“My introduction to Carl Jung’s writings really expanded my thought process for how images and symbols relate to the human psyche on a much deeper level. In some ways, it made the act of creating images more significant because I realized you could potentially make an impression on the viewer’s subconscious mind.“
Tommy Nease is a young American photographer whose work has something of magic and spectral. In this short interview, he explains the link between photography and psychoanalysis, the common thread in his work, the work in the darkroom and much more…
What was your first approach with photography?
I was formally introduced to photography when I was 13 years old. I was accepted to a free summer art program that was offered by the local university, which included a darkroom class. It proved to be an indispensable experience for me, and I have developed a fervor for the craft ever since.
You choose to photograph in black and white. Why?
I prefer the process and the simplicity of evaluating in tones, as opposed to colors. When the subject matter is represented monochromatically, it removes the familiarity of routine. This allows a smooth transition into an ethereal experience.
What is the message you feel to convey with photography? The common thread is a sensation of magic and mystery in your shots.
My subject matter is a spectrum, which reflects my personal experience. My methodology for representing these subjects is where the cohesiveness is formulated. My goal with photography is to represent the subconscious relationship between the natural realm and the human psyche.
What is your relation with postproduction?
I work extensively in the traditional darkroom, which is a major component of my process. I try to minimize digital post-processing in my work, but understand it as a powerful tool that should be utilized if need be. The end result is what is most important to me, and for me, I usually find my end result through traditional methods.
Do you think there are any downsides for photography as an art in this daily overdose of images offered by social media?
On one hand, it is very powerful to have immediate access to infinite amounts of inspiration, on the other, that power can easily become overwhelming. One can easily to fall into the imposter syndrome, of inferiority when comparing yourself to the constant influx of content. It becomes important to step back and realize that your artistic endeavors are foremost a tool for individuality.
The single shot (yours or not) you feel more attached to?
This is extremely difficult to choose just one. I would say “Twirling Wires” from Shadow Chamber, by Roger Ballen. I chose ‘Twirling Wires’ because I am very drawn to the murky tones and the organized chaos of the image. Ballen’s work really shines a complete body of work but this image sticks out to me the most
The artist (not necessarily a photographer) that has more influenced you?
Carl Gustav Jung. Not an artist per se, but his discoveries in psychoanalysis and the collective unconscious have really inspired me to pursue my current path in photography. My introduction to Carl Jung’s writings really expanded my thought process for how images and symbols relate to the human psyche on a much deeper level. In some ways, it made the act of creating images more significant because I realized you could potentially make an impression on the viewer’s subconscious mind. It also made me understand the artist’s journey as one of individuation, and that I can use photography as a tool to further my understanding of myself, both consciously and subconsciously, and how I relate to my surroundings.
A living photographer you want to give a shout out to and suggest our readers?
Glenn Rudolph. We live in the same rural town. His work is incredible and he is a wealth of knowledge for me. I have learned a lot about process and darkroom chemistry from him.
The best piece of advice you received as a photographer?
Keep a sketchbook, and wear gloves in the darkroom!
Next and upcoming projects?
I am currently working to put together a book composed of images from the last few years. Other than that, I am just going to keep shooting!