Interview: Tom Hoying

Columbus based photographer Tom Hoying recently reached out to us, we really like what he is doing and check out our interview with him below to get a better idea of his work process and what he is all about.

fts I almost drowned in the Blue River

fts I almost drowned in the Blue River

Empty Stretch: Age/ Location/ 3 favorite things in life?

Tom Hoying: 22 years / Columbus, OH / art, my bicycle, and the people I’m closest to.

ES: How did you get into photography? Do you have a favorite camera or set up at the moment?

TH: I suppose I’ve always been taking pictures but I started really pursuing photo seriously when I was 16 or 17. In the past I’ve shot film exclusively, but I’m starting to transition into mixing digital and film into one workflow. So I’d say I’d split that question between my Mamiya 6, and a 5D.

ES: A fair amount of of your work seems based around American identity and aspirations of retaining or rejecting the concept of the “American Dream.” What about this theme interests you? Did your own upbringing influence you to tackle this subject matter?

TH: A lot of the areas that appear in I almost drowned in the Blue River I visited often when I was growing up. Some of the portraits are of family members as well. These details remain absent from my statement however, because I want the viewer to be able to connect to the work on their own, using their own individual experience and understanding of America. The “American Dream” isn’t a clearly definable concept and means a lot of different things to different people. Part of the motivation for making the images was the shift I saw in the attitudes of those close to me, and seeing my relatives in and out of work. I think the shift I observed also had a lot to do with my own coming of age, and having the haze of childhood idealization lifted. I knew I wanted the images to reflect my respect for the people and the land, but to also be honest and attempt to show some of the economic realities of the area.

fts I almost drowned in the Blue River

fts I almost drowned in the Blue River

ES: The body of work “I almost drowned in the Blue River” seems to play out as a eulogy for the “American Dream.” Could you talk about your work and thought process behind this series? If a viewer was to take one thing away from this series, what would you hope that would be?

TH: The “American Dream” is a constantly shifting undefinable concept based in opportunity, optimism, and the good will of the people around you.  I think the core of my statement is that although the recession may have hit hard, these communities and people will step up and support one another.  The jobs may have left, but the opportunity that the “American Dream” promises may not really be dead, it’s just constantly changing like anything in life. I was standing in the gallery with my prints getting feedback from a few people about the work and they all remarked about how it reminded them of where they came from, or somewhere close to them. For me, being able to connect with the subjects and subject matter in an intimate way, and then in turn sharing that experience with viewers who are able to connect and relate to the images in to their own way is why I make photographs.

fts I almost drowned in the Blue River

fts I almost drowned in the Blue River

ES: Do you consider your work a critique on American identity / the “American Dream” or merely a documentation of a time within America? Why?

TH: A lot of the images bear a specific nostalgic gaze, while many remain attached to the present. The work certainly isn’t a critique of American Identity, but rather an attempt to assert that American Identity, like the “American Dream”, is isn’t clearly definable and welcomes interpretation from the viewer.

ES: Who, photographically and non-photographically, has influenced you lately?

TH: I recently visited Cleveland for an opening of Christian Patterson’s work Redheaded Peckerwood.  Seeing the work in person and hearing Christian talk about all of the time, planning, and research that went into his work really impacted me.  The amount of care and connection Christian has with his subject matter is really inspiring.

fts I almost drowned in the Blue River

fts I almost drowned in the Blue River

ES: If you could travel to any planet, which one and who would you bring?

TH: I’d travel to Mars and bring my closest friends, a camera, some sunscreen, and grill.  Who wouldn’t want to have a block party on mars?

"Thou Shalt Not" Dayton, Ohio - fts Restless In The Midwest

“Thou Shalt Not” Dayton, Ohio – fts Restless In The Midwest

Please check out more of Tom Hoying’s work over on his website or blog.

Review: “Somewhere Else” by Stephanie Noritz

Always moving, never stopping. Words I hope to soon live and breathe by but for the time being, I’ve been living vicariously through works that speak to this notion. Stephanie Noritz’s self-published photobook “Somewhere Else” was the trip I didn’t know I was looking for. With simple yet elegant photographs, mixed with smart pacing, and book design,  Noritz presents a self-published gem to help you get through that daily grind until you too can hit the open road.

Stephanie Noritz "Somewhere Else"

The book is heavily landscaped based, and while people do make a regular appearance, the scenery and singular compositions are what move this trip along. Each scene looking similar to the next, yet different enough to keep the viewer engaged, help fit the name of the book, “Somewhere Else.” The place ultimately matters little in this trip, as the importance of being “here” is outweighed by the importance of being “there.” This universality of the images also pushes the viewer for repeat visits, and encourages the idea of not necessarily starting from the traditional beginning of the book, but rather forming their own journey through the work.

Stephanie Noritz "Somewhere Else"

Stephanie Noritz "Somewhere Else"

This photobook is a good example of how things can come together when you allow for the images and design to speak for themselves. Instead of relying on bells and whistles to gain the attention of the viewer, small things like attention to printing, sequencing, and holding back from giving too much information to the viewer, made this book. This isn’t your great aunt’s vacation photos, and they may even be unlike any trip you’ve taken before, but you’ll be hard pressed not to find something that catches your attention and keeps bringing you back to this book.

Stephanie Noritz "Somewhere Else"

Please check out more of Stephanie Noritz’s work here and be sure to pick up a copy of  “Somewhere Else” here, before they’re gone.

Oranbeg NET 5

Oranbeg Press, an awesome independent publisher based between Boston and Brooklyn, is currently doing a call out for the fifth installment of their NET series. For those who don’t know, Oranbeg Net is a series of online group exhibitions hosted by Oranbeg Press, that features different themes and curators that always results in unique and visually charged exhibitions. Empty Stretch was thrilled to be asked to curate the fourth NET series titled, I Fear For My Safety, which you can check out here, and we’re just as excited for the newest endeavor titled, Bastards, curated by Colin Todd and Michael Vahrenwald. Check out the prompt and guidelines below.

Bastards
Prompt: Send us your bastards, your immaculate receptions, your autonomous…

(please respond to the image)

Submissions due April 25th, 2014 at midnight.
Please submit to Oranbegpress@gmail.com up to 5 images for consideration (sRGB, JPG, 2000 pixels). Send as a ZIP file. Also please include: Title, Series (if relevant) and your web url.

Papersafe

Papersafe Issue #01: “Sage” / March 2014 / Edition of 75

Papersafe is the newest curatorial and publication project of long time favorite, Trevor Powers and CatLABS. Their first issue titled “Sage” was a two-part publication featuring a 44 page softcover book with photographs by Adam Neese and Erin Shipley, and writings by Alex Sinclair and Carl Gunhouse that also came with a small 24 page zine insert featuring 28 photographers. This gem is already sold out after a successful kickstarter campaign, but they’re already working on their second issue titled “Keepers of the Dark,” which invites all current and former lab techs, studio, equipment, or darkroom managers and staff  to enter. We have a good feeling about this one, so check out their submission guidelines below and make sure to enter before the deadline; April 30th!

ISSUE TWO CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS!
Keepers of the Dark: For it’s second issue, Papersafe is seeking film-based photographic work created by lab techs, studio, equipment, or darkroom managers and staff - past and present - whether at a university, community darkroom, commercial studio, or your local photo lab.

The deadline for submissions is April 30th, 2014 at midnight. There is no subject, style, or theme restrictions.

Image and submission specifications:
Submit up to 10 images
JPEG format, 2000px on the short side, at 300dpi
Label the files with your name and numeration (Example: firstname_lastname_01.jpg)
Send in a ZIP folder or via wetransfer.com to papersafe@catlabs.info

In the email be sure to include:
Image titles, statement (if applicable), website url, and short bio
Answers to the following questions:
1. Where do/did you work?
2. How has your time there informed, influenced or shifted your own practice?

Feature: Brandon Wilson

Brandon Wilson

Brandon Wilson’s website is cryptic, with little information or direction. No titles or series names, but he’s allowed to, because his photos are really good. He seamlessly weaves between urban and rural landscapes, switching from abstract and obscure to definitive and right back again. He has a great eye behind the camera, as well as in his sequencing. See a selection of photographs below and make sure to check out his website for more photographs.

Brandon Wilson

Brandon Wilson

Brandon Wilson

Brandon Wilson

Please find more of Brandon’s work on his website.

Feature: Matthew Swarts

If you’ve been following us for a bit now, you’ve probably heard Matthew Swarts‘ name before. His work has been featured on here before as well as almost everything we’ve done over the past year, including Petty Thieves Four. His photographs have an eery painterly quality and leave the viewer asking questions, rather than leaving with any answers. He recently sent us over some of his new work and it picks up where the rest of his work left off. 

In his own words

“Soon after I moved to Somerville, Massachusetts in 2002, I began to gut renovate the living unit of my old two family house. When I (literally) took apart my house, I began to re-imagine the narrative of this particular space.

I have recently begun to try to photograph what I love about the feel of Somerville’s side streets, the interstitial relationships between large old houses, and, in particular, a certain quality of this city’s light. 

These images are just evolving, and I expect to work on this project for some time, but I feel quite clearly that these photographs are a new attempt to touch how it has felt to become part of a place, and yet, to not really be a part of it at all.”

fts City of Concern

fts City of Concern

fts City of Concern

fts City of Concern

Please see the rest of the images here.