Photographer David Aimone recently hung his second show for Uncommon Grounds at the Saratoga Springs location after his pictures spent the past month and a half at the Albany store. We thought it would be an ideal time to sit down and get some insight behind David’s excellent work as it will be gracing the walls through the end of April.
Uncommon Grounds (UG): What drew you to photography specifically over any other artistic medium?
David Aimone (DA): I was drawn to photography because it was an opportunity to be expressive in the visual arts. And it is something that you can do in small pieces, or as a larger project. I have been primarily a musician over the years, but composing, playing and performing takes a lot of time and energy—often in cooperation with other people. It has it’s rewards, but I was looking for something more basic that I could explore on my own. My brother is an artist—primarily a painter—but while I have a good eye, I never felt comfortable creating visuals. Photography is more recreating or interpreting of the visual.
UG: Your website states that you started with photography at a young age; talk to us about your personal feelings regarding the difference between “analog” film-based photography and your current method of digitally-based photography…
DA: As a teenager and into my early 20′s I shot 35mm film, and even went to a local camera club in NJ when I was 14-16. It was there that I really learned the basics of composition, shutter speed, depth of field, lighting and all the other components of photography. After that I took a long break from “serious” photography. Three years ago I returned to photography with a new digital camera and a new hunger for learning and experimentation.
There are pros and cons to both digital and film-based photography. Digital is getting better every year, but there are two aspects that will have me back to experimenting some with film in the near future. The first is procedural. With digital cameras, you work not only through knowledge of techniques but also through constant feedback from what you’ve just shot. Shoot a photo, look at it and see what could work better and shoot again. No film costs, no delayed response. With film, you really have to slow down, plan your composition, visualize the result and then go for it. The second pro with film comes when you get into large format, where the lens and the film are not always parallel to each other. This can enable the photographer to do some things that aren’t possible (yet) with digital. Of course, film still has higher resolution at an affordable price.
UG: Your photos have a really interesting balance between realism and fantasy, in that the colors in your photos are often hyper-vibrant and at times, supernatural. Do you consider these traits as something that you strive for?
DA: I am still exploring various approaches. I hopefully always will, but at some point I will try to put together series of photos that have a common approach or feel to them. As far as a balance between realism and fantasy, I do like to highlight aspects of subjects that the eyes aren’t always immediately drawn to or aren’t always obvious—whether it be the coloring or tone of a subject, or the minute detail of a leaf. So I guess I do process photos with that in mind. I also place emphasis on composition. Often, I try to emphasize the simplicity of a subject and give it impact from that perspective. I like photos that when you look at them, you immediately see the subject in it’s simplicity. In other words, not having too many things going on all at once in a photo, so you don’t have to get right up close to even tell what it is.
UG: How many shots of a subject does it take to get “the” photo?
DA: It really depends on the time I have and the subject. Sometimes, it just happens quickly and with few tries. Other times, I can shoot a lot of photos and take my pick. Sometimes I even take a long time waiting for one or two photos to “happen”.
UG: How much experience do you have shooting photos of people?
DA: I don’t have a lot of experience taking people photos. This is an area that I would like to do more with. I recently attended a figure study workshop, and I’d like to do some portraits for my portfolio (looking for volunteers…). I have no interest in doing weddings though. Portraits, low-key events, commission work—yes.
UG: How has the internet affected how you go about your artistic business?
DA: The internet is a great tool for organizing the work, promoting and networking, and learning. Between practice, books and good internet resources, I really feel I’ve completed the equivalent of a self-study college-level program on my own. The internet opens you up to a lot of resources, but it also gives everyone (including me) a platform to work from. It can be overwhelming. Same with music. Everyone has a CD and now downloads of their recordings available.
UG: Tell us about how you put together your shows for Uncommon Grounds…
DA: I planned my shows for Uncommon Grounds with two factors in mind. Presenting the best work that I’ve done so far, but limiting myself to work taken in this region of upstate New York. Even if it’s a flower and could have been taken anywhere, these shows are all about the local region. Nothing from Maine, NC, etc.
UG: Can you show us one photo that you consider a turning point in your artistic development and how things have changed for you since then?
DA: That’s a tough one. I guess I’ll first point to a very simple photo that I took a while back:
( Click here for photo )
There’s not much to this photo, but it showed me that even a simple subject in a simple composition can be interesting and convey emotion and tangible feelings.
The second one was taken very recently. This one actually mimics one of my favorite photos by Ansel Adams, but it showed me that I have the “chops” to accomplish both technical and artistic high standards when taking a photo.
( Click here for photo )
UG: And to wrap it up, any future goals/plans/ideas?
DA: I’m still learning, but learning quickly. I want to put together some portfolios with themes that are integrated. These might focus on a subject, a style, a special technique, or even a mood. I would like to experience large format film photography and basic darkroom procedures. I’ll be doing that soon. I’d also like to look at combining photography and music together somehow. Essentially, I’d like to use the next few years developing my abilities and portfolio, and then do photography full-time, every day.