Lara Shipley (born 1980) and Antone Dolezal (born 1982) are two contemporary photographers from the USA who’ve recently worked together on a series called “Devil’s Promenade”.
In their long-term collaborative project Lara Shipley and Antone Dolezal explore a mysterious light phenomenon in Ozark hills.
The project has also been turned into a series of books made up of three volumes. The first volume “Spook Light Chronicles” has already been sold out.
In another interview on this site Lara Shipley and Antone Dolezal talk about their fascinating work when mystery and fantasy enter the ordinary world on the “Devil’s Promenade”.
“Artist Profile” – Lara Shipley and Antone Dolezal
Why did you become a photographer? And what does photography mean to you?
Lara Shipley: I was excited by photography from a very early age. In high school I poured over issues of Life Magazine and worked at a Sonic Drive-In to save money for my first 35mm camera. But it wasn’t until college that I had the opportunity to pursue it seriously.
I think it’s always been photography’s tricky relationship with reality that seduced me. I loved it both as a means of visual expression and as an excuse to be a squatter in the lives of others.
“Working for long periods of time on extended projects is always very surreal.”
Antone Dolezal: I became serious about pursuing a career as an artist during the last two years of college. Photography in particular became the medium I could use as an excuse to leave my home and understand the world on my own.
To meet interesting people and share experiences I never would have had. Working for long periods of time on extended projects is always very surreal, it’s not really something I can put into words and the situations that happen on the road don’t happen in my normal day-to-day life.
Photography was an initial way of expressing those surreal moments.
How would you describe your photographic language and creative process? How do you plan and execute a project? Both technically and conceptually?
Lara Shipley: I am interested in making narrative images that are like short stories without a beginning or end. Starting a project is a mixture of research, experimentation and wandering around.
I tend to get excited about a place or a story without knowing why at first. Through making images, writing, spending time talking to people, and reading related fiction and nonfiction, I begin to articulate the core of my interest.
I try not to be too conceptually rigid in the beginning but instead give the project the chance to develop based on the photographs and experiences that emerge.
Antone Dolezal: My work, whether through photography or writing explores the American social landscape and its relationship with history and folklore.
In the past my projects would evolve conceptually over many years, but as I’ve tuned my voice the concepts usually come first. Literature and oral storytelling traditions are where the core of my conceptual inspiration comes from.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
Antone Dolezal: I study projects more so than any one particular photographer. Some that stand out are Lucas Foglia’s “A Natural Order”, Alec Soth’s “Broken Manual”, Christian Patterson’s “Redheaded Peckerwood”. Oh man, the list could go on.
All of these projects mentioned have inspired the work I’m doing now and I try to be aware of how to differentiate my own work from what inspires me.
Lara Shipley: I would agree with Antone’s list, and just add Dorothea Lange, Carolyn Drake and Olivia Arthur as a few photographers I’ve been looking at lately.
I would also include the photography of my partner Daniel Coburn who always inspires me with his drive and visual imagination.
What book about photography would you recommend?
Lara Shipley: This isn’t a book but the essay “Incisions in History/Segments of Eternity” by Hollis Frampton is the most interesting and bizarre essay about photography I have read.
Antone Dolezal: I’ve recently been into the books by Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs as well as the “Archive of Modern Conflict”.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to get started with photography?
Antone Dolezal: Get involved with your local photo community, look at as many images and photobooks as possible and go out into the world and make photos.
Lara Shipley: I agree with Antone that community is crucial.
I also advise my students to go above and beyond anyone’s expectations. Don’t wait for someone else to push you. Push yourself.