Words: Marque Blackman
Hotel Van Zandt has a crowded cocktail lounge on Friday nights, but an endless barrage of shoulder bumping wasn’t enough to deter me from keeping my commitment to seeing my “friend-off-a-friend’s” band play. Set ends, I sing my praises [along with my goodbyes] and make a beeline for the elevator. Outside, back in the real world, is where I run into Emree Weaver, also looking for an escape. After sharing a bench, a smoke, and a conversation, my mind’s made up that this chick has a talent and a mindset that need to be shared.
What motivates (or drives) you as photographer?
My drive and motivation for photography comes from every other human being on this planet. Eli Reed, an amazing photojournalist as well as a former professor and good friend of mine, has always said that his body of work encompasses what it means to be human. I’ve always held that close to my heart and I think my work represents that as well, but in my own personal way. I’ve always had a sort of wonderment with the world around me and despite all the turmoil, socially and politically, there is still a beauty to it all. Every person and moment is a unique story.
I think my curiosity and wonder is what drives me creatively. The photography market is incredibly saturated now, so everything has pretty much been done before. But that has never stopped me from trying something that’s new to me. To me, photography is just as much about the process as it is about the results. The act of photographing, trying a new trick, experimenting with film, and developing and printing in the darkroom are all just as special as the final images that come out of those processes. That’s perhaps the difference in the experience of the image producer and the viewer, though I think the power the viewer has is the ability create their own meanings from images based on their perceptions.
Who are some of your creative influences?
Well I mentioned him briefly before, but to this day my number one influence in photography is Eli Reed. He taught me in college during a very pivotal point in my photographic journey and he continues to encourage and inspire me every day. As a mentor, as a friend, and as someone who is always excited to see new images I’ve produced. A few years ago, I remember having a chat with him about my concerns with where my photography was in relation to everyone else’s expectations (other photographers I wanted to impress, potential clients, etc.) and the lesson he taught me was to throw those thoughts out the window and just shoot how I wanted to shoot. By remaining true to myself with photography, things somehow fall into place.
What’s the most memorable moment you’ve captured?
I’m not sure about the most memorable moment I’ve captured. Even still being so young, I have thousands and thousands of images spanning roughly ten years. I consider each image I capture special. But a recent one that comes to mind is a portrait I made of my grandmother with my Mamiya 645 on black and white film. I think what makes it so special is that the image tells its own story. When I shared it on Instagram recently, I accompanied it with a long caption of my memories of her memories, but to someone that doesn’t know her, those memories probably don’t mean anything. They might be interesting tidbits, sure, but they won’t have any real, tangible meaning. What’s meaningful to me is the way that I captured her. If I didn’t know her and I looked at that image, I would wonder what sort of history and secrets are behind her eyes.
It’s difficult to say, or plan out, what’s next. There will always be the “next thing” we hope to someday achieve. I imagine my photography being able to take me to places and people in the world that I never thought it would. I want to take life as it comes, but also create opportunities that allow me to continue documenting those around me, near and far.