eye. These figures suggest that the animal body is more than flesh, but is more accurately the exoskeleton for the spirit.
“Artist Profile” – Allyson Anne Lamb
Allyson Anne, why did you become a photographer? And what does photography mean to you?
Throughout my life, I have always taken pictures. Boxes and boxes of film from my childhood disposables are filling my closet at my parents home. As I grew up, and the world around you says “you need to define your future”, I wanted that future to be writing. I had always loved storytelling, especially short fiction. I love those dark, ambiguous endings, but academics were always very hard for me.
“With visual art, images could be beautiful for no real reason, or by less rigid guidelines.”
I did not get a lot of encouragement to continue writing. Literature had its quality determined by academic guidelines. With visual art, images could be beautiful for no real reason, or by less rigid guidelines.
There are these happy accidents where I can find myself falling in love with an image without needing the encouragement or approval of someone more experienced than myself to deem it so.
How would you describe your photographic language and creative process? How do you plan and execute a project? Both technically and conceptually?
My lights are my best tool (and some gels, of course).
“That harsh light has been my one constant.”
The idea of the light was initially to wipe out detail and create these harsh lines that you don’t see under ambient light. See something that is or isn’t there. That harsh light has been my one constant.
The work that really gave me a concept, or that led me from pointing and shooting to working with intention was the self-portrait series I started in college. I had been reading a lot about perception and was really taken by the idea of that there is something (the psychedelic experience, no matter how you get there) that goes beyond culture; “something writ in the language of the flesh itself (McKenna).”
I had always been inspired by people (mostly musicians) who we’re passionate about their heritage, where they came from, and the plight of those who share their birth place. Living in New York, you meet people from all over the world, and many of my friends were activists for the cause that literally hit close to home.
In my case, I have no decipherable heritage, no culture beyond pop culture, so that idea that there was something older than each country’s political turmoil made me feel a little less lost.
It is a beautiful idea, that there is this all-encompassing, something, that we all fall under, as opposed to each group being only applicable, and relatable to those who share their cultural background or religious beliefs.
“I want to use recognizable figures, humans, animals, but show them in these unreal environments.”
I took this idea of this language of the flesh and tried to see that language by distorting how I saw myself. With these early self portraits, I imagined being viewed from these “other” eyes. I was not interested in using a beauty dish, or a soft box, because I was not interested in leveling off or softening myself, but to see it boldly and unmanaged.
That idea of altered perception has been apart of all of my work. I want to use recognizable figures, humans, animals, but show them in these unreal environments, having these unreal experiences, to hopefully expand the experience that can be had or imagined for that particular subject.
I think that unreal lighting is a great way to make an unreal presentation, because nothing ever looks like that naturally. That moment never comes to pass except in the imagination, but photography has the illusion of realness, so the viewer can possibly be fooled into seeing these moments as reality.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
It’s hard to say one, especially since it was not really photographers that inspired me the most. I can say that the artist Elektra KB, and friend and classmate inspired me the most at the right time.
It was the same time I was reading Riane Eisler, and a lot of Terence McKenna, and I did not know how to take the inspiration from the writing and export it visually. Studying photography, it is all about pointing your camera and something real, making portraits, implanting yourself in a subculture, or some kind of documentary.
“I decided I would put something in front of the camera instead of find something to point it at.”
The longer I was in school, I was less and less interested in simply showing what I thought we could all already see. And what Elektra was doing, was creating a whole new reality that she calls “The Theocratic of Gia”. She was still using a camera, but she was inventing what was put in front of that camera.
I would assist her on photo shoots, modeled, and after watching her work, I decided I would put something in front of the camera instead of find something to point it at. Even though I did not physically create anything, they way she was with costumes, I created it with light and so it existed after I took the picture.
But to answer your question directly: I love Asger Carsen’s work. I want that picture of the girl’s vaginia bubbling up with juices.
What’s your favorite inspirational quote about photography?
Let’s see. Let me google inspirational quotes about photography.
Here we go: I like this one.
“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”
What kind of camera and equipment do you use?
Currently, the Nikon D800. I had been a Mamiya 645 girl + SVA’s fancy scanner, but then I mailed my kit to Nigerian scammers and was without a camera for an entire, sad year.
I use the Quantum flashes and gels as my primary light source.
They get the job done, and they are light enough for my tiny biceps but, outdoors, they limit me as they do not overpower the sun, therefore I can only shoot after sun has begun to fall.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
I do not really follow one website. I am a tumblr, Facebook, meticulously tapered newsfeed person.
Recently, I’ve been following GUP Magazine, and their “New Dutch Photography” page. I’ve fallen in love with many photographers from The Netherlands as well as fashion photographers (via GlamCult). I love Hendrik Kerstens, Krista van der Niet, Jef Montes, Aisha Zeijpveld, Isabelle Wenzel (who is actually german I think, but studying and exhibiting in NL).
“Lots of naked boys and girls by window light, 20 something make out sessions, or depressed youth with some kind of disorder.”
There is a lot of concept based work being exhibited there, which I am much more interested in than the New York photo shows I’ve seen. There is so much of this cultural documentary, or lifestyle basically. Lots of naked boys and girls by window light, 20 something make out sessions, or depressed youth with some kind of disorder.
Youth is beautiful, sex is appealing, and sadness is touching. I am just not interested in seeing anymore of that. We see that in pop culture and with celebrities, so I don’t see the need for the art world to focus on so much of that.
What book about photography would you recommend?
“New Dutch Photography Talent”, for the reasons listed above.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to get started with photography?
Look at more than just photography, and don’t just re-create what your favorite photographer is already doing. Read, look at painting, watch movies, and don’t just point and shoot until its pretty.