Artist in Residency 2019.
— What was your first impression of Budapest?
— I have found all the people very friendly and opened. Overall, I found the community here very supportive, genuine, and kind. I am humbled by how many people can speak English. Having lived in the US, I can speak a little Spanish but I don't speak it fluently. But here, I've been so impressed by how many people are able to communicate very well in English. My first impression of Budapest was that everything, even the less important buildings, are ultra-embellished. The stonework on these buildings is impressive. As someone who lives in Southern California, which was mostly built in the early or the middle of 20th century – so mid-century modern architecture is really popular there and it is really minimal and certain materials are always used –, I can see that in here everything is really embellished. I came here partly because I am attracted to something that is different from where I came from. Similar to Budapest, Los Angeles has a lot of Art Nouveau and Secession architecture. In particular, we have a lot Art Deco, which is a really strong traditional architecture there. I usually photograph landscapes, big mountains and the desert. So, for me to photograph a city scape, whether it has centuries of history – even millennial history – is really interesting. There are layers upon layers of culture and history here, while the space that usually I work is very open and natural.

As far as architecture goes, I really love the juxtaposition between things, such as Art Nouveau or Secession or Neoclassical versus the Bauhaus. There is such a contrast there but they are all grouped together. There is no isolation of just the Bauhaus style; they work right next to one another with that contrast.or a footnote, for it to be used in-text, the writer found some content necessary to include with the manuscript, however less initially important than the main copy. Therefore, it is necessary for the main copy to have more hierarchy than the footnote.
Digital technology is evolving but analog methods still produce better quality. Is there a competition?
— Part of the reason why I wanted to shoot analogue is that I wanted to work with my hands and work in the physical world. There is a difference in their quality. Analogue has the process that I wanted to work in. I had more control on each element of it. I just wanted to get out of my head; I have been thinking a lot, and I just wanted to disconnect from my thought process. I think it depends what you value for quality. You can value different moments; there are a lot of things you can value. For me, analogue is being original and that is why I am working on this particular process. I want to make pieces that cannot be reproduced. I enjoy playing with the time period of the process. It captures the time period we are in now; it is everything that is taking place between then and now. But I see a lot of very good digital photography. It is not necessarily the case that one is always better than the other. It is about how one works in each particular process. One of my best friends is a photographer and, though she sometimes uses analogue, she mostly uses digital, and I totally love her work. I guess it depends on each person and on the concept.

— What was your earliest experience with arts?
— My dad bought me a (?) Camera when I was 10 years old, and my dad is very much in photography, too. I was interested and empowered to use the camera. We had a basement darkroom, and I took photos there. Later on, I attended art high school and studied photography. It was amazing since it was only analogue photography and printing in-studio. However, I stepped away from it for five years. I left it for a while because I came from a family that was pretty conservative. Everybody in our town wanted to know how are you going to make money. To them, there are the valuable jobs, that have status; and these are all practical, like a teacher, lawyer, or doctor. After taking a five year break, I quickly came back to photography.
— I think a lot of artists have to face this problem but then they should still continue making their art somehow.
— Yes, exactly, and this time I just did not know how would it look like to go to art school, and then being professional, make money and so on. My aunt has been a designer, an artist during her whole life, employed by a company. For me, she was really inspiring. She was a role model for me. I saw that it was possible to have a well-organized life as an artist, and I was probably the closest to her among all of my family members. I went to college for a while at a liberal arts academic school, and then I became a photojournalist for a while at a newspaper. After that, I started my masters of fine arts while working. It was a continuation of the work I did in high school. Feels like I am the same person as I was then, and now I have finally continued it. I felt that I should never should have left this, that this is who I am! And also found the balance in it because it serves both questions: how am I supporting myself as an artist and how am I continue evolving my practice in the way that I want to.
— What did your family think about your career decisions? Were they supportive?
— My mom is very conservative and my dad is very liberal. My mom did not really understand me as an artist and I do not think she understands it still. But my dad always understood. I think it was because of our town, our family friends, and the culture there. Finally, both of them tried to convince me to go to an academic school, instead of being an artist. They were not supportive, so I decided to take the other path for a while. I do not think that they understood what I needed and who I was. However, my mom is really happy that I can support myself.

— Is there anyone that you find a major source of your inspiration?
— I have a lot of sources of inspiration. I think one of them is my aunt.
— How did she inspire you?
— She was an artist and I was watching her. I think it was because of her everyday lifestyle. As she got older, I had the feeling that she has such a beautiful soul. She was so happy. And I can always talk to her about anything. That is one thing about her, just as a person. She is really playful and positive. Being an artist who supports your work, she also inspired me to choose the career of an artist. And I have so many sources of inspiration. It is really hard for me to even point to one because it is always evolving and changing based on where I am living or who I am surrounded by. Artists, writers, filmmakers, and nature – these are the things I find inspirational. There were a lot of photographers I looked up since being to high school, and I still love their work. Their work is hugely meaningful to me, through my life as an artist and then. The more I learn, of course, the more other artists fit into that, with other types of interest. But, probably, my aunt is the main inspiration.
— I heard that you are an adventurous person with plenty of curiosity, so can you tell me about other activities you like doing?
— The main thing is that I am a skier and that comes from being in Wyoming. When I first finished undergraduate, before I went to grad school, I started skiing and it just swept me up immediately, even though I did not grow up doing it necessarily. Anything outdoors. We went to Switzerland and had skied before we went there. Also, there is a mountain resort in Utah, and we go there a lot. But it is not just being in nature, but its general idea is very American: if I can get into my car and drive somewhere where I can experience total freedom. Whether I am going somewhere new, a lake or a mountain, or a national park. Out on the road, I feel the essence of freedom and optimism. And I have the capability to drive myself to places. I do a lot of road trips because this feeling I get with them. Sports, being in nature, running through trees; these places have these giant trees that seem to have so much presence. You are on the open road and feeling the experience of nature and the wisdom of it, too.
— Do you usually explore nature with your camera?
— Almost 100% of the time. We go on an adventure sometimes of course, with friends who are familiar at all of these places, and collectively they are all feel like home for me. I do not want to go home. In the far western side of the US, where my family lives and all of these places that are my actual homes, this is where there is a lot of accessible nature. Therefore, I feel at home when I am going somewhere like that, and I usually have a camera with me.
— Can you tell me some words about your working method?
— I have a view camera. It is the style of camera that they started using at the very beginning of photography, or even before. The image passes through the lens, goes upside down and backwards, and goes on to the (?) and because it flips everything upside down and backwards, you can forget about everything else. You can focus on everything in front of you with it but it is not make sense always. So that is how I get the image composed. My camera is very huge so I need someone to have me move it. I have to have a darkroom, which has chemicals and where I prepare the emulsion in a piece of glass. It takes some time to get it sensitive and then I put it back into the camera and I am exposing the image directly on that piece of glass. I take it back to the darkroom quickly and develop it right away. I can see the image comes up immediately and can decide if I like not. This emulsion is very delicate on the top of the glass; these two things combined are very delicate. That is how it works; it requires a lot of equipment. As it is now, shooting this format, I have to have a lot of help. It is a very slow film, it is not light sensitive, and it takes a long time; cityscapes and landscapes are about 1 to 3 minutes long.

— The purpose of photography is to preserve reality in the most effective way you can. What do you think?
— Susan Sontag is a photographic writer. She claims that there is two functions of photography: one is for realism and one is for beauty. So almost anything that is ugly you can preserve in photography. You can preserve things in a highly realistic way. In that stage that we are in with photography now, everybody is aware of the subjectivity of it, whether we are talking about the type of lens that is being used, or the possibility for it to be photoshopped, or the person that is holding the camera. In the early days of photography, whatever was photographed was accepted as reality. I think they called it visual proof. Visual proof is using an image to prove that something exists; that something is real. I think the innocence of visual proof was lost while the medium progressed. This is definitely one of the functions of photography, but there is a wide of range of that.
— Do you think that is it possible to capture the essence of someone's personality?
— I do. When I am taking portraits, that is exactly what I am going for because I feel that you can capture. It just depends on a lot of things, such as how relaxed they are and how they engage with the photographer. The mechanism is slow and it somehow has the effect of stripping people down. During the whole process, they can't move. They really have to just sit in the present moment with who they really are.
— Is it necessary to become friends with the models (or is it better if you do not know each other)?
— That is a really good question. I feel like some parts of it I have no control over. I often try to make people feel comfortable when I am photographing them. That would hopefully be the best result - just because they feel that they are themselves and they do not hold something back. I also cannot always make people comfortable. But I am photographing people that I am close to and not close to in a similar way. I mean, the results are similar. It depends not on the experience. I feel that I have control over a lot of things while I am doing it. It is also a liquid process, also sensitive. As much as I try, I cannot control certain expressions people make, things that come out of them during the photographic process. The process also captures on a lot of family hereditary trades, which are an essential part of the people are. In that sense, I think I am answering the last question - that I do think I can capture by photography in general, and that the process I am working with can capture the essence of someone.
— What does spirituality means for you? Is it represented in your photos?
I have an interest in connecting to what I think is spiritual and unseen. However, I am not a religious person. I was raised in a Catholic family and I studied religion for undergrad in a certain context, but I did not go to religious school. I have a lot of respect for a wide range of religions. However, I do not practice any of them right now. Because the work I do is so slow, there is a lot of movement in which I can imply a certain aspect of things being there or not there. There is a feeling of it being ghostly but then I also feel that there is a spiritual element of it. During the creative process, I discover colors that are parts of the visual spectrum, but are impossible to see with our naked eyes because of different wavelengths and frequency ranges. These colors are part of the invisible spectrum. I love this, and I feel like I am seeing through something that is unseen, which I cannot see myself. It requires no one to see it. And I guess I feel like there is something, not necessarily a universal order, but some types of other entities, that we as humans do not see in the physical world. I do not know exactly what they are. I just feel I am open to them and feel an essence of spirituality in the connection to nature and myself. When I went to undergrad, I went to a town that was very much haunted. I lived in other places that I felt were haunted, too. After hearing ghost stories about my school, I was filled with curiosity and had an interest in ghosts and the supernatural. I have some friends who are like this, too. I am not necessarily afraid of these things. I am just curious, and I am interested in them. And I have always found something supernatural wherever I have been. But, I do not know if it is necessarily is present in my work.
— It is beautiful that you are interested in the invisible phenomena as a photographer.
— There is a tension for sure, a juxtaposition.