This interview was conducted and written by Board Member, Craig Inzana.
Every month here at the Winkler Gallery and Art Education Center, we honor one of our member artists as Artist of the Month. All of our artists produce stunning work of all varieties that pass through a juried selection progress to be displayed at the gallery. The Artist of the Month allows us to zoom in on them one at a time. For April 2017, the honor goes to Josh Taylor.
Josh is one of the youngest (maybe THE youngest) members at the gallery and his work has already begun to sell. He currently attends the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and produces gripping photographs with a strong sense of composition and color.
This month, I sat down with Josh during one of his volunteer shifts at the gallery for an interview where we talked about how he came to be a part of the Winkler Gallery, what his process is like for each photograph, and his thoughts on digital vs. film photography.
CRAIG: How old were you?
JOSH: Thirteen, I think. That was my first DSLR. I got my first point-and-shoot a littler earlier than that.
CRAIG: Tell me more about your Grandpa and you doing photography together.
JOSH: I had always wanted to figure out the film process— because that’s where photography came from and you have to know your roots. We blacked out my basement, set up a little table, got the enlarger, got the three vats.
CRAIG: How old were you and did you really enjoy that process?
JOSH: I was probably 15. So I probably didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have. I still enjoyed it.
CRAIG: Do you think it’s important for photographers to learn to work with film, even when they’re doing digital work?
CRAIG: I think that’s a step that a lot of would-be-photographers don’t ever get to (People that take really amazing photographs but never learn anything about printing, or never even try to.)
JOSH: Yeah. They send it off somewhere and get it done. They don’t do it themselves.
CRAIG: Or they just upload it online and never take that step to get it printed. Is it considered art if it never leaves your computer?
JOSH: I don’t know. There’s something totally different about holding a tangible print in your hand than looking at something on a screen.
CRAIG: Is this the first gallery you’ve been in?
JOSH: Yea, first one.
CRAIG: How did that come about?
JOSH: I had been entering contests, just in the local area, around Clarion and here. Perry had judged a couple of them, but I had never gotten to talk to him directly afterwards.
I entered a show in Brookville, I believe. My dad was going to pick up my images, and he saw Perry there. Perry started talking to my dad, saying, “Oh, I think your son is a wonderful photographer,” and he said to have me contact him. I didn’t contact him for about two months, but right when I got ahold of him, Perry was on board. He wanted me in the gallery and I was all about it.
CRAIG: If you really know how to do it, and you can learn from people like Perry, then you’re on the right path. Some people, after college, end up only doing commercial work and lose track that it is possible to make money as a fine artist. Obviously, it’s very difficult though.
JOSH: Of course. If you’re just stuck on one thing, say you’re just sticking on portraiture, and you never go out and do anything else, like nature photos or fine art photos, you’re never going to go anywhere. You’re just going to be stagnant. You’ll never be expanding your creative palette.
CRAIG: Because you never know where that inspiration is going to strike. It might change the whole way you think about your portraits, or your fine art.
JOSH: I think personal projects also are very necessary. That’s what keeps your creativity flowing, keeps your mind working.
CRAIG: In regards to your fine arts photography, what moment stands out to you as the moment your most proud of so far?
JOSH: Probably getting into The Winkler Gallery I’d say. It’s a huge step to possibly larger galleries and larger areas.
JOSH: Honestly, I’m open to any option. I’m not trying to stay in Pittsburgh, but if there’s a job in Pittsburgh I’ll stay in Pittsburgh. If there’s a job across the country, I’ll move. Anywhere I can get a decent paying job/career I’ll probably take it.
CRAIG: Are you looking to do more freelance work or are you kind of wanting to be employed at first?
JOSH: At first, I think, it would be nice to be employed, just to get the experience and working in a professional environment. I think if you do freelance just out of the gate you can get overwhelmed.
CRAIG: Absolutely. I made that mistake. Now that I’m employed, as a Marketing Director, I’ve learned so much more about the structure of marketing over a long period of time. At some point-- when I decide to go back to doing freelance-- I will be able to make a living doing it.
What is your process when you come up with these photographs that you turn into fine art? And how do you filter through and decide which ones you’re going to get printed and which ones will just live on a hard drive?
Geometrics and patterns really stand out to me. I think composition and geometry is a big part of my work. So anything that’s like that usually will stand out to me. In creating the images, whenever I’m taking the photos, there’s not a whole lot of thought process. Usually, it’s just if I see something that catches my eye, I’ll take a picture of it. If I’m doing a specific project I’ll be looking for certain things.
CRAIG: What percentage, out of all the photos that end up making it to print, would you say you planned to take, or are things that you just happened to take?
JOSH: I’d say 90% of them just happened.
CRAIG: That’s what I really like about your work. I feel like it’s subjects I’ve seen so many times, and I see it like how it comes out in your images, but to capture it like that... you have a knack for that.
JOSH: Little moments, little details, every day life are what I like to focus on.
CRAIG: The photograph of the person walking up the steps with something in his hand; is that someone you knew, or just someone who was in front of you?
JOSH: Random person in New York City going up the subway. I wasn’t even looking. I actually just snapped it and it turned out really well.
CRAIG: On a scale from 1-10, how much would you say you edit your photos compared to other photographers?
JOSH: Two. I barely edit. I’ll do some contrast adjustment, highlights, black shadows. I rarely take my images into Photoshop. I’ll spend five minutes on an image and then come back to it a little later just to re-examine it.
Editing is still a major part, just to finalize the image. I think you should try to have it as close to the finished image in camera as it can be before you get into the computer.
CRAIG: I think that’s what works with your art. It looks so real, just as one would see it.
JOSH: One more thing about editing that just kind of irks me. The over editing that I see a lot of photographers doing and the use of filters ... I absolutely despise filters, especially people who claim to be professional photographers using pre-set filters that they bought.
I can understand if you make your own filters but editing is a major part of the process and if you just slap something on it... they’re making money off somebody else’s work. Using a pack of filters that they bought online.
CRAIG: What goes into getting images like yours printed to get ready for a gallery?
You make a color profile of that. Which is basically just the printer reading the paper, making adjustments to that specific paper, so that the color will come out right. The contrast will come out right.
And then, I take it into Lightroom, put the color profile into Lightroom, and make some minor cropping adjustments maybe, and then print them. Then it’s matting and framing.
CRAIG: That’s cool that you have access to that through school.
JOSH: I’m going to miss that after I leave, for sure. Those printers are like $2,000. It’s ridiculous.
CRAIG: What else will you miss about the support of being in school once you’re out in the professional world?
JOSH: The thing I’ll probably miss most is the pushing that the teachers give you. I’m forced to come up with ideas and projects. When I’m out of school, not doing anything, waiting for a job, I think forcing myself to come up with new ideas and new projects will probably be the hardest part.
CRAIG: If there is one thing that you want people to remember about your work, what is it?
JOSH: Really, I just like making an impact on people. Hearing people say “Oh my goodness, how did he do that?” or “How did he get that picture?” That just makes my day; hearing someone say how much they love one of my images. If I don’t get paid at the end of the day, I don’t really care, because that feedback is worth more to me.
Josh Taylor's work is available for purchase through the Winkler Gallery in DuBois or Online.
Visiting the gallery in DuBois is free. If you get the chance, stop by and see Josh's beautiful photography in person. If you're lucky, he might even be there!
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