[su_heading size=”20″]Take a trip through the mind of Andrew Faulk –the photographer’s photographer. Simon Slater talks with the man known for his unique vision and execution behind the lens. [/su_heading]
Since arriving on the peninsula to Korea in 2009 from his native Tennessee, Andrew Faulk has become a hugely respected talent behind the lens. Whether it’s creating unique portraiture in-studio, showing budding photographers the ropes on photography tours of Thailand and Korea, or shooting rock concerts, Faulk has become a go-to guy for his visionary take on photography.
What were the key moments in your life when you first started to think of yourself as a photographer, not just someone who takes pictures?
At some point, I began to hold up the group. Whether travelling or just being out and about, my wife or friends would walk ahead while I stopped to “just take a photo.” When I looked away from my camera, I would magically be fifty feet away from where I began shooting and at least 15 minutes older. During those times, I was getting the shots I wanted but also getting a bit of the “awesome that you like taking photos but you are ruining our outing” vibe. I think noticing this was when I admitted to myself that I had a photographic obsession and was more than just someone who took snapshots.
What have you brought from your personal life pre-photographer status that you think plays a part in your vision as a photographer, such as hobbies/interests/tastes?
Personal connection is very important to me. I have always enjoyed speaking with people and being around others in conversation or silence. Whether it is a stranger or not is moot. I like to observe and tend to dwell on the things that I notice. It only seems natural to take it a step further by photographing people, details and observations.
Talk about your development as an artist and how you think you have grown in relation to a cultivation in style, particularly your creative portraiture, and what have been and are currently some key influences that have helped shape your work.
I have always tried to resist a “style.” Though the more I reflect on images I produce, the more I can indeed notice nuances that could be used to describe my photographs. I would be naïve or pretentious to contest that I have not developed a style. I do; however, feel that is has taken a couple of years just to see some commonalities in my imagery. My current influences are mostly internal. I have noticed that my photographs are becoming a bit darker and more muted in tone. Perhaps that is just a reflection of this particular cycle in my life. The more I take photos, the more I acknowledge what I truly adore shooting. When I first began, I wasn’t being mindful of subjects or my particular aesthetic tendencies. I think that loving your subject helps develop style. I have begun to focus my energy on the specific things that I admire in subjects. Whether it an article of clothing, the lobe of an ear or a dirty foot, I find the frame I love. Concentrating on that, the photographs come out how I envisioned then when I clicked the camera’s shutter.
I’ve noticed that there’s a recurring theme of repetition in your work, whether it be a multiple exposure or repeating words and captions. Discuss the theme of repetition in your work and how you feel it is effective.
There are layers and rhythm to everything: personalities, movement, cities, people, and consciousness. There is just as much to learn from shadows and what is not seen than what is. Our past influences our present and future whether we want it to or not. We are creatures of habit and thus repetitive beings. I think that repetition or double exposures and the visual effects that they create remind me of these personal truths. I am perhaps attempting to remind myself of these things.
As well as model work, you are a keen travel photographer. Travel has the tendency to enlighten us and help us grow. What do you like about traveling, and how has it shaped you a person and photographer?
It is from travelling that I owe my enthusiasm towards photography. Most of what I assume to know about life has been learned from travel. In 2004, my father and I took a trip to the Sacred Valley in Peru. One of the most powerful moments in the trip, or in my life, was in Cuzco. There I met a young street girl named Violeta Garcia Vargas. She sold finger puppets. She was talkative and curious. Bubbly. By using superb English and humor, Violeta developed rapport with me, her customer, because it was crucial to her sales. We chatted for an hour or so before our conversation was abruptly interrupted. Before I could even realize what was happening, police had ransacked all of her goods and stolen them from her. I guess the Cuzco fuzz was “cleaning up the streets.” After the cops stole all of her wares, Violeta was anything but defeated. Instead, she just asked me to take her to get some ice cream. I mention that experience because it taught me more about Peru and myself than Machu Picchu ever could. Taking the time to create personal connections is the crux of travel for me. By knowing the people, you can better know a place. Knowing places means that I can better know myself.
You have a great ability to not only reflect an intimate atmosphere with your portraits but also bring out some intense emotional expressions. Can you talk about the process of working with a model to bring these expressions out?
My main goal with any shoot is to connect with a person, not an object. I want to my photographs to look intimate because they are intimate. To create that atmosphere, I first identify how a model feels and then make adjustments in relation to those feelings. I think it takes a keen social sense to develop that atmosphere. Each and every person is different. A model’s mood changes from one moment to the next. Everyone brings their past as well as their present into a shoot. I don’t think that I do many things well in life. However, one thing that I do well is intuitively reading body language. To me, that unspoken communication is far more important than speech. Without emotional intelligence, a photographer will never bring out the desired expressions or emotions in others.
If art is theft, as Pablo Picasso once said, then who are the top three people you have stolen from in regards to your increasingly imaginative portraits and what do you want to attempt in the future with your portraits that you feel is beyond your talents at present? Is there a photographer you’re looking at right now and thinking ‘I want to be able to do something like that too’?
Just three? I pillage tricks from everywhere I can find them. Locally, Dylan Goldby and Jessica Berggrun have had the most impact. While I do not think my work resembles theirs, I do admit that there is a large possibility that I have nicked their tricks without even realizing it. That is to be expected when you spend a large amount of time looking at someone’s work or, better yet, spending time with those artists personally. By osmosis or proximity, I have picked up their energy and am a better photographer for it.
There are many things that I would do that are out of reach for me at the present. I would love to create images with as much beautiful impact as the Spain’s Eugenio Recuenco. But, until I have decent post-processing skills, that is out of reach. Likewise, I would love to be able to shoot the dark side of humanity in a way that is as hauntingly emotive as the work of Antione D’Agata. There are also images that I would jump to create but lack the budget. Tyler Shields, for example, is a photographer who can create his vision because he has both the technical expertise as well as clients with deep pockets. With that said, I am happy with where I am as a photographer and realize that I have plenty of time to learn and grow.
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