What inspired you to start taking photographs, and what is the primary inspiration for you to keep working in this field?
It was in my junior year of high school. My friend Cindy bet me she could take a better photograph then I could, so I enrolled in a photography class. And I fell in love with it right away. She lost the bet and I found my passion!
I’m inspired by living life. My goal is to produce a visual monologue about my own life: the aspects of myself that I am most mystified and riveted by - my sexuality, my personal relationships, the masculine vs. feminine parts of my identity and my place within society.
With that said, my work is a photographic diary. I use the camera as a tool to capture the experiences that life presents every day. This includes vibrant color, humor & my ability of transcending the mundane: celebrating and highlighting moments that we often overlook are paralleled with intimate moments with friends and lovers.
My relationship with my work is a lot like all my relationships - some days I feel totally connected and other days I feel totally disconnected.
In your opinion and experience, how can emerging photographers evaluate themselves as ready to start promoting their works and seek broader exposure for their photographs? What is one vital action you would recommend photographers undertake to find their audience, be included in exhibitions, and gain professional representation?
I was very patient with finding gallery representation. I did extensive research on galleries in NYC. I attended openings on a regular basis to see what art the galleries were showing and to determine where I thought my art would fit in. I made a handmade book and gave it to Brian Clamp, owner of ClampArt Gallery (where I’m currently represented). Honestly, Brian didn’t take me on right away, but eventually we formed a relationship. I sent out endless slides and promo pieces on a regular basis. Basically, I put myself out there and was relentless. That's what it takes.
Today there are so many outlets for artist to promote their work; Tumblr, Facebook, personal websites, ibooks, emails, etc. These options weren’t even available when I was starting out. But you can look it in two ways. On one hand, there means that there are so many additional ways to reach an audience and get the word out about your work. On the other hand, it's a lot more work and much more active communication that you need to stay on top of.
One vital action that I would pass on? There’s a line between being ready and letting one’s ego lead. Creating the work is most important. One has to have the work to evaluate and promote. Don’t loose sight of this. Find peers to critique your work, peers that will give truthful, constructive criticism.
How did it come about that you achieved the status of successful, professional photographer? What steps were involved in reaching your level of success?
Commitment, determination, persistence, focus, talent, stubbornness and humility mixed with a lot of courage have allowed me to succeed. And I measure my success on my own terms, not by what the art community says.
During my freshman year at the Art Institute of Boston my professor Jane Tuckerman said to me “The art world is a crowded place and difficult to get into, but there’s always room if you’re determined and push your way in” I never lost sight of those words.
I created. I create. It's a process that never ends. And is my unfaltering commitment to my art and to myself.
© copyright all images John Arsenault