Monday, March 11, 2013

David Ellingsen

Skylife, 2012

David Ellingsen is originally from Cortes Island, a remote community of 1000 residents in Canada’s Pacific Northwest. Raised on a small family farm surrounded by forest and ocean, his photography is rooted in this rural upbringing. He began his photographic career at the age of 30 in the advertising and editorial fields, attracting client assignments that include the New York Times Magazine, Men’s Health, People, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and agencies DDB and Grey Worldwide. Running concurrently, David’s personal exhibition photographs have been shown since 2001 in multiple solo and group exhibitions in Canada, the USA, Asia, and Europe and are part of the permanent collections of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, the Dana Farber Cancer Centre at Harvard University and the Chinese Museum of Photography. Recent work was shortlisted for Photolucida's Critical Mass, awarded First Place at the Prix de la Photographie Paris (PX3) in Paris, France and also First Place at the 10th International Photography Awards in Los Angeles.

View more of David's work here 

Skylife, 2012

Ashley Kauschinger: Several of your bodies of work make visual references to science. What (if any) connections do you feel exist between your photography and science? Is it part of your background? 

David Ellingsen: Science is not a part of my background…but evidence and fact are important to me as a point of departure. I think this stems from the belief that, at this moment, our culture as a whole does not embrace the truth concerning the environmental crisis. It is of such an epic scale, and will change our lives so much, that we prefer to cling to the comforting social systems that got us in trouble in the first place. Politics, corporate culture, false economies, the myth of religion and a vast cognitive dissonance seem to impede meaningful, widespread change. I believe acceptance of evidence and fact is one of the surest ways to begin to meet the challenges of our present, and more importantly, our future.

Skylife, 2012

AK: What is your photographic working process when creating a body (or bodies) of work? How do you know which technical process to use with different conceptual ideas?

DE: I think for a long time about what process to use for each series before I begin to make the photographs. I have developed two distinct working methods…one that is an explosion of making many photographs in a short time period, such as a weekend or a few days, and the other a slow progression over months or years. For all concepts I draw on both my commercial photography practice, which has given me a progression of wonderful tools and techniques, and my personal attraction to processes that preserve a feeling of heritage, history and longevity. As time passes, it’s becoming more important to me that my practice reflects elements of both the past and the present as I look to the future.

Obsolete Delete, 2012

AK: In your series, Obsolete Delete, what is your thought process behind combining obsolete technology with natural environments? Do you have plans to extend this project?

DE: For this series I wanted to build an image instead of find one. I have seen many excellent documentary photographs concerning this subject matter and consider others to be the masters of that process. I feel my strengths lay a little beyond the realm of stark reality and controlling the objects and how they fit into the landscapes creates for me a more unique point of view and consequently a stronger photograph. At this point I’m unsure if I’m going to extend this work. I do occasionally delve into the surreal (with this Obsolete Delete and also the Future Imperfect series) but sometimes feel it doesn’t sit as well within me as the majority of my quieter work. On the other hand, I often feel rebellious against the common notion that an artist should stay within one genre or style and am certainly very proud of this work for that reason alone. It appears I still have to work this one out…ha ha.

Future Imperfect, 2009 

AK: What are you thoughts on self promotion? How do you create a balance of creating and promoting your work?

DE: With the sheer volume of photography around now it’s very important to be on the ball with promoting the work. Absolutely essential. And to be honest, I quite enjoy that part of my career and find those achievements very satisfying. Creating and promoting one’s work really is all in service of the same goal of disseminating an idea visually. You just have to hope it’s a good one. Face-to-face meetings are definitely the most successful promotional tool in my experience, but communications through email, phone, printed material and of course the prints or portfolio themselves all play a part for me. On a daily basis, keeping to some sort of schedule is important. I book “office days” and “shooting days” for myself…and then try to keep them.

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