Earlier this year, I found myself poring over LIFE Magazine’s archives. Sure, it started out as an assignment to learn everything there was to know about Gordon Parks, the first African-American photographer to join LIFE’s staff, but it ended providing me with a depth of inspiration beyond my normal day to day. Typically, I browse fashion photographs and contemporary art to get my wheels turning, so looking at what photographers before me were doing (and for the sake of humanitarianism) was deeply influential for me.
In general, the photographs were black and white, obviously shot with film and all felt very right. Despite occasional under-exposure or blur, viewing the wealth of photos taken by LIFE’s staff made it seem like every choice was completely thought through, and that nothing was accidental.
Fast forward to my recent imagemaking in light of this: I’ve been drawn to underexposure, black and white, and grain. These things are not necessarily celebrated in the industry of commercial work, so delving into them for myself has been rewarding and exciting. In my most recent shoot with Britta, I found myself projecting a character onto her that was not unlike some of the portraits found in LIFE of people showing raw emotion.