In advance of launching our 4th round CSA (shares go on sale Monday, September 19), we are publishing short interviews with the six featured photographers to get to know them and their work a bit better. Next up is Clay Lipsky.
You photograph a variety of subjects, ranging from straight street photography to more moody, emotionally charged imagery. What motivates you to photograph a particular subject in a particular way?
I often approach a photographic series as filmmaker, contemplating what creative decisions and techniques will help support the story and vision. Is it a drama or a comedy? Black & white or color? Raw or noir? Generally I try to embrace my subject's mood, define the protagonist and work it out from there. With photography, it is easy to document, but it takes more effort to cultivate a style/look and only include what needs to be featured. Additionally, like music, you want to be playing the right instrument for the song. Consequently, the biggest decision for me usually is photographic medium ( film, digital, polaroids...) as it sets the initial tone and defines what technical limitations you will be wrestling with.
Tell us more about the series In Dark Light (the series your CSA image will come from).
In Dark Light is a series of self portraits and landscapes inspired by my journey in life, but it also tells a tale that encompasses universal themes such as loss of home and parent, work, pursuit of beauty and perseverance under no religious compass. It is also a path seen through the prism of depression, imagined here as an internal mindscape, a personal purgatory mired in fog with colors muted and senses numbed. The varied surroundings serve as metaphor for life's many obstacles. The emotional discord and loss of identity is best exemplified by the anonymous urban journeyman, out of place & out of time, who traverses this shadowed plane alone. Beyond the horizon lies hope for brighter days, and so he carries on, albeit cast in dark light.
You selected the ILFORD Galerie Prestige Mono Silk paper. Had you used this paper previously? What has been your experience with it so far? (ILFORD has generously donated paper to each of the photographers to use for their CSA photographs.)
ILFORD's Galerie Prestige Mono Silk paper impressed me with its hefty weight and great tonal range. I have never used paper specifically designed for black and white printing before, but I enjoyed how the quality elevated it as physical object and reminded me of a traditional darkroom print.