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Copyright © 2005, Eric Gustafson
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a r t i s t    o f   t h e    m o n t h

Interview with Eric Gustafson
by Barbara Tampieri

Do you look for a certain effect and atmosphere or may they just be the result of a casual process?
A very good question..I think it's a combination of both really. There are times when I have a very clear image in my mind of what I want to accomplish, and I will exhaust myself as best I can to try and create it. But there are also many other times where I simply allow myself to be lost in the moment of working with an image. I will just open up a few selected shots from wherever I was shooting (I try to post edit very soon after I get back from shooting, to better remember and then convey the mood and feeling that I got from actually being at the place I had captured), put some music on, and see where it takes me. I've found that the best results are often the unplanned ones, happy mistakes and the things you are only able to see after you've removed yourself from being in that 'moment' of shooting and have taken a few steps back to be able to look at the picture as a whole. I am definetly at a stage where I like to put myself in an urban enviornemnt or scenario that is interesting to me, and then see what I can discover through exploring it!

Do you have a favorite subject?
Well I have to think it will be different in a few years, but for now I love the urban environment. Sort of a general subject: buildings, architecture, street signs, etc. that are not necessarily a specific person, thing or object as subject..but I think if you put the proper perspective on scenes you can almost personify them in a way. Either to make someone 'feel' what that environment feels like (living thing or not, could even be an inanimate object! a railing, for example!) or even better- for them to almost tangibly feel that atmosphere of the image, as if they were there. I feel that with human subjects, the emotions can be very powerful that you get by looking at it, but there is a very static notion to it. You can usually only feel and emulate one thing - what the subject is portraying. With more ambiguous subjects (or lack of a subject at all!) that do not have specific human emotions, it is left up to a person to choose what he wants to see and draw from it. It is an easy thing to relate to a person, but there is a challenge I enjoy at creating a relationship to the environment..

What is your attitude towards Black and White photography?
Hmm..another excellent question that I've recently been thinking about. My opinion of Black and White photography is that it is much harder to become good at then color photography. You have less elements to work with, so you must make sure that what you are making is perfect in the main aspects (such as light, exposure, subject, etc.). As much as I love color, I never want to become too comfortable with it and force myself to experiment with monotone images to see what I can come up with.

Are there other photographers and artists inspiring your work?
Oh yes! I know that I would not have produced what I have so far without inspiration from art galleries in real life as well as on line. And not just specifically other photographers images, either. Music is a huge inspiration and I believe it sets the tone of a lot of the things and places that I capture (I often listen to music on headphones when I am out shooting!) It is a fine line though, between being inspired by others and allowing yourself to put a personally unique twist that you saw someone else do, with trying to replicate it exactly. I always try to put my own perspective on things and remember to be making something that is unique to what I see, feel or think. Also, I have been a member of an online art community called DeviantArt ( http://www.deviantart.com ) since 2001 that has grown immensely since then. It has served as a consistent aide to me not only with inspiration of other great photographers and artists, but also feedback from them on my own work and having made some good friends through it!