Interview with professional photographer Tyson Crosbie
I am very pleased to present to you the first interview here on HRT. A few months ago, I noticed some outstanding textures in the HRT Flickr pool and I wanted to find out more about the artist, Tyson Crosbie. Turns out, he’s a professional photographer from Phoenix, Arizona, and he agreed to do this interview and share some details about his artwork and the process behind it. So let’s hear, what he’s got to say:
HRT: Tyson, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. To start off with, could you give us a little introduction of yourself by telling us where you are from and what your background is?
Tyson: I was born in Ogden Utah on 5.6.78 and grew up outside of Eugene OR. Retruning to Utah to get my BFA in 2005. I’ve lived in Utah, Oregon, Missouri, Texas and Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. I currently reside in Phoenix, AZ where I run my photography studio and create an annual body of work best described as abstract expressionism.
HRT: I noticed your work, when you posted some great texture images to my Flickr group. These photos are part of the “Phoenix 21” series. Can you tell us a bit more about this project? How did you come up with the idea? What’s the story behind those pictures?
Tyson: Phoenix 21 is the second annual series of work created out of Phoenix, as I’ve lived here for 2 years. A lot of my work is rule based and the idea for creating an annual series came out of the work itself. I’d been shooting in all these different cities and moving around a lot, nothing was cohesive yet and I still had the view that my work was largely just an exercise. That all changed when I got to Phoenix, I felt more a part of a place than I had previously and decided to make this my home.
To me the rules of the project help restrain me and allow for more creativity than having no bounds. For example the first abstract series I did was done in parking lots, only straight lines and only primary colors; and even that project swelled to 35 images. I use the lower numbers now to force myself to edit to the absolute limit, the absolute best images.
HRT: Can you explain the different process stages from the moment you take the picture until the photo is being printed on RA-4 paper (without giving too much away of the magic involved, of course)?
Tyson: After I take the photo until it is printed is really easy; I color balance the photos and then send them to my printer. There isn’t a lot of magic involved. I’m a purist at heart even though I choose to shoot digitally I still treat the camera like a film camera. I shoot and print full frame and I print as close to what was there as I can. I currently shoot with an old Canon xti and a 50mm 1.4.
HRT: What is it that you are looking for, when searching for textures? What are you favorite spots or locations?
Tyson: I look for a myriad of things, over the last ten years I’ve developed several languages to represent emotions, narrative and allegory through color composition and marks (texture). They are all highly personal and raw. When preparing to shoot for the day I’ll meditate on a single emotion or event and then keep that in my mind the whole time I’m walking. I’ve become so focused that I don’t see or hear people around me, I’m just observing every surface around me for the one holy moment that captures exactly what is in me.
HRT: What are the 3 most important things to take into account when taking texture photographs or photographs in general?
- Observation: If you don’t see it you can’t photograph it.
- Evolution: Build on your previous experience and use your successes and failures to inform your current work.
- Just do it: This is the hardest one, just getting up and doing it when you have a million other things going on. Make time to just go out and do it as often as you can.
HRT: I know that you think that the tools of a photographer are not nearly as important as his understanding of light and time. Could you elaborate a bit more on this thought?
Tyson: I think gear is usually a waste of money and time. The basics of photography can be learned in a couple days and gear can get in the way of understanding. It is only through a lifetime of practice that you’ll even come close to consistantly capturing those holy moments when the two dimensions of the photograph transcend even the reality of being there.
HRT: Nonetheless, I think the readership of HRT would be interested to hear what equipment you are using most of the times.
Tyson: My work is currently all shot with a 50mm 1.4 on a Canon xti body. I don’t use lights or any other gear (I don’t even use a camera strap), while I’m shooting for the texture series. In my studio I use two 400 and one 1600 Alien Bees strobes with various lighting tools: softbox, umbrellas, reflectors etc.
HRT: To conclude this interview, do you have some tips for aspiring photographers?
Learn your history. It will inform and inspire you long after you learn the mechanics of a camera.
The abovementioned Phoenix 21 series can be seen here!
You can find out more about Tyson on his personal website tysoncrosbie.com or his video blog Lying to Tell the Truth and if you want to connect with him, follow him on Twitter – @tysoncrosbie or befriend him on Flickr – tysoncrosbie.
Many thanks to Tyson for doing this interview! For me, it was a great experience and interesting to see how other photographers treat the subject “textures”. What do you guys think? Do you want to read more interviews in the future? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.