I've said it time and time again (and I'm sure we can all agree): social media has taken the practice of networking to new heights. Since the genesis of Instagram-turned-IRL meet ups, I've met some pretty dope people who've been essential to my development as a creative. As such, I'm featuring Curt Saunders--@cosmicinsanity--a photographer that I've admired from behind the iPhone screen. Last weekend, we met up, took advantage of the unusually warm October weather and made some magic. Scroll through for Q&A on Curt, and snapshots of from our West Side sun session.
SH: Give us your elevator pitch. Where are you from, what do you do and where are you based?
CS: I’m born, raised, and based in Brooklyn, NY. I don’t know if I have one title for what I do.. I like making images, I like writing, sometimes I like making imagery out of the things I write, and I enjoy having conversations with other artists about their work. If there’s a word for all of those things, then that’s what it is.
SH: When did you first cut your teeth at photography and why do you find it resonated with you creatively?
CS: I got my first camera in my junior year of high school, and I remember wanting to intentionally document my senior year so that I could make a timepiece for me and my classmates. Since childhood, I’ve been a visually oriented person, and certain images—whether they’re photographs, paintings, or just colors that have been soaking in my subconscious from that time—resonate with me. From the tail end of high school up to my early college years, I observed more images, with the help of the internet, and I would recall many of these internalized reference; the desire to create my own images increased to a point where I could no longer hold it in, and the shooting began.
SH: Tell us about the subjects you enjoying shooting most?
CS: Okay so this always gets deep, but I guess from looking at my work, it’s no secret that women of color play a major role. It’s a tribute to the amazing women of color who have occupied a major space in my life. As a male growing up in a culture where hypermasculinity is a norm among men, there’s an expectation of you from the men with whom you surround yourself. Women have always been able to see me who for I am and not just accept, but love me for it, and challenge me to be more of that. I’ve spent most of my life living with my mom and grandmother, so it starts with them, and it extends to teachers, friends, and just women who inspire me in general.
I have this thing about internalized images because I believe they shape our behaviors and our perspective towards what’s being seen. There are certain ways that women, especially women of color have been visually portrayed, that predates our modern ways of seeing images, and I believe these negative, or objectifying images have damaged our psyche. Sadly, a lot of the perpetrators of these images are men, and it’s taken us down this toxic rabbit hole in the way we treat women and how we respond to the role they play in the world. So essentially, I just believe that images are powerful, and before I even had my first photo shoot with anyone, I knew I wanted to photograph women in a way that was honorable and honest. This isn’t to say that I do so perfectly, but that’s the intention. I’m hoping that through imagery, we can heal our perspectives and patterns, and just be able to all see each other as whole beings.
SH: What are your preferred tools of the trade?
CS: Good question because ideally, I’d love to shoot all film because I’ve always been obsessed with the quality, but as I’m learning more about that process I also shoot digitally (Canon 5d Mark II,) and iPhone. Some of my favorite photos were taken on my iPhone.
SH: And your favorite NYC Metro spot to capture images?
CS: Anywhere that doesn’t look like I am in NYC. Gardens and parks always provide this escapist feel for me, so the Brooklyn Botanic Garden would probably be my favorite spot.