MAGAZINE // ARTISTS
"My light-painted nightwork captures the abandoned and discarded underbelly of the American West. I sneak through fences during the full moon to capture the inevitable march of nature, scrappers and developers, who conspire to erase the fading memories of all these things we once held so dear. I convert these dark, dirty, places no one wants into surreal, glittering wonderlands, colorful, ghostly echoes of what once was.
I only shoot at night, by the light of the full moon, using minutes-long exposures to capture the passage of time in a single frame. I augment the scene with light–frequently colored–treating the site like a dark stage set, using basic cinematic techniques to control the composition, create mood, and lead the viewer’s eye. It’s about tightly controlling the scene, even though the scene itself is wildly entropic and out of control.
This technique came from necessity. I’ve explored these kinds of places since I was a teenager in the 1970s. When I started night shooting them in 1989, I quickly figured out they needed to be lit to properly tell their stories. Sneaking into most locations (especially early in my career) meant I had to travel light and work fast. Light stands, power supplies and assistants simply won’t work, so I just carry a tripod, camera pre-mounted, and all my lights fit in my pockets. I can slip through the fence and already be shooting before most photographers can even get their camera out of the trunk. I love the physicality of this kind of work: lock open the lens, move through the location, adding light, one source at a time, with a simple hand held flashlight, go back and close the lens. I am literally making the picture, not taking it."